4 entrepreneurs share advice on using social media to turn followers into customers

  • Social media can help small businesses generate loyal fans and paying customers.
  • Four entrepreneurs shared their strategies for social media, including cross-platform promotion.
  • Business owners don’t need hefty budgets to build successful campaigns, they told Insider.

Before she launched her company, the financial coach Lisa Andrea hated social media.

She didn’t have any personal profiles and never doomscrolled through news feeds. But what persuaded her to join was the need to grow her coaching business and find customers online.

Two months after she launched The Financial Cookbook, a digital financial coaching guide, she took to social media to share money, career, and stock-market advice and discover customers. Today, her content is shared across TikTok, Pinterest, and Instagram — platforms she has grown to more than 240,000 total followers — and she’s built a profitable business based on brand partnerships, website ad revenue, affiliate marketing, and products and services. 

“When I started The Financial Cookbook, I had to learn everything over time,” said Andrea, adding that she studied other creators’ YouTube tutorials. 

Founders of all industries use social media to generate sales from about 5 billion global users. Like Andrea, many small-business owners have launched comprehensive social-media marketing campaigns that include strategies such as influencer marketing and trend repurposing. 

Four founders shared their experiences with social media and best practices for turning followers into customers. 

1. Use cross-platform promotion to grow effectively

With so many social-media apps available, it’s important for business owners to live on multiple platforms, Andrea said. The most time-effective way to do so is through cross-promotion, meaning any content shared on one platform can be repurposed for another, she added. 

User-generated content — where a company account posts content shot or filmed by users — is another way to repurpose content, said Delsy Gouw, an entrepreneur. Memorial Day, Gouw’s line of hand-crocheted bathing suits and accessories, blossomed from a side hustle into a full-time company after she reposted photos of celebrities wearing her products. For example, photos of the musician Dua Lipa and the model and influencer Kiko Mizuhara appear on the Memorial Day Instagram account. 

A post shared by MEMORIAL DAY (@its_memorialday)

“My initial strategy was to work with smaller influencers, because you never know where it can take you,” Gouw said. “Once one celebrity wears it, then another celebrity wants to show their support.”

2. Create content the algorithm will reward

Social-media algorithms are constantly changing: Recently, Instagram changed its algorithm to push video content instead of still images.

“It’s important that you understand the algorithm changes because that’s ultimately what’s going to make you successful on social media,” Andrea said. 

She conducts research on algorithm changes by watching YouTube videos from full-time creators and reputable social-media coaches. 

“Now is the perfect time to utilize these apps, because TikTok is still so new,” said Kelsey Floyd, who runs a pottery business called My Muse Pottery as a side-hustle to her social-media career. “Because TikTok is such competition, Instagram created Reels. They are really pushing to keep small creators on their app.”

A post shared by Kelsey Floyd (@kelsrfloyd)

3. Use influencers to expand your audience

Influencer marketing is a continually growing sector of social-media marketing. Small businesses should also test out branded partnerships and paid ads with nano-, micro-, and macro-influencers, said Kar Brulhart, a  social-media coach and expert. 

Even small businesses lacking hefty budgets can tap influencer marketing by combining monetary payments with free products, Brulhart added. 

She and her clients compile lists of all the influencers they hope to partner with, contact them, include a pitch deck about a potential partnership, and explain their preferences for branded posts. 

But small-business owners should be sure to include contracts for all branded partnerships, she said. 

“The No. 1 mistake people make with influencers is that they just send them a product, and then tell them to send them photos and post about it,” she said, explaining that a more concrete agreement should be put in place.

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