How to Create a Social Media Strategy for Your Small Business in 8 Steps: A Complete Guide

When it comes to social media success, a little planning goes a long way. Developing a strong social media strategy for small business will eliminate a lot of the guesswork from your marketing efforts and ensure that the time and resources you invest deliver the best return. 

The effectiveness of social media marketing is undeniable; the problem is determining how to focus on it when budgets and people are limited. The key levers for establishing a strong social media presence for your small business are to know who you’re talking to, establish goals, focus on the right platforms, analyse your competition, and carefully deploy your resources by determining where they will have the greatest impact.

As a small business owner, you don’t have a marketing team prepared to tackle every platform. That’s why we’ve gathered all the details you need to help you nail your social media strategy in 2022 and beyond.

Table of Contents

The importance of social media for small businesses

If you work on a small marketing team, are the sole marketing person at your company, or manage all aspects of your business, you understand what it’s like to wear many hats. With a plethora of deliverables to push out to keep your small business running, social media marketing is an essential part of any type of promoting your brand on social platforms.

A recent analysis by Kepios shows that there were more than 4.62 billion social media users around the world in January 2022; that’s 58.4% of the total global population!

Social media user numbers have also seen strong growth over the past 12 months, with 424 million new users joining social media since last year. 

This makes social media a powerful platform for connecting directly with an audience to build brand awareness and brand loyalty for small businesses focused on community and individual customers. Even better, social media is an effective lead generation platform. You can create content and resources that will add value to your prospects and customers while also cultivating their brand affinity.

Identifying social media goals for your small business

Set SMART Goals

By defining goals, you can point to the specific steps and actions you’re taking to meet the needs of your business. To get the most out of your social media marketing activity, it’s important to align business objectives with social media goals. Here’s what to keep in mind when setting social media goals for small businesses: 

1. Set SMART goals

The SMART goal-setting framework is insanely popular, and it’s one of the most recommended social media marketing strategies for small businesses. In case you aren’t familiar, SMART is an acronym that stands for the following:

  • Specific: Your goals should be clear, simple and defined.
  • Measurable: This is where analytics come in. You want a goal that has one or more metrics.
  • Achievable: Is it achievable, or is it not possible within your resources?
  • Realistic: With your current resources of time and money, is it possible to achieve your goals?
  • Time-sensitive: Every goal needs a time frame, whether it’s one year or several months.

2. Identify social media goals metrics

Now, it’s time to identify the metrics you’d like to assign to your goals. Business objectives defined through specific and measurable results serve as a compass for your team, directing you in the right direction to help you achieve larger goals.

Social media analytics and reporting for small business

Setting goals is one thing, but monitoring your performance to evaluate success is quite another. That’s why it’s critical to use social media analytics to determine what’s moving the needle for your small business

Several social media platforms deliver analytics on your social media presence, but you’ll have to invest in a social media management platform if you want more in-depth analysis, cross-network analysis, and cross-profile analysis, among others.

Some of the most important social media metrics that you can track are the following:

  1. Engagements: The number of times an individual has interacted with your message, including actions such as Likes, Favourite, Shares, Retweets, Replies and Follows.
  2. Impressions: These refer to the number of times an individual saw your message.
  3. Engagement rates: The number of engagements divided by the number of impressions.
  4. Visits: The number of times someone visited your profile page.
  5. Followers: Refers to how many users follow you on social media, usually shown as increasing or decreasing over time.
  6. Mentions: The number of times your handle or brand was mentioned on social.

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How to create a social media strategy for small businesses in 8 steps

1. Understand your audience

Using social media for small businesses is all about knowing your audience and posting about what matters to them. Posting useful material that helps your customers or clients in some way is the best way to increase reach and engagement and grow your social media presence. Once you know who you’re talking to (demographic, interests, behaviours), do some research on the types of accounts they follow, as well as the types of posts that they typically enjoy and share. This will give you a better picture of what they value.

Instead of posting generic content, be clear on why you’re publishing what you are. In other words, if you post helpful content, people will be more likely to engage with it. Think about why you are loyal to particular brands and what the reasons are other than their product. Apply the same logic to your small business and determine exactly what your ideal audience expects from you – and what you could offer them that others can’t.

