If you want to get more online traffic for your local business, you need to have an active presence on social media. But as small business owners with limited time and budgets, it’s difficult to know which social media platforms are worth your investment. Here are the top eight social media platforms for small businesses that drive the most engagement and highest ROI.
- Monthly Active Users: 2.9 billion
- Largest Demographic: 25-34
- Key Features: Facebook Groups, Facebook Live, Facebook Marketplace, Messenger, Meta Business Suite
- Best for: Images, livestream, text, short-form videos
- Best Times to Post: Mondays – Thursday at 8 AM – 2 PM
Facebook has been around for a while, earning its place as the leading social media platform for monthly active users and second-highest ROI. Social media marketers love Facebook because of the amount of data it collects on its users, making it easy for you to accurately target your audience through paid advertising campaigns.
Because of the platform’s relationship-building features, Facebook is best for e-commerce businesses and community-based brands. Here’s why:
- Facebook Marketplace lets you list inventory for free.
- Messenger helps you solve problems for customers on their preferred channel. Most people in need of customer service will use Facebook over any other social platform to reach out to companies.
- Facebook Groups create opportunities for community-based brands to engage with local customers and prospects through posts, videos, and photos.
BONUS TIP: To start using Facebook in your small business social media strategy, you’ll first create a free Facebook Business Page. You’ll need a personal Facebook profile and the following details about your business: name, address, phone number, business category, service areas, hours, business description, and website URL. If you don’t have a website, this page can even act as a temporary place to send customers online while you build one.
- Monthly Active Users: 2.5 billion
- Largest Demographic: 15-35
- Key Features: YouTube Shorts
- Best for: Long-form videos
- Best Times to Post: Friday 6 PM – 9 PM, Saturday 3 PM – 6 PM, Sunday 12 PM – 3 PM
YouTube is the second-largest search engine and the second-most visited website, falling just behind Google. This social media platform has become the go-to for long-form video, an increasingly popular medium in 2023.
According to Hurrdat’s Social Media Director, Allie Gritt, “The most notable social media trend over the last five years is video. Its popularity has skyrocketed. Platforms like YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, and Facebook have gained immense traction, leading to increased user engagement. Short-form videos, livestreams, and time-expiring content have become key marketing tools on these platforms, offering brands new ways to connect with their audience.”
In fact, 52% of people are more likely to share videos over all other forms of media, and most turn to video content to learn about a brand or product, making YouTube a useful platform for product-based businesses to reach their target audience in a very functional way. Here’s some of the content you can start creating (or have your audience create) to build your YouTube marketing strategy:
- Product-centered “how-to” content
- Customer or staff product unboxings
- User-generated content like product reviews
And while long-form video content is YouTube’s staple, there are several ways your small business could use short-form video on this platform to show off your brand’s personality and repurpose existing content:
- Create a “TL;DR” version of a longer “how-to” video
- Feature shortened clips of customers unboxing your products (with permission, of course)
- Film a quick office tour
- Post funny videos featuring your staff
BONUS TIP: To increase your reach on YouTube, you can apply many of the same search engine optimization tactics you would use on Google to your Youtube channel—like targeted keywords in titles, video tags, and hashtags.
- Monthly Active Users: 2 billion
- Largest Demographic: 18-24
- Key Features: Instagram Live, Instagram Reels, Instagram Stories, Instagram Shopping
- Best for: Images, short-form videos
- Best Times to Post: Monday – Wednesday, Friday at 9 AM – 1 PM
Instagram is one of the best social media platforms for small business owners because it offers the highest ROI for in-app sales and engagement rates that are four times higher than Facebook. This is great news for e-commerce businesses who can use Instagram Shop to drive purchases on the platform.
Since more than 60% of Instagram users are going on the platform to research brands and products, it’s important that your social media content features your company’s personality, values, and how your product solves a user’s problem. Try posting this top-performing media on Instagram:
- Carousels for the highest engagement
- Videos and photos for community-building and customer retention
- Instagram Reels for the highest reach rate
Allie Gritt adds, “Stories on Instagram and other platforms have revolutionized social media engagement. Stories offer a more casual and temporary format for sharing content, encouraging frequent updates, and fostering a sense of FOMO among users. This trend shifted the focus from permanent, curated posts to real-time and spontaneous content.”
