Social Media Marketing – A Guide for Small Businesses

You’ve worked hard on your website. It’s mobile friendly. You’ve posted lots of great content to your blog. It’s optimized for the major search engines. 

So why aren’t web users beating a path to it?

In the baseball classic “A Field of Dreams”, Kevin Costner’s character is urged to carve a baseball diamond out of a corn field with the guarantee that if he builds it, they - a ghostly baseball team- will come.

Well that may be true in the movies, but these days just putting up a website is no guarantee that web users will find it, let alone spend time on it.  With hundreds of thousands of small businesses in Canada now promoting themselves in social media, how do you get the attention of potential visitors?

The answer is, it’s not easy. It’s work. But success is possible for any small business willing to make the commitment.

Before you start advertising in social media, you’ve got to have something to promote. That’s usually in the form of content. A small business has to publish fresh and interesting content relating to their business, ideally every week, on their website.  Not only does this content help improve your ranking with search engines like Google, it also gives you a constant supply of new and interesting things to say to audiences on social media networks like Facebook.

But still, publishing content on the website and then announcing it on social media is not enough to attract eyeballs of prospective customers, no matter how good it is. In order for that to happen, social media promotion is essential.

So let’s take a high level look at the various social media promotional methods available to small business.  The great thing about today’s social media networks is that the size of your business – or your marketing budget – doesn’t matter. The tools we discuss here are available to everyone.



Facebook is the most popular social network so it’s no surprise it’s where you should put most of your promotional dollars. According to Facebook’s own data, there are 18 million Canadians using the platform every month, you are guaranteed to find your customers there.

The most effective way to drive traffic to your website using Facebook is to create “sponsored” posts on the platform. There are several ways you can create sponsored posts – one is to use the “Boost” button that appears on every post you make. While that can be effective, it is best suited to novice users. That’s why you should take the time to set up a “Facebook for Business” ( account. It’s free, and it gives you access to more sophisticated advertising tools, and they are easy to use.  With the Facebook Ads tools available there, you can quickly create ads to increase engagement (likes, shares, comments, etc.) with the posts you create on your Facebook Page, or to drive traffic directly to your website.

Remember, the content of your Facebook posts still needs to be catchy and relevant to your audience in order to get the most from your ads. Use words like “surprising”, “unexpected” and “amazing” in order to draw people to your post. Lists are almost always popular. Keep it short and intriguing.



There’s no question that Instagram is hot these days. The social network is now owned by Facebook, and there are now more than 8 million users in Canada.  Photo-centric Instagram is ideally suited to selling products with visual appeal, for obvious reasons.

Last year, Instagram launched a self-serve advertising platform for small business, accessible through the Facebook for Business advertising account. While Instagram gets high levels of user engagement, and is terrific for creating awareness of your business, it is not as effective as Facebook in driving website traffic, probably because Instagram users are not accustomed to clicking on links which take them outside the app.



With over 300 million users worldwide, Twitter is still one of the best known social media networks. Thanks to its heavy use by celebrities and media, the platform is very much in the public eye. But the truth is, growth in usage has slowed to a snail’s pace, and while there are millions of users in Canada, only a small percentage of these users regularly post Tweets of their own to the platform.  So the audience of active users is much smaller than that of Facebook.

Twitter has a variety of ad options. Small businesses will most likely be interested in “Promoted Tweets”. With this option you pick the tweets that do well with your followers, and then pay to get them in front of more Twitter users. Twitter gives you the opportunity to target people based on the type of people they follow and what they share on their profile and in their feeds. So if you’re a real estate agent, then you can target the followers of Twitter accounts that you know are popular within the real estate industry.

Twitter can be particularly effective if you are interested in reaching very specific audiences, such as journalists and influential people within communities of interest.



Google-owned YouTube is one of the most trafficked sites on the web, and its biggest video search engine. It’s can also be a great place to promote your business, provided you have video content. With video cameras now ubiquitous, producing full-motion content has never been easier.  But be warned that producing GOOD video content is hard to do. (Tip: Keep your videos under one minute. And make ample use of titles to ensure they work even with the sound off.)

But even if you do not have videos of your own, you can still place banner ads on with YouTube Ads on relevant videos. You can choose the categories that best fit your post and promote it on those types of videos.

To conclude, paid social media advertising can be an extremely cost effective way to generate highly qualified prospects to your website - right away. No matter what you do to drive visitors to your website, make sure you wow them with your content once there.  And be sure to ask every visitor to opt-in to your email list for more updates from your business, and start the process of converting them to customers.