Small business owners are known for wearing many hats: accountant, sales, head of operations, public relations… and now social media manager?
It can be tempting to just put off social media altogether. After all, you’re besieged by messages about “best practices” that require you become a photographer, videographer, editor, writer, and performer (not to mention location scout).
According to “experts,” you need to:
- Post twice a day on Instagram
- Post every day on Facebook
- Share two Stories daily on Instagram
- Run contests and giveaways
- Create share-worthy content for TikTok
- Connect with influencers
- Use the right hashtags
How could any business with a small staff manage keep up with this list of social media to-dos?
Here’s the good news: you don’t have to. In fact, you shouldn’t!
Let’s pretend you do, though. With grit, determination, and lots of your own time, you start churning out social media content. Great, right? Not so fast.
Unfortunately, just shelling out content won’t really work when you consider the percentage of people who actually see it.
For Instagram, that’s 9.4% of your followers. For LinkedIn, 4.8%. And on Facebook – just 2.2%.
So if you have 100 followers, on average, 2 of them may be shown the content on Facebook, 4 on LinkedIn, and 10 on Instagram.
And remember: those are the people who will be given the chance to see your content.
It doesn’t mean they’ve clicked it. Or read it. Or even really fully processed it.
And it certainly doesn’t mean they’ve made a purchase. Or decided to hire you.
More fun news? Most industry experts expect those numbers to drop to zero. Why? Because ultimately, those platforms want you to pay for your content to be seen. That’s how they make their money.
So, Where Did All These Recommendations Come From?
Well, we don’t want to go all “conspiracy theorist” on you, but let’s take a look at the origin of those best practices we mentioned at the top.
If you look at the source of the studies that “prove” a certain day/time or posting frequency is best, they’re most often either produced by:
- the social network itself or
- a social media scheduling tool
It makes sense. Because they have the greatest access to all the data.
But their focus is keeping their users posting and engaging with content on their site. So most of these are good rules to follow if you want to be the next Kim Kardashian.
But does your business need to gain followers and be an influencer?
For most businesses, that answer is: No.
You need purchases, appointments, clients, customers, sign-ups… not necessarily more followers.
You need to grow your business. Not your social following.
So don’t turn into a part-time content producer just because “best practices” say you should.
Don’t get caught up in the rat race of fighting for analytics that don’t help your business grow.
You do not have to make endless reels, tweets, carousels, Tik Toks, or any other type of post to foster a successful small business presence online. You only need to focus on what works for your business.
So, what actually helps your business grow? What does that sort of content strategy look like? For most small businesses, you’ll fall into one of two buckets for effectively using social media.
Bucket #1: “About Us”
For most small businesses, people will visit your social media accounts after learning about you elsewhere. They’re doing research.
Are you a legitimate, trusted business? Do you feel like a fit for what they want or need?
For this strategy, you need to create high-quality posts with images and writing that clearly communicate:
- what you do and
- who you are (what makes you different from competitors)
Infrequent but consistent posts work fine for this method. You’re simply using your page to establish legitimacy and “vibes” – and ultimately help convince leads you’re the right fit.
Consider what schedule is manageable for you.
Once a week? Once a month?
Don’t kill yourself to post every Tuesday at exactly 2 pm, rain or shine. Just make sure the gaps between your posts show consistency — this will help convey your professionalism.
Remember, more ≠ better. A quality post once a month is just fine.
Bucket #2: The “Social Media People”
Are you active on social media naturally? Do you check it daily? Or maybe hourly? (No judgment!)
Do you comment on others’ posts? And share interesting articles and memes?
Then you are what we call a “social media person.”
You are actually using social media to be social. And you are already putting consistent time and effort into your following.
So why not harness that time and effort to help your business?
A few tips:
- Find ways to naturally mention what you do.
For example, you’re a wedding photographer. And a friend posts a picture of a place where you once shot a wedding. Leave a comment like: “Oh, man! I took photos of a wedding there, and I just loved that lake for a background.”
- Join local groups.
If you’re a local business, look for neighborhood groups and pages to join and like and engage with. Then follow the above tip when commenting.
Don’t promote — unless someone is directly asking for your services. You’ll seem spammy. Just sneak in mentions of what you do.
- Be you!
Don’t shy away from what makes you or your business unique. That’s your strength. Lean into it.
Do consider the business implications of what you are posting. If your post is going to alienate a group of people who could buy from you… maybe give it a second thought before hitting publish. But otherwise, have an opinion! Stand out!
- Find ways to naturally mention what you do.
- Share a glimpse behind-the-scenes.
When we say “behind-the-scenes,” we mean a slightly rose-colored view that shows how much you care about your products or services or clients… Not the day your photography client stood you up. But maybe the day your studio lights caught on fire?
Are There Other Ways to Use Social Media for Your Business?
Yes. Most definitely.
There are innumerable “buckets” to consider.
Social media can be used effectively for reputation management and customer service.
It can be used to directly sell consumer goods. In fact, targeted social media ads can be vital for many consumer goods companies of any size.
It can help generate awareness for businesses of any size and any industry.
And occasionally, a post “goes viral” and actually helps a business gain traction.
But for the vast majority of small businesses, the time and cost required to put together an all-out social media strategy? To try to go viral? It just doesn’t make sense for the bottom line.
Average Site Traffic by Source
Source: Growth Badger
There are much more cost-effective ways to grow your business using the internet. Make sure you’re putting those tactics to work first before you sink a lot of effort into social.
So if you’re not using social media particularly effectively? Don’t worry too much about it. Just jump into Bucket #1. Then put your focus on other marketing channels.