Growing Your Business Using Social Media

Eight diverse adults sit in a row, each using social media on their smartphones, against a plain backdrop.

Social media is an excellent tool to help small businesses reach more customers, interact with existing customers, grow their sales, and tap into new markets. We know it can be overwhelming – choosing the right platform(s) for your business, learning how to use them effectively, determining how to gauge success... it’s a lot to consider. But managing your social media doesn't have to be overwhelming; check out our 10 Easy Steps for Maximizing Your Social Media Impact as a small business! 


Step 1. Define Your Goals

Before diving into marketing your business on social media, it's important to set clear and measurable goals for your online presence. At this stage, it’s important to determine what you want to achieve with your social media account, such as increasing awareness of your offerings, driving traffic to your website, generating partnerships, or boosting sales. This will also help you decide which platform(s) you should be active on. 

For most small businesses, being active on one to three social media platforms will give the best return on investment. These platforms should be ones that resonate with the goals of your business and have a high number of users that fit into your target audience. Being active on all platforms just because they are available is less beneficial to your growth than being active on a few and creating an engaged community. A good rule of thumb is to establish yourself on one platform before moving on to another, making sure to weigh the benefits of each platform against your goals. 


Step 2. Identify Your Target Audience

Understanding who your ideal customers are is an integral part of using social media effectively as a small business. By defining your target audience’s motivations, interests, online behaviour, and preferred social media platforms, you can begin tailoring your content, language, and messaging to resonate more strongly with the people who are most likely to support you. 

We know “defining your target audience” sounds daunting, but it’s not as difficult as you might think! Defining your target audience is as simple as figuring out the motivations (psychographics) of the people your product or service is most suited to and crafting your content/messaging to appeal to those people. 

Create a profile of your ideal customer that makes it easy for you to imagine them as a real person, or people. This will help you not only select the platform(s) with the best chance of performing for you, but it will also help you craft messaging and content that will give you the outcome you’re looking for.

Curious about the benefits and strengths of each major social media platform?

Great for businesses interested in reaching people across a variety of age groups. It also has Marketplace and Shops that allow businesses to set up online storefronts, facilitating direct sales from within the platform. 

Recommended for businesses wanting to boost their sales and reach new customers. Their easy-to-use sales feature allows for products to be tagged directly in their posts, so customers can purchase items directly from their feed.  

Preferred by business marketing their services or products to other businesses. LinkedIn Articles and Company Pages allow businesses to establish themselves as industry authorities and share their wares/insights with a more professional audience. 

Ideal for businesses interested in reaching a younger audience (aged 18-29). This platform prioritizes content discovery, giving even new businesses a chance to gain rapid visibility. TikTokShop offers customers the opportunity to purchase products through live shopping events, videos, and a product showcase.  

Best for businesses seeking real-time engagement and feedback from their customers. Twitter's hashtag system is the most effective way to increase content reach, especially during trending events or discussions. 

Fantastic for businesses that are interested in providing in-depth product demonstrations or tutorials to their customers.  

Step 3. Align Your Branding

Maintaining consistent brand elements (logo, colors, and voice/tone) across your social media accounts makes it easier for people to trust your business, recognize the value in its presence, and interact with its content. 

Programs like Canva can be used to design a brand kit that includes fonts, logos, colours, and templates which can then be applied to design different digital assets such as profile photos, product images, or graphics for use on social media.  


Step 4. Create Engaging Content

Engaging content plays a key role when it comes to building and maintaining a healthy social media following. The most effective social media strategies utilize a variety of formats including photos, videos, graphics, gifs, and polls.  Experimenting with different content types to see what resonates best with your audience encourages more engagement (comments, shares, and reactions) and helps keep your social feed exciting.

When promoting your products or services, try your best to create content that doesn’t feel like a hard or cold sell. Educational posts, lighthearted or humorous memes, team member spotlights, customer shoutouts, and even holiday posts can help you suggestively or softly sell your products or services while communicating value and authenticity to your followers. Existing assets, such as your mission and vision statements, product pictures, and reviews can be repurposed into a variety of new content that can help elevate your business’ online representation, while saving you time. 


Step 5. Optimize Your Profiles

Optimizing your social media profiles maximizes your visibility and can help attract new followers in your target market or desired geographic region. This includes using relevant keywords in your bio, adding a link to your website in your profile description, providing up-to-date information on your products and services, and using eye-catching profile and cover photos. 

Keyword research can be as simple as using words you think your ideal customer is most likely to type into the search bar when looking for your product or service. If you are interested in taking your keyword research to the next level, AnswerThePublic is an excellent free tool* to help you discover what questions people are asking about your product, service, or type of business in Canada. This information can help you determine which relevant keywords to use in your content and profile(s). 

Each platform has their own set of profile requirements and optimization tips, so make sure to check out these resources for more information: Instagram Facebook Twitter LinkedIn YouTube Pinterest

*AnswerThePublic has both free and paid options, for the free service you are entitled to 1 complimentary search every 48-hours.


Step 6. Organize Your Posting Schedule 

Maintaining a consistent posting schedule is very important, especially if you are running paid advertisements. Planning your posts around days and times that your target audience are most likely to be active can significantly limit the amount of money and time spent running your social media accounts. A posting schedule also allows you to organize your content in advance to match any future campaigns, sales, or events you plan on hosting. There are online tools in which you can create a monthly content calendar, as well as automate posts and compile analytics. It can be a lot of fun to experiment with tools like HootsuiteMetricoolBuffer, and Sprout Social, which offer a free trial or free account with limited access.

Step 7. Leverage User-Generated Content 

Sharing content that has been created by your customers is a quick and easy way to build credibility and recognition online. User-generated content not only boosts engagement, but acts as social proof, showcasing real people enjoying your products or services in real-time. 

User generated content can include anything from product reviews and testimonials, blog posts, and social media posts or videos. Reusing this content is a time- and cost-effective way for your small business to increase its customer base and influence your followers’ purchasing decisions!


Step 8. Interact With Your Community

One great thing about social media is the ability to engage with your customers and community in an accessible, highly visible way.  Responding to comments, messages, and mentions promptly and appropriately shows that you have genuine interest in your audience's opinions, questions, and concerns. Engaging with your customers helps foster loyalty and encourages them to share your products and promote your brand within their communities, ultimately helping you reach more people. 


Step 9. Review Your Analytics and Adapt 

Analyzing your social media metrics at least once a month can provide you and your team with exclusive insight into which content is driving the best results. Some important metrics to  track are: 

  • Engagement Rate (interactions on posts including likes, comments and shares)
  • Reach (how many people see your post on their feed)
  • Click-through rates (or CTR, number of clicks on a post divided by its engagement)
  • Video Views (if available review the watch time and total view count to see how long people have watched your video for)

The metrics available for review may differ platform-to-platform, so your analytics strategy may need to adapt accordingly. Reviewing this data monthly can help you refine your social media strategy, experiment with new content, and achieve better results with your campaigns.  


Step 10. Have FUN!

Although social media can help drive awareness of your small business, it should also be an experimental and creative outlet, allowing you to connect with your customers and community in ways that excite you. A genuine approach to social media is going to be far more successful than an overly curated one.  So, remember to let loose and have a good time!


By putting your content to work for you, you can leverage your social profile(s) to increase awareness about your business, drive traffic, and boost sales. With the right approach, social media can be a powerful tool to help grow your small business. Keep experimenting with your content, analyzing your results, and adapting your strategy to stay ahead of the ever-evolving social media landscape. And, most importantly, remember to have FUN!