A How-To Guide on Social Media for Small Business

How-To Guide on Social Media for Small Business in Bellingham, WA

Imagine being able to reach the exact groups of people you want to connect to your business, engaging them, and even converting them into customers. 

It's totally possible!

Social media offers incredible opportunities for businesses of all sizes to reach their targeted audiences.

We want to break down the basics of how to use some of the biggest players (including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) so you feel a little more prepared when deciding which to move forward with and how.

Facebook is definitely the biggest and more complicated beast. In the 4th quarter of 2016 over 1.8 billion people were using Facebook monthly. Monthly! That’s an insane amount of people that you could, and should, be getting your brand in front of.

If you’re not on Facebook already, go ahead and make yourself a profile. It’s pretty simple! Just make sure you have a picture of yourself as your profile picture and to fill out your bio a little bit. Once you’ve done that (or if you have already), you’re going to want to set up a business page.  

It used to be fairly simple to build a Business Page, get people to “like” the page and see everything you post. But today, due to algorithm changes, a lot of “being seen” coincides with the amount you are willing to spend on advertising. That doesn’t mean it’s impossible to do so, just that you need to engage with your followers with strong copy, share your posts with friends and family, and - if it’s appropriate -  tag the people or companies you’re working with.

When using Twitter keep in mind that each tweet must be built in 140 characters or less. That really isn’t much to work with, which is why you really need to wow your followers with catchy copy and strong visual content.

The half-life of the average tweet is approximately 16 minutes. In the realm of science, a half life is the amount of time it takes for half of a substance to undergo a certain process. In marketing, the term has been adopted to describe the length of the consumer’s demand/attention. Be it the decaying atoms of a radioactive substance or a tweet, it’s important to consider the length of the impression your content carries.

Useful tricks you can utilize to push your content a little further are creating/using relevant hashtags, “retweeting” or sharing other’s content (who knows, maybe they’ll share yours too), and tagging companies you’re working with or talking about.

Along with a myriad of personalized content (which we covered in a previous post), Twitter can be used as a platform for news briefs within your company, advertising, and micro blogging. If you’re not sure where to start, Moz has a fantastic Whiteboard Friday covering how deep dive into Twitter to multiply your business.

Instagram is a little more tilted to the “visual arts” community. By that I mean, the people on Instagram are moved by and drawn to memorable, well designed imagery. When it first launched, you could only post square pictures which meant the focal point of your image needed to fit in a 1:1 box. This is no longer the case, leaving a world of possibilities when it comes to your visual content! It’s always a good idea to have a well composed image but you have a little more wiggle room. Strong pictures coupled with pointed and precise hashtags should launch your profile into the eyes of your desired demographic.

On the topic of hashtags there are definitely dos and don’ts. First step, create your own branded hashtag (#getsimpleco) and use that in every picture you share! Second step, find some local hashtags (#bellinghamwa #bellinghamlife and/or #localbusiness #supportlocal) so that others using that tag can find your business. Third, find some that focus on your field of work. For us, we use tags like #webdesign #marketing #adwordsnerds and more. You can take a peek at our instagram account here. One thing you do NOT want to do is use hashtags that are full sentences. And remember, no spaces or punctuation. If you have any more questions about hashtags, check out The Ultimate Guide to Using Instagram Hashtags!

Snapchat is actually becoming a slightly robust contender when it comes to selling physical products. We touched on it briefly here but we’ll go into how telling a “story” can bring you customers.

First, if you don’t already know, Snapchat is a started as a way to communicate with ephemeral content. You take a goofy picture, send it to select friends and they can only see it for a maximum of 10 seconds. The fad took off and the platform evolved, eventually adding the concept of “stories” in which you could post the same style content in one place so anyone following you could see it for up to 24 hours and it disappeared again. Today, companies are using these stories to promote their products and/or services.

A successful snap story should build from one frame to the next, like chapters build a book. Capture the attention of your followers right off the bat and carry that attention all the way through. You may have to spend a little time building up your following by sharing you have a snapchat and where people can find it. From there, you can begin adding promotions or products that are ONLY available to customers fast and engaged enough to take a screenshot of your product or code. If people love your products and catch on that you’re doing this, the rest is history.

Pinterest: A land for a for your go-getters, do-it-yourselfers, and organized individuals. If I’m being honest, I might use it more than Google when it comes to specific search queries - but don’t tell my boss.

Many people use Pinterest as a visual cure for boredom while others, myself included, are using it to organize their lives and find specific answers on subjects like blogging, design, health remedies and products I’d like to purchase. I even use it for showcasing work I’m proud of!

If you have a blog with tips & tricks, or use it to showcase recent work or favorite products - chances are you might want to have it on Pinterest! And when posting your own blogs and ideas, remember to have it link back to your website. (See below.)

The last forum we'll touch on is LinkedIn, which is both, a virtual resume, and information hub for your actual business. Though it can feel slightly dated at times, it still carries weight in the business world.

After you build your personal profile and one for your business, you can begin connecting with other business owners and like-minded people. This platform is not meant to be personal as much as it's meant to be informative. If you're writing blogs or finding content you think other businesses should know about, feel free to share it - but don't post pictures of your breakfast food. Another feature is endorsements. People can give you public endorsements for your professional skills, feel free to thank them for it, as well as endorse them back if you're familiar with their services!

Another feature is endorsements. People can give you public endorsements for your professional skills, feel free to thank them for it, as well as endorse them back if you're familiar with their skillset. 

LinkedIn gives you a clean and pointed look at the business scene in your area through job listings, work anniversaries, blogs and more. If you’re looking for a platform with work and very little play, this is it. I wouldn’t suggest it as your only stage for social awareness, but it’s definitely a solid support.

Now, before you run off and get started, I’ll leave you with these last nuggets of information that serve vital roles in building an online presence:

  • Create a cohesive branding guide. This will help you and your team know how exactly to present your company.
  • Set a precedent for how and what you post and stick to it. What’s the tone of your business’ voice? What are phrases you use often?
  • Keep your profiles consistently up-to-date. Pick a few days a week and post every time they come around.
  • Participating in personalized dialog with your followers. Don’t be afraid to respond to comments. And when you do, use the person’s name - it shows that you care.
  • Enable our viewers to help. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers what they want to see!


Well, that’s it. Those are our top six social accounts for local business and how you can use them! If you walk away with one tidbit today I hope it’s this, don’t be afraid of the social world. Embrace it! You may be surprised what can happen when you do.