social media marketing for

small businesses

True story: early in my social media career, I was employed full-time for a business and social was just a part of my role. One day, my boss called me into his office and pulled up the Starbucks page on Facebook. I looked at their stunning graphics, their clever captions and their frequency of postings.

“This!” he said, pointing to the screen, “this is what I want for our social!”

“Great!” I replied, going into brand-new-marketer-who-hasn’t-learned-to-set-expectations mode.

In my head I was thinking,
“Gee, that would be swell. Problem is, they have multiple full-time staff members devoted to marketing. We have ME and social isn’t the only thing I’m responsible for.”

My instincts were correct. I just did a quick skim of people who work in marketing for Starbucks and I found about a dozen confirmed employees in the first two pages of results.

Now I’m not saying that my boss was wrong for using the Starbucks page as inspiration (this is one of my go-to tricks for new clients).  My point is simply this: social media marketing for small business has its own unique challenges. There are benefits as well: a smaller audience will watch you struggle through learning the ropes (can you imagine the pressure of posting for a major brand in your first go-round?!?) and testing things out. But you will have fewer people available to contribute to your content and strategy. In fact, many of the small businesses I coach are like the company I worked for: they might have one employee who devotes PART of their time to social media.

That’s the bad news bears. The good news bears: I’m here to help you leverage every available opportunity to rock the hell out of your social media. One of my favorite quotes of all time is “play the game, not the occasion.” While it usually is referring to not putting undue pressure on high-stakes situations, it also works in this context, meaning you should post on social as though you have a million followers instead of one hundred.

So here are four tips to help you get started with social media for your small business:

1. Start with a plan.

I’ve said this before (a few times), but it’s often overlooked with small businesses. There are often a few reasons for this:

 You haven’t even really thought about writing a social media plan

No one on your team has the experience or expertise to build out a social strategy

You don’t know what you want to achieve

You think you don’t need one because you’re too small

All of those are valid, but also don’t really matter. In fact, the smaller the business, the more you will need to have a strategy. There are a few reasons for this, but the one I’m going to address here (more below) is that it’s incredibly easy to skip social day after day because you have the excuse of not knowing what you want to be posting about. 

So write a strategy that identifies:

  • Your target market and their pain points
  • How you are going to address those people/topics on social
  • Your branding and voice
  • Frequency and platforms of posting
  • What good looks like

Side note: I understand needing help with this. If someone asked me to sit down and write out my retirement plan, I would go into Netflix Procrastination Mode like a mother. So, if you already feel overwhelmed at just the idea of writing a strategy, I get it. I can help.


2. Get everyone in on the action.

One of the hardest things about a small team is you simply don’t have the manpower to devote a whole person to social media. That’s a bummer. The cool thing is that a small team can work wonders when you’re all pulling in the same direction. That’s why having the plan is so important: it’s repeatable so everyone can contribute.

Review the strategy with your entire team and make sure they understand their responsibilities and roles. I am a business owner, so I understand the struggle of not wanting to let go of the reigns on some of your duties. But you and I both know that our businesses will be stronger and better if we let people in to help us. So, go over branding and voice and let others share the responsibility. It might even be a simple thing like having them get pics throughout the day or pinging you via email with a cool article they found that your target market might like.

Heck, there’s even a way to get your customers on board with your strategy. The official term is called User Generated Content (UGC for short). It can be as simple as having them post to Instagram with a   tag and hashtag specific to your business

{Got these great roses at @BobsRoses. So pretty! #BobsRoses #TreatYoSelf}

 or having contests for your pic of the week where you give a gift card to the customer who sends you the best picture to reuse.

3. Embrace video to showcase who you are.

EVERYONE can record everything today, so start using video for your business. Thanks to the advent of smart phones, the availability of inexpensive equipment and tons of new apps, it has never been easier to produce quality video for free (or next to nothing).

Here are a couple of ideas to get you started:

  1. Product and service videos that simply explain who you are and what you do
  2. Behind the scenes videos showing what it looks like when you bake a cake or how your staff goofs off in the break room
  3. Live videos promoting a special event or a special tip or trick
  4. How-tos on ways to get the most out of your product/service

You can pair these ideas with tools like Envato, Adobe SparkPost and find someone on Fiverr to create your intro for a polished look on a budget. 

If you get nervous being on camera, congratulations! You are a normal human being. We all get nervous and that’s okay. What’s not okay is letting those nerves and the fact that you haven’t built that skill set up yet interfere with your business goals. Practice in front of a mirror, do a practice run while you’re out running errands, ask trusted friends/family/staff for feedback.


4. Don’t be a hero.

You might be thinking to yourself that you can learn all about social media on your own and become the next Rachel Pedersen (I’m in line first, tho). And it’s entirely possible. I’m not here to rain on your parade, so you do you, boo. BUT please be honest with yourself first. Is this really how you want to spend your time and energy? Do you have the bandwidth? Do you even want to put the groundwork into your own social? If not, that’s okay. That’s why my job exists: to help you with what you need.

You might be saying to yourself that you can’t afford help with social media. That’s a realistic problem and believe me, there are certain parts of my business that I can’t afford to outsource either (yet). But there are differences between a full management package and a one-time starter package. Or monthly coaching. Or a comprehensive audit. I’m saying, there are options here. So, don’t decide that you can’t afford something without knowing how it could benefit your business and without researching all of your options. You can email me at hello@ek.marketing to start the conversation.

I <3 small businesses (hello, I AM one) and want you to have all of the resources you need to succeed! Leave me a comment and tell me where you get stuck!


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