Separating yourself from the pack and knowing exactly how to make your business stand out on social media can be daunting, particularly if you’re a newer business or a small business with limited resources. And considering that most small and medium-sized businesses today use social media to market their products or services in some capacity, your own company faces a big challenge in differentiating itself from the competition.

That said, your social media marketing strategy and overall branding strategies don’t necessarily have to be completely new or innovative; you just have to find ways to stand out in your specific industry or community. Here are some helpful tips that can help your small business get noticed and truly stand out on social media (for the right reasons).

1) Pick the Right Social Networks

Rather than jumping right in and creating a presence on every social channel you can think of, take your time and research how your products or services can best be marketed on each platform. In addition, you need to know your target audience intimately and have a good understanding of the social channels they use. There’s no sense in trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, if your content doesn’t fit or your target audience isn’t active on a particular platform, then that social media platform may simply not be the right one for you to spend time on.

With more than one billion daily active users, Facebook is the most logical starting point. Granted, not every user is a potential customer, but Facebook offers value because it promotes the development of organic relationships with your customers. Interaction and engagement are vital when attempting to nurture relationships with new customers. LinkedIn is another social media platform that’s a good choice for many businesses due to its “workplace” nature and audience of professionals looking to connect with others in (and outside of) their industries.

Beyond Facebook and LinkedIn, there are tons of other options and you’ll ultimately have to do a bit of research and trial and error to decide what works best for your specific business. If you want a platform that visually showcases your products or services, then Instagram (which has more than 500 million daily users) YouTube, and/or Pinterest could be invaluable channels for you. And keep in mind that there are niche social networks that may help you reach a specific target audience and could be used to help your business distinguish itself. The options are endless, and that’s part of the fun!

2) Draw Inspiration From Others

Yes, there may be some small businesses in your sphere that really excel at social media marketing, and it’s great to refer to other businesses in your industry for inspiration. But be sure not to limit yourself or get caught up trying to exactly replicate what they’re doing. Being authentic and unique is hugely important on social media! So branch out and look beyond your own industry for new ideas and inspiration. There are countless brands and individuals you can follow on across the many social channels available today. A good place to start is by doing a quick Google search for a list of some of the most inspiring social profiles from a variety of industries and genres.

Also, don’t be shy about connecting with social media influencers in your industry. They can be an invaluable tool to help promote your products or services. In fact, according to Digital Intelligence Today, 92% of consumers are persuaded to make a purchase because of a peer recommendation. If the influencers you target have a devoted following and those influencers like your product, you could be well on your way to setting yourself apart from your competitors and generating more sales.

3) Get Advice From Your Audience

Be proactive with your target audience and followers. Beyond simply engaging with them on social media, make them feel valued and respected by asking their opinion or advice on a particular topic. By posing a pertinent industry-related question, you can be people talking and generate dialogue among your followers. It’s also a great tool for obtaining feedback on your products or services.

Not only will you demonstrate to your target audience just how important they are to you, but you’ll also show how much you trust them. In turn, this will go a long way in earning their trust since trust is always a two-way street.

4) Recommend Others Who Can Help Your Followers

A big part of gaining an increased number of followers (and staying engaged with the followers you gain) is paying attention to what they’re saying on social media. Is there something they’re looking for beyond what you can offer them? If so, provide recommendations for a social media account that could provide beneficial information to them.

Sure, we’d all love to be the industry guru. But, luckily, that’s not the only goal to aim for on social media. For example, you are undoubtedly connected with other industry thought leaders who may actually be better able to offer particular information that your followers are looking for. And that’s perfectly okay! By passing along this sort of helpful and relevant information, you illustrate to your followers your industry expertise and interconnectedness. It’s also a means to further show your followers and customers how much they can trust and rely on you because you’re providing them with useful resources, even if they did not originate with your company.

5) To Stand Out on Social Media, Don’t Be Afraid to Be Yourself!

