How Small Business Owners Can Build Community with Social Media

Woman in retail setting working on laptop.

Life is busy as a small business owner, with many forgoing vacations and avoiding time out of the office. With the right technology solutions, though, small business owners can build efficiencies and stay connected (or as connected as they want to be) from anywhere.

When you can stay connected, you can focus on building community, which is essential to the success of small businesses. As a small business owner, you likely have a small group of extremely loyal customers in addition to your wider customer base. They’re your regulars - the people you see and talk to day in and day out, either at the counter at your store or restaurant, over the phone, or via email.

In-person connection, though, can’t be the only way you build community. With so many of our daily interactions transitioning from the real world to the digital one, motivated small business owners are finding huge success on social media.

Adding social media to an ever-growing workload, however, seems like a tall order. With the right approach, it can become a smooth, natural extension of your business. But where do you get started? What’s worth doing and what isn’t? What are some surefire ways to build engagement? Here are a few key tips and techniques to get started:

Think smart, start small

It might seem tempting to just fire up Facebook and start posting, but if you don’t already have a social media strategy, step back and evaluate what you want to achieve and how you’ll get there. Set goals and KPIs that align with the SMART framework - your goals should be specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely.

When you’re picking out proper channels, don’t get overwhelmed—between Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat, Pinterest, YouTube, and others, the choices can seem never-ending. Don’t try to be everywhere at once. Do your research—what platforms do your customers use? How about your competition? Pick one or two and aim for success there—otherwise, you’ll be spreading yourself too thin. When you create your social media accounts, be sure to include your website, location, hours, and other relevant information.

Make it personal

Once you’re up and running, you need to think of your social media as a digital extension of your business. You can offer new types of access to your customers that can’t be achieved in real life. Here are a few ideas and examples you can modify to make your own:

Video and Live Streaming

Use video in short form to introduce yourself and your business space in an authentic way. An example:

  • A restaurant can’t invite all of its diners into the kitchen to give them an inside look at the chef painstakingly preparing a new and exciting special dish, but they can take a short video, giving customers an inside look at the care that goes into the food they serve. Video creates a sense of community, adds a dash of novelty, and sprinkles in some FOMO (fear of missing out).

Showcase your expertise and drive traffic

  • Say you own a pottery studio and weekly throwing classes. By doing a weekly how-to video snip-it, you can not only share tidbits of knowledge to build loyalty among customers, but drum up interest in classes and increase traffic.
  • Share your company culture: Had a fun company outing? Post some pictures. Let your customers get a glimpse into the day-to-day goings-on and let them get to know you. And you know everyone wants to see your adorable office dog.

Invite feedback and create conversation

Encourage customers to have a voice in your business.

  • Run online polls to get feedback from customers—let them pick the next featured cocktail, for example, or the type of exercise class you’ll offer next.
  • Encourage customer reviews and share your best ones out on social channels.

Encourage customers to engage with your business

  • Create a check-in for your business so customers can let friends know when they’re in-store.
  • Tag your top followers in posts, as well as other local businesses in your community, where appropriate.

Encourage customers to share your business

  • What do customers love most about your business? Ask them to take a photo with their favorite product, post it on social media and tag you.
  • Run a discount or giveaway accessible only via social media to increase interest and exclusivity. For example, customers can refer a friend with a special code and they both get 15% off a purchase.

When you increase the access your customers have to your business, you compound the effectiveness of your outreach. When you let your customers feel like a part of a community, they’ll not only keep coming back—they’ll tell their friends about you, too.

Focus on quality and stay engaged

Effective social media isn’t a quantity play. Make sure what you’re putting out fits the tone of your business, is interesting to your followers, and establishes you as a trusted voice in your industry. At the same time, it’s not a one-and-done initiative. Just as you wouldn’t neglect a customer in your business, don’t let your social presence peter off after a strong start. Keep the conversation going, both in your own feed and as helpful responses to your followers. The community you foster will become an engine for growth and allows you to stay in touch with customers wherever you are.

Learn more about how your small business can leverage technology to connect with customers: The 6 Most Valuable Insights You Can Gather From Your Guest WiFi Network

Life is busy as a small business owner, with many forgoing vacations and avoiding time out of the office. With the right technology solutions, though, small business owners can build efficiencies and stay connected (or as connected as they want to be) from anywhere.

Locked Content

Click on the button below to get access

Unlock Now

Or sign in to access all content on Comcast Business Community

Learn how Comcast Business can help
keep you ready for what's next.