BONUS TIP: Regardless of the type of content you post, the keys to success on Instagram are consistency and relevance. If you want your social media profile to be more visible, you need to do more than make engaging, interesting content for your target audience. You also need to stick to a posting schedule, follow related brands in your niche, comment on posts from your customers and industry leaders, and respond to your DMs.
- Monthly Active Users: 1 billion
- Largest Demographic: 18-24
- Key Features: Video editor (Duet/Stitch), music selection, TikTok LIVE
- Best for: Short-form videos
- Best Times to Post: Tuesday – Thursday at 2 PM – 6 PM
TikTok has taken the marketing world by storm as the fastest-growing social media network, giving businesses new opportunities to connect with their intended audience–especially Gen Z. TikTok has the highest engagement rate of any social media platform, even over Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Video is the only type of content available to create on TikTok, and besides a standard video editor that lets you cut and add clips, audio, and filters, there isn’t much in the way of extra features. That said, here’s what you should keep in mind while making content for your TikTok Business Account:
- Keep videos between 15 and 60 seconds. Because this content is so short, you’ll want to master transitions and other popular TikTok editing techniques to keep a user’s attention.
- Stay on top of trending topics and audio by scrolling through your For You page or the search bar. Video trends with effective hashtags and sounds are what perform best on this platform.
- Collaborate with popular TikTok content creators in your niche and have them promote your products or services in an authentic way.
Social Media Director Allie Gritt argues that influencer marketing is the second-largest social media trend in 2023. She explains, “Brands collaborate with influential individuals who have built substantial followings to promote their products or services. This approach leverages the influencers’ credibility and influence to reach a wider audience and build trust with consumers.”
BONUS TIP: Not all popular trends will be usable by your business, so use discretion when jumping into your TikTok marketing strategy. See what content is effective for your successful competitors, taking special note of their hashtags.
- Monthly Active Users: 750 million
- Largest Demographic: 18-24
- Key Features: Filters, Snap Map, Snap Stories, Spotlight
- Best for: Images, videos
- Best Times to Post: Tuesday – Thursday, 10 PM – 1 AM
Snapchat is a personal social media platform that allows users to send temporary photos, videos, and messages. Though a bit more unconventional for businesses, this channel has a lot going for it:
- 90% of 13 to 24-year-olds are on Snapchat
- Users are highly active throughout the day
- Close friends on Snapchat are more effective at driving purchases than celebrities or influencers
So, if your goal is sales and your social media marketing strategy calls for more frequent, short updates and user-generated content, Snapchat is for you. Here are a few ways your business can use Snapchat:
- Snapchat Spotlight. If your business creates consistent, high-quality content, you can get selected for Snapchat Spotlight or featured in the Discover section, which makes your business more discoverable in the Snapchat community.
- Sponsored Filters, Lenses, and Geotags. These location-based augmented reality (AR) features build community and brand awareness when local Snapchat users apply them to messages with friends and family.
Hurrdat Social Media Director Allie Gritt comments, “AR has found its way into social media platforms, enabling users to overlay digital elements onto their real-world environment. Snapchat’s face filters and Instagram’s AR effects are prime examples. AR has created new opportunities for brands to engage with users through interactive and immersive experiences, blending the physical and digital worlds.”
BONUS TIP: Creating a Snapchat business account requires you to first set up a standard Snapchat account, which you’ll use to log into Snapchat Business Manager. Then, you’ll need the legal name of your business, country of origin, and currency before you can start creating content.
- Monthly Active Users: 544 million
- Largest Demographic: 18-29
- Key Features: Hashtags, Twitter Communities, Twitter Verified
- Best for: Images, short-form text, short-form videos
- Best Times to Post: Tuesday – Friday, 9 AM – 2 PM
Because of its short-form, text-based structure, Twitter is the social media platform for breaking news. While many journalists use this channel, it’s still one of the best social media platforms for businesses.
