Learning how to promote your business on social media can often feel like a hit-or-miss scenario. With the surging growth and popularity of social media in recent years, however, promotion on these platforms has become an essential form of small business marketing.
Luckily, although social media promotion will involve experimentation—finding what does and doesn’t work for your business—there are a number of creative strategies you can employ to get started.
Here, we’ll break down some of the best methods you can use to learn how to promote your business on social media—from developing a content calendar to working with influencers.
According to a 2020 report published by Datareportal, We Are Social, and Hootsuite, social media users are spending an average of two hours and 24 minutes per day across an average of eight social networks and messaging apps. Of those networks, Facebook continues to be the most used, followed by YouTube and Instagram.
What does this mean for small businesses?
In short, there’s a huge advantage to learning how to promote your business on social media—if done successfully, you’ll be marketing your business to your target audience and drawing people to your website or location, hopefully resulting in more sales, and consequently, increased revenue.
With this in mind, let’s break down some of the best ways to promote your business on social media:
When you’re figuring out how to promote your business on social media, one of the first steps you’ll take is setting up your profiles on the various platforms that you think best-suit your business—whether Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Once you’ve set up your profiles, however, they’ll do no good in helping promote your business if no one knows they exist. Therefore, one of the best things you can do is promote your social media profiles across your business website, email communications (as shown below), and even in your physical store.
The more people see your social media profiles, the more likely they are to visit them and interact with your business.
In addition, it’s also worth cross-promoting your social media profiles across different channels. In other words, this means you can use your Instagram profile, for example, to promote your business Facebook page.
If you start to gain a particularly large following on one platform, you might use that platform to market your other channels as well—and therefore, reach the different audiences that frequent those particular channels.
One of the most difficult parts of learning how to promote your business on social media is staying organized—especially if you’re using multiple channels. Therefore, in order to streamline your social media efforts, you might consider using a content or social media calendar to plan your posts ahead of time.
You can create a calendar that encompasses all of your different channels and use it to brainstorm, write, and edit your posts, as well as track them after they go live.
Depending on your schedule, you might make your calendar a month, or a few weeks at a time—but either way, planning in advance will help you stay organized—plus, it will give you the opportunity to think about your social media marketing strategy and put additional thought into your processes.
Although you can certainly make a calendar in Google Sheets or Excel, you might also opt to take advantage of a social media scheduling platform, like Hootsuite or Buffer, which allows you to create your calendar within their software. Even better, these platforms give you the ability to schedule your posts ahead of time, which can be a huge time-saver for busy business owners.
When you’re learning how to promote your business on social media—a great way to get started if you haven’t necessarily gained traction yet (and even once you have) is to capitalize on social media trends, popular hashtags, and even social media “holidays.”
As an example, if you’re building a social media strategy for your restaurant, you might capitalize on trends like “#thirstythursday,” or “National Pizza Day,” or even simply “#Instafood.” All of these trends will not only help you connect to your existing followers, but place your business amongst the larger community that’s participating in those hashtags or holidays.
Of course, you’ll want to capitalize on trends that relate specifically to your business, your audience, and the particular social media platform in question. With those examples we just mentioned, you would want to incorporate them into Instagram posts, as opposed to Facebook or LinkedIn posts.
Additionally, like with restaurants, you’ll find that your industry has its own trends that you can participate in. As another example, if you’re a fashion business, you’ll be able to post “#OTD,” or, outfit of the day, as well as “#fashionfriday.” A simple Google search, or search on your social media platform, will help you identify trends and popular posts that may work well for your business.
Overall, getting involved in these kinds of trends is not only a great way of promoting your business, but also engaging your customers and potential customers. You can encourage customers to make their own posts and tag your business.
When you started your business, it’s likely that you put significant time and energy to creating and developing your small business branding. To this point, as you promote your business on social media, your social media profiles become a part of your brand.
Therefore, in order to get the most out of your social media strategy, you’ll want to craft a facet of your brand that’s specific to social media and ensure that it’s consistent across platforms or across channels. Of course, your business’s aesthetic, voice, and tone might be slightly different on Instagram than it is on Facebook, but overall, social media users should be able to get a good sense of your brand from your channels.
Similarly, they should find consistency within your channels—in other words, if they see a post from you, they should feel that’s consistent with who you are, what you typically post, and what your business does and stands for.
As an example, if you run a doggy daycare business and highlight a fun, playful attitude on your social media platforms, you wouldn’t suddenly start posting the more mundane aspects of your business, such as scheduling employees or reordering dog food.
When it comes down to it, it can be helpful for current and potential customers to understand your business through your social media platforms—which means choosing a consistent vibe and sticking to it.
One of the great things about social media is it gives everyone a voice. Now, if you have customers who love your brand, you’re likely going to hear about it or see it on social media.
Just as we mentioned above in regards to social media trends and holidays, once you have users that are posting and talking about your business, you have easy access for more content for your channels.
This social media strategy, called user-generated content or UGC, is as simple as it sounds—brands are taking the content created by their users (with permission) and highlighting it.