2. Assess your competition

An essential part of a social media strategy for small businesses is checking out your competition’s social presence. There are two reasons why competitor reviews are important:

  • The performance of your competitors on platform-specific channels can be an indicator as to whether it’s a platform worth using for your own small business.
  • Reviewing their content (good and bad) can also help influence your ideas.

The idea here isn’t to just replicate a competitor’s content strategy. Instead, you should do a competitor review. The goal is to determine what forms of content work and which ones don’t. This can help you understand a competitor’s strengths and limitations, as well as what people anticipate from a brand in your same area.

You probably already have a good idea about who your competitors are. If not, an easy way to find competitors is to take your most popular keywords and type them into a search browser, like Google. For instance, if your small business is a barbershop, you might search for “barbershop [insert area name]” and see what is returned. 

You may use the search results to visit competitor websites and check to see which social channels they’re using, how often they publish, and what kind of information they’re posting. Soon, you’ll be able to identify a pattern of which social media networks are most popular, and which types of content perform best.

3. Define your brand look and feel

Your brand voice is similar to your company’s personality; it’s how you communicate with your customers. And it may differ slightly from one platform to the next. For example, consider how would you talk about your business, products, or services to a friend as you refine your brand’s tone of voice.

4. Establish KPIs and benchmarks

If you don’t know how to measure your social media marketing goals, you’ll never reach them. You must understand which metrics to examine, how to interpret them, and what to do with the information gleaned from them.

If your small business already has social media accounts, it’s critical to benchmark your current performance to understand the outcomes of your previous efforts. This also allows you to compare future strategies to prior results and evaluate if your performance is improving.

Identifying Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) and benchmarks will allow you to track your small business’ progress and measure the results of your social media efforts. The most important KPIs will depend on your goals and the social media platforms that you’re using. For example, if you’re looking to drive awareness for your brand you might track your reach and impressions, or if it’s about increasing interest in a particular product, you could measure website referrals.

If traffic is your objective, using keyword research tools is another way to optimize your content and attract highly targeted visitors to your website.

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5. Do your research

A competitive analysis is an examination of your competition to determine their strengths and weaknesses, as well as how they compare to your own.

It’s a method of comparing your own results to those of industry heavyweights so you can spot areas for improvement and strategies that aren’t performing as well as they should.

A social media competitive analysis of social media, in particular, will assist you in:

  • First, determine who your social media competitors are.
  • Learn which social media platforms they use and how they use them.
  • Determine how effective their social media strategy is.
  • Compare your social media results to those of your competitors.
  • Recognize the social threats to your company.
  • Finally, look for flaws in your own social media marketing plan.

Competitor analysis on social media isn’t just about learning about your competitors. It will also provide you with information about your small business and your target market.

6. Focus on the right social media platforms

Identify the right social media platforms for your business: Starting with platforms that make the most sense for your business will save you time and keep your content calendar from becoming overwhelming. Understanding how each social media platform works and what type of content to use on each is key to a successful social media strategy for small business. Here’s an overview of how to use each social media platform to your advantage:

  • Instagram: As a visual platform, Instagram is the perfect platform for showcasing your products or services in action with engaging posts and video formats.
  • Facebook: Facebook, is an all-purpose platform where you can share photos, company updates and information, videos, and other educational content to increase brand awareness and trust.
  • Twitter: Twitter is a social media platform that allows users to send and receive short messages as well as shareable media, making it ideal for company announcements, articles or blog posts, and customer service.
  • TikTok: Small businesses are using this social platform to show how their products work, share behind-the-scenes, give tips, and join trending challenges. 
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a great platform for building your network, raising brand awareness, and attracting new talent to join your business.
  • Pinterest: A visual-based platform, Pinterest is used for “scrapbooking” or, in other words, saving content by “pinning” photos or videos to a virtual bulletin board. Perfect for showcasing your brand´s look and feel.
  • YouTube: The perfect social platform for more in-depth, educational content, such as styling tips, interviews, tutorials, and longer-form videos.

