Ending Soon! Save 33% on All Access

97% of Fortune 500 Companies Rely on Social Media. Here's How You Should Use It for Maximum Impact. Social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube and Pinterest offer countless ways for brands to connect with customers (both old and new). Here's how to do it well.

By Chris Porteous Edited by Frances Dodds

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

With the proliferation of technology over the years, small businesses have become increasingly dependent on digital tools to succeed. From e-commerce stores to mobile apps, companies have undergone a significant amount of transformation, experiencing a massive shift to the online sphere. One of the key technological developments that has helped small businesses succeed in reaching customers across wide distances is social media. With social media platforms such as Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, YouTube, Pinterest, and many more, there are countless creative and innovative ways brands can connect with their existing customers and convert new ones.

The world of social media is undeniably fruitful and saturated, and that doesn't appear to be changing anytime soon. As of 2018, nearly 97 percent of all Fortune 500 enterprises use at least one social media platform to promote their initiatives and foster positive communication with stakeholders. Additionally, as of 2021, there are roughly 3.78 billion social media users all over the world, a 5 percent increase from 2020. With this in mind, it's clear that harnessing the power of social media can help small businesses grow and succeed in 2021 and beyond.

High-impact benefits of social media for small businesses

When it comes to growing your small business, social media offers a host of advantageous functions, including:

  • Affordability: On social media, companies can achieve high-quality brand recognition even on a limited budget. While the exact amount that a company spends on social media will vary between entities, there are several tools and strategies small-business owners can implement to get the most bang for their buck. For example, while some companies may invest in social media planning software programs or paid Facebook ads, this isn't a necessity, especially for a small-business owner who is just launching their venture. Entrepreneurs can create a Facebook and Instagram page for their business entirely free of charge as a starting point.

  • Close-knit customer service: Social media platforms allow for direct, instant communication between brands and customers, which can offer an enhanced sense of connection and increased satisfaction with the level of customer service provided. Considering the integral role that customer service plays in building brand loyalty, it's vital for small-business owners to use social media to their advantage in bolstering their own customer service operations.

  • Targeted reach: When you purchase ads on placement sites such as Facebook or Instagram, you can directly reach your target audience. You can even tailor your ads to home in on particular demographics, such as sex, age, salary and location. By targeting specific consumer segments, you'll be more likely to increase conversion rates and subsequently boost profits.

  • Brand community growth: Social media platforms bring people together. In growing your social media presence, you are fostering a unified community that has mutual respect for and interest in your brand. Down the line, this community could potentially develop user-generated content and spawn brand ambassadors for your company.

  • Extended business hours: If you're running a traditional brick and mortar business, it's a given that you need to have set working hours. However, with the help of social media, you can ensure that your business rarely sleeps. Given that social media profiles are available 24/7 and are accessible from anywhere, it can help your business evolve into a nonstop operation. You can even set up automated responses and chatbots to serve as customer service representatives when you and your human employees are off the clock.

Related: How to Create a Stellar Social Media Marketing Plan for Under $100

Plan and automate your content

As a small-business owner, you have a multitude of responsibilities that likely leave little time for creating social media content. However, there are several platforms available, such as Later, Sprout Social and Planoly, that help you create, plan and automate your content. These tools greatly facilitate the process of uploading and editing photos, writing captions and publishing posts. You can also see what your feed will look like ahead, prior to publishing to ensure a cohesive, well-curated profile that aligns with your brand identity.

Use reports to analyze metrics and reassess existing strategies

Be sure to clearly define which metrics (i.e., click-throughs, engagement rates) are important to your small business. Assess which metrics help you make informed business decisions, take action or judge the value of certain initiatives. Once you decide which metrics matter to your company, use reports to analyze these metrics. Reports streamline all the data that is crucial to adequately understand your customer base and their consumer behavior patterns. You can then use this information to reassess your existing strategies and make adjustments as needed.

Related: How You Should Be Evaluating Your Content Marketing Success

Seek external social media assistance

To help you navigate the transformative social media landscape in 2021, consider using the services of social media companies. Offering expert insight into social media practices, such as content planning, competitor tracking and sharing curated links, such companies can provide you with valuable resources to expand your social media following and broaden your online presence. They also understand useful tools that make platform-specific content creation a breeze.

Moreover, these professionals understand how to translate brand voice and personality into the digital space, and know firsthand that many consumers use social media for fun and leisure. As a result, the content your small business publishes on these platforms should be fun and engaging. If you're struggling with this process, a social media specialist can help.

Clearly, the power of social media in helping brands reach new heights is not a passing trend. Rather, social media platforms of all kinds have proven to be an impressive force in growing companies across all industries. In a global society that is becoming increasingly reliant on technology, this trend shows no signs of dissipating. As a result, having a social media presence for your small business is an absolute necessity to attain success in 2021 and beyond.

Related: How Brands Can Develop a Winning Social Media Marketing Strategy in 2021

Chris Porteous

Entrepreneur Leadership Network® Contributor

High Performance Growth Marketer

Chris Porteous is CEO of SearchEye, which offers unbundled digital marketing projects for clients and agencies across the globe.

Want to be an Entrepreneur Leadership Network contributor? Apply now to join.

Business News

Now that OpenAI's Superalignment Team Has Been Disbanded, Who's Preventing AI from Going Rogue?

We spoke to an AI expert who says safety and innovation are not separate things that must be balanced; they go hand in hand.


What Franchising Can Teach The NFL About The Impact of Private Equity

The NFL is smart to take a thoughtful approach before approving institutional capital's investment in teams.

Employee Experience & Recruiting

Beyond the Great Resignation — How to Attract Freelancers and Independent Talent Back to Traditional Work

Discussing the recent workplace exit of employees in search of more meaningful work and ways companies can attract that talent back.

Business News

Scarlett Johansson 'Shocked' That OpenAI Used a Voice 'So Eerily Similar' to Hers After Already Telling the Company 'No'

Johansson asked OpenAI how they created the AI voice that her "closest friends and news outlets could not tell the difference."

Business Ideas

Struggling to Balance Your Business and Your Relationship? This Company Says It Has a Solution.

Jessica Holton, co-founder and CEO of Ours, says her company is on a mission to destigmatize couples therapy so that people can be proactive about relationship health.


Marketing Campaigns Must Do More than Drive Clicks — Here's How to Craft Landing Pages That Convert Clicks into Customers

Following fundamental design principles will ensure that your landing pages lead potential customers from clicking on an ad to completing a purchase.