Engaging on Social Media: A Must-Do for Small Businesses

Engaging on Social Media: A Must-Do for Small Businesses

November 8, 2023
(Reading time: 3 - 6 minutes)

Social media engagement has become a non-negotiable component of a successful business strategy in the digital age. But what exactly is it, and why does it hold such significance, especially for small businesses?

Social media engagement refers to interactions between your brand and your followers on various social media platforms. It's not just about accumulating likes or shares. It's about fostering meaningful conversations and building relationships with your audience.

Engaging on social media is a must-do for small businesses as this type of engagement can help establish a strong rapport with clients and gain insightful feedback. It can also enhance brand visibility and, ultimately, drive sales.

The Power of User-Generated Content

One of the most impactful ways to boost social media engagement is by leveraging user-generated content (UGC). This involves encouraging your followers to create and share content related to your brand.

10 Tips on Finding and Sharing User-Generated Content (UGC)

  1. Set up social listening with tools like Sprout Social, Brandwatch, Brand24, BuzzSumo, YouScan, Exolyt, Analisa, Answer the Public, Hootsuite, or Google Alerts to monitor branded hashtags and keyword mentions. This lets you easily discover relevant UGC.
  2. Engage with followers by liking and commenting on their posts. This encourages them to continue creating content.
  3. Search branded hashtags and location tags on platforms like Instagram and Facebook. Look through recent posts for potential UGC.
  4. Run UGC contests and calls to action, asking followers to share photos/videos of your product in use. Provide a hashtag and incentives.
  5. Always ask for permission before re-sharing others' content and provide proper credit.
  6. Consider UGC apps like Tint, Tagbox, Taggshop, Pixlee, Stackla by Nosto, Billo, Bazaarvoice, Yotpo, Social Native, or Collabstr that let you seamlessly pull in and display social content on your website or feed.


A great fictional illustration of this strategy is the landscaping company Georgia's Greenscapes. They frequently showcase pictures of real clients' beautiful gardens and outdoor spaces on their Instagram feed using the hashtag #GeorgiaGreenscapesGardenGoals. This gives them access to a wealth of genuine content, builds a strong sense of community among their clients, and strengthens their brand credibility.

Be Responsive and Engage in Conversation

Never underestimate the power of a simple reply. Responding to your followers' comments and messages clearly indicates that you value their opinions and are open to conversation. This can significantly enhance customer satisfaction and loyalty.

Here are some tips for the section on responding to comments:

Response Time:

  • Aim to respond to comments and messages within 1 hour during regular business hours. For small businesses, a quick response time promotes great customer service.
  • For comments received during off-hours, aim to respond by the next business day.
  • Urgent inquiries should be addressed as soon as possible. Set up notifications so important messages don't get missed.

Comment Etiquette:

  • Respond in a friendly and conversational tone, but remain professional. Avoid overly casual language.
  • Thank users for engaging and being helpful by answering questions and providing useful information.
  • If a complaint arises, empathize with their frustration and offer a solution. Avoid being defensive.
  • For negative or inappropriate comments, respond diplomatically or simply delete/hide them. Don't engage in arguments.
  • Correct any factual inaccuracies in a polite, non-confrontational manner.
  • Use proper grammar, punctuation, and spelling. This represents your brand’s professionalism.

Social Media Manager:

  • Designate a staff member to monitor notifications and respond to comments regularly.
  • Create standardized responses for common inquiries to maintain consistent messaging.
  • Set schedules for coverage if a single person can't check notifications throughout business hours.
  • Use a social media management platform like Vista Social to track and respond to notifications in one place efficiently.

Drive Engagement with Contests

Contests are a fun and effective way to increase engagement. You could ask your followers to comment, share, or like your post to enter or even host a UGC contest. This increases your post reach and encourages active participation from your followers.

Here are some best practices for running contests on social media:

Types of Contests

  • Photo Contests: Ask followers to post photos based on a theme (using your product, seasonal, etc.)
  • Caption Contests: Provide an image and have followers come up with creative captions
  • UGC Contests: Encourage users to create reviews, videos, testimonials
  • Giveaway: Offer a prize in exchange for following, sharing, etc.
  • Quizzes or Trivia: Interactive content that engages followers


  • Offer prizes that appeal to your target audience, like free products, gift cards, discounts, or cash prizes
  • Tie prizes to your brand, like branded swag or a year's supply of products
  • Consider different prize levels like 1 grand prize and several smaller runner-up prizes


  • Keep rules simple and easy to follow, such as entry requirements, eligibility, winner selection process, etc.
  • Post official rules on all platforms and include key details like age limits, location restrictions
  • Disclose if acquiring entries requires following or tagging other accounts


  • Run contests across multiple platforms like Instagram, Facebook, and LinkedIn to maximize reach
  • Leverage built-in features like Instagram giveaway apps or polls


  • Avoid running contests back-to-back, and you should space them out to keep followers engaged
  • Consider timing contests around holidays, product launches, current events
  • Keep contest duration short about 1 week or less tends to work best

Promoting Contests

  • Post countdowns and reminders leading up to the contest deadline
  • Use hashtags related to your contest theme to increase discoverability
  • Promote the contest through email lists, paid ads, influencers

Measuring Success

  • Number of entries received
  • Social reach and engagement rate
  • Follower growth during and after the contest
  • Sales impact, if applicable

Harness the Power of Hashtags

Using targeted hashtags can significantly increase the visibility of your posts. You can use popular industry-related hashtags or create your own unique branded hashtag.

Glossier, the beauty brand, is a testament to the power of effective hashtag use. They created their unique hashtag, #GlossierIRL, which their customers use when posting about Glossier products. This has increased their post visibility and created a vibrant online community of Glossier enthusiasts.


Engaging on social media isn't just an option for small businesses; it's a necessity. It provides an opportunity to connect with clients on a personal level, establish a strong brand presence, and drive business growth.

Remember that engagement is key whether you're just starting out or looking to revamp your social media strategy. Encourage user-generated content, respond to comments, host contests, and use targeted hashtags. With these strategies, you'll be well on your way to creating a dynamic and engaged social media community.

Feel free to reach out if you have any questions or need further assistance in boosting your social media engagement. Let's succeed together in this digital age!