THE INDEPENDENT EDGE
A Beginner’s Guide To Social Media Marketing For Small Businesses In 2021
With the growing momentum of people wanting to generally connect online, it’s no wonder that businesses spend about 15-25% of their advertising budget* on just social media. But organic social media marketing is just as important as paid efforts.
Paid or organic, it’s not enough to just set up your social profiles and let them sit there, essentially gaining virtual dust. Just like your website, you need to audit optimize your profiles to get the highest return on your investments of time, effort, and money.
So in this post, I’m going to define social media optimization and provide tips, checklists, and tools to optimize your marketing efforts on the following platforms:
What is Social Media Optimization?
Like search engine optimization, social media optimization encompasses a number of strategies, tools, and best practices used to get the highest quality exposure to and engagement with your target audience. Purposes of social media optimization include but are not limited to:
- Show up in platform search results
- Rank higher in your followers’ feeds
- Get quality engagement on your posts
- Send traffic to your website
- Maintain brand consistency
- Establish thought leadership
- Publish content your followers want to see
But unlike search engine optimization, which is pretty standard across Google and Bing, social media optimization has different best practices for each platform, making it a much bigger challenge.
That’s why I’ve broken up these tools and tips by platform, so you can audit and optimize each based on their specific differences.
Social Media Optimization on Facebook
This really does have to be first and foremost to consider when it comes to advertising your business. It’s a great way to stay connected with your customers, and you have the options to increase awareness by boosting posts or using Facebook ads.
Free Facebook Optimization Tools
- Facebook Ads Performance Grader to audit and optimize your paid ads.
- iconosquare instant Facebook Business Page audit.
- DrumUp to help you curate and share content fit for your audience.
- Comment Picker to pick your Facebook contest winners at random.
Facebook Optimization Tips
- Know which is which: It’s important to optimize separately for organic versus paid posts in Facebook. Just like Google Ads differ from organic results, users expect different things for Facebook posts versus ads. For example, all Facebook ads need a call to action, but you shouldn’t have one for every organic post.
- Pay attention to popular posts: This may seem to be a no-brainer, but it’s a good idea to take a look at the insights and see which posts perform better in terms of shares and engagements. When you know what works, the more users will engage with you which in turn gets your page noticed.
- Upload videos directly: You will actually see more engagement if you upload your Facebook videos directly instead of linking to YouTube.
- Be cognizant of promotion: Your Facebook ads can highlight your products and services as much as possible, but organically, you will want to do this every third or fourth post.
- Engage with transparency: When there are not-so-nice comments, you don’t need to hide or delete them all. Try to authentically engage with your audience for a real connection. The more you interact, the better the social optimization.
Social Media Optimization on YouTube
It may seem daunting to get into the video marketing space, but it’s been an increasingly important way to communicate with your potential and current customers. Think about traditional TV commercials for a minute. Those still cost a LOT of money! For basically free, you can make your own video from your phone and upload it to YouTube.
It’s also a great way to embed some great content on your website and not slow it down!
Free YouTube Optimization Tools
- TubeRanker for a channel audit
- VidIQ to measure tags, watch time, and shares
- TubeBuddy to manage your channel
- Kparser for YouTube keyword research
- Punchbug’s YouTube video optimization checklist
YouTube Optimization Tips
- Optimize for search: Yes, YouTube SEO is a thing. And for every video, you need to add relevant keywords to the title, description and filename. Remember, YouTube is Google, so you should consider that when uploading videos.
- Select a relevant category: Try to think of where the video would be best, which won’t always correlate with your company’s industry.
- Make use of hashtags: These appear above the title of your video.
- Customize the thumbnail image: Make the image as captivating as possible so you can grab the user’s attention to get them to view the video.
- Add closed captions: 92% of users view videos with the sound off on mobile and 83% watch with sound off. It’s a good idea to add those captions.
Social Media Optimization on Instagram
The merge of Instagram with Facebook makes it easier to use both in conjunction without putting more financial strain on you as the business owner. You can set your Instagram posts to automatically publish to your Facebook feed, and you can boost posts both on Facebook and Instagram, maximizing your exposure.
Free Instagram Optimization Tools
- Phlanx to calculate your engagement
- Later to schedule your posts
- Repost to easily repost
- iconosquare’s instant Instagram audit
- Quick Insta checklist
Instagram Optimization Tips
- Use all of the formats: To get the most out of Instagram, be sure to use posts, videos, Stories, Highlights, Reels, and Instagram live to maximize your exposure and engagement.
- Optimize your profile: In addition to ensuring your username is your business name (or as close as you can get it), you will want to optimize your bio with hashtags and important keywords.
- Hashtags, hashtags, hashtags: For real. Instagram hashtags are SO important. You can have up to 30 (although the platform would prefer you stay between the 8-14 range).
Tip: If you want to keep your post clean without all the hashtags, you can comment with all the hashtags you want to be found with as the first comment after you’ve posted. You will still be searched that way!
- Include alt text for your images. Yes, you heard me right. Alt text isn’t just for SEO-ing your website. You can also add those important keywords in the alt text of your Instagram post. Check out the advanced settings section of your post to update it.
- Highlight your products: Instagram has the largest influence on purchasing than any of the other platforms. This is the best social platform to showcase your products!
Social Media Optimization on LinkedIn
For this platform, it’s really more of a B2B type of social platform, and obviously great to find potential employees. As long as you keep that in mind, LinkedIn can really help shape your business online.
LinkedIn Optimization Tools
- Social Pilot to bulk schedule, discover content, drive engagement, and easily create PDFs from analytics.
