Social media is a crucial channel for small businesses to leverage and grow their audience. But creating a successful social media strategy is no easy process. Where do you start? Crushing your company’s social media performance begins by taking a look at what you’re currently doing, like what platforms you are on, determining your goals, and then creating content based on those goals.

We teamed up with local social media agency and our friends Social Yeah to talk about strategy, goals, content, and auditing when it comes to small businesses and their social media. Social Yeah is a full service social media agency that focuses on Facebook, Instagram and Email. Their team handles strategy, creative, production (video / photo), advertising and everything in between —  all in-house!

We spoke with owner and founder: Kevin Evanestski, Operations Manager: Angela Fletch, Senior Account Manager: Jacquie Krajnik and Creative Strategist: Ashley Flanagan. Let’s get started!

What’s the first thing you’d tell a small business to do when re-evaluating their social media?

Kevin Evanetski: I would advise most small businesses to consider mastering one social network. That might mean going dark if you’ve already spread yourself too thin. Too many small businesses feel like they have to have a presence on every social network which is usually a lot to keep up with, resulting in lower-quality content on each. Pick one platform and perfect your messaging and content. Once you master one network, you can easily repurpose the content that works, onto another network.

COVID-19 has majorly impacted small businesses across the globe, how do we shift our social media strategy in uncertain times?

KE: You take it day by day. You double-check your tone and words. You become even more transparent and “human” with your audiences.  You stay positive. You realize everyone is going through this and there are people willing to help, if you ask. You stay in front of your audiences with ads, messages, emails, and put yourself in a position to come out full steam ahead. 

How do you determine goals with social media for a small business?

KE: When you have a handful of specific messages that you’re focusing on with your content, it becomes much easier to have benchmarks and goals.  For instance, if you’re trying to grow your email list through a giveaway, you can easily set a cost per new subscriber goal. Another example would be if you’re spending ad dollars promoting free estimates, you’ll be able to set a cost per lead goal. 

I’m not a graphic designer. How do I design content for social?

Ashley Flanagan: By no means do you have to be a graphic designer to have great social! All it really takes is a good message, your phone, and some great photos (yes, photos; not flyers!)

With photos, try to have smiling human faces in it if possible. A photo of the restaurant owner smiling and holding a pasta dish will often go a lot further than even the most beautiful photo of just the pasta dish by itself. Then, if there’s an important message that you want to stand out on the photo (eg. sales) then here are a few FREE apps that are super simple to use, and have some beautiful templates to add graphics.

How can a small business determine a social spend? How much money do you need to spend with social to see success?

Angela Fletch: It’s going to depend on your goals. We always recommend putting ad dollars (secret sauce) behind the messaging that is going to create the most revenue. For a contractor, you’re going to want to determine your cost per lead and from there can set an ad budget based on the audience size and the # of leads you need to close a sale. For a retailer, it might make more sense to determine an ad budget based on how much it will cost to reach your target audience multiple times during the duration of a big sale.

Is your social media cohesive across all platforms? How do you design content based on a platform?

Angela: Your social media messages should be cohesive across all platforms but not necessarily identical. For instance, don’t use hashtags on Facebook because they are not natural to that platform but on Instagram, it is, as long as you don’t use 30 (nobody likes that). Each platform will have different best practices that you’ll learn over time but for the most part, if the content is easily consumable and thumb-stopping, you’re good to go!

Some quick tips and best practices that you could use across all platforms; consistent messaging (headlines, call-to-actions, colors/fonts), use less than 20% text on your images, and on Facebook and Instagram specifically, images/videos should be square (1:1) or vertical (4:5) ratios.

How can you determine what platforms to be on based on your business? Do we need to get a TikTok?

Ashley Flanagan: Don’t overwhelm yourself by trying to tackle too many platforms at once. Start where your audience is and nail that first. If your audience is primarily 40+, I’d definitely start on Facebook. If you’re talking to millennials, you can probably start on Instagram.  

A lot of people are asking about TikTok lately. I love TikTok, personally, but it’s not made for small businesses. The thing is, TikTok is very much an entertainment platform; and it also skews very, very young. Which means that Mom (the buyer in the household with actual disposable income) is not on TikTok yet. She finally feels comfortable with Facebook, don’t start throwing all these other crazy things at her now!

I do want to mention, if you have a team that’s willing to have fun and do some of the challenges on TikTok, by all means, try it out — but make sure you download and repost your video on your other platforms so people actually see it!

Creating ads vs boosting a post. What’s better for my small business?

Jacquie Krajnik: “Creating ads” and “boosting a post” are two different versions of the same thing.  If this if your first time running an ad on Facebook, the boost button is an easy and user-friendly way to quickly get an ad up and running for your business.  

However, creating ads in Ads Manager is my preferred method. I love how detailed you can get with your targeting (custom audiences, lookalike audiences, and interest-based targeting) as well as your optimizing (what the end goal is) and it really helps make sure that you’re spending your budget in the most strategic way to get the best results possible. Ads Manager also has really advanced reporting capabilities that make it easy to check-in and see how your ad is performing once it’s up and running. And last (but definitely not least), creating your ads in Ads Manager gives you full creative control of your ad – from the image/video to the caption and even the button, if you want one! 

Not going to lie, Ads Manager can be a bit overwhelming at first, especially if this is your first time running an ad, so using the boost button can be a great way to get your feet wet before making the full jump into Ads Manager!

Social Media metrics? Where do I even start?

KE: Even though like and comments don’t put money in the bank, it is a good indicator if you’re content is resonating with your audience.  I can’t tell you how often I see a page post the same content over and over again that has zero likes or comments (that basically means people are not into it).  Once you see what your audience responds to, continue to post similar content. Eventually, you can start to advertise the content that your audience enjoys and that’s where you can truly get into metrics that put money in the bank like cost per lead, cost per acquisition, cost per click, etc.

What other questions do you have about social media and small businesses? Share them with us!