Social Media Engagement Advice for Small Businesses

Social media engagement can be an influential tool for growing your small business. The multiple digital platforms that encompass social media serve as direct channels to your current customers and future consumers. How do you engage them in a way that takes advantage of everything social media has to offer?

Here are four pieces of advice on how to run social media engagement for your small business that we pulled from a series of guest events on our SUCCEED: Small Business Network on LinkedIn:

Target the Right Social Networks

Social media can be an integral part of business marketing, and as Aliza Sherman, coauthor of Social Media Engagement for Dummies says, it should be taken seriously. It is an evolving communication that can be integrated into your overarching goal as a small business. The importance of finding the network that fits your needs and the significance of being a good listener are essential to social media engagement.

“Pick a social network that can deliver the type of messaging that suits your company's brand and message,” she said. “Deliver your message to the audience you are trying to reach. Don't try to go everywhere or be in every network, until you are ready and have the resources to do so.”

Go Where Your Customers Are

Go out and find where your customers are (more importantly, the ones that like you). In order to instantly engage your customers, it’s important to provide content that’s both relevant and beneficial for them.

Susan Peterson realized that many of her customers found her company, Freshly Picked, through Instagram, and she uses the channel as her main medium for communication. “I found that over 40 percent of [my customers] had found me through Instagram,” she said. “I was surprised and I decided to get serious about my presence there…We find Instagram to be our biggest way to connect with our customers. It gives them a glimpse behind the scenes and keeps them updated on new products or sales. It's an integral tool for my business for sure.”

A Personal Form of Marketing

Julie Cole from Mabel’s Labels approaches social media as a component to her marketing plan. She engages her customers using social media as an indirect means to help drive sales for her company.

“Connecting through social media gives you the opportunity to connect in a unique way,” she said. “I find with our market, customers don't trust that traditional advertising and business IS personal. They want to know the brands they are spending their money on. Social media allows them to get to know you…It's essential that social media is used not for direct sales or product pushing. It's about building relationships and as it turns out: relationships are good for business!”

One-on-One Communication

Social media provides direct communication with your customers (current and future) as well as an opportunity to directly engage with the brand if you’re a consumer. Candace Karu of Cabot Creamery finds that each channel has its own strengths when it comes to building true, authentic relationships for her company. Karu believes that social media should not be a place for broadcasting, but instead, a place for sharing ideas and experiences.

“I think that not listening carefully or responding thoughtfully can be a real problem for brands online,” said Karu. “A brand has to take its followers' concerns and opinions seriously. Keep in mind that online relationships require the same kind of care and maintenance as relationships in real life. True engagement is more than a one-time comment. It's listening, responding, and listening some more.”

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