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11 Social Media Ideas for Small Businesses

One of the toughest parts about putting together a social media campaign is coming up with ideas. What should you Tweet? What do people want to see on Snapchat? Even the most experienced marketers struggle to come up with social media ideas at some point. But don’t worry, we have you covered.

We’ve compiled a list of 11 social media ideas to get your creative juices flowing on those days when your mind goes blank. Give these tactics a try to grow your following and keep your audience engaged.

1. Make a Daily, Weekly or Monthly Series

Who doesn’t love a good series? Come up with a theme or concept you can make into a recurring piece of content. For instance, at Sprout we have a weekly Twitter chat that tackles relevant topics and challenges that social media and community managers face.

This tactic works great on nearly any social network. You could have a weekly video series on YouTube, a Twitter Chat or a daily Snapchat series. Recurring content entices people to come back to see what’s going to happen next. Think about your favorite TV show or Netflix series. You look forward to seeing the next episode so much that it becomes part of your weekly routine.

That’s the same feeling you want to capture in your audience. Your series should entice people to keep coming back to see the next part of your series.

One way to increase interest around your series is to make a branded hashtag. Aside from Pinterest, most social networks don’t have a way to easily organize and categorize the different types of content you publish on your account. So your weekly Twitter chat can become buried under your other Tweets. You need a way for people to quickly be able to identify all the content related to your series.

With a branded hashtag, people can search to learn what the series is about and see past content you’ve published.

You should also consider making a page on your website for your different social media series. For instance, the blogging conference and community Blog Elevated has a page dedicated to its weekly Twitter chat.

2. Host a Contest

Social media contests are great for boosting engagement, earning new followers and giving back to your audience. However, if you’re not careful, your social media contest can quickly turn into a way for freebie seekers to grab your prizes and run.

The point of your contest should be to increase brand awareness and build your audience, not just to give things away. Here are a few tips to make your contest worthwhile:

  • Pick a brand-specific prize: Giving away a new 50″ TV might seem like a good idea on the surface. It’s an amazing prize that anyone would want. And that’s the problem. When you give away big generic prizes that aren’t associated with your brand or industry, you’ll get a ton of entrants that are only there for the prize and couldn’t care less about your brand. Luvo hosts a regular #TuesdayGiveaway where the company gives away free products to followers who share recipes and tag their friends. This attracts people who are interested in the company, not just freebies.

  • User-generated content: Social media contests are an excellent way to get some user generated content. For instance, you could launch a photo contest where people upload pictures of themselves using your product on Instagram or add it to their Snapchat Story.
  • Branded hashtag: Along with your UGC, you should also use a branded hashtag to associate with your contest. As more people start using your hashtag, their followers will take notice and be introduced to your brand as well.

3. Ask Me Anything

Ask Me Anythings became popular on Reddit. An AMA is when a person (typically someone well-known) takes questions from an audience about various topics. AMAs are fun because the questions can range from industry insight to what you like to eat for lunch.

A good way to do an AMA is to team up with an influencer in your industry. If you have someone within your company that’s well known you could use them as well.

One thing to keep in mind is that you have to be open to answering a wide variety of questions, otherwise it won’t be as fun or exciting. An AMA is about connecting with your audience, not selling your products.

Make sure you do a good job of promoting your AMA. The last thing you want is to only have two questions and be done. As far as how to host your AMA, you can use Twitter, Google Hangouts or Facebook Live like actor Adam Ferrara does for his #TalkToMeTues sessions.

4. Social Media Takeover

Social media takeovers are another fun tactic to build engagement. Takeovers are when you allow someone else to manage your social media account for a certain period of time, usually 24 hours. It works best with influencers and celebrities who have active audiences, but some companies also allow different employees to takeover the account.

The benefit of letting someone with an audience takeover your account is their followers will come along with them. It’s a quick way to build your own following. Just make sure you’re choosing someone who’s audience is in your demographic.

For instance, the popular foodie site Food Republic occasionally lets popular chefs takeover their Instagram account. In one of their recent Instagram takeovers, Food Republic handed over publishing duties to chefs George Mendes and Rob Newton to explore cuisines of Portugal and Peru.

5. Share, Retweet, Repin & Regram

A lot of brands think they have to fill their entire feed with their own content. When they do Retweet something, it’s typically someone who mentioned them. That’s beneficial, but you can also share other people’s content when it doesn’t have anything to do with your company.

For instance, you could Retweet an article someone shared about your industry. Or you could Regram a photo from another account. Just make sure you credit the original publisher.

Don’t go overboard with resharing other people’s social media content. The bulk of what you share should be your own original content.

