Social Media Marketing For Small Business

Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses

Welcome, small business marketers!

We’ve been hard at work figuring out the strategies and tools that help small businesses succeed on social media, and we want to share that information with you!

Whether you’re new to social media marketing or a social veteran, you’ll find what you need here. Just use the table of contents to navigate to your preferred content.

Table of contents

  • The value of social media for small business
  • Setting your social media goals
  • Proving social’s value with analytics
  • 11 social media tips for small business
  • Social media tools for small business
  • Get in touch with Sprout’s small business team
  • Social media strategy for small business [infographic]
  • More Resources

The value of social media for small businesses

Working at a smaller organization you’re probably wearing more hats than a Doctor Seuss character (or maybe that was just Cat in the Hat…).

I was astounded to hear just how much most small business marketers have on their plates, like Stephanie from the McFerrin Center for Entrepreneurship.

While social media may be one of the first things to fall off your to-do list when you’re low on time, remember:

Social media is valuable for businesses of any size or industry, and finding customers on social media has a direct impact on sales and your bottom line.

Take a look at how much more likely individuals are to buy from the companies that they follow on social media channels.

likelihood of buying from a brand followed on social media

While finding and keeping customers is a challenging endeavor, it’s equally if not more important to maintain and build relationships with the customers that you already have.

Any missed opportunities or poor customer experiences can spread through your client-base like wildfire, leading to churn that can cost you the business you’ve worked tirelessly to build.

These missed opportunities and poor customer experiences are especially dangerous if you’re not active and engaging on social as a business, because they’re invisible to you until it’s too late.

Not only that, but the number of social users willing to buy from you skyrockets if you use social media not just for publishing, but for actually engaging with your social media audience.

71% of users more likely to buy after a positive social experience

But how exactly can you get social media users to purchase from you and increase the value of social for your small business? Try these proven tactics.

social actions that prompt consumers to purchase

The proof is in the pudding; social media is a key channel for growing revenue for your small business and should be prioritized.

But while social media is great for sales, there is so much more you can do.

Let’s dive into the next section: Setting social goals for your small business.

Setting social goals for your small business

Almost every time this stemmed from simply not knowing how to choose goals.

Setting the right goals will not only help you prove your success, but also help you figure out which tactics are working. This makes it much easier to scale your social media presence.

But choosing goals can be tough.

So here are three different ways to hone in on the goals based on where you want users in the funnel, what your peers are doing, and by the industry that you’re in.

Choosing goals based on your funnel

I can’t say this enough: the goal of your social media marketing should never be to simply bulk schedule and blast outposts.

The social networks don’t reward you for a publishing-only strategy and neither do your customers.

In fact, being too promotional is the number one reasons consumers will unfollow you on social.

reasons users unfollow on social

Instead, you can look at your social media presence from the funnel perspective. Yes, you need to publish content to drive awareness, reach and overall brand awareness.

But it doesn’t stop there.

The further down you get in the funnel, the more important it is to actually respond to your customers and create great relationships.

social metrics map

No matter which steps of the funnel you optimize for, make sure that you’re listening and responding to your customers at every stage of their journey.

Choosing goals by studying your peers

While the funnel is an amazing place to start choosing your goals, you can also look to your peers in the social marketing space.

It’s important to know that whenever you’re feeling overwhelmed or frustrated with social media marketing, there are people out there facing the same challenges you are.

The most recent Sprout Social index asked marketers what their biggest goals are on social media.

The top goals social media marketers are looking to are to:

  1. Increase brand awareness
  2. Increase community engagement
  3. Increasing website clicks

If these goals seem to align with your own, then make sure to keep track of them, as well!

Choosing goals by industry

At Weebigo, we’re lucky enough to work with thousands of small businesses in any industry you can name.

We’ve helped these customers set their social goals based off of the ways they can succeed, and you can leverage those insights for choosing your own goals.

Higher education goals

Whether you’re managing the social media marketing for your entire institution, or a single department within a college, these are some of the goals that will ensure you’re making a valuable impact.

