Social Media 101 for Local Businesses

Leveraging the power of social channels can help you expand your online presence quickly. Here’s a complete guide on how to use social media for local businesses.

Social media is used so extensively today that many consider it a “must” for local business marketing—and those people aren’t wrong. Contact with a potential audience through social networks will help build relationships with clients and business partners faster, increasing qualified lead generation and overall success.

If you are the owner of a company, then you have probably already thought about how to use Social Media Marketing, or SMM, for the development and promotion of your business. Social networks, just like any other channel of communication, can and should be used for promoting business, attracting customers, and increasing sales. However, many entrepreneurs simply do not know where to start.

This is especially true for local businesses, where there are typically no funds to hire SMM specialists for brand promotion. According to studies, about 82% of companies have pages on at least one social network (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.). And if for some reason your brand isn’t there yet, we’re here to help you fix that.

In this ebook, we’ll discuss the ways social media can be used to grow your business, social media platforms to consider, and basic tools you can use to boost your social media presence.

Woman picking up a shirt and facebook notifications around her.

How Social Media for Local Business Helps You Grow

Traditional marketing methods (advertising, newsletters, etc.) are gradually losing their effectiveness. Under such conditions, companies are looking for and finding new ways to attract their target audiences (TAs) and increase their customer base. Social networks became one of these tools.

Social media has radically changed the way we address and build personal and business relationships. It’s safe to say that the emergence of social platforms has had a huge impact on all of our society.

Social Media is an easy way to start a business, and one of the best ways to connect with people who don’t know about your brand yet or already love your existing products/services. In other words, social media is essential for reaching regular customers and those who haven’t heard of you yet. Getting started here is easy and affordable. You can use a few marketing tricks to quickly reach new markets, build brand awareness, and improve your sales.

So what is the secret of successful company positioning on social media? It’d be a mistake to think that surrounding yourself with the latest technology and tools is enough – you still need to figure out how to use them effectively. This will help you to:

  • Make your personal and company brand more visible.
  • Create and develop networks of personal and professional contacts.
  • Build relationships with clients and influencers.
  • Interact with your TA in a two-way manner.
  • Spread original content that demonstrates your professionalism and expertise.
  • Share links to relevant information that your customers will find useful.
  • Connect with your subscribers and people who support your brand.
  • Generate new leads and increase sales, etc.

Hand holding a phone with Instagram on the screen

9 Basics of Promoting a Local Business on Social Media

  1. Set your goals and define audience
  2. Choose your social media platform
  3. Optimize your website
  4. Create a content plan
  5. Brand your social media pages
  6. Build relationships
  7. Create social media schedule
  8. Use paid advertising
  9. Quality content matters

One of the main challenges that startups and local businesses face is limited resources. Traditional marketing strategies and techniques are often difficult to fully implement in this environment. At the same time, low-cost social media marketing provides entrepreneurs with a direct access channel to both existing and potential customers.

Keep in mind, though, that with social channels, the money saved comes at the expense of the time you spend managing your social media pages. Using them skillfully will allow you to successfully build your brand, promote your business, and gain the attention of leads (potential customers) with minimal effort.

Your social media marketing strategy should have a solid theoretical foundation. As brutal as it sounds, without a clearly laid out path to success, your web pages are doomed to become worthless.

1. Set your goal and define audience

By keeping your goals in mind, you will be able to develop a more detailed strategy, each step in which will bring you closer to the end result.

Choosing your Target Audience (TA) determines your communication style and the way you interact. You need to know exactly what you are selling and who will buy it. Without this, you are unlikely to get a clear content plan for promotion. A deeper look into your customer experience analytics can get you a lot of insights into your existing customers. That’ll be real gold for your decision-making.

The main task of social media, in terms of business, is for the company to communicate with its audience on a friendly personal level, as with a friend or good acquaintance. To achieve this, you must deeply understand your current and potential customers.

Find individual features for each segment (age, gender, interests, profession, etc.). Find them, study them well, create brief profiles of typical representatives of each group. Creating such profiles will make it easier for you to find the right “key” personally to each consumer that forms your TA. Find out everything about the latter: age, geographic location, interests., hobbies, etc. Identify their “pains” and provide your value proposition as an effective solution. Then analyze each group of your TA, identifying their main needs or problems that you can appeal to or offer solutions to. Write them down for each profile you create.

The next step is to identify your three major marketing messages you would like to communicate to each segment of your target audience.

Once you’ve defined your TA’s profile and formulated what you want to communicate to it, the next step is to figure out what social media services your leads prefer to use.

