These days, a strong presence on social networks is key to building a reliable brand, stand out and gain attractiveness from potential customers. I recently learned that 43% of consumers always search for a regular job online before visiting it for the first time, that’s a huge number. And while all companies can benefit from being on social media, it’s especially important for small businesses that usually don’t have the advantage of being known.
A strong presence on social media, however, requires consistent content creation, which can take time. If you are a small business or even a company with one, you may be wondering how you can compete together with companies that have entire social networking teams. It will never be a level playing field, but we’ve seen small businesses embrace what makes them unique and as a result shine on social media, without having to spend huge amounts on advertising dollars or hire an entire social team.
Here are some ideas I’ve seen working for individuals and businesses over the years.
1. Learn from your customers (and data)
A good starting point is to pay attention to what your potential customers are talking about. What are their sore spots? What questions do they have about your job? How do they feel about certain topics? This is all good material for content ideas such as quick questions and answers on Instagram or more detailed instructional content on Facebook or LinkedIn.
To get into the minds of your audience, you can:
- Scroll through the comments section on your social media pages and the pages of other companies and brands you admire. (We recently made a list of these, Twitter,, Really, i Ben & Jerry’s are all mentioned.)
- Take advantage of the poll feature available on most platforms, including Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn to ask questions to your audience.
- Send a more formal survey via your newsletter, I recommend it be short so that people can respond.
- Use market research tools like AnswerThePublic or Google Trends to see what people are looking for.
You should also regularly evaluate which of your previous posts have had the best effect. Which one resonated the most with your audience? Which ones have more likes, comments, shares, retweets and saved messages? Find samples among them and you will quickly be able to tell what works. (Note: Using the analytics tool can help make popular posts easier to discover.)
Once you’ve gathered all this information, spend some time reviewing it. What do the most successful content have in common? Does your audience prefer videos or memes? Are inspirational posts or work instructions more popular? Once you recognize some patterns, rely on them and create new content that gives people what they want.
2. Take advantage of news and your own statistics
Being aware of what’s going on in your industry is important for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it can provide you with endless inspiration for content.
I use Twitter lists to quickly understand the topics that the media is currently covering. Create your own lists, full of journalists, experts, newspaper pages and influencers in your space, and if you lack ideas for content, scroll to see what they’re talking about. You can republish their views on what is happening or create your own.
You can also be part of the news by collecting your own data and sharing the findings with your community. For example, earlier this year we published our remote work status for 2021, which we created by surveying customers and potential customers. Each data point (such as the fact that 98% of respondents want to continue working remotely) can be their own interesting, interesting social post. We also used the report to create complementary content, such as tips for managing remote teams, our favorite tools for remote collaboration, and tips for unplugging when working from home.
3. Go behind the scenes
Consumers like to learn more about how the business works and the people behind the brand. Simply put, showing the people running the show humanizes business, and it can be a pretty powerful marketing tool.
In addition, showing how you are developing your products or company (also known as public construction) can add a lot of value in the long run. In this episode of the podcast Buffer’s Small Business, Big Lessons, Paynter Jacket Co. Sharing how their building in public and sharing behind-the-scenes footage has impacted their business for the better, they now have a loyal group of followers and sell out their jackets within minutes of becoming available.
Video, such as Stories, Reels and IGTV, is a great behind-the-scenes content medium and doesn’t have to be highly produced to get someone’s attention. It is also easier to create because you record elements of your regular operations. Consider sharing:
- A day in the life of a teammate
- The steps of the production process of your product
- Tour your workspace (this works even for remote teams!)
- AMA sessions with team members
- Satisfied customer who uses your product
4. Make it easy for yourself
Of course, coming up with unique ideas is great, but you can supplement your customized content by republishing the things you see on the Internet. Sharing articles on industry trends, inspirational images related to your brand, or even relevant memes can add to your feed without taking precious time out of the day.
Professional advice: If you come across an article, image, or other piece of content you want to share, you can do so directly from your browser using the Buffer browser extension. Schedule it now and there, and then go back to the other items on your to-do list.
Creating a solid plan for social media as a small business may feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Take about 30 minutes a few times a week to focus on the content, choose one or two of the above tips to get started, and then continue building from there. The results will speak for themselves and inspire you to move on.
Do you have any methods for designing content that works really well for you? Contact Twitter and let us know!
Friendly communicator. Music maven. Explorer. Pop culture trailblazer. Social media practitioner.