Bredin Report: Engaging SMBs with Social Media

On a recent Bredin Fastcast, we talked with Kendall Walters, Campaign Content Manager at social media management platform Hootsuite, about the ways companies can engage small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) with social media.

Kendall Walters, Campaign Content Manager at social media management platform HootsuiteHootsuite has more than 210,000 paid accounts and millions of users, ranging from SMBs to large enterprises. Walters discussed a recent campaign targeting SMBs with a contest to win Hootsuite services for life, and tips for marketers to engage SMBs with content and social. Comments have been edited for brevity.

BREDIN: Tell us about the contest to help SMBs that Hootsuite ran earlier this year.

WALTERS: This spring, we ran “The Very Big Social Makeover for Small Businesses” promotion as a way to help SMBs. The winner received $10,000 in advertising spend; a video creation tool kit; consulting with the Hootsuite social, content and video production teams; access to courses; and lifetime access to Hootsuite products.

BREDIN: How was the winner chosen?

WALTERS: We asked SMBs to tell us in writing what winning would mean to their business, and the finalists were asked to respond in a video. The winner — Toronto-based tween/teen bra brand Apricotton — was a really good encapsulation of how we’ve seen SMBs rapidly adopt social media marketing as a result of the pandemic. Apricotton is a social-first business — they sell via a website but acquire new customers on Instagram and TikTok. It makes a lot of sense when you consider their target demographic.

BREDIN: How did Hootsuite promote the contest to SMBs?

WALTERS: Instagram was the key channel, as our research has shown that smaller, newer businesses use it more than other platforms. Some of the best content was social media marketing tips broken down into bite-sized chunks. Step by step, we’d explain how to use things like UTMs, the short text code you add to a website address to track performance. It was direct, practical content that people could act on right away. This is key, because SMBs are starved for time.

BREDIN: Was the contest a success for Hootsuite?

WALTERS: It was a big hit. We got tons of impressions and video views on campaign content and drove a lot of entries on social. It was an exciting way to interact with SMBs.

BREDIN: How can SMB marketers engage their audience on social media?

WALTERS: Listen first. Follow different hashtags that are relevant to your target segments, to see what your audience is saying about your industry, your brand, and anything else that is important to them. This will give you a sense of who they are and what matters to them. You can take those insights and turn them into poll questions or posts that will resonate with your audience. These types of posts can get incredible engagement and get people talking.

Choosing the right social platform
Walters shared five questions from Hootsuite Academy that marketers can ask to help determine if they should add a social platform to reach their audience:

  1. Is my audience here? Look at user data and research to see if a particular platform is where individuals in the demographic you want to reach regularly post and engage.
  2. Can I provide value to my audience? On the platform, would you be able to share something with your audience that they would want or need? Make sure that whatever you’d be sharing would not be overtly self-promotional — there needs to be something of value for your prospect.
  3. Is the time and resource investment worth it? Would the time and money spent creating and posting content to a platform give you a good return, or would your marketing budget be better spent elsewhere?
  4. Can you do things here that you can’t do on other channels? This is particularly important if you’re looking at a new platform for your brand, such as TikTok or Clubhouse. Consider whether there is a feature or opportunity not available elsewhere that would be valuable to you or your customers.
  5. Does the opportunity on that platform align with your social media goals? Don’t just try a new platform because it’s a shiny new thing. Your strategy should always align with your business goals. Think about what you could achieve on the platform, and how it may complement other marketing or sales initiatives.

BREDIN: How should SMB marketers assess the return on investment of their social media initiatives?

WALTERS: It depends on their ultimate goals. If you’re looking at brand awareness, think reach and impressions. If you’re looking to convert or acquire new customers or leads, look at clicks and traffic to your website.

Need help understanding and/or engaging SMBs? Bredin can keep you up to date on evolving SMB needs and challenges through quick-turn, actionable market research. We can also help you develop high-value content and social posts to boost SMB awareness, brand perception, leads, conversion and revenue.

About Bredin

Bredin was founded in 1991 by America's foremost small business expert, author and syndicated columnist Alice Bredin. From its beginning, Bredin was designed to be a breed apart: 50% research consultancy, 50% creative agency, 100% focused on SMB. Based in Somerville, Mass., Bredin helps Fortune 500 companies understand, reach and retain SMB customers through timely, targeted research and award-winning marketing programs.