Your small business doesn’t need to be actively posting on every network. While it may seem ideal to have a strong presence on all of the major social media platforms, if you try to manage too many channels, you’ll end up spreading yourself too thin. 

7. Determine your social media posting frequency

To optimize your social media resources, choose a few platforms where your audience is most engaged, and commit to updating those platforms regularly. You can use social media management tools Like Hopper HQ to help you schedule posts, reply to comments, and engage with your audience frequently. 

When building a social media plan for small businesses, many business owners worry about how often they should publish. Of course, it depends on the social media platforms through which you communicate with your audience. 

According to a study performed by the Statista Research Department in 2021, here are the experts’ recommendations on how frequently you should post on social media:

  • Instagram: Creating daily stories and sharing regularly will boost connection and engagement.
  • Facebook: If you publish on this platform, aim to do so once a day.
  • Twitter: When you know you have an online audience, plan a lot of tweets each day.
  • LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a powerful business networking tool, which is the reason why it is so crucial to make meaningful content contributions at least once a week. 

Establish a target for how often you’ll post and monitor how it goes. Check in frequently to see what kind of feedback and engagement your activity is getting from your audience.

8. Create a social media content calendar

A social media calendar is a list of your upcoming posts on social media. If you’re using Hopper HQ or another social media management tool, you can use the calendar planner. Alternatively, you can organize your upcoming posts in the form of a spreadsheet, Google calendar, or interactive dashboard.

For each post, a social media calendar usually includes a combination of the following elements:

  • It will go live on the specified date and time.
  • The social media account and network where it will be shared
  • The links and tags required for copy and creative assets (photos or videos).

A social media content calendar takes a lot of the guesswork out of social media posting and having one will provide many benefits for your small business, such as:

  1. Helps you focus on goals and spot gaps: Your social media posting should have a goal in mind. If you are posting just to post, then you will never know if your social media is working.
  2. Social media content calendars save time for small businesses: Content calendars may appear to be a good idea, but as a business owner, you may believe you don’t have time for them. But creating a content calendar takes less time than posting individual social posts on a daily basis. You’d get into a rhythm if you sat down and did this for a few hours.
  3. Create content with higher quality:  If you are creating a content calendar, you are prioritizing your marketing and social media strategy. This will result in higher quality posts.
  4. Reduces mistakes: A content calendar will help you avoid major mistakes that can occur when you do social media at the last minute. You’ll be able to spot problems because you’ll have more time to review your content. It’s also a lot easier to tweak and adjust to changes in your small business.

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Top social media tips for small businesses

Now that you have your social media strategy in place, you will want to invest some of your time and effort to stay on top of the latest social media marketing trends. Here are the social media tips you need to take your social media strategy to the next level: 

1. Consider user-generated content (UGC)

As a small business owner, you understand the importance of positive customer reviews and social media posts about your brand. Shoppers want to do business with brands they can trust, and reviews are an important part of that process as they send the right signals.

User generated content, also known as UGC, is content made by customers of a brand and often used by companies in their marketing activity. Consider it as a form of free advertisement from satisfied consumers.

There are various types of user-generated content you might use in your social media strategy, for instance:

  • Reviews: When your customers leave positive reviews on your site, social media, or elsewhere, they’re essentially marketing your business for free. You could reshare these reviews via your own social media accounts to spread the word.
  • Contests: Contests and giveaways are excellent ways to raise brand awareness. Use terms and conditions that will draw attention to your account, such as requiring your participants to follow your page, tag a certain number of people, and share your post in their story.
  • Gamification/Interaction: Gamification transforms the customer experience into a game, engaging your audience and encouraging them to stick with your small business. For instance, you can engage your audience in answering polls, quizzes and questions, and in return, they can receive rewards such as access to special benefits, discounts, and more.
  • Videos: Video content is interesting, relatable, and easy to share. Ask for video reviews of your products or services from customers and your audience to post on social media so that others can see their genuine feedback.

You can also brainstorm a few ways you can leverage your audience to craft original content. This could include asking them questions or gathering opinions through polls.

