The guide presented here can be utilised by companies of any size, but it bears great significance for small businesses. Believe it or not, this really is the largest resource on the internet - I checked!
From today, you'll never worry about what content to post ever again.
Small Business Success and Social Media Content Go Hand-in-Hand
unique opportunity to interact and engage customers - 54% of social browsers use social media just to search for products and services.
higher spending - customers report spending 20% – 40% more money on brands that have interacted with them on social media.
customer service opportunities - 71% of consumers who have had a positive experience with a brand on social media are likely to recommend the brand to their friends and family.
Because of the benefits above, and others, 61% of all small businesses allocate budget to social media marketing. When reading these statistics, it's crystal clear that social media marketing goes hand-in-hand with small business success. That is, if you own a small business, you need to be active on social media.
In 2020, this trend only becomes more prominent, and your competitors know this. Therefore, in order to stand out and establish yourself as a preference amongst your target audience in social media, above all, you need to be consistent and provide the content that actually initiates engagement.
Remember, content is king and the access road to your audience. Coming up with consistently engaging social media content, however, is not an easy task.
Creating High-Quality Content Consistently is Tough
I know this. I've been there. In fact, 65% of marketers themselves, and 60% of businesses (of any size) struggle with creating engaging and Google-loved content. However, this is especially important when you handle most of your content creation in-house as most small businesses do.
It can be a hard-fought battle, writer's block can be frustrating, and you're fully aware it's not long until you have to do it all over again.
This could result in you losing time that could be used elsewhere, spending too much time on thinking up content or missing capitalising on pinch point opportunities and moments because you couldn't get a post ready in-time.
Anyone can come up with content today. The difference between you and your competitors is creating, and posting content that:
is most relevant to your target audience
answers your customers' questions/addresses their pain points
is published consistently, at the right time, through the right channels, and in the right manner (based upon industry and customer research)
sparks interaction and conversation amongst people, and between you and customers
How to Create a Better Foundation For Your Social Media Content Strategy
To help with creating high quality, engaging, conversation-starting social media content for your small business, we've researched and tested countless post ideas to determine what types of posts reflect that criteria.
What research has resulted in is a guide containing 200 social media content ideas that you can use when you're struggling to post, or as a foundation to fill your social calendar for the year. I've also included an infographic for quick reference offline.
I've thought about all platforms when creating these ideas - Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Pinterest, and video platforms such as TikTok.
To really get the most out of these ideas, make sure you’ve researched which platforms earn the most engagement from your target audience.
You also need to have a firm understanding of what your social media goals and objectives are so you can determine which platforms are most appropriate for achieving your objectives.
To set you apart from your competition, harness the little things like when the best time to post on each platform is, what the basic anatomy of good posts look like on each, optimal post lengths, and best practices for posting on social media.
These ideas aren't just filler content. Posting content based on these content suggestions will provide you with an opportunity to:
Build authority in your industry
Harbour trust amongst your customers
Initiate the conversation with, and engagement from, your fans
Establish consistency in your social media strategy
Foster relationships with followers
Some ideas may seem small, but they have all been chosen for a particular reason, and when used together, reinforces the opportunities above.
This is why I recommend scrolling through the rest of this guide to why each idea is a beneficial addition to your social content calendar cycle. Of course, you can get your infographic at the end.
Refer back to these ideas notes when you need to remind yourself of the reasoning of using a particular idea. Don't forget to use social media analytics to confirm what types of posts provide the most engagement. Then, post more of this content, and cut down on other content that isn't performing as well.
Lastly, don’t forget emojis in your headlines which are proven to help your click-through-rates. In fact, Facebook headlines with emojis generated 241% more clicks than those without one.
To deduce what content is going to work best for engaging your specific audience, and to truly get the most out the content ideas in this guide, I strongly suggest A/B testing.
Alongside A/B testing, you'll need to use social media analytics to confirm the content you've tested produces the desired engagement. Then, post more of this content, and cut down on other content that isn't performing as well.
