Creative social media content ideas for small businesses

Businesses are realising the potency of their social media channels to sell to customers. John Cradden looks at ways SMEs can spice up their social media content.

If the Covid-19 pandemic has prompted many small businesses across the country to embrace online platforms for selling and delivering their products and services, it has also seen an accompanying enthusiasm for social media as a marketing tool.

Until recently, a social media presence was sometimes seen as an after-thought to a new business.

“78% of Irish consumers bought directly from a brand’s social media channels in 2021”

But there are already a number of small brands promote themselves mainly – if not exclusively – through social media, such as vegan restaurant chain The Happy Pear, clothes retailer Folkster, and brewer Eight Degrees Brewing.

According to the latest report from social media analytics firm Sprout Social, 78% of Irish consumers bought directly from a brand’s social media channels in 2021.

Above all, be interesting

The key to effective social media marketing, the experts all say, is interesting content. This is much easier said than done, with many businesses still trying to figure out what kind of content would best engage their target customers.

Even if you’ve been good about publishing content regularly about your business, you’ll probably find that simply announcing new blog posts on your feeds is not enough.

Coming with new ideas is tough, particularly if you have a presence on a number of social media platforms. So here are some top content ideas for your social media, whether that’s Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat or any other platform.

One of the key things for SMEs to keep in mind, according to social media marketing firm Evolution Digital, is that being responsive to customers on social media will give you a big advantage over larger competitors.

Another is not to make the mistake of over-promoting your brand. Your content will be viewed by people who are already following you, so there’s no need to self-promote too much – focus on engaging and interesting content, like the suggestions below.

Ways to make friends and influence buyers

Run a contest or giveaway

Running a contest or a giveaway is regarded as one of the strongest ways to engage your followers on social media. What you give away should at the very least be linked to your brand, such as free products or a membership. Be sure to include terms and conditions, a point of contact. A creative way to enter, such as a QR code or a hashtag, will encourage followers to post about your broad.

Host an AMA (Ask-me-anything)

If you’re a company founder or an expert in your field, an AMA – essentially a Q&A session where you get to share your knowledge, experiences and insight – is a great way to engage followers. You could talk about how you’ve overcome struggles in your business or share client success stories (with their blessing, of course). It allows you to show the personal side of the business, give members of your team the chance to shine, raise awareness of your brand without coming across as pushy, and learn more about what your audience is interested in.

Develop how-tos and tutorials

While blog posts can be used to explain some of the finer points of your product or service, creating tutorials to show how customers to get the most of it is valuable content. When thinking of tutorial topics, keep it to ideas you can explain in less than a minute. 

Repurpose your own content

If you’ve got a really good blog post, why not create some graphics with quotes for Instagram? Or make a video inspired by the content to share on Facebook?

When you just share on one platform, you’re missing an opportunity to reach audiences who are following you elsewhere. Avoid the temptation to just copy-paste or cross-post, though: try and adapt the content to suit the platform.

Do a ‘social’ interview

This is a variation on the AMA or traditional Q&A session, but it’s easier than ever to conduct interviews on social media with a professional in your industry or an influencer online using platforms like Twitter, Instagram or Facebook Live. 

Social interviews are typically informal and off-the-cuff, and help you to come across as authentic to your audience. As an added bonus, you can repurpose your social interviews into podcasts, blog posts and YouTube videos.

Make a meme

This is a great way to show that your brand has a sense of humour or present your message in a fun package. It’s not for everyone, though, so check that your audience is likely to be receptive to it; otherwise, it risks coming across as a bit cringe-worthy. It’s more likely to work if your brand has a strong social media presence and – perhaps – a younger audience.

Share user-generated content

You’ll know you’re really building an audience and goodwill when people send you their photos with your products or using your services. Get their permission first, but then re-share this content. It’s some of the best advertising you’ll get. A caption writing contest is another good variation on this type of content.

Share a milestone

If you’ve managed to survive your first year or won your 500th customer, these are milestones well worth celebrating and sharing, Find something with a nice round number and pat yourself on the back. It doesn’t have to involve a number of course; it could be about you featuring in a major publication, sharing the news of a new team hire, or the news of a move to a new office.

Poll your audience

It’s fair to say people love sharing their opinions on social media, so why not learn more about what makes your followers tick by polling them? It doesn’t need to be formal, nor does it need to be sales-related. Social media represents a conversation, so be willing to listen to your follower’s feedback. 

Go behind the scenes

It’s often fascinating to followers of a brand to see what happens ‘behind the scenes’, so giving them a peak at what really happens in your HQ can help you come across as authentic and builds on the personal element of your social media feed. Give a tour of your office or show a speeded-up video of how a window display comes together in your shop.

Spotlight your team members

It doesn’t necessarily have to be a new addition to your team. Spotlighting the real people behind your brand who have helped it for weeks, months, or years is a great way to show off your appreciation – and your human side.

John Cradden
John Cradden is an experienced business and personal finance journalist and financial wellbeing content designer.