2. Find content inspiration

The industry can be slow, the market can be slow, or the product or service you provide doesn’t change much. It may appear that there is nothing more to say, but this is never the case. Sometimes, you just need some fresh inspiration to get back on track.

  • Take a look around

It’s all too easy to become engrossed in blogs, social media, and other digital platforms that we forget to look up every now and then. However, checking in with the real world every now and then can give your content a new perspective. Also, don’t give up on incorporating your own daily challenges into your content.

  • Refresh your industry perspective

You’re not alone if you think you’ve said everything there is to say about your industry. However, you are incorrect as well. When you change your perspective a little, you can find new perspectives on topics that have already been covered extensively.

  • Attempt a new method

There is no one-size-fits-all method for coming up with new content concepts. If your routine isn’t inspiring you, try a different approach, such as blocking out all distractions for a while or gathering your team and putting your heads together. You might discover that a method you’ve never tried before is the most effective.

3. Use social media scheduling and automation to free up more time for engagement

Social media automation uses third-party tools and software to execute social media-related tasks on your behalf. For example, you can use social media management tools to schedule posts, analyse metrics, and feedback on any mentions of your brand on social media. 

Every small business that uses social media automation can benefit, whether they’re automating to save time or increase product sales.

Here are great ways to make your social media strategy more automated:

  1. Schedule content for social media: Instead of setting reminders to post at certain times, automation tools can schedule those posts on your behalf. You can create a queue of evergreen content to publish throughout the week without needing someone on-hand to publish it.
  1. Study hashtags: It’s no secret that hashtags are one of the most effective ways for businesses to reach out to new customers. Hashtag search features are available on social media platforms like Twitter and Instagram, and potential followers are likely to use (or follow) those hashtags to find new content.
  2. Collaborate with influencers: Influencer marketing has exploded in popularity in recent years. Instagram has fueled the growth, and accounts with more than 5,000 followers are typically invited to work with brands.
  3. Make use of social media listening tools: It takes time to manually check for brand mentions; however, there are several social listening tools available that can do it for you. When someone uses your brand name but doesn’t tag you, you’ll get a notification, allowing you to jump into the conversation in a matter of minutes.
  4. Automate social media reporting: One of the most time-consuming tasks is social media reporting, especially when you have several different metrics to pull together and analyze from various social media analytics tools, each with its own data organization systems in place.

Fortunately, social media automation tools like Hopper HQ can handle this for you. These automation tools combine metrics from each platform you use and package them in an easy-to-understand and, more importantly, actionable format.

Learn how to choose the best social media management tool for your business here.

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Final thoughts

Regardless of your industry, product, or service, there’s a social media audience for your small business. Following the steps outlined in this post will assist you in developing a social media marketing strategy that attracts them.

Remember to create attainable goals, post the right content to the right people at the right time, and track your progress along the way. Although social media is a long-term investment, getting it properly can have short and long-term rewards for your small business.

FAQs

What social media platform is best for small businesses?

Understanding how each social media platform works and what type of content to use on each is key to a successful social media strategy for small businesses. Platforms like Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Tiktok, and Pinterest can help you get started quickly.

What are the 10 steps to a successful social media strategy?

The 10 steps to create a successful social media strategy:

  1. Understand your audience
  2. Assess your competition
  3. Define your brand look and feel
  4. Establish KPIs and benchmarks
  5. Do your research
  6. Focus on the right social media platforms
  7. Determine your social media posting frequency
  8. Create a social media content calendar
  9. Use social media management tools
  10. Use analytics to track and optimize performance
How are small businesses using social media?

Social media is a powerful platform for small businesses to connect with their audience and build brand awareness. Even better, social media is an effective lead generation platform. You can create content and resources that will add value to your prospects and customers while also cultivating their brand affinity.

About the Author
About the Author

By day, Lily López is a Content Writer and Marketer at Envato, a world-leading online community for creative assets, tools and talent. By night, a Spatial Design student. She’s based in Tijuana, Mexico, and has worked with several global clients for the past 7 years developing projects involving Content Operations, Data Analytics, Copywriting, Outreach, and Voice-over productions. When not working, Lily can be found hanging out at the nearest flea market.

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