Social networks differ from each other by tasks, sets of functions, features, goals that users have when they visit them, etc. Because of this, there are significant differences between user communities who prefer a particular social service. Understanding these differences will allow you to focus your efforts on the right channels.

2. Choose your social media platform

Your promotion strategy depends on the platform you choose. Take your time and start small – don’t try to reach all channels at once. As we have already said, SMM saves money but requires time and energy, which are precious resources for local businesses and startups. That’s why SMM experts recommend gradually start promoting your business on social networks, choosing one or two platforms at first. This approach will allow you to control the workload and avoid getting lost in the variety of social services. As your business will grow, you will expand to other channels later.

You should not consider each social media platform as a standalone tool to promote your business, as this will reduce the effectiveness of using them. To achieve your goals, you should strive to ensure that your social communication channels work cohesively.

Since your main website is the core of your brand, and in many cases your business, you should focus your social media efforts on ensuring that each serves as a guide to your business, leading users to your website, where they can order your product or service.

In addition, you can use a blog to build and strengthen your brand, share valuable information with your website visitors. It can also be a great opportunity to attract more visitors to your website and convert them into leads. Therefore, if you don’t have a blog, you should definitely create one and incorporate it into your SMM strategy.

Woman using website

3. Optimize your website

In order to work with social media, optimization is required both for your blog and your website. This can be done by adding a few simple elements to their design.

Thus, you should add a call to action (CTA) at the end of your blog post, where you invite your readers to join your Facebook page or follow you on Twitter (or whatever platform you think best helps you reach your TA).  Add special buttons to each news or blog post that allow readers to quickly share your content with their friends without having to subscribe to your social media profiles. This will allow you to reach the widest possible audience. To do this, add “Like” and “Share” buttons from your website’s administrative panel.

Customize your comment sections from social networks directly on the pages of your site, set social network sections in the news, blog, and site directory. Additionally, you can customize comment section settings for each social network (e.g. Facebook, Google+, and Twitter): set the section’s width and the number of comments on the page.

4. Create a content plan

A sound business strategy and a good content plan will help you succeed on social media. Clearly set a goal that you want to achieve and outline the steps required to achieve it. The goal should be specific and easily measurable. SMM involves the use of paid and free tools, such as publishing text and video content, advertising, targeting, personal messages according to a well-defined schedule.

To find inspiration to get started, find influencers in this segment and check what they are doing online, get charged with their success. If your business is already running, ask your existing subscribers what they want to see more often and then give them exactly what they ask for.

Create a social media calendar. It will help you publish the right content at the right time. Try starting with the 80/20 rule – use 80% of your content to inform, educate or entertain your audience and the other 20% to promote your brand or sell your products.

5. Brand your social media pages

The more useful information you post, the better. Fill out the “About” sections, provide contact information, add photos, create attractive page headers, customize your URL, etc. It’s also important to add a nice profile picture and cover.

Social media branding is not time-consuming but it’s essential when it comes to increasing your company’s memorability. For this, you can use various online services and website builders like Wix. In just a few clicks, you will get a brand kit for the most popular social networks (Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube, and Twitter).

Also, make sure to update your website pages regularly. Your update schedule should run like a Swiss watch. Remember that audiences don’t forgive abandoned accounts.

Two men smiling at each other

6. Build relationships

A unique benefit of social media marketing for local businesses is that it allows you to communicate directly with customers and subscribers. To get the hang of it and make a name for yourself on a new platform, you need the support of those who trust you. So don’t be shy about asking your customers to subscribe to your pages, like your posts, and share your content. You can build relationships over time rather than demanding an immediate purchase.

When a potential audience interacts with your content or ads, you get a response – this is how trust and loyalty are built. As fans share and like your content, you boost social algorithms and extract new free information. You’re also building credibility and relationships that, over time, can grow into sales or profitable partnerships.

Read your news feeds. This lets you know what people are saying about you, your company, brand, product, or service. Respond promptly to all questions, comments, and mentions even, and especially, if they are negative. An immediate and adequate reaction to criticism will allow you to turn a negative into a positive, strengthen your credibility, and show that you respect other people’s opinions and value your company’s reputation.

7. Create social media schedule

Your social engagement should be constant, and your news feeds should be updated regularly. This doesn’t mean you have to take an action (update your status, leave a comment, or respond to a question, etc.) every five minutes. You just have to set yourself to do it regularly, depending on your objectives.

Make a list of actions that you will perform on social media on a daily basis. For example, you might want to leave comments or share links on three different Facebook pages or tweet/retweet 3-5 times a day on Twitter. Using Pinterest as your marketing channel, do “pins” and “repins” 3-5 images per day.

