12 Social Media Strategies to Market Your New Small Business!
Updated: Aug 10, 2021
Social media can be one of the most accessible yet intimidating means of marketing your small business out there. For many businesses out there, it’s an invaluable tool for getting the word out there about their products or services when other advertising options might be out of reach. However, sometimes it can feel like you’re just a drop in the bucket amongst the millions of other social media accounts out there.
With these strategies, you can make purposeful decisions about your social media presence, begin building your network, and encourage organic customer engagement which will eventually start paying for itself!
Starting Social Media From Scratch
1. What social media platform is right for you?
The first question you need to answer when starting social media for your small business is which platform best suits your business. There are so many different options out there, and it might be tempting to just make an account for every possible social media platform out there - after all, the wider the net the greater the catch, right?
Well, we recommend being a bit more intentional about where you decide to set up your social media, and just settling with one or two different platforms. For most businesses, Facebook and Instagram are going to be the best options.
Facebook is great for posting general business information, updates and sales promotions, events, and more. Instagram is more photo-facing, which is perfect if your business is food-oriented or otherwise photogenic.
2. Start building your small business industry network
When you first start up your small business’s social media, it’s a good idea to start testing the waters and follow others. There are many different Facebook groups or Reddit threads of local businesses in nearly any industry, and many are also regionally focused! Joining one of these groups and posting a quick introduction post, or asking for advice is a great way to begin building your network.
Monique Figueiredo, the founder of Honeycomb alumni business, Compostable LA, told us that she joined a number of different community composting forums in order to gain insight and advice from other businesses like hers. For example, she told us of one, where a composting company in Juneau, Alaska asked the group, “How do you keep your bins from freezing?” and started a whole conversation among other compost professionals.
Even if it’s just for plain self-promotion or taking the chance to build a stronger network, taking the initiative is super important. As you build connections with others and follow them, most likely they’ll follow you back, and who doesn’t want more friends?
3. Get your first followers from your personal network
Speaking of friends, a super-easy way to boost your followers at the start of your social media journey is to ask your friends, family, employees, and the rest of your personal network to follow your account. You’d be surprised at who you know is interested in the work you’re putting out!
Back Alley Brewing Company, one of our recent campaigns, was founded by five friends. They pooled together all of their networks in order to build a social media following, which was integral to the success of their Honeycomb campaign.
4. Start putting out relatable content - consistently!
One of the beauties of social media is that you don't need a super-polished professional marketing team to put out some quality content.
Social media audiences, especially on Instagram, love “a day in the life” type posts from small businesses, which are an easy way to generate content that doesn’t need to be over-edited. For example, if you’re a bakery owner, create a short Instagram story of you decorating a cake. Or if you run a gym, do a quick demonstration of your favorite piece of equipment.
5. Consider investing in some high-quality professional photos
That being said, it might be worth your while to hire a photographer for a one-time shoot of your products, location, and even employees. That way, you can have a backlog of a bunch of great photos to use! Plus, these photos are multi-use. Put them on your social, website, or use them for other business collateral.
Remember Back Alley Brewing Company? They have a nice mix of professional photos and routine behind-the-scenes posts. In this post, they show a video of barley being ground up for beer. The tone, use of emojis, and home-made look of the post are all effective social media strategies for their craft brewery.
6. Create social media posts on a dime
You can also create templates that look very well-designed for cheap or for free using sites like Canva, which is very easy to use.
Another important note on content - you need to be consistent! Posting every day is perfect. If you don’t think you have the time throughout the week, set aside some time to create a bunch of posts in a block and schedule them out. This is pretty easy to do with Facebook Creator Studio, a free tool that lets you schedule posts for both Facebook and Instagram. However, don’t think that it’s hands-off after that!
Organically Growing your Social Media Engagement
Organic isn’t just a label on your apple! Organic engagement on social media is what happens when people interact with your page without you paying for ads. It takes a bit of strategy, but ultimately it’s a win-win.
Also, having high levels of engagement on your posts is far better than just having lots of followers. The more engaged your followers are, the more credibility they lend to you, and also the more fun you have with social media!
