Leveraging Social Media to Grow Your Small Business

SouthState client using social media for there business.

In the fast-paced digital world we live in today, social media has emerged as a game-changer for small businesses seeking to establish a strong brand presence. Small business owners can harness the power of social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn to establish their brand, reach and connect with a wider audience, and boost their bottom line. We sat down with Vincent Ascolese, Senior Social Media and PR Manager at SouthState, to dive into the importance of leveraging social media as a small business owner and how these platforms can take your brand to new heights. 

Why Should I Use Social Media for My Business?

Enhanced Brand Visibility and Awareness

Social media platforms provide an exceptional opportunity for small businesses to enhance their brand visibility and increase awareness among their target audience. By establishing a consistent and engaging online presence, you can showcase your products, services, and brand values to a wider audience. Social media allows you to effectively communicate your unique selling points, share compelling content, and foster meaningful connections with potential customers. As your brand gains visibility, it becomes more recognizable, ultimately leading to increased brand awareness and market positioning.

Customer Engagement and Relationship Building

One of the most significant advantages of social media for small businesses is the ability to engage and build relationships with customers. These platforms facilitate two-way communication, allowing you to interact directly with your audience, address their inquiries, and provide personalized support. By actively engaging with customers through comments, messages, and social media groups, you can foster a sense of community and loyalty around your brand. Social media also serves as a valuable feedback channel, providing insights into customer preferences, needs, and pain points, which can guide product development and service improvements.

Cost-Effective Marketing and Advertising

For small businesses with limited marketing budgets, social media presents a cost-effective alternative to traditional marketing channels. With targeted advertising options, you can reach your desired audience based on demographics, interests, and behaviors, ensuring that your marketing efforts are highly focused and efficient. Social media advertising allows you to optimize your ad spend, track campaign performance, and measure the return on investment (ROI) more accurately. Additionally, the ability to create and share organic content on social media provides an avenue for free promotion, enabling small businesses to amplify their reach without incurring significant costs.

Measuring the Impact of Social Media

To gauge the success of your social media efforts, track key metrics such as engagement rates, follower growth, and website traffic originating from social platforms. You can use the native analytics tools provided by social platforms and Google Analytics to monitor the performance of your channels. Regularly reviewing these metrics helps you determine your brand’s statistical benchmarks, understand which strategies work best and where improvements are needed. 

“When you’re measuring success, it’s vital to pay attention to the data to understand what’s working vs. what’s not,” says Ascolese. “The analytics will show you which content, mediums, and treatments resonate with your audience. You must embrace data-driven decisions and be willing to pivot your strategy accordingly – this is how you sustain growth and relevance in an ever-evolving digital landscape.”

Here are some popular metrics for social media marketing:
  • Engagement Rate: Measures the level of interaction content receives, including likes, comments, shares, saves, and reactions.
  • Reach: The total number of unique users who have seen your content.
  • Impressions: The total number of times your content is displayed, whether it was clicked or not.
  • Follower growth: Tracks the increase or decrease in the number of followers over a specific period of time.
  • Click-Through Rate (CTR): The percent of users who click on an ad or link after seeing it.
  • Conversion Rate: The percentage of users who take a desired action (e.g., making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter, etc.) after clicking on a link.
  • Audience Demographics: Information about the age, gender, location, and interests of your audience.
  • Cost Per Click (CPC): The amount paid for each click on a sponsored post or advertisement.
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You must embrace data-driven decisions and be willing to pivot your strategy accordingly – this is how you sustain growth and relevance in an ever-evolving digital landscape.”

-Vincent Ascolese, Senior Social Media & PR Manager

Best Practices for Leveraging Social Media for Your Small Business

What social media do small business owners use?

Small business owners utilize a range of social media platforms to connect with their target audience. While Facebook and Instagram are widely popular, platforms such as Twitter (X), LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube also have their unique benefits. Identifying which platforms you should invest your time and resources in is crucial. It’s important to select the platform(s) that will most easily allow you to reach your potential customers, which can look very different depending on what your business offers and the industry you are in. If you have access to funds that can be used for social promotion, prioritizing Instagram and Facebook can maximize your reach due to their extensive user base and robust advertising features.

What is the best social media marketing strategy for small businesses?

A multi-faceted approach is the best approach. It begins with understanding your target audience, creating engaging content that aligns with your brand, and leveraging paid advertising campaigns. Social media marketing is not just about generating followers; it's about building meaningful connections and fostering brand loyalty.

How do I create a social media account for my small business?

Creating social media accounts for your business is fairly simple. Start by visiting Instagram and Facebook's websites or downloading their mobile apps. Follow the step-by-step instructions to create an account, ensuring that you provide accurate business information, choose an appealing profile picture, and write an engaging bio. Remember to maintain consistency across platforms and align your brand's visual identity with your posts. Pro tip: if you need a tutorial for anything related to account setup, YouTube is an incredible resource for step-by-step instructions.

Why should small businesses prioritize their presence on Instagram and Facebook?

Instagram and Facebook offer unparalleled opportunities for small businesses to connect with their target audience. With billions of active users, these platforms provide a vast pool of potential customers. Additionally, Instagram's visual nature makes it ideal for showcasing products and services, while Facebook's extensive targeting options allow you to reach your desired demographics effectively. Instagram also offers features like its ‘shopping’ feature that allows business owners to connect their online store to Instagram, making it easier for customers to browse and purchase products while using the Instagram app.

How can I promote my business on social media for free?

Promoting your business on social media for free requires a strategic approach. Start by creating compelling and shareable content that resonates with your target audience. Use relevant hashtags, engage with your followers, and collaborate with influencers or complementary businesses. Don't underestimate the power of consistency and authenticity in building a loyal community of followers who will advocate for your brand.

Don’t be afraid to experiment with different platform features to determine which resonates best with your audience and allow that to inform your strategy. For example, maybe your audience consistently engages with Instagram stories, but does not engage your “feed” posts at the same rate. In that scenario, it makes more sense to build out a more robust strategy geared specifically towards Instagram stories. Remember, social media is ever evolving, and your social media strategy should be flexible to account for platform-based changes. 

How much do you pay someone to run a social media account?

The cost of hiring someone to manage your social media accounts can vary based on factors such as experience, location, and the scope of work. It's essential to evaluate your budget and the level of expertise you require. 

In today's hyper-connected world, small business owners cannot afford to ignore the power of social media. By strategically utilizing platforms like Instagram and Facebook, you can elevate your brand's visibility, connect with your target audience, and ultimately drive business growth. Remember, success on social media doesn't happen overnight. It requires consistency, creativity, and a deep understanding of your target audience. 

SouthState is proud to support the small businesses in our footprint with checking accounts, cash flow management, employee services and much more. To find out how we can help your business, visit our Small Business Resource Center.

About the Author

Vincent Ascolese is the Senior Social Media & PR Manager at SouthState. Vincent has more than a decade of experience working as a public relations and social media professional. He has worked with dozens of companies spanning the financial, telecommunications, technology, retail business and online business industries. Vincent holds a Bachelor of Science (B.S.), Public Relations from the State University of New York at Fredonia.

  • This content is general in nature and provided for informational use only. Content may be used in connection with the advertising and marketing of products and services offered by SouthState Bank, N.A. and its subsidiaries and affiliates. This is not to be considered legal, tax, accounting, financial or investment advice. You should seek individualized advice from personal financial, legal, tax and/or other professionals, as appropriate depending on the specific facts of your situation. We do not make any warranties as to the completeness or accuracy of this information and have no liability for your use of this information.

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