  • Audience engagement (likes, replies, shares, etc…)
  • Increasing enrollment and retention
  • Positive school reputation
  • Attracting prospective student recruitment
  • Drive alumni donations
  • Increased event attendance
  • A consistent voice across departments

Internet and software goals (B2B)

Internet and Software organizations make up a good deal of Sprout Social’s small business clients, like Trello.

Though their business has tremendous brand recognition in the space they still have a smaller team relative to their peers in the SaaS space.

  • Brand awareness (growth, engagements) and consideration (link clicks, web traffic)
  • Lead generation (marketing qualified leads)
  • Competitor analysis (share of voice)/Market share
  • Audience engagement (likes, replies, shares, etc…)
  • Drive customer loyalty (+ CX) and reduce churn
  • Customer service efficiencies (engagement speed and rates)

Retail goals

Given the high volume of sales in the retail industry, social media can be a goldmine for finding new customers.

Brooks Running has mastered the ability to quickly find and engage with customers to increase their sales from social.

Brooks Running pull quote
  • Brand awareness (growth, engagements) and consideration (link clicks, web traffic)
  • Find new sales opportunities (conversations to join)
  • Uncover brand expansion opportunities
  • Reputation management (engaging with inbound messages)
  • Increase customer satisfaction
  • Inspire customer loyalty
  • Product launch analysis
  • Competitive analysis

Healthcare goals

Healthcare can be a difficult industry to market on social media. There are rules and regulations that must be followed so your organization doesn’t land in hot water. While you establish your goals make sure that you remain HIPAA compliant.

  • Follow industry regulations & brand voice consistency
  • Drive brand awareness (follower growth) to increase # of patients helped
  • Build trust and patient confidence (engagements, impressions)
  • Drive positive hospital, doctor, & nurse reviews/ sentiment
  • Build relationships in the local community to improve patient experience
  • Increase physician credibility/ trust via thought-leadership
  • Social recruiting to hire high-quality staff

Non-profit goals

For non-profit organizations, audience engagement can be about much more than marketing metrics. We spoke to one organization using Sprout that provided diapers and baby food to families in need, and if they missed any single message on social media it meant that a child could be going hungry.

S0 while you look to these goals as a guiding light, remember to take into account your specific organization and the most important things you should be accomplished on social.

  • Donor recruitment (increase membership) and retention
  • Recruit more volunteers
  • Build cause and brand awareness (impressions and reach)
  • Audience engagement (likes, replies, shares, etc…)
  • Demonstrating transparency
  • Reducing cost
  • Drive event attendance
  • Inspire audience support
  • Increase board member buy-in with compelling data

Franchise goals

While some franchisees may have goals set on at a franchisor level, if you have some leeway when it comes to creating your social goals keep these in mind.

  • Brand awareness (growth, engagements) and consideration (link clicks, web traffic)
  • Audience engagement (likes, replies, shares, etc…)
  • Franchisee recruitment
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Driving Scalability
  • Employee engagement

Travel and hospitality goals

Poor customer service or negative reviews can make or break your organization in the travel and hospitality interest. While setting goals to increase your customer base is important, it’s just as important to engage your customers on social channels to ensure the best possible experience.

  • Brand awareness (growth, engagements) and consideration (link clicks, web traffic)
  • Attracting guests
  • Decrease vacancy
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Positive reviews
  • Reputation management
  • Audience engagement (likes, replies, shares, etc…)

Food and beverage goals

The food and beverage industry has amazing potential to find and delight new customers on social media through social listening.

Braxton Brewing is good example.

  • Brand awareness (growth, engagements) and consideration (link clicks, web traffic)
  • Audience engagement (likes, replies, shares, etc…)
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Positive reviews
  • Customer service
  • Physical brand expansion

Government goals

Many people may not think of government agencies as being the most technologically savvy industries, but one of our customers, The City of Lenexa, has found amazing results in growing their social audience and engagement on social. Some additional goals to consider on social are:

  • Citizen engagement (likes, replies, shares, etc…)
  • Reputation management
  • Demonstrating transparency
  • Customer service
  • Data analysis

Sports and events goals

Whether your team is rocking an undefeated season or is in a bit of a slump, social media is critical for attracting new fans, deepening the connection with diehard fans, and increasing tickets sales. Here are more goals to ensure you’re making the most of social:

