Getting started with social media marketing – for small businesses

Published by Tharun kongara on

You are a small business owner and still doing old school marketing or no marketing at all?  You are in a startup company, wearing multiple hats including social media marketing? I’m glad that you are here!

Have a look around on your competitors. They are doing exceedingly well and scaling their business at a rapid pace with the help of digital marketing and to be specific, a social media marketing strategy. If you don’t start it now, you may run the risk of getting out of the competition. 

Social media is the simplest way to start with when you are starting to build your online presence. The account is free to create, the user-intuitive interface of social media platforms helps you to keep things in a good place. However, it is quite harder to be effective. The competition these days on these platforms is fierce and needs continuous efforts to be successful.

But don’t worry, we are here to guide you 🤓. This post is all about Do It Yourself marketing on social media! As you know the benefits of social media marketing are huge.

But before going to know how to start your business’s social media presence, let’s answer the question “Why should you do social media marketing? what are the benefits?

What are the benefits of social media marketing

The benefits of social media marketing are almost endless, but we’ve compiled the small list of important benefits below

Increase brand recognition

You are a small business and not many people in your city or region recognize your products/services. Social media helps you to get the word out and helps your brand noticed.

In fact, social media is the best channel for brand recognition and also for brand engagement. People will engage with your content on social media which helps you keep your brand in audience minds

Generates new leads

There are 3.8 billion people on social media. The sheer scale of social media makes you find new leads that might become potential customers to your brand.

You can cheery pick and market to people that exactly suits your business or you can market to the general audience as well. Social media advertising is a great way to get new leads.

It doesn’t mean you cannot pursue other goals, it all depends on your planning, strategy and execution.

Develop relationship with existing customers

Social media is also great for managing customer community or fan base. By connecting and engaging with existing customers, you will be able to build lasting relationship with customers.

By listening to your customers, you can develop and create a product offering that pleases your customers. You can also ask questions regarding your products/services to develop the offering.

It is very cost effective

Social media marketing is one of the most cost-effective ways of marketing. It is free to create a social media page in almost all platforms and the cost of advertising is relatively affordable. What makes it even better is, the sheer scale of the audience, the level of targeting and the help of A.I.

Well, these are considered as the main benefits, but as you dive deep into social media marketing by yourself, you can discover more and more benefits of it.

How to get started with social media marketing for your business

List your strengths

Understanding your business’s strengths is key to leverage any marketing activity. You will be identifying strengths that are unique to your business.

It can be anything. What differentiates your business from your competitors?  

If you are a restaurant, what are your most selling items? For what items did you repeatedly hear positive reviews from your customers? Did someone say, your service is best in the city?

If you are a beauty salon, what are your famous services ? Which area did you specialise in ?

If you are providing financial services, what are your strong areas? List them out. List your own strengths. It might take some brainstorming, but worth it. We are gonna start from there!

If you are a startup company, you probably might have been through the numerous sessions of brainstorming to understand your strengths. Take them out…

Start with the goal

You are considering marketing, probably because you want to increase sales, drive traffic to your website or physical stores, generate new leads, increase brand reputation, improve brand engagement,  build a community around your business and the list goes on! Here is a small infographic stating the business owners believe are leading benefits of social media marketing.

Benefits of social media marketing - expert advice on marketing
biggest benefits of social media marketing

I understand you as a business owner, you have an overwhelming number of goals running through your mind and don’t want to miss out on any of those. 

But, this is what is making you confused and getting stuck even before starting your social media marketing.

It is difficult to make choices among the big list of goals, but it is super important to do. 

If you are a new business, you probably want to generate new leads or improve brand recognition. 

If you are in the business for a while, you want to build a fan community, so that they stick to you for longer and also reach out for people who might also be interested in your products. 

It’s okay to have more than one goal, but sort the list with the biggest priority on top!

Also, make sure, the goals are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time-bound (the S.M.A.R.T goal).

Identify your target audience

Along with listing your strengths and goals, knowing who is your target audience solidifies your business plan and makes it ready for marketing. I call it the pre-marketing essentials. 

If you are a services company, who will you offer services to?  men and/or women? What could be their age group? What are their underlying interests? Where do they hang out? Facebook? Instagram? Snapchat? These are all questions. Understand your customers as much as possible.  Getting to know your target audience preferences makes your social media marketing efforts meaningful and effective. 

To understand your target audience, you need real-world data and inputs from real customers. Gather all data, like who is already buying from you, who is showing interest in your product, do surveys if need. You need to understand their pain points and what is your offering, where to reach them

Create a persona like an image below and keep it with you. This is called the buyer persona and it is going to help you as long as your business exists!

This sample persona is made for a restaurant, based on parameters like age, sex, food interests e.t.c

Social media marketing - persona for a restaurant
Sample persona

You can download a free buyer person template here

Keep in mind, it doesn’t need to be the same, the parameters can change according to business. You can do it with just a pen and paper, it just needs to be functional and tuned to your business.

