Social Media Marketing for Canadian Small Businesses

Social Media Marketing for Canadian Small Business

10 Easy Steps for Maximizing Your Social Media Impact

by Mario Toneguzzi

Social media marketing for most Canadian small businesses is a key driver of business success in this economy. If you’re a small business today and not on social media, you’re likely falling behind.

Social media has become a major tool to help small businesses raise awareness for their brand, reach out to more potential clients and customers, grow revenue and business, and tap into different markets.

Social Media Can Help Your Business To Be More Visible

“We always tell our members that their online presence is now their handshake to the world. It’s the new business card,,” said Brendan Rolfe, Senior Manager of Business Resources for Western Canada for the Canadian Federation of Independent Business | CFIB (

“So obviously you want to be very visible, you want to be very searchable. In many cases, a social media presence doesn’t really cost a business owner anything more than their time. It’s important to meet your customers where they’re at. So that’s why I’ll always say to them as well, be very cognizant of where you’re advertising your business.”

Rolfe said it’s important for businesses to understand who their customer is and which social media platform that demographic is likely to spend time on.

“A business owner who’s got very limited time needs to be sure of where they’re committing that time. And so don’t be everywhere. Don’t try to be everywhere to everyone all at once. Really target focus on the social media channel then you can meet the right people where they’re at, reach them and offer your services,” he said.

Rolfe said one of the barriers today for small business owners in being present in social media is knowledge. Some may be a bit intimidated by that space.

“The beauty of it is you never know what’s going to go viral and you never know what’s going to catch on. Just because you don’t have your own social media department like the giant stores doesn’t mean you can’t play ball at their level. If you’re creative, take some good pictures and have some funny comments, people share that like wildfire. There are no restrictions on size and it’s certainly something that if a business isn’t on social media they should find a way to get there because it’s a free form of marketing. You can of course invest in paid ads. But it’s a great way for your customers to connect with you and get to know you on a more personal level than just what your ads may say,” he said.

The CFIB says social media can be overwhelming in choosing the right platforms, learning how to use them effectively and determining how to gauge success.

10 Easy Steps for Maximizing Your Social Media Impact (courtesy of CFIB):

1) Define Your Goals

Before diving into marketing your business on social media, it’s important to set clear and measurable goals for your online presence. At this stage, it’s important to determine what you want to achieve with your social media account, such as increasing awareness of your offerings, driving traffic to your website, generating partnerships, or boosting sales.

This will also help you decide which platform(s) you should be active on. For most small businesses, being active on one to three social media platforms will give the best return on investment. These platforms should be ones that resonate with the goals of your business and have a high number of users that fit into your target audience. Being active on all platforms just because they are available is less beneficial to your growth than being active on a few and creating an engaged community. A good rule of thumb is to establish yourself on one platform before moving on to another, making sure to weigh the benefits of each platform against your goals.

2) Identify Your Target Audience

Understanding who your ideal customers are is an integral part of using social media effectively as a small business. By defining your target audience’s motivations, interests, online behaviour, and preferred social media platforms, you can begin tailoring your content, language, and messaging to resonate more strongly with the people who are most likely to support you. We know “defining your target audience” sounds daunting, but it’s not as difficult as you might think!

Defining your target audience is as simple as figuring out the motivations (psychographics) of the people your product or service is most suited to and crafting your content/messaging to appeal to those people. Create a profile of your ideal customer that makes it easy for you to imagine them as a real person, or people. This will help you not only select the platform(s) with the best chance of performing for you, but it will also help you craft messaging and content that will give you the outcome you’re looking for.

3) Align Your Branding

Maintaining consistent brand elements (logo, colors, and voice/tone) across your social media accounts makes it easier for people to trust your business, recognize the value in its presence, and interact with its content.

Programs like Corel Draw, Canva and others can be used to design a brand kit that includes fonts, logos, colours, and templates which can then be applied to design different digital assets such as profile photos, product images, or graphics for use on social media.