  • Brand awareness (growth, engagements) and consideration (link clicks, web traffic)
  • Audience engagement (likes, replies, shares, etc…)
  • Sales opportunities
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Customer service
  • Event/ Game Attendance

Real estate goals

Real estate can be an incredibly competitive market, and to successfully outsell your competition, it’s important to leverage social media. Stay on top of industry trends and emerging tech with social media. Goals to consider are:

  • Brand awareness (growth, engagements) and consideration (link clicks, web traffic)
  • Lead generation
  • Reputation management
  • Customer service
  • Positive reviews
  • Strong nationwide community presence
  • Engagement with current and prospective residents and buyers
  • Customer care/ support for retention and loyalty
  • Brand awareness and consideration at community and corporate levels
  • Boost agent/ broker credibility via thought-leadership social selling

Lifestyle and fitness goals

Lifestyle and fitness are incredibly important on social media. Not just the lifestyle and fitness models sharing their content, but the brands that supply those celebrities as well.

Keeping your products adjacent to those influencers will help keep you top of mind.

Here are some additional goals to consider.

  • Brand awareness (growth, engagements) and consideration (link clicks, web traffic)
  • Sales opportunities
  • Reputation management
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Positive reviews
  • Customer sentiment online
  • Brand mentions by location

Finance and credit union goals

Finance and credit unions are also susceptible to social media trouble.

While you should consider the below goals, also consider what the rules and regulations are for marketing your institution on social media.

  • Mitigate risk of social (strict regulations/ compliance; terms, audits, etc.)
  • Member loyalty (humanize brand in the region; engagement
  • Professionals as industry experts (reputation)
  • Digital transformation
  • Event and community sponsorship attendance
  • Social selling

Entertainment goals

Entertainment is a big part of social media, and if you can bring some of your entertainment to social media you reap the rewards of increased reach, engagement and sales. Beyond that, here are some of the most popular goals we see on social.

  • Brand awareness (growth, engagements) and consideration (link clicks, web traffic)
  • Sales opportunities
  • Customer service
  • Customer satisfaction
  • Positive reviews

Media and publishing goals

Technology has transformed industries big and small around the world, but few have been impacted as much as journalism.

While some people may prefer the feel of paper in their hands, the numbers don’t lie: Modern consumers turn to screens for their news. So make sure you’re staying ahead by setting some of these social goals.

  • Brand awareness (growth, engagements) and consideration (link clicks, web traffic)
  • Audience engagement (likes, replies, shares, etc…)
  • Competitor analysis
  • Sales opportunities
  • Positive reviews
  • Employee engagement

Attractions, museums, zoos and theme parks goals

Social media can have an incredible impact on attracting customers to your attractions. Just set and track some of these social media goals to take your social presence to the next level.

  • Strengthen community relationships
  • Fundraising/audience growth/increase memberships
  • Brand awareness for exhibits and events
  • Seasonal campaign tracking & performance
  • Find new business/showcase multi-purpose functionality
  • Increase web traffic

Do you need help connecting your goals to your social media strategy? Fill out your information below and one of our specialists will help you figure out how.

Now that you have an idea of the goals you’d like to achieve, let’s move on to the next section, Social analytics and reporting for small business, to help you prove you’re hitting those goals.

Social analytics and reporting for small business

Goal setting is one thing, but tracking your progress to ensure success is something else completely.

That’s why it’s important to use social media analytics to figure out what’s moving the needle for your business.

According to the most recent Sprout Social Index, social analytics is the most used social marketing feature and strategy.

social marketer's most used features & strategies

Native social media networks offer analytics on your social presence, but if you want to get deeper analysis, cross-network analysis, cross-profile analysis and more, you will need to invest in a social media management platform.

Below are some of the most important metrics that you can track provided by the social networks.


The number of times an individual saw your message.


The number of times an individual has interacted with your message, including:

  • Likes
  • Favorites
  • Shares
  • Retweets
  • Clicks
  • Replies
  • Follows

Engagement rates

The number of engagements divided by the number of impressions.


The number of times someone visited your profile page.


The number of times your handle or brand was mentioned on social.


The number of individuals who follow you on social, usually shown as an increase or decrease over time.