7. Tag, you’re it.
One of the best ways of growing your social media engagement is engaging in it yourself! Go onto location tags or find relevant hashtags, find a post you like, and interact with it. Like, follow, drop a comment, even if it’s something as simple as, “This looks great! Love this place!” Online marketer Gary Vee gives advice on doing exactly this and “becoming the mayor of your town.”
Who would’ve thought the key to mastering social media is… actually being social?
This is another reason that following other local businesses and industry groups is important. Another key to boosting engagement is tagging relevant people and groups in your own posts, as well as adding hashtags in all your posts.
An easy way to do this is to look to your local neighborhood development group, or a local foodie group, or whatever is relevant to your business. Local press is also a great means of doing this. Maybe they’ll see this and follow you back, or repost your post on their page and boost you to their followers!
Look at this post from our Instagram page, celebrating Driftwood Oven’s fantastic campaign. We made sure to tag all the relevant hashtags and of course tag Driftwood Oven’s page, but look who commented! A Cleveland-based foodie Instagram page, engaging with our content and getting their name out there as well!
8. The customer is (still) always right
One of the most effective social media strategies for boosting organic engagement is customer-focused content. You want customers to engage with your product, why not make it easy for them to do so?
There are many different options for customer-focused marketing out there. It can be as simple as posting a poll on your page over which of your tacos they like the best. Or, you can create a contest to get customers to create their own taco, and the winner goes on your menu!
9. Showcase your product and your customers!
Honeycomb alum Black Cat Market in Pittsburgh does a great job of engaging customers, not just with their cute cat photos (and who doesn’t love those?) but also by posting photos of customers who’ve adopted cats! Not only does this engage the new cat owners, but potential customers on their Instagram page will see themselves in those happy new cat owners and get excited about the business.
Another very simple way to encourage customer engagement with your social media is also to regularly repost photos they take of your food (with permission, of course). Ask customers to tag you, or just go through your business’s location tag or relevant hashtags to see if there’s anything up.
Rolling Pepperoni in Pittsburgh takes their customer engagement on social media to another level! Part bakery, part social enterprise, RP’s owner, Katt Schuler puts stories from Appalachia on her packaging in order to boost awareness of the region’s people. They also have started a series of “Porch Talks” to create more content and allow Appalachians to tell their own stories.
10. Give it away, now!
Giveaways are also a very popular way to engage customers. You can get them to post on their pages with the incentive of winning some of your small business’s swag. That way, you get an added boost of “guerilla” marketing as the customer will hopefully wear that swag out in the wild on a regular basis!
Millie’s Homemade Ice Cream in Pittsburgh does a ton of giveaways through their social media - and not just their delicious ice cream! Check out this giveaway, where the prize is a pair of stylish Millie’s Branded Vans!
11. Become a 5-star review responder on Yelp and Google
Hand-in-hand with engaging customers in fun ways like above is also using social media to deal with reviews. Websites like Yelp or Google My Business are also tools to drive customer engagement. Step one is claiming your Yelp and Google My Business pages and making sure you have accurate info about your business hours, website, and menu.
Make sure you’re using these to respond to reviews - both positive and negative - personally. Reviews are the best way to build trust with your customers, current and potential, especially when you’re a new small business.
12. Make it easy for your customers to shop
A common mistake we see all the time on small business social media pages is that they make it difficult for people who want to learn more about them to do so! It’s incredibly important to point your customers to the place where you want them to go. If you’re posting about a new product or sales promotion without a link, how else will your customers be able to buy it?
Each social media platform is a little different in how they allow pages to link to other websites. Facebook is pretty easy - you can just copy and paste the URL you want to use onto any specific post.
Instagram is a bit trickier. They only allow you one link, the one on your page’s bio. While most businesses just link their website on their Instagram bio, others use software like Linktree, which generates a page with as many links as you want to include.
For example, you can create a Linktree where customers can easily find your homepage, your online ordering platform, and information about your locations. Then, when you post about whatever you’re trying to promote, you just encourage people to go to the “link in bio,” and the rest is history.
And away we go!
Whew, that was a lot, wasn’t it? We believe in you, though. Social media is a fantastic way to start building the community buzz you need to take your small business to the next level.
Check out the other resources Honeycomb has for small businesses at https://www.honeycombcredit.com/resources
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