Once you’ve mastered this simple set of actions, you can expand your reach, join groups and communities, target specific demographics (according to created target group profiles). Moreover, you can initiate and participate in discussions, ask questions and comment on updates on other users’ and groups’ pages.

Try to personalize your brand. Welcome new followers (subscribers to the page), thank them for sharing your content, offer them all kinds of promotions and gifts for participating in the promotion of your page in social networks, hold contests, quizzes, polls, etc.

8. Use paid advertising

Paid advertising tools can be used to enhance the effectiveness of social marketing.

Facebook offers a range of advertising solutions to increase sales, traffic to your website, brand awareness, and interaction with your TA.

If your primary social channel is Twitter, you can promote your content or account. In the first case, delivering your tweets to your TA will be more reliable – they will stay at the top of users’ news feeds longer and be periodically duplicated. As for promoted accounts, they will be recommended to more users, which will significantly expand your readership.

Using paid social advertising features will increase the “visibility” of your brand and allow more success on social networks. In addition, the policy of social services that profit from advertising implies a more loyal attitude towards customers who bring them money.

9. Quality content matters

Proper digital marketing means focusing on quality, not quantity. It’s far more important to create high-quality content on a few key channels than to be present on every single network. You need to make sure that your posts represent high value. If you’re only selling, people have very little motivation to follow you, and that’s poor promotion. Be more of a human being. Be honest. Publish high-quality content.

Measure and analyze the results of social activity. This is the only way you can determine which tactics work and which don’t. The measurement metrics here are audience size (number of followers), engagement (likes, comments), and content promotion (reposts, shares, and retweets). Of course, a large audience in social networks does not guarantee high conversion rates and increased sales. However, its absence reduces the chance of attracting new customers through social channels to a minimum.

Most social services already have built-in tools for assessing and tracking results, and they’re easy to understand. You can see how interested your readers were in your post or status with the naked eye. You can also use Google Analytics to deeper assess the effectiveness of your social marketing efforts in terms of conversions. It’s a popular tool for analyzing website traffic and activity. You can use it to determine which social channels get the most traffic to your website, and which ones you might want to avoid to save your time and effort.

Social Media apps on a phone screen

8 Social Media Platforms for Promoting Your Business

  1. Facebook
  2. Instagram
  3. Pinterest
  4. Twitter
  5. LinkedIn
  6. YouTube
  7. Location-based Apps
  8. Reddit

Unfortunately, there’s no universal strategy here. Different social media platforms have different characteristics and require different approaches to building a marketing strategy.

1. Promoting on Facebook

For a casual, friendly Facebook atmosphere, an active marketing strategy will do. Start by creating a page for your company, paying special attention to its visual structure.

Facebook is a platform where people interact with friends in a relaxed atmosphere, so you should keep light and casual tone when communicating with your target audience. Remember that this social network has low organic traffic growth, so choose an inexpensive advertising strategy.

2. Promoting on Instagram

Instagram is owned by Facebook and has more than one billion active users who share photos and short videos with their subscribers. Instagram is a very favorable environment for promotion. This is where more than 50% of users are subscribed to at least one brand. By emphasizing visual content, Instagram is an ideal platform for companies that sell products and offer services that can be shown via photos (e.g., hotels).

How do you make Instagram users remember you? Post high-quality, visually catchy content regularly and use appropriate hashtags. When it comes to advertising, Instagram offers the same set of options and targeting tools as Facebook. Moreover, with Shoppable Posts and Stories, Instagram can also be used as an online store.

3. Promoting on Pinterest

Pinterest is a rapidly growing social network that, like Instagram, prioritizes visual content. It’s an ideal platform for eCommerce. Generally, any company can successfully promote its products/services and advertise on Pinterest.

On Pinterest, companies can not only post photos of their products but also develop their brand with the help of a unique tool – attractive pinboards (digital boards on which all kinds of content is posted). When developing a promotion strategy for Pinterest, remember that the majority of users here are women. If this is exactly your target audience, then this platform is literally created for your brand.

Twitter logo on a phone screen

4. Promoting on Twitter

Twitter allows you to post short messages and share important news with your followers. Subscribe to accounts of people and companies in your (or related) industries, and most of them are sure to subscribe to you as well.

What should you tweet?

Special offers, discounts, interesting facts about your business, and much more. Due to the limited number of characters in a tweet, such information is easily perceived. If a customer comments favorably about your brand, be sure to retweet it. Don’t forget to respond to your followers’ questions. Brand positioning on Twitter is built on dialogue and communication, so try to interact with your followers as much as possible and encourage them in every way possible.

