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How Social Media can distinguish your business from the rest

Updated: Mar 13

You don’t need to spend all your time on social media for your business to grow, but you do need to have an updated presence.

By Nadia Boulos

76% of small businesses use social media as part of their marketing strategy, but just because “everyone’s doing it” doesn’t mean you have to. This article explores the pros and cons of using social media to showcase your small business, leaving you with key tips you can apply to your approach today.

As a small business owner, I think of social media as an extension of my portfolio, but one that shows more of my personality. Because at the end of the day – especially for small business owners – it’s not necessarily our unique services that distinguishes us from similar service or product providers. It’s our personality. Think about the times you were on the fence of going with one business over another. How did you make the choice between two similar businesses when they both have fantastic portfolios and similar pricing? 

At a subconscious level, it’s likely that you will go with the person (or business) where you felt that your personalities were a strong match for getting the work done in a meaningful way.

Enter social media: the source of a lot of anguish or delight for small business owners. 

3 ways to use social media to distinguish your business in a way that feels better

Not totally unlike the physical storefront of a cafe, your business social media profile is where many first impressions happen and where people stumble upon your services and goods. And like managing a customer-facing storefront, managing social media has its highs and lows. 

If you’ve managed a business account on social media, you may be familiar with its downsides, too.

These frustrations include: 

  • Feeling confused as to what to post

  • Feeling lost amidst the sea of content

  • Feeling bummed when the algorithms change and your engagement plummets

  • Feeling resentful of small businesses who appear to have it all “figured out” 

  • Feeling distracted by the endless streams of information 

Two hands hold a phone with various social media icons emerging from the screen. 
Social media doesn’t have to consume all of your time. But it can, unchecked!

These downsides are real. They are why so many people ask for support, because they know they need a social media presence, but they’re done with managing it themselves. 

The good news for them is that I love what I do – and I’m good at it. If you want to give social media a try, here are three ways that help me find balance when I’m creating marketing plans for clients. 

  1. Find balance with the social media pressure cooker

With changing algorithms, it’s easy to feel confused or like you want to give up on social media. Some people do and have no regrets. Occasionally, I have clients whom I support with their marketing needs, usually involving a website overhaul, and they have no desire to join social media, ever. If it’s working for your business to do that, then that’s great! Truly. 

Not every business needs social media. For example, if you’ve been in the field for decades, you have a robust mailing list and email marketing program, or all your new clients are referral-based, then why start now? That’s fair. But if you’re a newly established business, and you want to grow steadily in the next decades, then you may benefit from marketing more strategically on social media. 

Either way, I recommend you aim for balance. Meaning, don’t spend hours a day on social media. So many studies prove that it is draining and also not great for mental health. Instead, mark a time each day where you will “socialize” online for 15 minutes, twice a day, on behalf of your business. That’s 30 minutes each day, and it might just land you your biggest client.

2. Be strategic with where you comment. 

I love the $1.80 Strategy, which is an Instagram marketing strategy coined by Gary Vaynerchuk.  It’s simple and it works with organic growth, meaning without paid ads or boosted content. The name comes from the term “leaving your 2 cents.”

Here’s how you do it:

  • Follow relevant hashtags, influencers, and small businesses that relate to what you do or what you sell. For example, if your business sells organic dog treats, then make sure you’re following related businesses for dog sitting, dog training, or pet photography, as well as trending hashtags like #dogperson, #animalnutrition, or #dogmom and add your “2 cents” to nine posts.

  • Comment across 9 posts every day by adding your brief insight to posts or hashtags you follow – again, so long as they are relevant to your business. This is also why I recommend having a separate business account from your personal one. 

  • Ex. If I sell organic dog treats, I could find recent posts under #dogmom and write a comment like, “Love seeing how much happiness you and your canine companion bring out in each other.” Or something like, “What a healthy looking pup!”

  • Remember that asking people questions on their posts is also a great technique. Not everyone will respond, but enough people will to make you see results. 

This is one of the best ways to grow your business organically and start making new connections on social media, while also building user trust. 

3. Keep the quality and subject consistent

There’s a reason why major fast food brands like Chipotle or Kentucky Fried Chicken are successful and it’s not just because of their exorbitant marketing spending. It’s also because when they eat there, people know what they are going to get. Their expectation, based on prior experiences, should be met because of food/product consistency.

The same is true for the visual and written communication with your brand on social media. When I see clients all over the place with their subject matter, I wince – this unpredictability can be really off putting to your audience who also want (and expect) consistency from you. 

Sample Instagram post for a fake business called “Canine Treats” showing a photo of a black, white, and brown dog chewing on a bone while lying down on grass.
Sample Instagram post of our made-up example for Canine Treats. After commenting on various posts via the $1.80 Strategy, this is the kind of post you might want new followers to see, as it shows that your company aligns with their interest in supporting happy, healthy dogs.

From your logo to the overall mood of your online presence, there should be consistency. Of course some variation can be nice, especially for new services or seasonal specials, but not so much variety that you’re confusing your audience. Again, your business profile is a direct extension, or an online portfolio, of your business. 

Before you post or share anything, just pause and think. “Why am I sharing this? Is this relevant to what we do at ‘(company name?)’ Does it align with our overall strategy?” 

I hope these tips also help you connect with your audience in ways that don’t feel gross or inauthentic. After all, social media can be a great way to deepen the trust people have for you and your brand. It’s a big asset and it doesn’t need to consume your whole day to exist there, with an updated and lively presence. 

Ready to boost your social media game?

If you’re on social media for your business, great! You can begin using any of the above tips.  And if you’re not on social media yet, is it time to take the leap? 

Contact me to share more about your business goals and social media strategy. Or let me know in the comments what is – or isn’t – working for you with social media. Let’s brainstorm the best approach, together. 

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