- SalesLoft to keep track of and communicate with your prospects.
- Crystal to predict the personality of your prospects.
LinkedIn Optimization Tips
- Take advantage of banner image: Optimize your image with your company branding as well as promote your main product, service or an upcoming event your business is involved with.
- More than just a job title: Your headline should be about your brand and not about who you need to hire.
- Publish already optimized content: Sharing links is a big component of LinkedIn, so take advantage by sharing links back to your website but don’t forget articles as well to mix it up a bit.
- Customize your URL: They can be subject to availability, but it’s always worth a try to get your URL as close to your business name or main keyword you are trying to optimize for.
- CTA in your Page, not always your posts: You will want to have a call to action in your profile bio but pay close attention to too many “check this out” phrases as that could get users to scroll on.
Social Media Optimization on Twitter
It may not have as many users, but it can still be a powerful tool if you are doing it right.
Twitter Optimization Tools
- Followerwonk to refine your following/followers and gather data.
- Tweetdeck for real-time tracking, monitoring, and engaging.
- Twinsta to share your tweets on Instagram.
- Prideham Group’s Twitter audit checklist:
Twitter Optimization Tips
- Hashtags, hashtags, hashtags: Unlike Instagram, you can only have so many hashtags per post, so choose wisely. They are still SO important!
- Include a trackable link: This can be a call to action or a featured product you want to have your users go to.
- Schedule your content: Since Twitter has shorter posts to begin with, it’s much easier to schedule the content out than the other social platforms.
- Reply back to all customers (happy or otherwise): Brands using Twitter for customer service see a 19% lift in customer satisfaction. It doesn’t hurt to stay in touch with your customers.
- Run digital events: Try getting your users engaged with events online. This is one of Twitter’s optimization tips for 2021. And don’t forget Twitter chats!
Social Media Optimization on TikTok
If you are already doing YouTube marketing, then TikTok should be easy. These are quick videos up to 60 seconds (soon to be 3 minutes!) and having a presence on the platform helps you to capitalize on trends to engage your followers—who are not just zillennials! Like every other platform in this post, you can do organic marketing or run TikTok ads.
TikTok Optimization Tools
- HypeAuditor for influencer marketing workflows and analytics.
- BlueArcher’s TikTok marketing strategy checklist.
- Pentos for TikTok analytics.
TikTok Optimization Tips
- Be casual: This is actually one of our top marketing strategies for 2021. You won’t necessarily want to be super uptight in these videos. Keep them short and concise. Let your audience get to know you a little bit more personally.
- Participate in hashtag challenges: I’m sure you have seen parents dancing with their kids in some of these challenges. Basically, take a look at some of the trending hashtag challenges on TikTok and decide which one you want do to!
- Link to other social profiles: Especially the visual ones like Instagram and YouTube.
- Include keywords in your bio: Do you see a pattern with all these keywords in your social profile?
- CTA in your bio: A call to action in your bio is key to optimizing your TikTok page.
Social Media Optimization for Snapchat
Whatever video you just posted to TikTok, you can also post to Snapchat. They both have similar lengths and optimizations. Because of Snapchat’s policies, there won’t be a third-party tool to track what’s going on with your channel. The best you can do is pay attention to what SnapChat Business lets you see.
SnapChat Optimization Tools
- Snappy Ink to create custom filters.
- LOCALiQ’s Snapchat advertising cheatsheet
Snapchat Optimization Tips
- Target your demographic: Optimizing your ads towards the users that might convert is a main way to optimize your Snapchat profile.
- Pay attention to audience insights: This is a great way to see which ads users are actually interested in so you can keep using them.
- Take advantage of creative testing: You have the ability to test different variations of creatives, which makes things easier for you as a business owner. If your ad doesn’t resonate with users, you could end up spending a higher cost per optimization event.
- Feature products: You can link to any product to help drive traffic to your website or online shopping site.
- Highlight events: Users tend to like to see events pop up to potentially attend. If you have an event coming up, you will want to showcase that. Geofilters can be useful for this.
Social Media Optimization for Pinterest
This platform may be more important if you are a restaurant and want to save menus and recipes for example. Depending on your industry, this platform may not be worth the investment.
Pinterest Optimization Tools
- Tailwind to schedule your pins
- Free checklist: Pinterest Audit for Business
Pinterest Optimization Tips
- Link images from your website. It’s a perfect platform to drive traffic back to your website. Unlike Facebook, users except to be redirected back to business’s websites.
- Try videos for your ads. Pinterest Video Ads are an opportunity to gain some new users to your profile and gain more interaction with your page.
- Use as an image search engine. Optimize your pins the way you might optimize a page of your website. Just make sure there is a picture included of course!
- Competitor research. Take a look at how your competitors are creating their profiles. This will go along way when you are creating your own profile.
- Organize your boards. Keep your boards clean and organized so your users are wanting to learn more about your business from your profile.
Final Tips for Social Media Optimization
Here are some final tips that apply across platforms:
- Ensure the name, description, phone number and all the necessary fields are filled out as thoroughly and consistently as possible.
- Use an email that all applicable teammates have access to (except Facebook and LinkedIn, as you are required to have your own personal accounts to be connected to the business account); or that you have a shared (secure) document that provides usernames and passwords.
- If you have more than one social media platform you are active on, we recommend getting a combo audit tool, such as SproutSocial. This type of auditing tool will at least give you an overview of each platform and different suggestions you can do to improve each one.
There is only so much time in the day, especially as a business owner trying to have your name in a lot of other places on and offline. Now that you have the lay of the land, take a chance on starting or optimizing the social profile that is right for your business.