Social media tips for small business

Alright, up to now we’ve figured out why social media is valuable for your small business, how to set goals that will have an impact on your bottom line, and how to track those goals with social media analytics.

Now let’s get into some of the more tactical stuff. Here are tips for smaller organizations ramping up their social media marketing.

1. Identify your social audience

Most marketers will tell you the first step in creating a successful campaign is getting to know your audience, and the same rings true for social media.

Though you may have an understanding of who your audience is there is social data you can pull to verify your understanding.

Get a better understanding of who your social audience is by using data from social networks or a third-party social media tool.

Below is a look at my personal audience demographics from Twitter.

Twitter’s analytics report

twitter report

To access this data go to your Twitter page, click on your icon in the top right corner, click “Analytics” and go to the tab “Audiences”.

This is a plethora of data that can help you identify who and where your audience is so you can create content you know they’ll enjoy.

2. Build relationships with engagement

Remember the graph we shared above which showed customers are 71% more likely to purchase from a brand after a positive experience on social?

That’s because engaging with your audience on social is critical.

Customers reach out to you on social for a number of reasons, and our Sprout Social Index surveyed customers to ask why they’re reaching out to brands social.

reasons users reach out to brands on social

Reaching out to your customers to answer their questions in a timely fashion is essential to building a deeper relationship and selling more.

Think about it this way: you wouldn’t ignore a customer calling your office phone, would you?

3. Search social for new opportunities

This is probably my favorite tip and our customers light up when they first see the value.

It’s possible to use a social media listening tool to find conversations happening on social media that are perfect for you to join.

Let’s say that you run a pizza restaurant in Chicago that sells gluten-free pizza.

brand keyword monitoring

There are a few things you can do to those who are mentioning gluten-free pizza.

  1. Give them a simple Like or Favorite. Chances are they will check out your page and see that you similarly offer gluten-free pizza and may put you on their list of places to try.
  2. Actively reach out to them. Acknowledge their original message in a way that shows you care about their opinion and even offer them a coupon code for the next time they’re in the market for your gluten-free deliciousness.
It helps me be part of timely conversations that before I may have missed, especially on Twitter. It’s also really easy to say thank you to new followers and donors on social media, where before I may have missed it.
Garrett Hondronastas
Communications Manager, Infant Crisis Services

4. Create a social content calendar

If you’re not taking the time to plan your social media calendar in advance, you could end up scrambling to find content to share.

This is a big problem because sharing quality content across your social channels is key to engage your audience and attract new followers.

Below is a view of a healthy social content calendar with a month’s worth of content across several platforms.

sprout content calendar
  1. Figure out what content resonates with your audience
  2. Decide on how often to post to each social network and profile
  3. Create or source great content to share
  4. Fill up your content calendar with a social publishing tool

5. Post your content at optimal times

One questions we hear frequently is “what is the best time to post on social”.

But while that’s helpful it does create a problem: if everyone starts posting at that time, is it really then the best time to post?

The answer is no.

These types of studies come up very frequently and while they are fresh they’re an amazing resource to drive more engagement.

But as they become more popular and more users post at those times, streams become flooded and messages get lost.

That’s why it’s a good idea to publish at your optimal send times. 

You can do this by studying your social media sent messages and finding trends in when posts get top engagement.

6. Find the best hashtags to use

While hashtags may seem a bit played out, and they’re frequently on the receiving end of jokes in media, they’re still critical for social media.

Hashtags can increase your reach tremendously and even incentivize customers to Tweet when they normally wouldn’t have.

november hashtag holidays

Assuming the Hashtag Holiday makes sense to your brand, it’s a great way to inspire content while taking advantage of a trending topic.

7. Audit your social presence

Whether you’ve been running your social media accounts for a while or have just been dabbling in social marketing it’s important to conduct an audit of your social presence.

A social media audit will tell you what has worked, what hasn’t worked, what profiles need a bit of an update and so much more.

To make it easier our team created a free social media audit template.

8. Create great visuals

If a picture is worth 1,000 words, and the average length of an English word is 5 letters, it would take you 35.71 Tweets to tell the same story you could with one shared image on social media.

So why wouldn’t you just include an image?

And now it’s time for a braggy story.

