The beauty of social media for small businesses is that, used correctly and wielded carefully, it really can be a competitive tool in getting your fair share of local customers and revenue. You don’t need a big marketing budget or a large agency. You do need to know how to utilize social media and the potential tools to your advantage. To gain more insights, I reached out to Tom Keiser, the CEO of Hootsuite and the current owner and CEO of Stuckey’s, Stephanie Stuckey. Her current revival of this long-time small business brand echoes the continued rise of small businesses in the USA.
According to research by the drop shipping company Oberlo, in 2022 the number of small businesses in the United States (US) reached 33.2 million. The increase in the number of small businesses in the US in 2022 is representative of the sustained growth as it marks a 2.2 percent increase from the previous year and an overall growth of 12.2 percent from 2017 to 2022. In addition, there are currently 61.7 million small business employees in the US, which make up approximately half (46.4 percent) of the US workforce. So, who supports these small businesses in their social media efforts?
‘As an organization that connects with businesses of all sizes every day, Hootsuite has had the privilege of watching some of the brightest marketing minds at work, and what we’ve found is that some of the most creative and gritty are the small businesses,’ said Tom Keiser.
From Tom directly, here are some marketing tactics he recommends that small businesses should consider to drive more sales this holiday season.
- Showcase who you are that is different from the big box retailers. Provide a glimpse into your business, tell your story, and establish yourself as part of the same local community as your customers.
- Look to other like-minded business owners in your region to collaborate on a ‘buy local’ campaign. Promote each other on social media, and engage with each other’s content to extend your network and attract new audiences.
- Create opportunities for your customers to engage with you on social: ask for photos of your products for the chance to win a prize, promote hashtags, post polls or contests etc.
- Design a special event for your customers, either virtual or in person. DM your highly-engaged customers directly with additional benefits or promo codes.
- Be brave and try new things. If you’ve been wondering if you should be on TikTok, try it. But when you do, make sure to tailor your approach to each social network; customers will be more likely to engage with your content if its suitable to the platform (i.e., short, compelling video for TikTok and IG Reels vs. product info in a Twitter thread).
The Stuckey’s story is as simple and complicated as perhaps any long-term small business. Start and grow the business, partner with others, sell the business and then buy it back when its faltering. Stephanie took a big chance when she bought the struggling business bringing it back into the family name a few years ago. Strategically, she returned to the original product line, brought manufacturing of the candy back to the USA, and began sourcing from local suppliers and controlling her supply chain costs and product distribution. The result? Stuckey’s has grown from $2 to $13 million in sales in only two years with zero advertising budget.
‘As a scrappy comeback brand, Stuckey’s did not have access to marketing firms or a large advertising budget. We’ve relied solely on word-of-mouth marketing generated from our social media posts to drive sales,’ said Stephanie Stuckey. ‘We’ve effectively utilized multiple social media platforms and tools like Hootsuite to build our customer relationships and loyalty.’
Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and country. Utilize every possible advantage you can, especially effective social media content and tools, to get your fair share of the local marketplace.