There are two main benefits to this. First, it makes marketing a bit easier for your brand. The second, and more important benefit, is it highlights and showcases an active community to your followers.
Consumers today, and especially the millennial generation, want to see input from other customers before they buy. According to a study by Mintel, 72% of opinion-seekers aged 25 to 34 look to social media contacts for recommendations when purchasing goods and services.
The fact of the matter is consumers trust people over brands. Therefore, for small businesses that take this approach, that knowledge is a powerful tool. And it also explains why user-generated content works so well.
Although social media is typically considered a marketing or advertising tool, it can also be an extremely useful customer service tool—and using it as such is a creative, and likely successful, way to promote your business.
This being said, in a survey by Sprout Social, 90% of respondents said they’ve used social at some point to directly communicate with a company. It’s also the first place customers choose to get a response from a brand over both phone and email.
Therefore, if you’re not using your social media channels to communicate and answer questions from your customers, or potential customers, doing so is a great way to improve your customer service and increase customer retention.
Whether you use Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter, you can use the comment, chat, and messaging functions to answer questions from your customers, provide information, and even take orders or appointments in some cases.
When it comes down to it, customer service statistics show that 73% of customers stick with a brand because of friendly employees or customer service representatives. In this way, offering customer service through your social media channels could make a huge difference for your business.
Influencer marketing has been a big strategy in social media—with big brands, in particular, finding success working with A-list celebrities as influencers.
This being said, however, small businesses aren’t excluded from the potential advantages of influencer marketing. One thing to remember about this social media strategy is that it’s not the size of the following that matters, but how engaged and excited that following is.
Therefore, you might find a lot more success with someone who has 5,000 super-engaged fans right in your target audience over another person with 200,000—these people are called micro-influencers.
To this point, influencer marketing company Markerly performed some research on Instagram—they compared the engagement rate of people with small followings (micro-influencers) versus large followings.
The results might surprise you:
We believe influencers in the 10k-100k follower range offer the best combination of engagement and broad reach, with like and comment rates that exceed influencers with higher followers.
So, if you can find the right micro-influencer who is willing to work with your business, investing in this creative strategy can be a great way to promote your small business on social media.
With the coming and going of different trendy social media platforms, one thing has become clear—visuals are important, whether photos, videos, or infographics. At this point, almost anyone can take a pretty incredible photo using their iPhone, so as a business, you’ll want to take your visuals to the next level when learning how to promote your business on social media.
Of course, the type of visuals you highlight will vary based on the social media channel and the type of business you run—but, in general, the more compelling visuals you can post, the more success you’ll find.
Therefore, you might choose to focus on video, especially if your business lends itself well to that medium. As an example, if you own a bakery, you might record recipe videos, frosting videos, or even short clips showcasing your different products. In particular, high-speed videos of cake baking are popular among Instagram and Facebook users alike.
On the other hand, you might opt to create fun graphics or memes—whatever you think will be most appealing to your target audience or niche market. To get a sense of what performs well, you can take a look at what some competitors are doing, as well as explore different hashtags and categories that relate to your business.
Another great way to promote your small business on social media?
Take a common promotional strategy, implementing discounts or giveaways, and apply it to your social media channels. Instead of simply offering discounts through email, on your website, or in your store, you can create campaigns that are only run on your social media channels.
With these specific promotions, you’ll not only be encouraging potential customers to purchase from your business, but if they do, you’ll easily be able to identify how they found you—making it much easier to evaluate the success of your campaigns.
In addition to discounts or promotions, you can also run social giveaways—and encourage participation and interaction amongst users to gather more buzz on your social media account.
As an example, if you run a clothing business, you might give away a new item to one user who comments on what their favorite product is on your post. Similarly, you might give social media followers early access to a sale or new product—creating a quasi-social media-based loyalty program.
Finally, one of the easiest and most common ways to learn how to promote your business on social media is through advertising.
Virtually every social media channel offers a paid ads platform that allows business owners to run targeted campaigns with money behind them. Of course, for this strategy, you’ll need to invest money in your business promotion, so you’ll want to ensure that you have the budget before developing and running your ads.
This being said, however, one of the biggest benefits of social media advertising, like advertising on Facebook, for example, are the tools Facebook provides that allow you to target specific audiences. With Facebook ads, you can target people who have interacted with your business before, users in certain locations, with certain interests, etc.
Once again, the channel that will work best for social media ads for your business will largely depend on your audience and what your business does. For instance, if your audience skews older, you’d find much greater success advertising on a platform like Facebook than one like TikTok.
All in all, it can take some trial and error to figure out the right way to advertise through social media, but it can take your business past the reach of organic social alone.
At the end of the day, the world of social media moves very quickly—so when you’re learning how to promote or advertise your business through these channels, you shouldn’t be afraid to get creative, try things and scrap them if they don’t succeed, and adjust as the trends change.
To this point, although it may take some time and effort to find out what works best for your business, investing in social media now will help you stand out from the competition and engage with more potential customers in the long run.
Liz Froment is a Boston-based freelance writer who writes primarily in the finance and marketing industries. You can find more about her at lizfroment.com or @lfroment on Twitter.