person holding up phone showing social media icons
Each day, more consumers begin relying on social media for product reviews and customer service. Honing a flawless strategy will help your business succeed. — Getty Images/metamorworks

It’s no secret that active users worldwide exceed 2.37 billion on Facebook, 1.9 billion on YouTube and 1 billion on Instagram. Consumers increasingly love social media, which means that developing a robust social media marketing program for your business is important. Following are three surefire social media strategies from industry experts, designed to produce lasting results for small businesses.

1. Lean on your clientele to help build your social media presence

Mara Chapin, social media specialist with Market Mentors, LLC, said many social users have become weary of digital advertising. They are, however, receptive to more organic interactions and increasingly rely on influencers to help them make buying decisions.

“Since most small businesses cannot afford the six-figure cost of a celebrity influencer post, customers are the low-cost alternative,” said Chapin. “Encourage them to create social content for you by sharing their photos and first-hand experience. They will then share with their followers, distributing your message to the masses.”

Determining what motivates your followers may involve some trial and error based on your customer base and industry, but this task doesn't need to be complicated.

“Patrons will be more willing to share their content if you make it worth their while. So provide incentives,” she said, “like giving a one-time-use coupon for leaving a five-star review of your product or service, having gift card drawings, and running photo contests with prizes awarded to the winners.”

Additionally, make it easy for attendees who come to your special events to post photos and comments by setting up a photo booth or area with your company’s logo and branding visible in the shot.

Since most small businesses cannot afford the six-figure cost of a celebrity influencer post, customers are the low-cost alternative.

Mara Chapin, social media specialist with Market Mentors, LLC

2. Pay it back and pay it forward

When you create a quality post that resonates with your audience, you want it to build momentum. This can be more easily accomplished by reciprocating any shares, likes or comments you receive.

“Many small business owners neglect the opportunity to touch their audience again after posting. Avoid this by diving deeper into your dashboard’s notifications to see who has engaged with your posts and then liking or sharing their responses to your posts,” said Sherita Wallace, online marketing strategist with Esdy Wall Marketing Solutions. “Go to your followers’ profiles to see if they have a business page you could like and share content from. But don’t just wait for them to make the first move—share and like content from followers who may not have done so for you yet, too.”

Wallace added that this practice is worth the time and toil because it builds engagement and goodwill for your brand and demonstrates that you appreciate the attention you’ve received from followers — including those who have yet to be converted into customers.

3. Contextualize your business in message, location and community

Audiences across all demographics respond well to feeling like they’re viewing posts from a local friend, not a business or brand, said Taylor Kincaid, social media director for Online Optimism.

“Appealing to your community—whether it be centered around the culture of a specific place or a set of interests—can do wonders for making your business stand out,” Kincaid said. “Now more than ever, people are wary of impersonal, coolly disconnected brand voices. They want meaningful communication instead of generic ads.”

To achieve this goal, keep track of local events happening in your area and create posts around them. Case in point: If you own a restaurant and are aware of a popular local holiday or event approaching, posting a photo of an entrée on a fittingly colorful backdrop with holiday-relevant props can set that photo apart from the more general food photos on users’ feeds. Or, find pre-existing content you can repurpose for your localized message.

“Recently, we sourced a photo of an extremely beloved seasonal, local food and shared it on Instagram for a client in the hospitality industry. We searched on social media for visual content to share on our client’s social media, then got permission from the photo’s creator to share it,” noted Kincaid. “By selecting a photo that was so specific to the target audience’s local interests and preferences, it took off in popularity, reaching over 35,000 accounts, generating over 4,000 likes, and received hundreds of comments, shares and other interactions on Instagram.”

CO— does not review or recommend products or services. For more information on choosing the best social media management tools, visit our friends at business.com.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

Published May 14, 2019