Seven Big Brand Social Media Strategies for Small Businesses

By | December 28, 2016

Have you ever looked at somebody’s amazing travel photos & felt as if you too could enjoy such joy, if you had the budget, resources and time? If you are a small business owner, this can feel similar to the experience of seeing a huge company’s successful viral marketing battle. As a smaller business, you might feel as if these mammoth successes are out of your reach, but I am here to tell you that Social Stores .

Flashy gestures & fancy budgets can of course add a certain pizzazz to any battle. But there’re core strategies that any business—big / small—can apply to their own marketing works. To see the ways big brands are taking social media, we took a look at past & present nominees for the Shorty Awards, which know the best of social media. As a great wealth of instances showing social media done right, the key strategies of the following big brands could be applied to any small business’ plans. As the following shows, solid social media principles could be universally applied—regardless of if your budget is ‘baller’ or smaller.

1. Southwest Airlines

Anyone who’s been stranded at the airport, had a flight delayed or lost their luggage, knows that information is power in these kinds of frustrating situations. The first airline worldwide to achieve 3 million fans on FB, their customers’ dedication is no doubt encouraged by Southwest’s proven commitment to their travelers.

Using a social listening center, Southwest Airlines made hearing from their customers, employees, fans and the media, a priority. As they show in their case study, “Our Customer Care Team has provided outstanding service throughout weather events & crisis situations, helping our Customers get that they need to go or providing answers to their questions—all via Twitter and FB.”

How to apply this strategy?

While your small business may not have the same resources available that a large airline like Southwest has, there’re many ways you can incorporate social clients care in your strategy. If using a method like Hootsuite, you could set up a stream dedicated to social listening & easily monitor what people are saying to and about, your brand. If you see anything that requires your attention (such as a direct question or someone sharing a negative experience they have had with your business, etc.) you can jump in and address these inquiries. This ends up ultimately saving your company time & resources, as the answer is giving information to not just that one individual, but the greater public—saving you from having to answer the same question over & over again. For more tips & information on social media customer service, see our tip: “How to deliver exceptional social media customer service.”

2. CA Technologies

Many companies focus all of their efforts to reaching outside customers & the public, but CA Technologies—one of the biggest independent software companies in the world—knows that sometimes your great advocates are your own employees. From the recognition, the company made SocialU, an “internal social media education, training and enablement program designed to empower workers to be active in social media, both internally & externally.” With this, their workers were given tools to be key carriers of the brand’s voice & message, enabling them to advocate on behalf of CA Technologies.

How to apply this strategy?

While this campaign involved over 14,000 employees taking part, your small business could undoubtedly use the power of worker advocacy through social media as a tool yourself. The guide to creating a social media advocacy program includes the following 6 steps to help you with your own efforts, whether big / small:

  1. Create workplace culture a priority.
  2. Create social media guidelines & communicate them to all participants.
  3. Train employees on best practices for chosen social media platforms.
  4. Create a worker advocacy mission.
  5. Appoint worker advocacy leaders.
  6. Track the right metrics to measure the effects of worker advocacy.

If you are looking for a tool to make your worker advocacy program even more effortless, Hootsuite’s Amplify creates the process easy.

3. Purina

You can feel that big brands have an advantage over smaller companies, but something that they should work harder at is building & maintaining an authentic & trustworthy brand voice. While Purina is a leader in the pet industry & one of the most widely recognized pet brands in America, they found in seeming personal enough when compared to smaller. To fix this, Purina launched an “always on” battle. This battle used “social media to highlight Purina employees & fans, which are animal loving people. Those people have real stories & real connections with their pets.” In showcasing those people behind the brand and interacting with fans in a much more way, Purina saw a 100 times lift in mentions on Twitter, a response rate of 86 %, over 5,500 personalized Tweets sent and over 6.5 million personalized impressions.

How to apply this strategy?

  • Keep your cool:If your brand is not one whose voice aligns with using slang or GIFs, do not do it. Forcing anything is the opposite of keeping your cool. Before you do anything on social, think about if it fits your core brand identity & overall strategy.
  • Be egoless:Humanize your brand through being helpless, poking good-natured fun at yourself and being incredibly self-aware. In practicing these main principles, you will help your company be seen as genuine & relatable.
  • Offer peeks behind-the-scenes:Get ahead of something being said about your brand / messaging by being as transparent as possible. As Neil Patel explains, “Being open about your business is a best way to gain people’s trust and loyalty. By sharing problems you can be facing, / by sharing your financial numbers you can help build a larger following.”

