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17 Social Media Marketing Strategies For Small Businesses

Updated: June 16, 2018
Social media marketing tips and strategies for small businesses

Cover photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Integrating social media platforms into your business strategies can be a challenge. Once you have your pages and platforms set up and employees manning them, what's the best way to leverage these campaigns to improve your brand and generate sales leads? We’ve rounded a list of tactics that have proven effective for other companies.

1. Be Authentically Imperfect

Presenting honest image on social media networks

Photo by RyanMcGuire from Pixabay

Connecting with social media audiences is easier if you seem like down-to-earth people instead of distant, polished celebrities. There's a temptation to treat social media like television production, but this can be a mistake. Social media is the place where authenticity rules, not airbrushed photos. Let your ordinary imperfections show to engage more of your audience with your social media campaign.

2. Go Live

Entrepreneur doing a live video on social media

Photo by Nappy from Pexels

Video content is more engaging that photos and text, but what can really connect with followers is live streaming. It can be more challenging to do it right, but the payoff is worth it. When a relevant news story is trending, don't hesitate to live stream about it. People are genuinely exciting to see it happening live, and you'll see that excitement translate into leads and better engagement

3. Host AMAs with Influencers in Your Niche

AMA, or Ask Me Anything, promotion

Photo from Pixabay

Ask Me Anything interviews online have become a popular way for followers to connect directly with online personalities. An effective way for an influencer to promote your brand is to do it during an AMA, or by appearing for an AMA on your own social media page. AMAs can be held on message boards like Reddit, in chat rooms, or through comments during a live stream event. Whichever format you choose, it’s sure to boost your brand's engagement.

4. Take Out Social Media Ads

Social media network icons on a mobile device

The hidden business model of social media platforms is advertising. Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms have captive audiences waiting to see well-placed ads on their timelines. Buying paid ads for a social media page is a sure way to build followers or promote a website. Many platforms like Facebook have been updating their algorithms to make buying ads necessary to get full exposure with your followers. The key selling point for ads on social media is the level of demographic detail that can be used to target the right users.

5. Market Your Content to Influencers

Beautiful influencer woman posing for camera

Photo by Moose Photos from Pexels

Of course, the fastest way to get your content or products noticed is to get endorsements from key social media players who already have large followings. These social media personalities have stepped into the space that publications once held in traditional marketing as gatekeepers to public exposure. Find influencers who are already interested in similar subjects or products as your business and arrange for them to give your brand an introduction or endorsement.

6. Run Contests or Sweepstakes

Winner of a social media contest or sweepstakes

Photo by bruce mars from Pexels

Generating social media leads can be as simple as giving away free stuff. Making it fun or competitive can generate buzz and ensure that your content gets shared widely among your followers' networks. Add an entry form to a sweepstakes post on your website, and you've got some lead data to work with. Put share buttons on the sweepstakes page to keep the social media buzz going.

7. Share Viral Memes Intelligently

Popular meme of Lebron James

Image from Thrillist

It's hit and miss (mostly miss) to try to create viral content because of the arbitrary way it happens. Floating memes of your own can backfire when they don't catch on. The better way to use viral content to gain exposure for your brand is to incorporate viral memes or videos that are already trending into your campaign. You'll get the positive energy of humorous content and the exposure generated as the meme continues to be shared around.

8. Use Instagram Polls to Get Feedback

Log in screen for Facebook social media account

Photo from Pixabay

Instagram has a useful feature that lets you create polls in Instagram Stories. This can be a great way to get quick feedback from your followers because Instagram Stories are delivered when followers log in. It can feel more natural to social media users than a link to a web survey and the responses will be more genuine.

9. Respond to Messages

Business owner responding to social media comments and messages

Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels

Social media platforms give your followers and customers the opportunity to reach out and communicate with your brand. It's a place where you can earn respect for responsiveness or lose brand loyalty when messages go unanswered. Because people use social media to search for answers to problems or contacts when networking, your social media presence can be a place where most of your customers and lead contacts begin. Devote resources to responding to those messages just as you would in a customer care call center.

10. Video Testimonials Can Still Work

Woman giving a video testimonial

The key to making testimonials work is authenticity. If the personality or customer who is featured in the video does it in a natural, personal way, it can generate engagement and leads from your audience. You'll see leads come in and shares increase if the testimonial is by a key influencer, but any authentic customer can create effective testimonials. Find the right person to connect with your audience.

11. Include Personal Brands in Your Campaigns

Branded cup held up for promotional photo

Photo credit to David Bares from Pexels

If your business has a personal face, engagement and leads will be easier to generate. It can be natural to include any established influencers who are among your business's leadership team but consider the synergy that can happen between a business's brand and its leadership’s brands. The two can support and promote each other when done right to create more brand awareness overall. Business leaders are natural brand ambassadors that can bring authenticity and personal connection to your social media campaign.

12. Observe Good SEO Practices

Google search engine on a tablet

Photo from Pixabay

The major gatekeepers of today's internet like Google and Facebook use artificial intelligence to rank search results and suggest content to their users. To ensure that your content gets in front of as many relevant users as possible, you'll need to craft your content to a set of search engine optimization standards. Google, for instance, downgrades content that has excessive spelling errors, copied content, or lacks links to external sites.

13. Promote Articles Behind a Paywall

Login screen to access restricted content

If you need to build a base of subscribers for an online website or publication, social media is a proven way to drive traffic to your content. Once you have followers on a social media platform, create promotional posts that will redirect them to a homepage on your website. Make sure the posts are catchy enough to capture people's interest and that your website can generate follow through.

14. Demonstrate Your Brand’s Values

Business values displayed in social media post

Social media campaigns are one of the best opportunities to educate consumers about your business values. Intermix content in your campaign that demonstrates your company's values. If sustainability is one of its values, then create content that highlights news stories and business initiatives that show your commitment to that value. Actions speak louder than words, so make your content show your brand acting on its values.

15. Don't Be Afraid of Sharing Opinions

Two people argue their opinions

Photo by Gratisography from Pexels

You can include opinionated content by making it balanced. Host discussion groups and interviews that examine trending news that cover several different angles. This will help you connect more personally with your followers without alienating those who hold a different opinion than the one you promote. Your brand will come out feeling open and thoughtful as a result.

16. Make Your Content Organic and Shareable

Woman sharing post on social media

Photo from Pexels

The internet has become so saturated with marketing content that most users are allergic to sales copy when they aren't actively shopping. It's important to create content that generates leads organically by piggybacking links on genuinely useful and interesting content. It's possible to craft content that gets listed highly by an algorithm, but which drives away human readers, so think about both SEO and human sensibilities when you create social media posts and the website content they promote.

17. Don't Delete Negative Comments

Accessing comments for a blog post

Photo by pixelcreatures from Pixabay

Deleting user comments instead of responding can seem like a good strategy, but it backfires immediately when screenshots of the original content circulate. Any appearance of censorship can alienate social media users if comments are not overtly offensive to others. Instead of deleting negative comments, reply to those that are genuine feedback as you would in a customer care situation. Just don't get involved in flame wars with trolls on your social media page.

Making the most of your business's social media presence is becoming a key part of any marketing and sales operation. You can engage your audience and generate new leads by putting just some of these suggestions to work. Finding the tactics that work best for your niche can lead to better results.

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