Social Media 101: Basic Tips & Tools for Small Business

Small Business Social Media Tips

You know your shop needs to be on social media. After all, it’s where your customers are — 75% of adults in the U.S. who are on the internet are also on Facebook. And, according to Ratchet & Wrench, 53% of shops making $2.5 million or more per year are on Twitter.

You’re just not sure where to start. We can help, courtesy of some reinforcement.

We asked a group of marketers and PR people for their tips. And we know that your time, budget and level of effort are in short supply — at least as far as social media goes — so insisted that these tips must require minimal amounts of all three.

Let’s dive in and get you started.

Tip #1: Where to Begin?

Most people recommend actively participating in 1-2 social media platforms instead of spreading your resources too thin by trying to win ‘em all.

A great place to start is by claiming your Facebook page. We often find auto-repair shops that haven’t claimed their businesses online, and meanwhile, customers are leaving feedback and reviews, and checking into those businesses, anyhow.

Even if you don’t intend to monitor your page, claim it, post a handful of photos, fill out a business profile and contact information, and make a one-time post to explain that the page isn’t regularly monitored, telling them to reach you elsewhere.

  • “I recommend everyone start a Facebook page for their business.”  – Samantha, Regpack 
  • “Don’t Create a Ghost Town – social media is just what it says – social. Don’t open five different accounts and only have time to update one. Pick the best ONE for your Customers and commit to creating an active community there. Then, if your schedule allows, add another.” – Sue Laurent, Never Stop Marketing
  • “If you start a blog then post on it regularly. People do not realize they do more damage than good and dilute their brand when they come out of the blocks strong then within a short time period taper off and lose interest.”  – Paige Arnof-Fenn, Mavens & Moguls 

Small Business Tips be social on social media quote

Tip 2: Content — what to post?!

As an auto-care business, your content doesn’t have to be 100% focused on car repairs. Add variety with new and old car news, community activities or charities you and your employees are involved in, funny car posts, road trip tips and customer success stories.

You’ll want to avoid offending anyone by posting about politics, competitors or negatively focused posts. Your business should make your current and potential customers feel good, and your posts should reflect that.

  • “Stay positive. With all of the negative comments that are on social media, it can be easy to want to say something negative back. Always keep calm. Always engage! Even when you think no one is reading or caring,you’ll be surprised to learn that many users do!” – Rachel Coley, The Brandiful Group
  • “Rather than sell, teach. Be positive or motivational – in a world of negative, individuals gravitate toward the positive for longer periods of time.” – John Zanzarella, Silverback Social
  • “Don’t be afraid to be personal. Take your customers along on the journey as you grow your small business. If you get a new office, share it with your customer base! … They may seem mundane to you, but they are very engaging to your customers.” – Shivani, Tea Drops
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Cousins Automotive, Mobile Mechanic, Demonstrates a Broken Ball Joint
Cousins Automotive, a Mobile Mechanic, Demonstrates a Broken Ball Joint. Check out Cousins’ story here, along with a link to his great Facebook page.
  • “Memes are fun ways to create ads that promote your service, event or product in a clever way.” – Sherron Washington, The P3 Solution
  • “Include a picture or a video, it’ll get noticed better than text.” – Rush, Zolt App
Park Auto Service's lighthearted video about a deal brought in more than 7,000 views
Park Auto Service’s video brought in more than 7,000 views. We suspect the views were more a result of their fun approach than for the deals they offered.
  • “Share pics of your product/service, along with some behind-the-scenes shots.” – Carrie Seibert, Soap Commander
  • “Use good quality stock images with your posts and include your branding. Try and avoid using Shutterstock photos if possible. They’re easily identifiable across the web and often ignored. Look for sites like Unsplash for high quality stock that stands out.” – Sam Cameron, Allude
  • “Use hashtags to increase exposure and quickly grow your followers.” – Lisa Masiello,  TECHmarc Labs