4. Coca-Cola

With social media video a developing focus of marketing strategies & communication efforts, Coca-Cola tapped into the popularity to great success. The mega brand launched a global battle to combat prejudice based on personal appearance through a video spread via social media channels, in 2015. Coca-Cola hired a group of very physically different people to a dark Ramadan Iftar and filmed the experience. While the lights were off, the participants spoke, conversed and answered questions. When the lights finally came on, it was to great surprise and ended with the text “Labels are for cans not for people.”

With video an especially poignant solution of emitting emotion to an audience, Coca-Cola select the perfect medium to share their message. It garnered more than 19 million YouTube views, earned over $40 million in advertising & PR value through media exposure, started the second most viral ad worldwide in 2015 via Adweek and earned a 35 % engagement rate on Facebook & 33 percent engagement rate on Twitter.

How to apply this strategy?

Using YouTube & social video is something that most businesses can do, even whether your budget and time does not match that of a company such as Coca-Cola. While big, professional cameras & equipment are not easily accessible by all companies, there’re numerous ways to take your smartphone shot footage & make it something that adds incredible value to your marketing battles. “How to Fuel Your YouTube Video Marketing,” proposes the following tactics for optimizing your YouTube video efforts:

  1. Make your content visible—through the title, description and tags
  2. Utilize YouTube Ads—which you pay for if somebody engages with the ad
  3. Take advantage of YouTube Analytics—to see where you can concentrate your efforts in the future & save time and resources then

5. The New Yorker

One of the challenges faced by social media marketers is the constant pressure to come up with new & unique content that your audience is going to love. The New Yorker, with their 13.5 million followers, recognized that nobody knows what their customer wants more than their customer themselves. With a aim to extend beyond their brand’s organic achieve, The New Yorker is looking to engage with their customer as much as possible. They realized that finding ways to include their readers’ voices on their social channels solves at least 2 problems.

Brands are able to develop the amount of unique content and are able to engage at a higher level with their customer. Speaking to this, The New Yorker shows, “On Instagram, we Regram followers who use #newyorkerinthewild, a popular hashtag that highlights the settings in which our fans read the newspaper. On Twitter, we introduced a dedicated hashtag plan—#myTNY—to foster discussion about readers & staff writers’ favorite New Yorker stories.”

How to apply this strategy?

Running a user-generated plan is one of the most cost-effective ways of making content for your social channels, which means it is perfect for your small business. “Content Marketing Ideas for Small Businesses,” offers the following tips for user-generated plans:

  1. Inspire media-rich, informative reviews.
  2. Let your audiences display the product in the best light with photo reviews.
  3. Repost your customers’ photos.
  4. Whether your product is edible, show off use cases for your products with user-generated recipes.
  5. Held writing contests.
  6. Let your audiences show off the best use cases for your product.

6. Starbucks

When Kim Kardashian accepted the LuMee LED-light infused mobile phone case as the secret behind her glowing skin & flawless Instagram selfies, fans flocked to the creation, purchasing it in droves. An influencer is a powerful thing for content marketers and Starbucks recognized & implemented this in their recent Frappuccino Summer of Fun plan. With Nielsen confirming that “77 % of people are more likely to buy a product that is recommended by someone they trust,” Starbucks used this information to drive their plan.

How to apply this strategy?

There’re influencers in all industries, so your small business could find these individuals with some simple tips.

Step 1: Define your social media influencers (through relevance, reach and resonance)

Step 2: Seek your social media influencers (with tools like through individual social networks, search engines, etc.)

Step 3: Engage with social media influencers (through interacting with their content, participating in conversations, etc.)

Step 4: Maintain relationships with social media (through keeping track of them via Twitter lists, keeping track through Hootsuite Syndicator, etc.)

7. Comedy Central

As a TV series that started out on the web, Broad City had a unique place with a dedicated web-following. When the show started a hit Comedy Central fan-favorite, the makers knew they had to find a way to keep their customers engaged in between the much-anticipated seasons. To do this, they showed the “Hack Into Broad City” campaign, with a web series permitting wing anyone to become a “fly on the wall during the girls’ infamous video chats.”

How to apply this strategy?

Sharing your content across multiple social media & web platforms is a good way for some businesses to make the most of their online product. If you have content that will work for more than 1 of your channels, post it on every network as a way of reaching as many customer members as possible. As you cannot have as much time as a big agency / brand, you can use a tool like Hootsuite to streamline the process of posting to multiple channels at once and monitoring every channel. It’s important to make sure that your website has accessible links to all of the social networks you’re active on, so that your customer can find you on the channels that work best for them. Cross-promotion is a plan that isn’t reserved for big brands only and is something that your small business can use to grow & nurture your customer & audience base.