Choose the right platform

Now you have got an idea of what you wanna do and whom you are gonna target. Pick the right platform to start with. Pick your platform based on your audience. You have to be present everywhere your audience spends time.

If your audience is millennials, Insta and Snapchat can be your place. If your audience consists of older demographics, probably Facebook is your place. If you are a BtoB company, Linkedin is your place. How can you leave youtube, that became the second biggest search engine after Google?

Facebook and Twitter have been around for quite a sometime and proven to be effective. So, you might tend to build your presence there. But keep in mind, these platforms became extremely competitive these days, and Facebook made it extremely difficult to reach your audience without ad spend. 

Factors aside, your choices should be made purely based on your audience, irrespective how difficult or expensive they may be. Your buyer persona helps you to a great deal in choosing this platform.

These days the user-intuitive interface of all social media platforms made it easier to set up a business page. Do follow the instructions and set up a great page.

Make a content strategy

Content is the heart of any marketing activity, especially with social media marketing, just because people only look for feed in social media. With your business’s social media pages that are up and running, most of your activity is now on content. In the era of user experience, you have to produce content that your audience falls in love with. In social media marketing, the tone of content can be informal, yet friendly.

If you are a business already with a website and producing a considerable amount of content, you have something covered. However, if you started to build an online presence with a social media account, you have to think about some content that makes users keep in touch with you. 

For example, if you are a restaurant owner, take mouth-watering images of your special food and share them. 

Also, add value to the users through your content. It makes them follow your updates regularly and improves your brand recognition. If you are in a financial advisory business, share some financial tips and for beauty salons, some beauty tips etc.

Also, take a look at your competition. What they are doing, what kind of content is driving more engagement. Replicate those, by adding a touch of your signature. 

Build your audience

Building your audience to follow your social media business is quite a daunting task. It is also quite time taking, especially when you are just starting out. But with some quality content and continuous efforts, you can build a great pool of audience that stick together for longer. Make sure you follow these, 

  1. If you are new and just starting out, make sure you have some content already published in your page even before you invite a few audience members. So that when they enter your page, they already have some content to interact with and a reason to follow.
  1. Make sure you have advertised your social media pages and links in all your physical locations, brochures, email campaigns, websites, and even let your customers know directly about the page when you provide some service. 
  1. Ask for the reviews in exchange for some promo or offer. Great reviews make your page seem more trustful. Also, if a customer is delighted with your service or a product, make sure you make a move to ask for a review on digital platforms. 
  1. Keep track of customers that aren’t very happy with your offering. Because these people are more likely to search for your page to provide negative reviews.

According to inc, it takes 40 positive customer experience to undo a single negative. (only 1 out of 10 people, who have a positive experience will leave reviews).

  1. Take a few precautions to build a quality audience, that you think will add value or the least, they are interested in your offering. Because even a million subscribers with fewer people interested will make your efforts useless and damage your reputation as a business. In contrast, few quality customers who constantly engage with your page makes your efforts more successful. 

Get your timing and frequency right

After having a considerable audience and going with some posts, you might wonder about the timing and frequency, Because, you don’t want to end up at the bottom of the news feed of your audience. 

To reach your audience, you need a great timing and frequency, that is optimum. So for this, you need to plan a little in advance. 

Based on your audience, at what times your audience will be online. If you post at that time, there is a great chance that you will reach your audience. 

What kind of content will they be expecting, a simple picture ? a short tweet ? or an article providing useful information. Based on your timing, your resources and what works best for you, you need to make a decision. 

For example, in the case of a restaurant, your audience might be online in the evening before or after dinner. Posting pictures or short cooking tips might work around that time.

A short DIY article might work for an interior design store or a beauty salon. All you need is a little planning and general sense to be successful.

Interact with your audience

Even with great content and an audience that is greatly interested in your offerings, you still need some human touch. After all, your posts are reaching humans behind the screen. So, you need to interact with your audience from time to time. 

Simple things like replying to comments, thanking good reviews, answering queries will make a great difference. It might take a few seconds for you, but it makes a huge impact on customers’ minds. Just imagine, you are expecting to get a reply, when you comment on a post, especially from businesses. The same thing applies to your audience too!

You can also go live on Facebook, Instagram or YouTube.  Make sure you add a personal touch always, in all your efforts for a successful social media marketing.

Measure effectiveness and make changes to your social media marketing strategies

Nowadays, almost all social media marketing platforms offer inbuilt analytics. These are great resources to understand what’s working and what’s not working for you. When I say about content that works or timing that is optimum, analytics is what helps you know them. 

Set some important KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) like impressions,  clicks, likes, comments, retweets, engagement rate etc. However, if this seems confusing don’t Panic, you are just starting out. When you get done with basics well, you will be in a position to understand these metrics. 


Shad · May 2, 2020 at 4:44 pm

Good strategic structure to help people understand how to approach digital marketing when they first get started!

Melissa · May 3, 2020 at 10:23 am

I need to be better at interacting with my audience. Thanks for the great information.

Why is digital marketing a must for small businesses? - Expert Advice · August 30, 2020 at 9:09 pm

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