Now I've given some information on foundations, pull up your blank spreadsheet or document, and let's get into the 200 ideas. To make the information easily navigable, I've grouped the post ideas into 6 categories listed below.
The content ideas aren't restricted to the group they're in, for example, an Expectation vs. Reality post could be used for Products & Services, and Industry & Education.
1. Company + Business
2. Life + Passion
3. Products & Services
4. Industry & Education
5. Customers, Fans, Followers
1. Company + Business
These types of posts are used to offer your followers a deeper level of insight into your company that your website doesn't or business listing can't.
Your goal should be to exemplify you’re not just a business people make purchases from, but a group of approachable people that have an organic passion for what they do.
By displaying the personality, culture, and history of your business and brand online i.e. showing what’s behind the product/service, you’re breeding familiarity with your audience.
Familiarity → comfort → trust → purchase
A lot of these content suggestions focus on you and your team putting your branded personality on the front stage whilst showcasing your company culture. However, your audience won't understand get the message you were going for, the emotion you were trying to portray, or the value you wanted to reflect.
Integrating your company values into your social strategy can help you better leverage your brand personality on social media. Tell your audience exactly what the values are that hold up the actions of your business. Sharing your values online is like a commitment to them, and you'll find yourself better aligned with your consumers when you can show your values reflect their morals and ethics.
Patagonia states that they constantly work on “operating in a way that improves the planet and its societies" and environmental and social sustainability is one of their core values. Patagonia has a huge outdoor sports domain whose community values environmental awareness.
The post above aligns well with this value by using user-generated-content to raise awareness on climate crisis. Patagonia further exhibits their investment in improving the planet by giving access to the Patagnoia Action Works so people can join the fight. Don't just talk about it - be about it.
How Your Company Started
Every company or small business was born for a reason, sometimes through necessity, other times out of pure inspiration. Some of the origin stories of businesses are incredibly captivating, and your customers want to hear about them.
We all appreciate hearing the stories of committed single mothers that become multi-millionaire entrepreneurs, or about companies that started from building basements with no heat or air-conditioning and go to wearing the crowns in their industries.
80% of people want brands to tell stories so be one of the brands that do. When telling people how your business was born, be authentic - people prefer stories about regular people. The key to a story that pulls you in is being genuine.
Always bring these posts full circle, and show how the humble beginnings of your company translate into the success of its operation today.
Go Behind The Scenes
If you decide to go behind the scenes, show off the best attributes of your company culture - what it's like to work at your small business, what goes into making your products and how you create your services.
The informal nature of BTS content marries perfectly with social media’s sense of community by giving your audience a peek at what your company is really like. Doing this can create deep levels of engagement by making your audience feel a part of your process. Check out this example from Hootsuite below.
Go Live (with a script)
Don't just broadcast because it's what a lot of people are doing. And don't go live all the time. Go live to add value to your audience above entertaining your base. Planning will be your best friend in making this happen - rehearse, rehearse, rehearse.
If you don't plan and make it a mistake, it can be harmful to the image of your brand. The last thing you want is a potential customer to think you're unprepared. You also need to think about the setting your casting from - will it be your office? A public place? Your home? A good backdrop can boost engagement.
Lastly, test your connection and make sure you're fluent in whatever casting tool you're using. Way too often do streams lag, or do you fall into the 3-minute standby hearing "ok, can everyone hear me now?" Don't be one of them.
Share Press and PR Features
I'm not talking about features you've paid for - internet users are smarter than you may think. Try to build relationships with publishers in your niche, and other businesses that have large followings by doing things like guest blogging and featuring on the bigger Instagram accounts in your niche.
You're going to get rejections, but over time, as you build your own authority, these opportunities will arise if you keep trying. Guest blogging which validates authority, and backlinks at the same time. Check out platforms like HARO to get distribution. PR and Press features are good once you have them because you can recycle them and use them as reminders of your success.
Employee takeovers are seen as more accessible to viewers. Employee takeovers are an extension of employee posts where you can show off firsthand what it's like to work for your company from the employees perspective. It's hard to be Finnair's post below.