4) Create Engaging Content

Engaging content plays a key role when it comes to building and maintaining a healthy social media following. The most effective social media strategies utilize a variety of formats including photos, videos, graphics, gifs, and polls. Experimenting with different content types to see what resonates best with your audience encourages more engagement (comments, shares, and reactions) and helps keep your social feed exciting.

When promoting your products or services, try your best to create content that doesn’t feel like a hard or cold sell. Educational posts, lighthearted or humorous memes, team member spotlights, customer shout outs, and even holiday posts can help you suggestively or softly sell your products or services while communicating value and authenticity to your followers. Existing assets, such as your mission and vision statements, product pictures, and reviews can be repurposed into a variety of new content that can help elevate your business’ online representation, while saving you time.

5) Optimize Your Profiles

Optimizing your social media profiles maximizes your visibility and can help attract new followers in your target market or desired geographic region. This includes using relevant keywords in your bio, adding a link to your website in your profile description, providing up-to-date information on your products and services, and using eye-catching profile and cover photos.

Keyword research can be as simple as using words you think your ideal customer is most likely to type into the search bar when looking for your product or service. If you are interested in taking your keyword research to the next level, AnswerThePublic is an excellent free tool to help you discover what questions people are asking about your product, service, or type of business in Canada. This information can help you determine which relevant keywords to use in your content and profile(s).

6) Organize Your Posting Schedule

For busy small business owners this can be easier said than done. However, maintaining a consistent posting schedule is very important, especially if you are running paid advertisements. Planning your posts around days and times that your target audience are most likely to be active can significantly limit the amount of money and time spent running your social media accounts. A posting schedule also allows you to organize your content in advance to match any future campaigns, sales, or events you plan on hosting.

There are online tools in which you can create a monthly content calendar, as well as automate posts and compile analytics. It can be a lot of fun to experiment with tools like Hootsuite, Metricool, Buffer, and Sprout Social, which offer a free trial or free account with limited access.

7) Leverage User-Generated Content

Sharing content that has been created by your customers is a quick and easy way to build credibility and recognition online. User-generated content not only boosts engagement, but acts as social proof, showcasing real people enjoying your products or services in real-time.

User generated content can include anything from product reviews and testimonials, blog posts, and social media posts or videos. Reusing this content is a time- and cost-effective way for your small business to increase its customer base and influence your followers’ purchasing decisions!

8) Interact With Your Community

One great thing about social media is the ability to engage with your customers and community in an accessible, highly visible way.  Responding to comments, messages, and mentions promptly and appropriately shows that you have genuine interest in your audience’s opinions, questions, and concerns. Engaging with your customers helps foster loyalty and encourages them to share your products and promote your brand within their communities, ultimately helping you reach more people.

9) Review Your Analytics and Adapt

Analyzing your social media metrics at least once a month can provide you and your team with exclusive insight into which content is driving the best results. Some important metrics to track are:

  • Engagement Rate (interactions on posts including likes, comments and shares)
  • Reach (how many people see your post on their feed)
  • Click-through rates (or CTR, number of clicks on a post divided by its engagement)
  • Video Views (if available review the watch time and total view count to see how long people have watched your video for).

The metrics available for review may differ platform-to-platform, so your analytics strategy may need to adapt accordingly. Reviewing this data monthly can help you refine your social media strategy, experiment with new content, and achieve better results with your campaigns. 

10) Have FUN!

Although social media can help drive awareness of your small business, it should also be an experimental and creative outlet, allowing you to connect with your customers and community in ways that excite you. A genuine approach to social media is going to be far more successful than an overly curated one. So, remember to let loose and have a good time!

Mario Toneguzzi is a regular contributor to the Connect4Commerce Canadian Small Business News Blog. Mario is a veteran of the media industry for more than 40 years and named in 2021 a Top Ten Business Journalist in the world and the only Canadian to be named.

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