We all know how each social network requires differently sized imagery for posting, and if you don’t use the correct size your image may come out a bit distorted.

9. Create social media videos

Video content is an amazing way to increase your engagement on social channels, but creating videos can be intimidating.

Whether you don’t have the necessary supplies to shoot something quality, don’t have the proper location to film or have just a bit of stage-fright, it doesn’t have to be hard.

  1. Base your video content off your objectives and goals.
  2. Video marketing is never one and done – make more!
  3. Keep it short.
  4. You don’t have to hire outside talent – you’re the talent!
  5. Write yourself a script – don’t wing it.
  6. Edit your videos for each social networks requirements.
  7. Optimize the messaging in each social post.
  8. Respond to all inbound video comments.
  9. Pay attention to the video analytics.
  10. Pair video analytics with social analytics.

10. Combine organic with paid

With so many tips already on this list you can run with organically, why should you consider paid ads?

Well if your messages aren’t getting the impressions or views that you’d like then it is always possible to put a few paid dollars between them to give them a boost.

Not sure what kind of ads to start making? We have some data for as well.

consumer feedback on most engaging ad types

We even break down the most compelling content by the generation you may be selling to.

most compelling ad content by generation

11. Get your team on social

There is no I in Tweet.

Thinking as a social business team is important because of social touches all facets of your organization, not just branding and awareness.

From managing client relationships through your customer service and sales teams to engaging audiences through your social and agency teams, to discovering new avenues for your product team, social plays a role in all areas of your organization.

social media impact on organizational departments

With a small business, efficiency is key for your social media marketing team. Make sure you’re building a team that is able to respond to your incoming messages without getting overwhelmed.

Social media collaboration is key!

Now that you have some stellar tips to improve your social media marketing let’s talk about some of the tools that can help you on the way!

Social media tools for small business

We work in marketing and the number of software tools I use every day to help me get things done is pretty immense.

While some marketers may scoff at my “techstack” (the term most people refer to like all of the software in their toolbelt), it genuinely helps me save time and be more effective in my role.

And if I wasn’t using software to keep up with my own work I would be drowning.

Our customers certainly agree when it comes to using Sprout to help them manage their work.

Social media management tools or native networks?

“Why would I use a social media management tool instead of the native social networks?”

This is one of the main questions I hear from small businesses who are looking into social media management software for the first time, and it’s very valid.

At Sprout, we have deep relationships with all of the social media networks out there and their tools are fantastic. However, there are certain advantages to using a third-party-platform for your social marketing.

A few of the king things are:

  • Publishing to multiple social networks and profiles simultaneously
  • Consolidating all of your social content calendars into one platform
  • Aggregating analytics from multiple profiles and networks into one dashboard
  • Streaming all of your messages from all of your platforms into one place for engagement

Engagement tools

Streamline and effectively scale social monitoring and engagement efforts with a unified social inbox.

We all know how good it feels to hit “inbox zero”, right?

Well with an all in one inbox like Sprout’s Smart Inbox, you can stream every single message from all of your social media profiles into a single location, making it easy to respond to the social posts that need your attention.

Then as you go through the Smart Inbox you can choose to Mark Messages Complete, removing it from your Smart Inbox entirely. It gives you the comfort of knowing every social message from your customers has been properly responded to.

Managing social as a team

If you’re lucky enough to have a few accomplices helping you manage your social media messages then Sprout is a must.

  1. Apply custom tags to your Smart Inbox to help divvy up the workload
  2. See live activity updates of who is responding to what to ensure no crossed wires
  3. Turn a message into a Task and assign that to a team member more suitable to answer
  4. Follow an audit trail to see who responded to what in the scary case that something goes awry

Social shouldn’t be difficult

For the 52% of SMBs that depend on in-house staff to manage social, time is money. Sprout streamlines social through:

  • Optimized workflows and user-friendly interfaces, including a content calendar and post-scheduling features.
  • Centralized views of all social media channels and profiles, featuring real-time keyword and hashtag monitoring.
  • Instant analysis of social performance through customizable reporting, at both a profile and post level.


This content is also originally published on SproutSocial

NOTE: This post contains the links which are affiliated to the sponsored products when you click on them and do the purchases, we get the small commission for those links.

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