How Small Businesses Use Social Media – And Why They Might Be Getting it Wrong

It’s widely understood that a business needs at least a presence on the popular social media channels if they are to be successful in the current consumer marketplace. Interactive, engaging social media activity is even better. But how are small businesses using social media to reach their customers?

This infographic from Column Five and Intuit shows how small businesses use social media, and the fruit their efforts are bringing (or not…):

Social media platforms are a great way to reach customers because it’s inexpensive (over 50 percent use less than $100 – or nothing – on social media), it’s easy, it doesn’t require a lot of time (and time is money, right?), and it reaches customers effectively because social media platforms are where the customers are spending a lot of their time.

Connection is key for why small businesses use social media – and most businesses find Facebook to be the best social media network for engaging and connecting with their customer audience. Anywhere from 16 to 35 percent of fans become customers after liking a small business’ Facebook page.

But while these businesses hope for connection with their consumers and fans, there is a major disconnection going on. While 54 percent of businesses think that wall posts are the most effective methods for using Facebook to reach customers, that is only 18 percent for the actual customers. Offers and discounts came in at 37 percent.

See, the problem that this infographic shows is that the small business owners aren’t effectively reaching their customers through their social media tactics. It should be common knowledge that the average customer is going to prefer a special offer or discount to one-sided information that they see in their newsfeed.

Businesses that use social media – and Facebook in particular – to get their message out, or to post relevant content have to understand the weight that a discount or special offer carries with their customers. It’s not enough to have a one-sided conversation, telling your fans how awesome your Bacon Bleu Cheese Burger is, or that they should come to the launch of your new product line on Saturday – they need a reason to engage with you.

How should small businesses use social media and Facebook in particular? Ask for engagement. Offer a deal – but not without strings attached. Give your fans a discount or announce a giveaway, and follow that with parameters such as any combination or part of the following:

  • They must ‘Like’ your Facebook Page
  • They must post a relevant photo of something related to (or not) your discount or giveaway
  • They must share your post with their friends
  • They must comment on the post

You can’t depend on a video or photo going viral; so it’s best to focus on what you know works on social media. Giveaways and special offers every once in awhile (anywhere from once a week to once a month is good), and supplement those with your standard wall posts and direct messages to fans.

Don’t forget that you’re engaged in social media for one thing in the first place: connecting with customers. So get out there and connect with them!

Featured photo from

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