Holiday shopping is a major sales opportunity for small businesses. From gifts to food and other holiday goods, many rely on this time of year to bring in as much as half of their annual profits.
With the craze that came this Thanksgiving weekend, this year is expected to be another big turnout for small and large businesses alike. In fact, a record 196.7 million shoppers took to stores – both online and in-person – between Thanksgiving and Cyber Monday, up 17% from last year, according to the National Retail Federation.
As consumers continue shopping for the holiday season, it’s crucial small business owners stand out to attract these eager potential customers. Social media is one way to do so.
That’s how Shawn Brown, the founder of Atlanta-based bakery CheeseCaked, generates a large portion of her loyal customers. Brown hired her first social-media manager in 2016 in the hopes of expanding her bakery’s audience beyond her Atlanta neighborhood.
CheeseCaked’s picturesque sundaes and sky-high shakes were a great fit for social media, but Brown lacked a robust social-media strategy and the free time to intentionally grow a following. When a food blogger offered to take over the page, Brown hired her for $100 a week.
Brown said she immediately saw the positive effects: “In two weeks of having her, I had a line out the door. We were packed.”
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Social media has the potential to bring in local and international clients, create collaborations between like-minded businesses, and score brand deals for founders and creators. Each of these benefits is increasingly important in today’s economy.
“People want to trust and believe in brands,” Joanne McCall, a small-business publicity coach at her eponymous business, said, adding that “people want to know who you are” and social media is one way to do that.
Here are four ways to invest in social-media marketing, ranging in cost from $0 to $2,000.
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Investing money into social media has been one of the most important parts of growing Brown’s business, which is why her social-media manager is now on the company payroll, she said. But hiring social-media managers can be expensive, so some founders do the work themselves.
Tillie Dixson runs the hair salon That 1 Studio and spends 30 hours a month creating Instagram and TikTok content to attract followers. Social media helps Dixson establish credibility for prospective customers and land brand partnerships, which help financially support her business, she said.
Consistently posting content is a key factor in growth; otherwise, your page could get lost among other users, Brown and Dixson said.
Additionally, the social-media coach Kar Brulhart said business owners should use analytics to determine what to post, along with information about followers and customers.
For example, nonvanity metrics such as click-through numbers — clicks on your email-address button or responses to your social stories and direct messages — can help you understand who is following your account and where sales and customers are coming from, she previously told Insider.
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Zarina Bahadur, the founder of the subscription-box business 123 Baby Box, regularly posts on social media and invests in collaborations with influencers to grow her brand’s presence.
But she doesn’t pay influencers. Instead, to save cash, she gifts them baby boxes in exchange for a post or story, Bahadur said. Her strategy has worked: Her first 60 sales came from influencer posts.
“Our target is the new mom, and there are so many mommy bloggers out there that we’ve been able to leverage,” Bahadur said.
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As social-media platforms like Instagram become increasingly saturated, quality content can help entrepreneurs stand out.
Lauriel Mathis, the founder of the virtual-assistant-service and coaching company Lauriel Arkeah Co., spends $350 a month on professional-photography services, like branded photo shoots and headshots, which she then posts on social media.
“If you’re not showing your face, you’re not showing people who you are as a person,” Mathis said, adding that’s crucial to succeeding in today’s environment.
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Nicole Lewis, the founder of the customizable-crayon brand Art 2 the Extreme, spends about $2,000 a year on photography and videography, which end up on her Etsy site and social-media pages.
“Investing in photography is the best thing that you can do for a small business that’s product-based,” Lewis said.
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Alexa Curtis invests in shaping her overall personal brand, which she shares with followers on social media.
The cofounder of the career-mentorship platform GrasshoppHer spends $350 each month on a branding coach who helps her decide the messages she projects. Curtis pays an additional $350 on average a month for photography, hair, and makeup services whenever she shoots branded content or hosts an event.
“A lot of how I make money is my personal brand,” she said, adding that investing in her outward appearance helped maintain a level of professionalism and authenticity.
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