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12 Social Media Best Practices for Small Business Owners in 2023

By Ken So

Even the smallest of businesses and influencers can thrive with strategic social media marketing. You don’t need a stacked team of specialists or a paid partnership with a celebrity to launch your brand successfully. Follow these small business marketing best practices for social media to achieve steady growth — and watch the world discover all the wonderful things your business has to offer.

Even the smallest of businesses and influencers can thrive with strategic social media marketing. You don’t need a stacked team of specialists or a paid partnership with a celebrity to launch your brand successfully. Follow these small business marketing best practices for social media to achieve steady growth — and watch the world discover all the wonderful things your business has to offer.

1. Outline Clear Goals and Desired Outcomes

When you first create your business’s social profiles, it can be tempting to blast out social posts right away to get out content and fill out your feed. But before you publish anything, it’s important to determine what you want out of your social media strategy — otherwise, your posts could fall flat. Desired outcomes could include:

    • Product or service sales
    • Email signups
    • Website visits
    • General brand awareness

Once you form clear, actionable goals, it will be easier to form a social media strategy and direct consumers to a specific call to action. Plus, your goals will play a huge role in choosing which platforms to use.

2. Strategically Choose Platforms That Will Achieve Your Goals

Many businesses think they need to be on every social media platform to reach the most people. But too often, this appears inauthentic and spreads the brand too thin. Instead of a spray-and-pray approach, consider doubling down on a select few platforms that will deliver the best results. But in a digital-first world, how do you know where to invest your precious time?

Start With Your Audience

First, consider your target audience and demographic, especially age. For example, an AudienceProject study found that 78% of Baby Boomers are Facebook users. However, that number plummets to just 32% when looking at teens ages 13–17. A quick Google search for the latest data will give you an idea of where your audience spends most of its time.

Remember Your Goals

If your goal is to publish creative content, platforms focused on images and videos like Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube may be a great fit for your business. If your goals are more focused on customer service, your efforts may be better spent on Facebook and Twitter, where it’s easier to communicate directly and privately with your audience.

Research Your Competitors

To make sure you’re not missing out on potential customer niches, research the social media platforms your closest competitors are on. How active are they? Are their customers engaged? If so, this is a good sign you should join in on the conversation.

On the flip side, don’t be discouraged if you’re considering a platform and none of your competitors are there yet. You could be the first one to stake your claim on a dedicated following.

3. Recycle Content for Cross-Posting Across Channels

Once you’ve created your social media accounts, don’t feel like you have to create completely unique content for each channel. If you have limited time and resources, it’s perfectly fine to reuse content across different platforms — with a few caveats.

Hashtags, while highly effective on Instagram and Twitter, can appear gimmicky on other platforms like Facebook or Youtube. Optimize your copy accordingly based on platform and the allotted character limit. For example, copying and pasting lengthier captions from Facebook or Instagram into Twitter will result in your tweet getting cut off after 280 characters.

4. Design Images With Optimized Dimensions

Every social media platform has recommended image and video dimensions to ensure your assets are displayed properly and have the biggest impact. If you outsource social media to a design team, they should be well-versed in image optimization. 

If you handle things in-house, use a software like Canva, which provides optimized templates you can customize in minutes. When in doubt, SocialPilot provides a thorough, up-to-date guide on dimensions for all social media image sizes across all major platforms.

5. Batch and Automate Your Posts to Save Time

As a small business owner, your time is precious. It’s easy to get sucked into creating and shooting content nearly every day, but it doesn’t have to be this time-consuming. All it takes is a solid social media scheduling tool and knowing when to post for the biggest impact.

Scheduling Tools

Scheduling automated social media posts means you can spend less time online and more time with other aspects of your business. Consider planning one or two days a month to create and shoot all your content, and then schedule your content throughout the month. These popular tools are a great place to start:

Optimal Dates and Times

Even the best, most thoughtful posts need to be posted at the right time to be seen. Many of the tools mentioned above will automatically schedule content to be posted at optimal times. But if not, here are the best times to post, according to the most recent CoSchedule:

    • All platforms: Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 8:41 a.m., 3:15 p.m., and 7:00 p.m.
    • Instagram: Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday at 9:00 a.m., 9:01 a.m., and 8:00 p.m.
    • Facebook: Monday, Wednesday, Friday at 7:00 a.m., 3:15 p.m., and 7:00 p.m.
    • Twitter: Wednesday, Thursday, Friday at 8:38 a.m., 9:26 a.m., and 10:00 a.m.
    • Linkedin: Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday at 1:00 a.m., 10:00 a.m., and 12:00 p.m.
    • Pinterest: Tuesday, Thursday, Friday at 12:00 p.m., 6:17 p.m., and 8:02 p.m.

6. Leverage Polls to Collect Real-Time Customer Feedback

Instagram and TikTok are goldmines for audience research. They include audience poll features and question/answer boxes that allow you to ask your most burning questions directly. Use them to:

    • Gather customer quotes (with expressed permission)
    • Decide which products or services to release next
    • Discover audience preferences via a “this or that” poll
    • Generate leads by allowing customers to raise a flag

Polls are a great way to increase customer engagement in a way that feels more like a natural conversation between friends than a branded advertisement.