Note: Variety matters

  • “Post different content on different social platforms. Facebook is not the same thing as Twitter or as Instagram.” – Malee Lucas, Sacred Fire Creative
  • “Identify opinion leaders in your field. … Look at the content they share and re-share it or use it as inspiration for developing your own content.” – Brian Massie, Taylor Business Solutions 

Posts & Audience

  • “Don’t make it all about you.” – Dave Ruch
  • “Rule of thumb is about 7 non-company posts to every 3.” – Christina Chambers, Chanson Water

Sharing is Caring

Here are 11 auto-care influencers whose posts are worth sharing —

Auto Care Influencers to Follow on Social Media

  • “Share others’ posts, comment, and follow. It is in people’s nature to reciprocate, so the more you give the more you will receive.” – Matthew Odgers, Odgers Law Group
  • “Getting your content shared and shared often is equally important. Social media success is networking and forming relationships with others who have the same goals.” – Daniel Zajac, Finance and Flip Flops

When you’re active on social, let people know!

  • “Add all social media icons on all your marketing materials, website, email signature. … Print a card out and pass out to customers telling them to like our Facebook page and get a coupon on your next visit. Post a Facebook Campaign to let customers know about your business and ask for their support by following you on Social Media. Customers love supporting local businesses.” – Nermala Hariprashad, East Orlando Deals
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When is the Best Time to Post?

Timing matters if you want your posts to be seen. 

  • “Coffee and Cocktails – follow this pattern for posting. People wake up and check their social places and get home in the evening and do the same. 7-9 AM and 6-9 PM.” – John Zanzarella, Silverback Social
  • “Schedule posts. The great thing about a scheduled post is that if you become busy, you still have something going out to your readers.” – Bob Gordan, Berkshire Hathaway

Best time to post on social media - coffee and cocktails

Not sure how to schedule a Facebook or Twitter post? See below, under “Tools.”

Growing Your Following

  • “Get a little help from your friends/family. For any gift-giving occasions, ask for social media support from your friends and family in lieu of gifts. … I ask for support on my personal page with a link to my business page and educate my family and friends about how their support helps my business including detail such as hierarchy for “worth” – ie, FB share is best, followed by comment, and lastly by a like; and of course, I LOVE when one person provides all three.” Amy Landolt, North Shore Acupuncture Center
  • “Don’t get hung up on follower count-Getting hung up on follower numbers cause some people to do silly things like purchase (irrelevant) followers. Don’t do it. Stick to your plan and your numbers will grow organically.” – Eric Brantner, Scribblrs
  • “If robots follow you, you will never build brand advocates because they aren’t real! You want your followers, along with your interaction to be real and organic. P.S. Don’t sweat unfollowers (it will happen).” – Taylor Kloss, Creative TK 

Small business social media tip- ask for follows as gifts

Tip 5 : Tools

  • “Follow a social media expert’s email blog or email newsletter. You can learn bit-by-bit instead of becoming overwhelmed with the wealth of information out there on social media. I recommend the CoSchedule and HubSpot email newsletters to get a few posts sent in one email.” – Amanda Coe, Austin Benefits
  • “ can be used for free and helps you uncover the most popular hashtags in your industry, those that are most frequently retweeted and those that will give you the greatest exposure, helping you to more quickly build your community of followers. Use a free news aggregator like to gather various types of content on subjects.” – Lisa Masiello, TECHmarc Labs
  • “Use Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics.” – Brian Seymour, BioTrackTHC

Not sure how to schedule posts? For Facebook, immediately to the right of the “post” button is a drop-down arrow that allows you to backdate posts, as well as to schedule in the future.

Small Business Social Media Tips: How to Schedule a Facebook Post

For Twitter, log into Tweetdeck using your Twitter account info, and you’ll be able to schedule posts ahead of time, though with some limited functionality (e.g. you won’t be able to tag someone in a photo).

Small Business Social Media: How to Schedule a Post on Twitter

If you’ve found this post helpful, please consider sharing it, and following Openbay on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest for more articles about the auto-care business, as well as more posts we hope you’ll consider sharing with your customers.

Drive safely!