6. Short Video Clips

If you haven’t used Instagram Videos, Snapchat or even Vine, you’re missing out on a huge opportunity. The use of social media videos has been on the rise over the past five years. Social Media Examiner’s 2016 Industry report found 60% of marketers currently use video and 73% plan to increase their use of video.

A common misconception about video marketing is you need a huge budget and create amazing commercials with the potential to go viral. But that’s far from the case.

Instead of filming a five minute video, record short clips less than a minute long. The great thing about apps like Instagram and Snapchat is they don’t require a lot of production. In fact, raw unedited videos are just what people expect on social media.

You can record funny moments around the office or document events you attend and upload them immediately.

Monday comin' at us like?. (Thanks, @bubbleballme!) #TGIM #wwcamp16

A video posted by WeWork (@wework) on

7. Repurpose Content

Sticking with video, let’s say you have a bunch of 10-minute videos on your YouTube channel. You can break those longer videos up into short clips that can be shared on Instagram, Twitter and other social media channels. Gary Vaynerchuk does an excellent job of repurposing longer videos into shorter ones for Instagram and even new YouTube videos.

But it’s not just video that can be repurposed. You can pull quotes from articles on your blog and turn them into graphics for Instagram. Or you can turn a keynote speech you gave at an event into a SlideShare presentation. The possibilities are endless.

Go through Google Analytics and find popular content you’ve published in the past and think of ways you can repurpose it for social media.

8. Team up With Another Brand

Co-marketing is a win-win situation. Two brands team up on a campaign or piece of content such as a webinar, eBook or even a special promotion. Each company gets exposure to the other’s audience.

Social media is a great platform for co-marketing because it’s easy to sync up your efforts.

Look for brands to partner with that aren’t competitors but have a similar target audience. For instance, at Sprout we’ve partnered with companies like Wistia, Zendesk and others to create webinars and eBooks.

9. Tutorials

When most people think of how-to content, they go to blog posts. While articles are a good medium to break down step by step instructions, it’s not the only way. Buzzfeed makes Instagram videos of mouth watering recipes. Each video is short and succinct, but you don’t miss out on any steps.

Cheesy Baked Hash Brown Patties Serves: 9 INGREDIENTS 4 red potatoes ½  cup butter, melted 1 cup cheddar cheese, shredded 2 eggs, whisked ¼ cup chives, chopped 1 tablespoon garlic salt 1 teaspoon oregano ½ teaspoon pepper PREPARATION Preheat oven to 400°F/200˚C. Peel and grate the potatoes. Drop shredded potatoes into a large bowl of ice water to remove surface starch. Strain or squeeze potato shreds and transfer to a large bowl. Add butter, cheese, eggs, chives, garlic salt, oregano, and pepper in with the shredded potatoes. Mix together. Take a handful of the mixture and pack it on a baking sheet into desired hash brown shape. Bake for 40-45 minutes or until brown and crispy. Allow to cool for 5 minutes. Serve warm and enjoy!

A video posted by Tasty (@buzzfeedtasty) on

When thinking of tutorial topics, keep it to ideas you can explain in less than a minute. You can use your Instagram caption to write out more detailed instructions but your video should clearly explain all the steps.

10. Live Stream

Although networks like Periscope and Blab didn’t see the success of Instagram and Snapchat, they proved there’s a lot of interest in live streaming.

Prior to shutting down, Blab grew to 3.9 million users. Earlier this year, Periscope surpassed over 200 million broadcasts. And Facebook Live has been seeing great success as well. In fact, people spend three times longer watching Facebook Live videos than pre-recorded ones.

Facebook Video Statistics 2016

Live video can be a bit more of a challenge since you don’t have the opportunity to edit your mistakes. But with a little practice and good hosts, live streaming can be a great way to drive people to take action. End with a strong call to action such as a discount or exclusive offer for the people who participated in the stream.

11. Customer Spotlight

What better way to show your customers you appreciate them than sending them some social media love. Go beyond Retweeting people who mention your brand and start a campaign that really highlights your customers.

You could have a customer of the week program where you spotlight your most loyal advocates and give them some swag or a prize. At Sprout, one of the ways we highlight our customers is through case studies. In addition to showing our appreciation for companies that use our software, it also gives prospective customers ideas on how they can use it too.

The more appreciation you show for your customers and followers, the more likely they are to share your content and promote your business on social media.

If you’re running low on social media ideas, this should give you the creative spark you need to come up with your next successful campaign. The more variety you provide in your social media content the better experience you’ll provide for your followers.

This post 11 Social Media Ideas for Small Businesses originally appeared on Sprout Social.

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About Daniel Rodgers

A lot of news that you will not see in the paper. A lot of technology that is coming out that will not see in the paper.

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