Social Media for SMEs – A Simple Guide (2023)

Social Media for SMEs / small businesses - Catalyst Marketing Agency

Marketers go where their audience is, and most people today are active on social media in some way, shape or form.

There are around 4.62 billion social media users around the world, using the likes of Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, Instagram, LinkedIn and more.

So, it makes sense that smaller businesses are also using social media to promote their products and services – even if they lack the budgetary clout and resources of bigger organisations.

For those who’ve yet to dabble in social media marketing, it can be a daunting proposition. How do you adapt your personal approach to social media for business use?

For those of you who already promote their business through social media, it’s always worth taking stock and reviewing your current activity. Is it as effective as it can be? Are you making the most of the opportunities available to you?


Some key social media stats you need to know

  1. There are around 4.6 billion daily users on social media.

That’s about 59% of the world’s population. So no matter your business, your prospects are out there, somewhere, online.

Source: Smart Insights


  1. With 78% of all internet users in the UK using Facebook, it remains the market leader.

Contrary to some beliefs that Facebook’s popularity is waning, it’s still the market leader millions using the platform every day.
Source: Avocado Social


  1. Social Media is now very cross-generational

With 90.4% of Millenials, 77.5% of Generation X and 48.2% of Baby Boomers having a Social Media presence.
Source: eMarketer


  1. On average, people spend 2 hours and 22 minutes per day on Social Media

For SMEs, this is a good window of opportunity to get in front of prospects in a more subtle way than traditional methods allow.
Source: GlobalWebIndex


  1. 73% of marketers believe social media is “somewhat effective” or “very effective”.

If you’re not using social in some way, shape or form, you’re missing out.
Source: Buffer


  1. 91% of Social Media is accessed via a Mobile Device

So if you’re driving traffic from a social channel to your website, make sure it’s optimised.
Source: Lyfemarketing


How to choose the right social channel

Some businesses make the mistake of thinking they have to be everywhere and, as a result, spread themselves thin. The truth is, with your limited resources, it’s better to focus on the most relevant channels and do them really well.

For example, if your business sells consumer products, that would match perfectly with the visual emphasis of Instagram.

But photo opportunities at a law firm are few and far between, so service-led businesses would be better focusing on a less-visual channels like Twitter or LinkedIn.

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule, but it’s better to be realistic and start off with the most relevant channel to begin with.

If we were to point to one channel that’s likely to get you the best return though, we’d have to say Facebook.

This might come as a big surprise to many readers, especially those in B2B businesses, who would generally lean towards LinkedIn.

However, not only is Facebook the most widely used platform on the planet, it’s also the most flexible, allowing you to promote your business whilst housing the sort of useful information you’d find on a website. In fact, many small businesses use their Facebook business page in place of a website.  

Conversely, Twitter is probably the most difficult channel to drive results from. Businesses find it hard to cut through the noise, with content getting lost amidst the real-time flurry of activity.

That’s not to say, you can’t make it work – but it’s much harder to set out a template for using Twitter effectively.


So, let’s focus on Facebook

Used correctly, Facebook can be a really powerful way to promote your products and services. However, it’s arguably the most infuriating channel when it comes to algorithms.

Gone are the days when your content would automatically be seen by your followers, and you could ‘game the algorithms’ to go viral. Today, a frequent complaint is that content only gets visibility if you put money behind it (boosted posts). Cosmetics brand Pure pulled its social media accounts for this very reason, complaining of being ‘tired of fighting algorithms’.  

For small businesses this is particularly difficult as they do not necessarily have the budget to invest in simply getting their posts seen.

So, how do you fight the Facebook algorithms? (side note – these tips all apply to Instagram too).


Slow and steady wins the race

If you’re posting a lot, without much thought, and not getting engagement (likes or comments), this will affect how the Facebook algorithms perceive your content, as well as turning people off.

The Facebook feed will prioritise content that people are engaging with over your content, which can then become a self-fulfilling cycle. It’s therefore important that you refrain from posting every hour of the day and instead aim to do one or two highly effective posts every one or two days.


Don’t forget the ‘social’ bit

These days we’re all well versed with social media, but it’s still important to reiterate the ‘social’ aspect. People use social media to unwind, vent, show-off and share funny stories.

So, it’s important that your content reflects why we go to social. People don’t want to see overly promotional and corporate messages in their feed. Even if your content has an underlying business objective, the most successful brands weave this in a way that feels natural and conversational.  


Spin the yarn

Everyone loves a good story and your social media posts can be a way to showcase the very real human story behind your business. Talk openly about the passion and energy you put into making the business a success, share your struggles, dreams and ambitions.

Remember, this is something that you have over your big business competitors – so use it to your advantage. It’s built in us to root for the little guy!


Balance out the ‘me, me, me’ with a bit of ‘you, you, you’

At the same time, one of the best ways to generate engagement and beat the algorithms is to actually go to your audience instead. Ask them a question. Put something out there that is likely to stimulate discussion.

By doing that, you’re not only boosting the reach of your content, but you’re also gathering potentially useful learnings about your audience.


A word on paid advertising…

As we’ve mentioned, to get maximum visibility on social media these days, in particular, Facebook, you need to invest budget into paid advertisements or boosted posts. For all the frustrations around this, it can still be an effective and low-cost marketing channel for your business. Here’s why:



One of the great talking points about social media is the data that is being collected on its users. For marketers, on the other hand, all that data is incredibly valuable.

When you’re doing paid ads or boosted posts, you can narrow down the audience you want to target into very specific groups – ensuring your budget is spent reaching the right people.



The name is a bit of a giveaway. Retargeting essentially means you target your ads at an audience who have already interacted with your brand, namely through your website, but you could also target those on your email database too.

This type of advertising is a good way to nudge browsers into buyers and is are 76% more likely to be clicked on than a normal display ad.


Test, test and test some more

Speak to any digital marketer and they will preach on about the importance of testing and optimising.

Unlike the days before digital, today you can gather live insights on your adverts and tweak them as you go – whether that’s changing the creative or the audience targeting.

Facebook offers a variety of built-in testing functionality (e.g. A/B testing) so you don’t need to be a whizz to set this up.  



Facebook offers a whole host of different ad types for you to promote your business.

If you’re an e-commerce brand, there are carousel ads for you to showcase specific products. You can gather email addresses for your newsletter through lead ads – most effective if you can create some kind of offer/discount or an exclusive piece of content in return.

Or you can simply run ads to get people to like your page or to promote an upcoming event. The point is: there’s something for every business objective.


In Conclusion

While we have focused mostly on Facebook, you can apply most of these principles to any form of social media marketing, regardless of channel. The trick is to treat your social media strategy as a trial-and-error effort which has to be honed over time.

Don’t expect instant results and make sure you have some kind of yardstick for measuring success. And, most of all, don’t forget the actual product or service you’re delivering – nailing social media won’t matter a jot if your customers aren’t happy.

Thanks for reading. If you’re looking for new ways to generate interest in your business, check out our free strategy guide.

Want to get a little bespoke digital marketing advice from our team? Get in touch today.

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About the author

Shannon Ali is a master in marketing, media and PR (literally – she has a Master’s degree!).

She’s spent the last 6 years honing her craft, and has quickly moved through the ranks into a management position. She helps to create high-conversion digital marketing campaigns and strategies for Catalyst clients, focusing on the data in order to deliver results. 

When not working, Shannon loves spending time with family and friends (especially her new nephew!). Outside of that, you’ll find her either cooking great food (in another life, she’d be a chef), or attempting a DIY job she’s seen on TikTok!

Shannon Ali