7. Boost Engagement by Featuring User-Generated Content

Another way to boost engagement and have real conversations with your customers is by encouraging them to share content featuring your brand. Ask them to use a specific hashtag or share photos of them using your product, and incentivize them by re-posting their content to your story. UGC also increases your brand’s reach, which means a greater potential to bring in new customers.

8. Stay Consistent With Brand and Tone Guidelines

Part of building an authentic brand that consumers trust is delivering a consistent tone, both in copy and visuals. This is a great time to create brand guidelines if you haven’t already. Visually, your designs should follow a branded color palette and use the same one or two fonts.

Your social media copy should reflect your brand’s values. Maybe you’re fun, fresh, and casual, or maybe you lean more informative and professional. No matter your voice, keep it consistent. This is easier to execute if you’re handling all the copywriting yourself, but if you’re outsourcing it to a team, make sure to edit for tone.

9. Provide Stellar Customer Service With Prompt Responses

With all the fun and creativity that social media allows, it’s easy to forget that it’s also your job to provide quick and helpful customer service to followers who have questions.

DM and Comment Responses

Most of your customers will reach out with questions via post comments or direct messages (DMs). It’s best practice to respond to these within one business day; otherwise, a potential sale may fall through or a repeat customer may get frustrated and look elsewhere.

Chatbots for Automated Responses

Even though you do your due diligence to inform customers of policies and important information, questions will almost always pop up repeatedly. Thankfully, most social media platforms have automated response options that allow you to prepare a boxed answer to common questions like “What are your hours?” or “Where’s my order?”

While using a chatbot may seem potentially inauthentic or overly corporate, it’ll ensure customers get a quick response until you have the bandwidth to attend to them personally.

Crisis Management

While all entrepreneurs hope for smooth sailing, there may come a time when a crisis can’t be averted. From outside factors like pandemics to data breaches to internal human errors … sometimes, things just go wrong. Your success is determined by how you react and move forward. At the bare minimum, remember to:

    • Use brand monitoring software like BuzzSumo or Google Alerts that will notify you when your business is mentioned repeatedly online, signaling a potential crisis situation.
    • Cease posting any new content that doesn’t address the crisis. The worst thing you can do is ignore the situation or pretend like nothing happened.
    • Address the issue head-on and explain what you’re doing to rectify it. Only apologize if it’s necessary and appropriate. Outline any steps customers should take, if applicable.
    • Create a crisis FAQ landing page where customers can go to learn more.

10. Review Performance Metrics to Learn From the Past

Once you have a few months of posts under your belt, begin compiling monthly reports on your social media performance so you can track your growth and ensure you’re hitting your goals. Many software options help you track social media metrics, but a great place to start is within social media itself.

For example, Meta platforms like Instagram and Facebook offer thorough business performance data, including (but not limited to):

    • Follower demographics
    • Net new followers
    • Engagement metrics such as likes, comments, follows, and shares
    • Total number of posts, stories, reels, etc., published in a time frame

Start looking for stories and patterns within the data. Maybe your engagement isn’t as high on Instagram grid posts, but your reels are taking off. Invest more time and effort into reels to keep up the momentum. Flexibility and willingness to pivot strategies is key.

11. Allocate a Spending Budget (and Stick to It)

You’ve spent time strategizing, planning, designing, and posting — now it’s time to get the most out of your posts. Decide on a monthly budget for social media, including any of the following that are applicable to your business:

    • Paid advertising and boosted posts
    • Influencer marketing
    • Photography and video production
    • Copywriting and editing
    • Strategy and management
    • Scheduling, automation, and analytics software

According to the most recent Deloitte CMO survey, businesses will allocate 14%–15% of their revenue toward their social media budget in 2023. Ultimately, the percentage you spend will vary based on your industry and whether you’re B2B or B2C. For example, businesses in healthcare and technology may spend 18%–21% of revenue on marketing, while businesses in consumer goods and services only allocate 6%–9%.

12. Keep a Pulse on Social Media Trends for 2023

Social media is constantly evolving, and new tech will bring many trends to 2023. Here are some of the most notable updates:

User-Generated Content and Nano-Creators

Businesses are on the constant pursuit of authenticity, but it’s hard to self-promote and still come across as genuine. That’s where UGC (user-generated content) comes in. Brands pay small influencers (often referred to as nano-creators or micro-influencers) to interact with their products or services and share their experiences on social media.

It’s a great way to highlight the benefits of your offerings — and it’s effective. One study found that 80% of consumers say UGC highly impacts their purchasing decisions.

Short-Form Video Over Static Images

Instagram’s algorithm has notoriously shifted recently to favor videos in the form of reels or live streams over static images. Socially savvy brands are shifting their content to video — specifically short-form video — to stay relevant.

The Continued Rise of AI

AI is more accessible than ever, and it’s going mainstream in 2023. For example, TikTok allows you to generate a background for your video based solely on the text you type in. Your business can leverage AI to generate script outlines for posts, recommend topics, and much more.

As you look forward to the year ahead, don’t forget to take advantage of the vast array of small business resources available to entrepreneurs just like you. Start by finding your nearest Small Business Development Center to get free consulting and affordable training.

About the Author: Ken So is the founder and CEO of Flowcast and Tillful, a startup that modernizes business credit for small businesses. Having spent more than 20 years in business development, mergers and acquisitions, and engineering prior to founding a company, he covers all things business building, business credit, and finance.

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