In today’s bustling, always connected digital world, small business social media engagement is no longer optional. There are many compelling reasons for entrepreneurs to actively connect with customers and followers via popular platforms like Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Pinterest. Still, some small business owners are hesitant to make the effort because of concerns about budget and the time requirements.

The truth is all you really need is the ability to post fresh, relevant content on a regular basis and you should be able to make social media work for you. Here are five specific social media tactics specific to small businesses to help point you in the right direction.

1. Start with a Plan

You really will be wasting your time and money if you just randomly post social content and hope for the best. Instead, have a solid plan in place before you do anything. Start by determining what platforms are right for your business – but don’t just go by what’s popular.

It may seem like “everybody” uses Facebook, but if your goal with social media engagement is to spotlight your products, you may be better off with more visual platforms like Pinterest and Instagram. Your social media plan should also include:

  • The type of content you intend to post (e.g., sale/promotion announcements, fun facts, engaging questions, product or service highlights, etc.)
  • How often you plan to post it
  • What tools you may need to help with your content posting (e.g., photo-editing software if you plan to go with mostly visual content)

2. Don’t Always Be In Selling Mode

Okay, so maybe you do actually want to drive traffic to your website from your social platforms. However, you’ll have better luck doing this if you tone down the sales messages and include subtle references to your site instead.

Besides, social media followers are already bombarded with ads – which is why interesting, relevant content often gets better results. Content that tends to do especially well on social media includes:

  • Real life customer or business stories
  • Engaging images and videos
  • Posts or links to articles that solve actual customer problems
  • Insightful posts where you share your insights or seek input from your followers – people love to share their opinions on social media

3. Stick with Your Plan Even If You Don’t See Immediate Results

Many small businesses bail on their social media efforts because they’re not seeing the results they had in mind right away. This is a big mistake because it takes time to build a loyal following with any type of online engagement.

Yes, you should pay attention to things like number of followers and clicks back to your site. However, it’s just as important to look at the type of engagement your existing content is getting. If your feedback is mostly positive, you may just need to stay the course and give people time to discover your business on social media.

But if you really do want to move things along, there are a few ways you can generate more social attention online. Possible options include:

  • Embedding your social media feeds on your website
  • Including links to your social pages in the footer on your webpages
  • Referencing your social sites in your other ads (e.g., “follow us Facebook” at the end of your radio or TV ads)
  • Reaching out to online influencers (people within your niche or industry who have a lot of loyal social followers) to see if they’ll mention your business in exchange for content that’s relevant to their followers or product samples

4. Be Authentic and Personable

Millennials, in particular, prefer to connect with brands that have a personality. So, go beyond canned or carefully worded posts and be honest and human.

The way you do this will depend on the nature of your business. For instance, if there’s some room for humor in your industry, you might ask followers to submit funny captions for pics you post and “reward” the best one by using the winning submission on an appropriate page on your website.

Another way to personalize your social content is by using trending topics and stories that can somehow be linked or related to your business. Yet another possible tactic is to discuss popular local events – especially if your goal is to establish a connection with the communities you serve.

5. Don’t Be Afraid to Experiment with New Things

There is no magic formula with social media. What’s working really well for your competitors may not produce the same results for you. Don’t be afraid to throw different types of content out there to see what resonates with your intended audience. Your followers will definitely appreciate the variety!

Final Thoughts

Even if your Central Florida business normally gets most of its revenue from in-store traffic, many people still check their devices to see if their favorite stores are offering any unique incentives to make it worth the effort to stop in.

Potential customers also tend to feel more connected to businesses that have an active social presence. Plus, using social media to drive more traffic to your website is a great way to boost your brand’s awareness, which is definitely a way to set yourself apart from your competitors.