Why is this post so good?
written in 1st person informal
who they are, what they do
encourages engagement by asking if there is something special followers want to know
reassurance: "don't hesitate to ask", "feel free"
personal: link to "personal account" + CTA "DM me'"
ends with CTA "Let's go!"
Such posts also a PR opportunity to display the personality of those that form your business - so choose the right people that reflect the brand image you're going for. Give your employees the freedom to express themselves, but don't do anything that may damage your reputation.
Share Your Other Social Profiles to Connect On
Having a strong presence and engagement across online platforms is great for SEO. Don't do this too often as it can look spammy to audiences. Before sharing other social profiles, make sure all your profiles are consistent - imagery tone, contact information and bios. Here's the top 21 social media sites to consider for your brand if you want to expand your reach.
Share Your Contact Information
This may sound silly, but it's necessary. Why? You want to remind others that you're always contactable, and more importantly, that you want to be contacted. As with sharing your other social profiles, don't do this too often. One way to consistently do so is to use your contact information as part of your CTA at the end of a post.
Feature Your Team
Why feature your team in posts? I've talked a few times already about making your business seem approachable, and by featuring your team in posts, you help to humanise your company.
This is important in the digital age, and especially important if most of your business or customer interaction happens online. If you're a brick and mortar store, it's just as powerful because it can draw your online audience into offline interaction. Show people whose behind that loved product or service.
Portray passion and enthusiasm when picturing your team within the workplace doing their jobs. You need your audience to know that the people creating the products and services they buy care about what you sell.
Celebrate a milestone
Do you have quarterly goals? Are there milestones you plan to hit? Celebrate these when you reach them - it's a proof you see your commitments through.
Quick tip - when you hit a milestone, create a discount or giveaway for your customers and make them feel a part of the success. Finally, thank your followers and customers for helping you hit your milestone. Hydro Flask checks all the boxes.
Support a Cause/Charity
First, don't be one of those companies that get involved with a charity for a social buzz - people are good at seeing through that. Instead, look at it from a perspective of self-actualisation.
Most businesses offer something that solves a problem. What charities are tied to that problem? For example, if you're a personal trainer, you may want to partner with a charity to offer free workout and diet programs - here, you're helping a cause, but through the facilitation of your business.
Be part of the charity, don't just throw money at it. This will maximise engagement for this kind of post.
Latest Company News
Keep followers in-the-loop with what is going on in your company. This is important because it shows your business is active. Don't forget to include a CTA where followers can subscribe to stay up-to-date and build your mailing list.
Profile Team Members
Though you’ll find most businesses on social media, you won’t often find the employees of those businesses with official social media profiles which I think is a real missed opportunity.
Similar to featuring your team, with profiles, you are focusing on the individual. You can use these types of posts when you don't want to do employee takeovers. One idea is to post biographies of your employees.
Story of Your Brand
The story of your business is different from the story of your brand. In this post, we're concerned with raising brand awareness. Think of this as the heart of your company. When discussing the story of your brand, hit emotional points with the audience - make them attached to the idea of your brand.
If you've branded properly, your brand should fit with the lifestyles and personalities of your target customer - remind them that your branding had them in mind, and encapsulate all the segments in the wheel below from PR Mention.
Share Your Achievement/Accolades/Certificates
Earlier I mentioned building authority, and how authority harbours trust amongst people and therefore makes them more inclined to purchase. If you hold any special certificates, accolades, or have partnerships, publicise those. A company that displays these is showing they have been tested and accredited as experts, or as being trustworthy.
Promote Your Website
Just like any promotion, don't do this too often. Definitely promote your website any time you make any changes, or add new content. When promoting your website through posts, create mini-campaigns.
Pick or create certain landing pages to promote (keeping these 15 tips in mind), rather than your whole website, target your post copy around that page, and then add custom URL tracking parameters to see how many people are coming to your pages from those specific links. Remember to have custom URLs for each social channel.