5. Promoting on LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social networking site for professionals. Groups on this platform are a great way to connect with people in your (and related) industries and share high-quality content with like-minded people. You can also post job offers on this platform.

Ask your clients to leave a positive review of the company on your profile: new clients always pay attention to recommendations. And you should pay attention to the “Questions” section: by answering your customers there, you increase your credibility and gain the trust of potential customers.

6. Promote on YouTube

YouTube is the #1 platform for creating and distributing video content. And yes, YouTube can be successfully used to promote your local business.Many companies try to create a “breakthrough” video hoping that it will go viral. Alas, this rarely happens. Instead, we recommend focusing on creating useful video tutorials, guides, how-tos, reviews, and so on. There will always be demand for such content. What’s more, such videos appear in Google’s search results.

Google Reviews (Doctor looking at smartphone screen)

7. Location-Based Platforms

Social platforms like Yelp and FourSquare can be used for companies that have offices or physical outlets.

Sign up, list your location, and try to attract customers with a variety of rewards (check-ins) and special discounts. And remember that happy users don’t skimp on good reviews, which is exactly what you need. What a great example of mutually beneficial cooperation!

8. Promoting on Reddit

Reddit, as well as StumbleUpon and Digg, is designed to post unique and really attractive content that can’t be found anywhere else.

Reddit boasts more than 2 billion page views per month, which speaks to its huge marketing potential. However, by posting content on this social platform, you’re walking on the edge of a knife. If you start posting junk or clearly promotional, sales-oriented posts, your rankings will go down in an instant.

Reddit’s core audience is liberal-minded young people who are passionate about new technology. If you think your content might appeal to such a finicky community, go for it! You have every chance to establish yourself as an expert in your field and drive traffic.

Not only does social media marketing help a company attract more traffic to their site but also establish a more direct, “human” relationship with their audience. What’s more, social platforms allow brands to get to know their customers better and tailor their strategies to them.

People in a group meeting

5 Basic Tools for Business Promotion on Social Media

  1. SocialPilot
  2. Sendible
  3. Hootsuite
  4. Sprout Social

There are both free suites that contain basic social media tools and paid packages with an expanded set of management and analytical functions. We’ll elaborate on the paid sets. So, let’s see what the market offers today.

1. SocialPilot

As a social networking tool designed for a small team, SocialPilot offers many collaboration features. It’s compatible with a large number of platforms, allowing you to easily manage your social networks from a single app.

SocialPilot works with Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Tumblr, and Google My Business. You can manage no more than 10 social media accounts with this tool in the cheapest plan. Scheduling content is easy enough, and once you’re done with it, you can manage it through a drag-and-drop social media calendar.

SocialPilot also includes a social media inbox to manage your inbox in one place. All in all, SocialSprout is the best in terms of overall affordability, includes numerous collaboration features, social media content analytics, and offers a keyword analysis tool as an assistant. Individual SocialPilot plan is relatively inexpensive – Professional $25.50/month – 25 accounts, analytics/reports, 2 FB Ad Accounts, bulk scheduling, RSS feeds, 24/5 support, 1 team member.

Small Team $42.50/month – 50 accounts, analytics/reports, 5 FB Ad Accounts, 5 team members, bulk scheduling, unlimited client management, social inbox, white-label PDF reports, content curation, and discovery, etc). This tool also has professional plans to use in a team. Plus, you can take advantage of a 14-day trial

2. Sendible

Sendible is one of the best social media management tools available today, offering features that every entrepreneur will love. With Sendible, you can publish content to all social networks, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and YouTube.

Sendible makes it easy to schedule content for multiple platforms at once and provides detailed information about your published content. With its report templates, you’ll have a client-ready social media report at your fingertips in just a couple of clicks.

It can be considered the best tool for growing your business online and scheduling your publications across multiple platforms simultaneously. Sendible offers plenty of collaboration and communication tools, as well as content recommendations.

Pricing starts with low-cost monthly plans (Creator $29/month – 1 user, 6 social profiles, one-click reports) for individuals as well as for streamlined collaboration and content creation for both small and large teams (Traction – $89/month – 4 users, 24 social profiles, one-click reports, etc). All plans also have a 30-day free trial so you can test the service yourself.

Woman recording herself with a camera

3. Hootsuite

Hootsuite specializes in content management tools for multiple social channels on a single easy-to-use platform. The numbers are impressive: 10 million users and 79% of Fortune 100 companies.

