How Small Businesses Can Leverage Social Media
Having a presence on social media can reap big rewards for your small business. Social networking sites allow you to reach your target audience in a cost-effective way while engaging current and past customers and attracting new business opportunities.
Social media users span all demographics, but the key is identifying which platforms your customers are using and how best to promote your product or service through those specific channels.
Let’s take a look at the benefits small business owners can gain through social media marketing and dive into the differences among the top sites, so you can determine which ones are the best fit for your company.
Top 3 Benefits of Using Social Media for Your Small Business
Social media offers free access to a vast audience of potential customers, providing endless opportunities to spread brand awareness, increase traffic to your business website, and generate sales.
If you’re a small business owner on a tight budget, or if your business is brand-new, having a presence on one or more social media platforms is a marketing tactic that makes sense. While there are many benefits to leveraging social media, we outline the top three benefits for small businesses below:
1. Boost Brand Awareness
When it comes to marketing, social media has a massive advantage over traditional media platforms like TV, radio, and print. With one social media post, you can immediately spread information about your business and potentially reach millions of people.
If you’re an online retailer or service-based business, you can expand your audience to people all over the country who could potentially be buyers of your product or services. If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, you can target people who live in, or travel through, your specific Oregon location. There is no other form of advertising that can give you this type of reach for the cost.
2. Bring Traffic to Your Business Website
Another benefit of social media is that it’s easy to direct traffic to your own website by simply including a call to action in your posts, like “Visit our website to sign up now!” or “Get 10% off when you purchase online today!”
Encouraging social media followers to visit your website can improve the quality and quantity of your inbound traffic. Also, it’s an effective way to generate traffic without having to rely on SEO and Google Search.
3. Gain New Customers and Increase Sales
Another significant benefit for small businesses using social media is the ability to target your posts. You can take advantage of advertising tools that get your posts directly in front of your target audience and gain exposure to potential customers. With retargeting ads offered by most platforms, you can make sure your content is being seen by those who are most likely to patronize your business, based on demographics like age, gender, location, personal interests, and more.
Targeted posts are considered paid advertising on social media, but the good news is that on platforms like Facebook and Instagram, you can choose between CPC (cost-per-click) or CPM (cost-per-thousand-impressions) models and set your own daily budget. It’s a great tool to attract new clients and help grow your small business.
Social Media for Small Business: 5 Major Platforms
One of the struggles small businesses have with social media is figuring out which platforms are right for the business and will provide the most value. Not every social networking site is a good fit, and trying to master each one is too time-consuming. Instead, it’s best to consider which one your target audience uses and focus your efforts there.
Facebook is the world’s largest social media network, with over 2.9 billion active monthly users in 2021. Having a presence on Facebook is a must for every small business, regardless of what products or services your company offers.
- 200 million small companies are on Facebook.
- 63% of Americans over 12 say they have a Facebook account.
- 78% of consumers have found a product through Facebook.
Creating a business profile page is free, and you can customize your page with images and list your website URL, contact information, hours of operation, and the products and services your company offers. Once your profile is set up, you can create posts that share information, photos, videos, infographics, company news, blogs, and more. And with a Facebook Business account, you’ll gain access to advertising tools and in-depth analytics.
Instagram is incredibly popular, with around 1.1 billion active users in 2021. What sets Instagram apart from other social media sites is that it is a visual platform dominated by photo and video posts. Therefore, it’s best for small businesses that have appealing visual content to share. Just ensure that your images and video are high quality.
- More than half of the global Instagram population worldwide is age 34 or younger, and it is especially popular with teens.
- Instagram is also one of the most influential advertising channels among female Gen Z users when making purchasing decisions.
- 90% of people on Instagram follow a business account.
From Instagram Live to Instagram Stories, small businesses can use Instagram’s tools to promote their offerings. It’s important to note that this platform is almost entirely mobile. It doesn’t allow you to take photos or create new posts on the desktop version unless you use a special social media management tool.
Twitter currently has 396.5 million users and is best for sharing brief updates, engaging with followers, and sharing links to blog posts. You can share tweets—which are posts containing 240 characters or fewer—photos, videos, links, and more. You can also interact with others on the platform by mentioning users in your posts and liking and retweeting tweets from other users.
- 206 million users access Twitter daily.
- Twitter is most popular among users age 25 to 34.
- Worldwide, men use Twitter more than women.
If you have engaging content to share and can voice that content in a captivating way, Twitter can be a valuable platform for quickly spreading the word about your business. To boost your tweets, you can use hashtags, and when users retweet your posts, your content could go viral. When using Twitter, it’s essential to strike a balance between sharing your own content and retweeting relevant content from other users.
LinkedIn has 260 million monthly users and is the prime platform for professional social networking. This is the best social media channel to find and recruit talent for your company, position yourself as an industry leader, and promote your business to other professionals.
- Women account for 43.1% of LinkedIn users, while 56.9% of LinkedIn users are men.
- The age group with the most LinkedIn users is between 25 and 34 at 60.1%.
- 50% of internet users with a college degree or higher use LinkedIn.
Users on LinkedIn create their own profiles that showcase their skills and professional experience, similar to a resume. Businesses can create a company profile that showcases their offerings. LinkedIn is effective for posting job openings, information about your company culture, blogs related to your industry, and other content that would interest professionals. You can also join industry-specific LinkedIn Groups, which can help with brand recognition and introduce others to your company profile and website.
TikTok is relatively new to the social media arena. On this platform, its 100 million active users can create and share short videos. It is mainly dominated by Gen Z users, and as it skews toward a younger audience, it may not be the right fit for your small business.
- 53% of TikTok users are male; and 47% are female.
- Roughly 50% of TikTok’s global audience is under 34, with 32.5% between 10 and 19 years old.
- TikTok was the most downloaded app in 2021, with 656 million downloads.
TikTok is known for posting memes, dance challenges, and viral moments. It can be a successful marketing platform for small businesses, but only if used properly. The good thing about TikTok is that it doesn’t just show you videos from those you follow. Instead, it offers a continuous stream of content, including videos from people you don’t follow but that the app thinks you might like. This means potential customers can see your content without going directly to your profile.
Get Started with Social Media for Your Small Business
Learning how to leverage social media for your small business can set you up for success.
The Oregon SBDC Network is here to help small business owners. Find the SBDC closest to you to access the resources you need to help your Oregon small business grow and thrive by visiting OregonSBDC.org.