Cross-promote Another One of Your Social Profiles
Don't confuse this with cross-posting which is where you post the same content across social channels. This is lazy, and it can come off like that, as well as insincere to audiences - especially your loyal followers who follow all channels. When cross-promoting, you want to adapt basic content to fit each network and its audience.
Remember, not every social channel has the same audience, and therefore each requires different messaging. For example, write a short twitter post, then compose a longer update for Facebook, and finally, create a photo for the post for Instagram. Try to use different, but consistent images over the exact same image.
Hiring Announcements & New Team Members
Always celebrate new hires. This is a double-win - new team members feel valued, and your followers see that your team is growing, meaning business must be good. Tag their personal profiles too.
Illustrate and Demonstrate Your Company Culture
Most businesses have a culture, even in its most simple sense. These posts aren't just limited to your team members. Demonstrate and illustrate the culture of your company at every opportunity to humanise your business, making it more approachable to your audience. If you want to see how culture can drive social media strategy, don't overlook the Hootsuite Instagram below.
People today don't like being bombarded with product offers on their feed. Posting about your culture also allows you to self-promote, without annoying people. Some other worthy mentions we'll see, and have seen in this guide already are Google, Mailchimp and Pantagonia.
Share a Win or Success
People love success stories, and people follow success, it's just a fact - why do jersey sales increase when college teams are winning one year? Always share your company wins and successes. And when you do, don't forget to thank your followers and customers for helping you.
Show Off Your Company History
Do you know why these posts work so well for small businesses? Something happens when we read of how others build their business empires from small beginnings in stuffy studio apartments, or how struggling single parents working several jobs turn into global entrepreneurial powerhouses.
Such posts are inspiring. It makes you think you can do it too. If you're a larger company, they're just as beneficial because you can show how far your company has come.
thyssenkrupp, is a multinational conglomerate with focus on industrial engineering and steel production, but as the post below shows, their success has incredibly humble beginnings., stretching back 200 years. Suddenly, they look like more than just a steel production company, don't they?
Share a Loss or Failure
Showing your company can face it failures is a big thing because it displays honesty and a commitment to success. Make sure if you're going to publish these types of posts, you've already overcome this obstacle before talking about it with your audience. More notably, show how failure has improved your company.
Story of Your Logo
If you have a logo, people who interact with your business are going to see it, so it's worth explaining where it came from. Most logos weren't random in the selection, and if a designer created your company logo, sit down with them, and create a story behind it. When people next see your logo, it will feel familiar because they know the story behind it.
Post About Company Events
If you or your company is speaking or making an appearance somewhere, it means that your knowledge and expertise signify value to others. It's another stamp of authority within your industry. These events also offer a chance to really drive home relationship building - especially in the digital age. Give followers more opportunity to see your business in action in-person. For people that can't make it, you can live stream it on your social platforms.
Make a Public Promise
People value commitment, but don't break your promises.
Collaborate With Another Businesses or Brand
Partnering with complementary (non-competitor) businesses can deepen the impact of your marketing activities. You need to do some good old bartering, and trade the value of your audience and your content to advance your social media goals.
Collaborations can eventually turn into partnerships if the rewards are fruitful for both parties, so choose the brands you work with carefully - and don't partner with a brand your audience wouldn't approve of. You'll see an example in Moz and Hubspot shortly below that shows collaboration can even work with competitors. If you're doing cross-promotion or content placement, don't take a NASCAR approach i.e. slap logos etc all over the place - be strategic.
Share Content from Other Brands
Here, I'm not talking about competitors, but other brands that align with, or complement your business. For example, if you provide a web design service, you may shoutout an SEO agency.It's not all about me, me, me. Posting content from others shows you engage with other businesses and could expand your reach if a mutual sharing develops between your businesses and the other.
Only post content from other businesses that complement yours and are relevant to your audience. This is more important than just sharing content from the biggest names in the industry - you're more likely to receive a reply if you do it our way. This can also be a way to start relationship building and collaborating with other brands.