With Hootsuite, you can create and schedule unlimited posts, manage multiple social media channels, monitor your posts/messages, plan marketing campaigns, collaborate in real-time, and analyze your performance results. As you have already understood, this company definitely deserves your attention.

You can try their free 30-day trial but if you want to get the most out of Hootsuite, you’ll have to buy one of the paid packages. Large brands will surely benefit from adding an unlimited number of administrators to manage their social media pages. You’ll be able to efficiently distribute responsibilities among team members and avoid situations when there are many people in charge of social media and the work isn’t done properly for whatever reason. However, local businesses can also benefit.

Hootsuite can be considered the best all-in-one social media app available online. You can expect high-quality analytics of all your social media content, a team-wide content library, and proper content scheduling, supported by drag-and-drop mode.

The brand also offers over 150 integrated affiliate apps that extend the functionality of Hootsuite. The list of advertising tools has recently been expanded with apps for YouTube and Zendesk that make it easy to manage paid advertising campaigns from a single account.

Hootsuite’s paid plans start at $19/month (Professional – 1 user, 10 social accounts, unlimited posts scheduling, all messages in a single inbox) for small and medium businesses. More expensive plans are also available: Team ($99/month – 3 users, 20 social accounts), Business ($599/month – 5+ users, 35 social accounts), and Enterprise (custom pricing – unlimited users, 50 social accounts).

4. Sprout Social

Sprout Social is another social media management and analytics giant. Brands that emphasize high-quality customer service on social media will love the Smart Inbox feature. With it, a company can centrally view its Twitter mentions, personal messages, Instagram and Facebook comments, and more. Sprout will also analyze your TA and create profiles of your customers for you, allowing you to get to know them better and provide more personalized responses.

Sprout Social is the best in terms of customization options. It offers customizable report templates, keyword, and hashtag monitoring, as well as the simplest social media calendar.

You should also know that Sprout offers more than communication. This system also offers useful analytical tools. For example, you can perform quantitative, qualitative, and contextual analysis on keyword and hashtag data, as well as generate visual reports on your team’s performance.

Teams also have a single content calendar and content approval system. With these handy features, you can forget about embarrassing situations when a post is published before it’s approved by an appropriate employee.


Founded in Copenhagen in 2010, is now famous all over the world. It offers multifunctional toolkits to ensure a company’s effective social media presence. Such giants as McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Toyota, Carlsberg, etc. use their services.

Perhaps the brand’s biggest boast is its content calendar, which not only has a great design but is also surprisingly easy to use. Users can instantly see what content is due, when, and where. This is much more convenient than using text calendars, which can miss important information.

Another very useful feature is the ability to cross-reference posts related to offline activities of the brand. That way you’ll never miss an important event. The Quick Publish app provides complete mobility and freedom of action for your social media staff. (However, that doesn’t eliminate the need for some of their actions to be approved by higher-ups).

Users can also take advantage of paid campaigns to reach the most popular posts, and the tool makes it much easier to convert organic posts to ads on Facebook and Instagram.

Taking photos of food in front of them


Instead of summarizing all of the above, we have three successful strategies for promoting your business on social media.

  1. Work with influencers
  2. Make people laugh, or at least smile
  3. Use content from your actual customers

1. Work with influencers

It turns out that it’s quite possible to post informative content about a brand without giving the impression of an intrusive company whose only goal is to sell a product or service as fast as possible.

Marketing through influencers is like networking in a more advanced digital format. Make useful acquaintances and establish business relationships. Create posts based on articles written by experts you invite. Implementing brand influencers can be broken down into three simple steps:

  • Step one: Find someone who is trustworthy and authoritative with your audience.
  • Step two: Order content from that person related to your brand.
  • Step three: Integrate that content into your social media channels.

2. Make people laugh, or at least smile

Turns out, humor is an important part of success, even in the business world. Knowing how to handle funny and entertaining content is something that all the top brands have in common.

Humor is a great way to promote your brand in a way that doesn’t feel pushy or intrusive, and as it circulates, you manage to reach more potential customers with every share.

3. Use content from your actual customers

Most importantly, remember to credit them when you do. User-generated content is by no means a new tool in marketing. However, some brands are only starting to use it. Why? Because it’s proven to be a conversion driver.

Ryan Holmes (CEO of Hootsuite) believes that user-generated content “appeals to the basic human instinct to create, engage, and interact, rather than look away.”

For example, Campus Protein constantly posts and shares content created by its own customers. But that’s not all! Using #teamcp, the company collected more than 1,800 reviews and countless images and posted all of the content on its pages.

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