Effective Social Media Strategies for Small Businesses

September 11, 2023 6 min read

Joe Manna

Joe Manna

Creating a social media strategy

Social media has become an integral part of any modern marketing strategy. Executing an effective social media marketing strategy takes more than creating a content calendar and posting scheduled posts on social media.

It requires careful planning, commitment, and optimization over time. 

This no-fluff guide provides small business owners and marketers with a starting point to craft a robust social media marketing strategy.

Developing a Social Strategy

Effective social media strategies begin with well-defined business goals and objectives. Before diving into tactics, setting goals for what you wish to accomplish is essential.

Common business objectives:

  • Increasing brand awareness
  • Growing share of voice
  • Expanding social support 
  • Achieving content distribution
  • Scaling digital marketing
  • Monitoring real-time trends

Aside from amplifying marketing efforts, social media enhances customer support, accelerates product innovation, and improves talent acquisition. It’s also a goldmine of market intelligence.

We suggest focusing on no more than a couple of business goals. Spreading yourself too thin may hinder your effectiveness. Start with one and expand as needed. 

Setting goals

With clear goals established, the next step is conducting a social media audit of your existing social media presence. This includes taking stock of all current social media accounts, followers and content engagement rates, and competitors. The audit will reveal areas to improve and strengths to double down on.

The audit provides you with historical social media analytics. These social media metrics help you understand clickthrough rates, engagement rates, and audience demographics. 

With this data, you can set achievable social media marketing goals. 

Audience pain points

Before venturing too far into content planning, get deep into your target audience’s psyche. 

Buyer personas can help here, but you should go a bit deeper in basing your audience’s content needs on actual statements and behaviors—not theoretical ones.

Where to uncover customer pain points:

  • Recorded sales calls
  • Customer support tickets
  • Customer surveys
  • Customer reviews
  • Social media comments
  • Competitors’ online reviews

With this data, real content formats emerge. Here’s how I’d approach these content themes.

  • If prospective customers ask many questions, consider investing more in information-based content, such as blogs.
  • If they ask for relatable examples of customers (references), you could ramp up customer case studies and testimonials.
  • If your sales team isn’t having as many conversations, you should invest more in brand-building activities like influencers, partnerships, and more.

From here, you can map out these types of content and which social networks and strategies are effective. For example, Instagram and TikTok attract younger audiences, while LinkedIn attracts professionals.

Measurement and KPIs

You need clearly defined benchmarks to know if your social media strategy is effective. Key performance indicators (KPIs) help you focus on the metrics that matter. If audience growth is vital, then followers are more relevant. But if engagement is critical, then engagement rates are better. 

Common social media performance metrics:

  • Follower growth
  • Engagement rate
  • Impressions and reach
  • Attributed pipeline and revenue
  • Attributed website traffic
  • Brand mentions and share of voice

Having this strategic framework established, you can develop an effective social media marketing plan. And you can report on it to executives without drowning them in too much data. 

Developing your content strategy

Content fuels all social media marketing. Map out the types of content you will create and share on each platform. 

Anyone can create content, but only you can distribute it effectively. One approach to work with your social strategy is the atomization of content. This means taking a major piece of content like a case study and creating a wide array of smaller content assets from it. 

Align content types with buyer journey stages like awareness, consideration, and decision.* 

You can improve your business or brand awareness by following these steps:

  • Blog posts or articles: Provide detailed, informative content to help your audience accomplish their goals or share long-form stories and insights. 
  • Educational videos: Show, don’t tell. Share videos and screencasts to spark curiosity about your brand and build authority. This kind of content should appeal to both prospective and existing customers.
  • Case studies: Provide specific examples of how your ideal customer achieves their goals with your product or service. It establishes social proof and builds trust.
  • User-generated content: Share photos and videos of customers showing authentic brand experiences. It could be as simple as testimonials, wearing swag, or co-hosted webinars. 
  • Polls and surveys: Engage followers and collect valuable audience insights. The more provocative, the better. 
  • Memes or humor: Use for low-effort, high-engagement social media posts that reflect your brand voice. Don’t take yourself too seriously, but monitor your engagement rates. 

* People don’t make decisions linearly. Nevertheless, people must discover your brand (awareness), think about what it can do for them (consideration), and talk to sales or buy your product (decision). Ensure your social media content reflects this reality. 

B2B buying journey illustrative - Gartner

Integrating Social Media Outside of Marketing

An integrated social media plan addresses all aspects of social media to improve business.

