How Small Businesses Can Use Social Media to Grow

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This article was written by Brian Peters, Strategic Partnerships Manager at Buffer.

There are seemingly endless opportunities for small businesses and entrepreneurs to connect with customers, grow brand awareness, and drive sales.

Identifying the right opportunities, however, can be a huge challenge for business owners who wear multiple hats throughout the day. The good news is that social media remains one of the fastest-growing and most important channels for small businesses everywhere, offering unmatched reach and potential compared to other marketing channels.

That’s why I’m excited to share some ways small businesses can use social media to grow in meaningful ways.

Embrace video

Video marketing is one of the most talked-about topics in social media right now and one that can’t be ignored by businesses of any shape or size.

Many businesses tell us that they struggle with creating video for social media, both in what to create and how to create it. The best solution we have for you when it comes to what is to start with what works. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

  • Sort your blog content in order of most traffic and create videos around those topics using a product like Animoto.
  • Follow peers and/or competitors with Facebook Pages to Watch and create content based on popular topics.
  • Embrace exciting trends such as the emergence of Instagram Stories by creating fun, relatable Stories content.

As for how, that’s the easy part! You don’t have to be an expert at video marketing to see big results on social media. There are some scientific factors that people are more likely to interact with:

  • Keep your videos between 20 to 90 seconds for highest engagement.
  • Get right to the point — the first three to five seconds of a video is key in keeping people watching.
  • Light, sound, and stability are the three pillars to good video content.

Boost your top-performing organic content

What’s great about social media for small businesses is that you don’t have to spend a ton of time creating variations of ads to see success with advertising. Your audience is already telling you what they like in the form of organic engagement numbers.

The way we like to think about it is that organic social media posting (traditional posting) is the perfect testing ground for effective Facebook and Instagram ads. In other words, you’re using organic reach to determine what posts you should put money behind.

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Small eCommerce beauty brand Hair Works shares user-generated video content on its Instagram profile on a consistent basis. Then, when a video performs particularly well in terms of video views, Hair Works uses that same video in a direct advertisement to people interested in “hair extensions” and other related hair brands.

Less than six months after implementing this advertising strategy, Hair Works has generated more than $20,000 in revenue from Instagram and Facebook alone, with a cost per purchase of only $6 per sale.

At Buffer, we’ve seen incredible results with video ads on Instagram Stories as well. One ad, in particular, has driven more than 5,000 clicks to our website for less than $0.10 per click.

Focus on quality content

At the end of the day, a majority of social media success comes down to your content.

You can have the best product in the world as a small business, but if no one sees or cares about your content, it’s going to be difficult to generate engagement and results on social media.

I like to think of quality content at the intersection of entertaining and educational.

Edutainment = educational + entertaining

Think about how people use and consume content on social media today. Many times they are on social media to connect with friends and family and watch the occasional brand video.

Mix that with the fact that there is now more content on social platforms than people can consume, and if a post doesn’t look interesting or useful, people simply scroll past it.

Listen to your customers. Keep a close eye on the trends in your industry. Invest in the creative aspect of content such as video and visuals. And always be experimenting (ABE!).


Brian Peters is the strategic partnerships manager at Buffer. Based in the Rocky Mountains, Brian manages Buffer’s digital marketing campaigns and initiatives across the board such as social media, partnerships, advertising, content, video, the Buffer podcast, and more.

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