Here’s how to use Twitter for business:
- Add photos, GIFs, and polls for 35% more engagement
- Encourage live tweeting during a company event (bonus points for creating an event hashtag)
- Curate your timeline with customized lists to keep track of potential customers, competitors, and influencers
- Host or participate in Twitter Chats or Twitter Spaces to answer commonly asked questions from your customers
- Consider Twitter Blue, a monthly subscription for the verification badge to increase visibility and credibility, especially for industries like retail where trust is essential
- Use Twitter Communities for engagement and customer service, not promotion
Businesses like using Twitter because shorter content takes less time and effort to produce, allowing you to post more often.
BONUS TIP: With advanced search features native to the platform, Twitter also gives businesses a front row seat to customer interactions. Your business can gain valuable customer insight by seeing what the community is saying about niche topics and products when you search hashtags, location tags, and the “Trending” section in search.
- Monthly Active Users: 450 million
- Largest Demographic: 25-34
- Key Features: Pins, Boards, Pinterest Catalogues, Pinterest TV
- Best for: Images
- Best Times to Post: Sunday – Tuesday, 8 PM – 11PM
Pinterest tends to fly under the radar when compared to other social media platforms, which might be a big reason why 90% of users call it a “social media oasis.” Here are the advantages of Pinterest for small businesses:
- You have a fighting chance. Almost all searches on Pinterest are not brand specific, so your small business doesn’t have to lose against big names in your industry.
- Your audience is typically ready to buy. Most users are searching the platform with the intent of purchasing. In fact, 85% of weekly users purchase from a brand they found on Pinterest.
- Pins have longevity. Rather than posting daily, you can perform well just by posting weekly on Pinterest. Pins could see a spike in engagement depending on the season, trends, or location over many days or months–something that’s virtually unheard of on other social media platforms.
Small e-commerce businesses can greatly benefit from using Pinterest and its buyable pins because of these advantages.
While there are many types of pins small businesses can create—from a Static Pin to an Idea Pin—all pins are image-based. The best performing content on Pinterest has great lighting, framing, popular topics from Pinterest Trends, and some strategic text.
- Monthly Active Users: 141 million
- Largest Demographic: 30-39
- Key Features: Networking groups, job search, job postings
- Best for: Long-form text (like articles or guides)
- Best Times to Post: Tuesdays and Wednesdays, 10 AM – noon
Unlike other platforms on this list, LinkedIn isn’t customer-centered. LinkedIn is the only social media platform geared towards B2B communications, and nearly 85% of LinkedIn users consider it the most effective social media platform for recruiting employees.
So, if you’re a well-established small business with goals to recruit and network, try posting content to LinkedIn about your day-to-day business operations, industry expertise, and company culture rather than product or service promotion.
To get strong engagement on LinkedIn, you should post long-form content (1900 to 2000 words) in the following ways:
- Listicles and “how to” posts—these perform the best out of all other post types
- With images for a higher comment rate and click-through rate
- With videos for five times more engagement
Your LinkedIn profile also impacts your reach. To get 30% more weekly views, you’ll want to complete your careers page on LinkedIn with information about the culture of your company and current job opportunities.
Here are some of the features you should take advantage of when building your careers page on your LinkedIn profile:
- High-quality photos and videos
- Industry- and geography-specific targeting
- Fleshed out job listings
- LinkedIn groups to cultivate community and build credibility
BONUS TIP: Since a LinkedIn profile comes a bit later in your small business marketing process, you may already have a lot of the content needed to start your profile, but you’ll also need thought leadership content. To search for ideas as you start out, look at how your competitors structure their LinkedIn profiles.
Need help driving traffic and conversions by optimizing your small business presence on different platforms? Local Search Fuel by Hurrdat offers local SEO solutions to help small businesses find customers online. Get started today!
Data from We Are Social and Hootsuite’s Digital 2022 October Global Statshot Report, 47 LinkedIn Statistics You Need To Know In 2023, and Social media demographics to inform your brand’s strategy in 2023
Stefanie Vanderbeek is a content strategist and writer who specializes in long-form digital content and website SEO optimization. Stefanie earned her Bachelor of Journalism from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in Advertising and Public Relations in 2021. In her free time, you can find Stefanie reading, deep diving into video game lore, singing in her professional vocal group, or traveling the world!