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How Small Business Can Beat Big Brands on Social Media (Without Spending Millions)

4 mins read

When I tell a small business they can master social media marketing – even with a limited budget – I often hear the same question:

“But Shauna, [insert big brand]’s page has thousands of followers! Why would I even bother competing?”


It’s true –  large companies are masters at growing brand awareness with social media. But small businesses have some advantages of their own. Conversion-focused strategy and quick decision-making can make it far easier for them to generate leads online. While big budgets and huge teams may help major players gather “likes,” local competitors know it’s not always about how many followers you have – it’s about who those followers are. 

Before comparing yourself to a large company or getting nervous about your ability to make a dent in the online world, consider the following small business social media advantages.

Advantage #1: Smaller businesses can get personal on social media.

When you interact with a behemoth online, it’s pretty hard to know who’s behind the screen. A shiny new intern? An agency across the country? A head office far removed from the actual company culture? Because of their size, it can be hard for big brands to truly get “real” on Facebook and other channels.

Implementing a social media strategy that connects with customers in a personal, meaningful way can be a very expensive and challenging undertaking for big brands, especially those with an international presence or a wide range of products/services. Meanwhile, it comes naturally for smaller companies. Local businesses can tailor content to their communities and showcase success stories close to home, helping with both targeting and engagement on social media.

Best tips for small businesses:

  • Show some personality! Post pictures or use Facebook live to put a face to the product or service you provide.
  • Post content in as close to “real time” as possible. For example, if you are at a trade show or community event, share a picture or video while you are there rather than waiting until after the fact.
  • Leverage user-generated content or community stories to connect with your followers in a “social” way.
  • Target people nearby with content that connects your business to their interests in a unique way.

Reason #2: Leaner businesses can offer great customer support via social media.

Have you ever called a big company and been greeted with a frustrating phone system? We’ve all been there – hitting prompt after prompt to find the right person, only to be put on hold again. Enterprises face these communications challenges in every facet of their business, including online support systems.

Small businesses often have leaner systems in place to handle these issues. Staff are usually trained in multiple aspects of the business, allowing for better support for any customer query. The head of the company is also more accessible with less middle management in-between, allowing for quicker resolution. This can make it easier for a small business to help customers or generate sales through social media.

How to provide killer customer service on social media:

  • Respond to customer comments and messages quickly, and find answers for any queries right away.
  • If an issue would be better handled over the phone, ask for the customer’s information and the best time to reach THEM, rather than just sending them a phone number with instructions to call you.
  • Always give customers your name rather than just identifying as a representative of a certain department.

Reason #3: Small business can get super specific with promotions and calls to action.

Small business owners have a significant advantage when it comes to creating killer promotions. Have too much of something? Put it on sale and tell your followers. Notice increased interest in a particular service? React to it with a targeted post and benefit from the trend immediately.

Big chains often need to get everyone on board before unleashing a promotion, making it difficult to react to demand or trends. They also are resigned to using general calls to action like “Visit a store near you!” This is a huge disadvantage compared to small businesses, who can tell people exactly where to go (and why!) whenever it works best.

Can you benefit from social media marketing?

Small businesses shouldn’t cower at a competitors’ overwhelming social media presence. In fact, they often have an easier path to real traction with their audience online. The key is knowing their strengths and targeting the right people with the right messages.



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