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Starbucks saw a 3% increase in sales with attention generated by the #unicornfrappucino. Morton’s Steakhouse used the power of Twitter to build trust and credibility with thousands of followers. Dominos Pizza partnered with Foursquare to make pizza more convenient for everyone. 

The power of social media isn’t limited to big brands. This week, we’re zeroing in on social media for small business. With these tips, you can align marketing and sales into a well-oiled machine.

Social Media for Small Business: Nurturing Leads into Sales

Target the Right Audience
You Can’t Solve Every Social Media Problem with the 80-20 Rule
Redefine Social Media “Content”
Solve Social Media Problems (and More!) by Responding to Comments
Keep Your Teams in Contact to Optimize Social Media for Small Business

Pinterest graphic for an article called social media for small business - nurturing leads into sales from Selz the ecommerce platform for growing businesses

Most social media problems happen at the top of the funnel. Good social media should create contact with customers and build an audience for your brand. 

But how do you move them through that funnel to the point where they’re ready to buy? Let’s talk sales.

Target the Right Audience

Start by focusing your energy on the platforms and audiences where you’re most likely to make sales. As a general rule, Instagram and SnapChat trend younger. If Gen Z’s and younger millennials are your target audience, you’ll want to own these channels.

Facebook is still the reigning champion for user numbers. Honing your presence on this platform and moving clicks straight to a built-in Facebook online store is a great way to optimize your sales.

If you’re targeting a more professional crowd, LinkedIn could be a great place to build your influence. Create intelligent think pieces driving toward a white paper or another form of lead magnet. 

Read: How to Make Money with Instagram for Your Small Business 

Social Media for Small Business Tip: Hone In on Your Options

So how do you figure out which platforms to invest time into? After all, engagement is the most important metric here. You’re not just looking to get your products in front of a new audience- you’re trying to move that audience all the way to the checkout line. 

Look for questions about your products and demand for your content. Do you have people asking about the next video release, or looking for advice on complementary products that you don’t sell yet? This is the kind of audience you want to invest your time and energy in.

You Can’t Solve Every Social Media Problem with the 80-20 Rule

One of the biggest social media problems for any small business is striking a balance between content designed to sell and content for engagement. It’s important to remember that on some level, every post you make is promotional and that artificially separating your social media into separate camps isn’t necessarily the best framework for your thinking.

Chances are you’ve heard of the 80-20 rule for social media for small business. It states that 80% of your content should be non-selling (designed to engage and entertain your audience) and 20% should focus specifically on your products.

While this can be a helpful benchmark for some brands, the separation of selling vs non-selling content can feel artificial for many small businesses. 

After all, it’s social media marketing– everything you create is (on some level) designed to draw in your audience and move towards sales. That doesn’t mean that social media content can’t be fun (it absolutely should be) but it’s important to take a more nuanced approach to your social media as you nurture leads.

Curate vs Generate

One approach is to think more in terms of content you generate vs content you curate. Essentially- how much of the content that you share on your business page are you creating in-house, and how much are you linking to outside of your site?

These two approaches can have really different results. Curated content is great for building up reciprocal shares. We’re always excited to see others share our content, and are far more likely to link to their content if they link to ours.

Generated (or original) content, on the other hand, will usually link back to your site (and your online store), meaning it will bring customers into an environment focused on your products. 

Finding a balance here will involve a lot of testing and exploration. It’s also a key way that small businesses move customers from the middle of the funnel to your product pages.

Social media for small business can mean just about anything today, so think about how your social media can enhance your business and avoid common social media problems

Redefine Social Media “Content”

It’s easy to fall into the habit of repeatedly churning out sales announcements, events, and product promos. One of the great things about using social media for small business is the enormous toolset you can bring to the table.

The options for social media content are nearly endless:

Start by thinking about the range of ways you can approach your messaging and tailor it for your audience. 

Get the Customer Involved

User-generated content might sound like a buzz-word, but there’s a reason it’s popping up more often on social media for small business. After all, it’s a way to bring the consumer to the table and allow your customers to take the lead in the social conversation. 

Influencer marketing is a booming field, and 82% of consumers are highly likely to follow a recommendation from a micro-influencer. Learn how to find and connect to influencers in your niche here.

That said, you don’t necessarily have to work with an influencer to have a similar effect. You may find that members of your existing customer base are happy to become ambassadors for your brand in exchange for a free product. They could also write a quick review or testimonial, another valuable form of content that can pay dividends in the long run.

Social Media for Small Business Tip: Reduce, Reuse, Upcycle

One more note on content- it might surprise you how much content you can rework and reuse. Upcycling is the process of turning your existing resources into a broader range of content.

For example, a video or a blog post can be helpful to a totally different audience if it’s converted to an infographic. Quotes from your other content (or an ebook or white paper) can be great #mondaymotivation if they’re translated into an appealing visual format on Instagram or Pinterest

Successful social media for small business means constant thoughtful work and attention to your customers

Solve Social Media Problems (and More!) by Responding to Comments

For many of us, responding to comments can feel like a frustrating, Sisyphean task. It’s important to take the time to roll this boulder up the hill, though, because your comment section is a goldmine of engaged potential customers that only need a little more convincing to convert. 

Actively engaging with comments is an important way to make your brand feel welcoming. It shows a potential customer that you’re excited about their business. It’s also a chance to showcase your expertise and the kind of customer experience they can expect if they buy from you.

Generally, you’ll want to avoid overly sales-y language in these situations. You want to shape the customer experience of your brand with engagement and heavy promotion in the comment section can be an instant turnoff.

That said, if their questions relate to your products, you can put them in contact with a member of your sales team.

Analytics can point you to social media problems before they become bigger problems for your small business

Set Clear Goals (and Build Your Small Biz Social Media Around Them)

Likes and shares are a valuable tool for getting your brand out there, but they aren’t the end goal. What we’re talking about here is vanity metrics– in other words, metrics that look good, but aren’t actionable or don’t have a meaningful impact on your business.

For example, Facebook “likes” look good, but they’re not a meaningful measure of growth. Similarly, having a huge number of Twitter followers looks great, but if they’re not likely to buy (or are just following you to get shares), then your follower number is a vanity metric. 

Vanity metrics vary from business to business. So how do you know if the elements you’re measuring are actually meaningful for your business growth?

Ask yourself:

  • Do the metrics I’m measuring actually relate to the ways my business makes money?
  • Can the metrics I’m measuring help me make decisions moving forward?
  • If there’s a sudden spike in a specific metric, is a similar peak replicable later on?

Read more: How to Make Data Work for Your Small Business

The specific data you end up tracking and optimizing for will vary depending on your small business and your particular ecommerce site. Your best bet will be to think in terms of your funnel.

In a nutshell: which metrics show that customers are moving toward a purchase, and which metrics simply showcase “engagement”? 

Keep Your Teams in Contact to Optimize Social Media for Small Business

Aligning your social media content with ideal buyer behavior goes a long way toward turning social media problems into exciting opportunities. 

Keep the funnel in mind and treat engaged social media users as “leads.” This will help your marketing and sales teams work in tandem for a better sales process. 

How does your small business leverage social media for sales? Let us know in the comments!

About the author

Bryce Patterson

Bryce is a writer and content marketer for tech companies including Churn Buster and Evergreen. He gives ecommerce business and non-profits a more human, relatable voice. He has written a novel, worked on a comic book, and played in a handful of bands. Bryce lives in Colorado.


  1. Pamela Dinofiro

    Great! I’m building my new online marketing blog and social media is my top tool to advertise. This article is very helpful!
    Thank you

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