Small Business Spotlight: Marketing through social media pays dividends for small businesses

With thousands of businesses vying for attention on social media, companies must offer something unique to grow followers and clientèle.

The social media savvy Broden believes authenticity has helped with the success of Cooking with Que, which brought in $775,000 in revenue in 2021 and expects to surpass $1 million this year.

“I didn’t want to be like anybody else. I wasn’t trying to re-create the wheel, though. People go for what they like and what they feel a company gives them in terms of a good product and customer service,” she said. “I wasn’t going to give anyone anything I didn’t try myself. You get some people who project one image to sell a product but who’d never actually use that product in their daily lives. I just wanted to show people what I knew and it’s worked out so far.”

Companies use the different social media platforms for different purposes and to reach different followers. Marketers will find about 75 percent of U.S. Instagram users are 18-44 years old, versus 62 percent of Facebook users in the same demographic. Sixty-nine percent of Twitter users are 18-49 years old while teens make up the largest group on TikTok’s short-video platform.

“I use Facebook for the Live feature,” Broden said. “People on Facebook love to interact with you. They want to feel like they’re your family. For me, they want a recipe easily, and right in front of them. On Instagram, they more so want to see images and for those images to tell a story.”

Broden also pushes social media followers to her website where they can buy weekly meal plans, find recipes and make reservations for The Kitchen.

Gazelle uses Instagram’s “stories” feature to showcase products with links to purchase. A “shop” tab on its Facebook page features a handful of hot items that with one click can be viewed and purchased on the Gazelle website.

“We have full strategies built out for every platform we utilize,” Gazelle’s Cross said. “We lead with our best brand forward, then determine how that shows up in email, social media, our website, and other platforms.”

Not every post should focus on selling a product, as consumers want to be engaged and even get to know a business owner.

Broden plans each post. Each week, she posts a recipe, a “Que” tip that focuses on food prep and preservation and a “Day in the Life” post that gives followers a look at how her business operates and a bit of her personal life.

“You don’t want to post every day because people may get tired of you, but you have to post frequently so your customers and potential customers know you’re out there,” Broden said. “If you don’t post, the algorithm the sites use can see that and kick you off a lot of feeds, so users of the platform could forget about you.”