If you’re stumped on how to make your business stand out on social media, don’t forget that your followers and audience want to know your story and the real you. If you’re genuine, authentic, and transparent, they’ll be much more likely to identify with you. So don’t be afraid to share information that inspires you, means something to you, or even that just makes you laugh.

Yes, you want to be professional and highlight your expertise, but you should also show your human side. By peppering in inspirational quotes and funny anecdotes that speak to your audience and express your business’s values, your followers can better identify with you.

6) Utilize National Observance Days in Your Posts

Each day, week and month of the year recognizes various causes, products and celebrations to raise awareness, promote advocacy, or even serve as a means to simply have a little fun. From National Lasagna Day to National Trivia Day to Breast Cancer Awareness Month, there are thousands of national days, weeks and months for observing just about anything under the sun.

Some are obviously more serious and meaningful than others, but there are events throughout the year that you can use to promote your business and/or industry on social media. They can be just another fun or enlightening way to generate interest in your products or services.

7) Use the Past to Promote the Future

Your followers and audience turn to you for your expertise and your timely and compelling content on social media. But from time to time, why not give them some more insight into who you are by sharing posts or photos from past events and achievements? For example, you could share photos from your ribbon-cutting ceremony, feature employee spotlights, or post links from when you won an award from your local chamber of commerce. Again, it’s just another way of humanizing yourself, making your business stand out, and helping your followers and customers relate to you.

8) Focus on Visuals

Speaking of sharing photos, research has found that 65 percent of the general population are visual learners, so remember to not only share images of what’s going on behind the scenes at your business, but also personal shots of yourself and images that express the substance of your business so that your followers can put a face to your brand. Also, don’t forget about posting informative live videos, infographics and quote graphics.

Regardless of the channel you’re using, posts and tweets with visual content generate much more engagement. For example, Facebook posts with images receive 2.3 times the engagement rates of posts without images. As they say, a picture is often worth a thousand words.

9) Stay Customer-Centric and Always Be Gracious

Although of course every business should strive to be customer-centric, small businesses especially can not afford to put customer service on the back burner. We’ve already discussed the importance of engagement and humanizing yourself on social media, but don’t miss the chance to thank your customers for their loyalty and business. If they’re satisfied with your products or services and you earn their trust, they’ll be more likely to write favorable customer reviews.

Beyond expressing your gratitude through your words, take the time to put together a special thank-you video or graphic that celebrates a particular milestone. Customers will appreciate the gesture! You can also show your appreciation more tangibly by offering special discounts or giveaways to your followers and customers through rewards programs.

10) Demonstrate Your Expertise Through “How-To” Content

Your followers are looking for industry expertise, and with so much competition out there, you can set yourself apart by offering content that’s actually useful to them. Take advantage of your expertise and knowledge by creating informative videos that inspire your customers, share a strong point of view, and serve their needs. After all, consumer purchasing patterns indicate that videos are seen as helpful, and online shoppers are more likely to purchase a product after seeing a “how-to” video.

The Bottom Line

Knowing how and what to post on social media is an essential part of your business’s marketing and branding strategy, but to make your social efforts effective, you have to continually look for ways to set yourself apart. To attract more followers and stand out on social media, zero in on the following key actions:

  • Select the social media channels that are the best fit for your business
  • Understand your target market and where they spend time online
  • Write content that is entertaining and engaging to read
  • Be sure to supplement content with eye-catching visuals, including infographics, videos, charts and fun photography
  • Stay true to your brand voice and never be afraid to be fully yourself on social media. After all, that’s what your followers are there for!
  • Ensure that the resources you share on social media are timely and relevant
  • Be sure to stay active on social, make comments, and engage with your followers often
  • Regularly share industry tools, “how-tos”, and other valuable content
  • Always be sincere, helpful, and human when interacting on social media

If you are prepared to put some time into creating your social media strategy, and you work on incorporating the tips outlined above into your plan, you’ll be well on your way to outshining the competition on social media. So creative, have fun with it, and get to posting today!