Here are some business functions to include in your plan: 

  • Customer support: Personalized customer care based on incoming mentions and direct messages.
  • Product development: Gather real-world insights based on customer and market reactions. 
  • Talent acquisition: Attract top-notch candidates based on a high-value employer brand.

Social customer support

Customer support via social media is now more crucial than ever for small and mid-market businesses. It is a powerful tool to engage with customers, solve their problems promptly, and foster stronger relationships. 

Here are some essential tips for efficient social customer support: 

  • Monitor conversations: Keep a close eye on your social media channels. Respond promptly to comments, messages, and mentions to deliver effective customer service.
  • Use social media management tools: Use social media software to track customer interactions and ensure every request is answered.
  • Train your team: Ensure your team is well-versed/trained in the social media platforms you use. Train them to provide helpful, courteous responses. It’ll also help you handle criticism with grace. 

Let’s illustrate this by comparing traditional and social media-based customer support.

Function Traditional Customer SupportSocial Media-Based Support
Response TimeInstant or up to 72 hoursOften instant or within a few hours
EngagementLimited to one-on-one interactionsPublic responses and one-on-one direct messages
ChannelsEmail, phone, live chat, and online requestsTwitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and WhatsApp

Product innovation and development

Social media marketing tools provide product teams with invaluable insights into customer feedback and can monitor competitors.

The following are two practical ways product teams can leverage social media for product innovation: 

  1. Customer feedback: New customers often share their experiences with products on social media openly and candidly. Product managers gain perspective on what customers want to do with their products and how they make them feel. This information can be used to improve how solutions fit into user’s lives.
  2. Social listening: Tracking mentions of competitors and product names is a smart way to uncover potential product opportunities. It also provides a glimpse at potential risks and obstacles customers face. It also aids in market research into possible product features. 

Talent acquisition

Social media has transformed the way companies connect with potential employees. In particular, it helps organizations become a top employer brand that attracts top candidates. 

The following are specific ways social media can enhance your talent acquisition process: 

  1. Employer brand: Showcase your company’s culture, mission, and values, making it more attractive to potential employees. This increases your brand visibility and creates a positive employer brand.
  2. Employees as advocates: Social media channels like LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook make it intuitive for employees to build buzz for their employer from diverse voices and personal testimonies about joining the team.
  3. Job advertising: With an impressive employer brand and enthusiastic employee engagement, recruitment marketing campaigns can be more effective with fewer ghosts and better candidates.

Tips to build a top employer brand

As much as the company can curate a professional online profile, your brand is in your employees’ hands. 

Some tips for building a top employer brand are as follows:

  • Educate on what’s public vs. private: Develop a sensible policy for protecting sensitive/confidential company information. Disclose what’s shareable vs. not in company meetings. Ambiguity results in mistakes and fear of posting updates.
  • Encourage honest employee reviews: Make it a habit to share what you’re doing to make the workplace enjoyable and flexible for employee needs. Have a meaningful check-in with new team members after their first month, and suggest they share their experience with others on Glassdoor, Indeed, and ZipRecruiter. 
  • Respond to employee reviews in meaningful ways: Respond warmly and professionally to all reviews. Be mindful not to debate; acknowledge, thank, and emphasize the upside when possible. Identify trends and bring them to the attention of the senior leadership team to improve the workplace. 

Stay Focused With a Durable Social Media Strategy

Change is the one word that’s synonymous with social media management. New social media platforms, content types, and consumer behaviors—it moves quickly. 

With a successful social media marketing strategy, you can creatively inspire your audience to action and improve your business from the inside out.

You’re going to face social media crises; you’ll have 15 minutes of fame—are you ready? 

No matter how good your plan is, execution matters. Focus on the outcomes; ask yourself if you are helping your target audience or just posting social media updates.

At the end of the day, social media should help the business to strengthen across the board: customer service, marketing, recruiting, and brand. It has incredible reach if you place your bets on the table and pair it with ruthless execution (and patience). 

With proper planning and commitment, a social media strategy gives small and medium-sized businesses a competitive edge.

Related: Building an Online Presence: How to Achieve Digital Dominance

Joe Manna


Joe Manna

Joe Manna was a senior content marketing manager at Nextiva. He blends his marketing acumen and deep technical background to improve people's lives with technology. His expertise helps companies large and small serve more customers. He enjoys a rich iced latte and a non-fiction business book when he's not pressing words.

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