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Social Media Best Practices for Small Businesses

Almost 70 percent of American adults use social media. As of January 2020, Facebook was the favored social media platform among marketers worldwide, with 94 percent of responding social media marketers stating they use it to promote their business, while 76 percent of respondents use Instagram. While it’s certainly possible to run a small business without using social media, it’s challenging since so many people use social media to keep abreast of what’s going on in the world – including news from the shops they support.

With that said, here are six best practices to maximize your time and energy using social media this year.

1. Conduct a Social Media Audit

Review all of your social media accounts. Which ones are performing well? Which no longer serve your purpose? This is also a great time to update the profile image and basic contact information for the ones you intend to keep. Delete accounts that no longer serve your needs.

2. Figure Out Your Best Platform

This is an important part of the process. It won’t matter if you spend most of your time marketing on Facebook if your audience tends to hang out on Instagram or Pinterest. Evaluate your customer base. Ask them what social media platforms they prefer to use to see content for your type of business. If you’re not on social media at all or have only been dabbling in it by posting sporadically and without intention, this is the time to experiment with one or two platforms.

3. Create a Calendar and Content Library

One of the easiest ways to get overwhelmed and set aside social media is when you feel pressured to come up with content on the fly. Commit an hour or two a week to draft the content for that week. Use scheduling tools to help you post them automatically at the time you want them posted. If you think of something fun to post mid-week, resist the urge to post. Instead, put it in your content library and refer to it during your next time block. This will help you feel less stressed about constantly feeding the social media beast and having content for the next time you sit down to create your posts.

4. Engage

Use being a small business to your advantage! Unlike big box stores, you have the opportunity to get to know many of your customers at a more personal level. Build and strengthen those relationships by engaging with them.

According to a new report by GlobalWebIndex, more than 40 percent of digital consumers use social networks to research new brands or products. Part of that process involves the excitement of learning about your business. Another benefit of engagement is that it helps with algorithms. Social media platforms reward engagement by showing your content to more people since it thinks it’s of interest to its users.

5. Experiment with Video

Most of us have come to expect some sort of visuals with our social media and more than half of Millennials and Gen Z users admits their most recent fashion buys were a result of images they saw on social media, according to e-marketer. Videos are fast becoming a fun way for retailers and wholesalers to show off their products in a way that provide customers a better sense of the product from a variety of angles.

It’s important to remember that you don’t always have to be in your place of business to post images or videos. One retailer I follow often posts videos of her cooking in her kitchen – using kitchen accessories from her shop. Another did an impromptu “how to wear a scarf” video in her backyard using a new line of scarves. It’s a good reminder that we aren’t selling stuff – customers are buying items to enhance their life and video helps bring products to life.

6. Track Results

None of this will matter if you don’t see results. Each platform offers analytics on the backend and it’s worth evaluating your results regularly. You’ll start to notice patterns you can use to improve your engagement. Are you finding more people are responding to images or videos? Or are they having fun responding to questions or polls? Get creative and add more of that content. You won’t know what’s working if you don’t bother to look at the data.

Social media favors engagement, no matter the size of your business. Use it to connect with your customers, reach new ones and have fun. If it seems like too much, start small and grow from there.

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Written by

Megy Karydes is a Chicago-based writer and communications consultant. She's writing a book about women in the alcohol spirits industry. Sign up for her monthly emails at www.megykarydes.com/newsletter.