Ask an Expert: Shelly Burr on Small Business Social Media Marketing in 2020 and Beyond

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Small businesses are a very important part of the U.S. economy.

In fact, according to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA), 99.9% of all businesses in the United States are small businesses. Furthermore, according to the most recent numbers available, in 2016 small businesses employed 59.9 million people or 47.3% of private-sector employees in the United States.

That said, it is also important to point that while starting a business is a worthwhile and needed endeavor, it won’t necessarily be easy.

According to the SBA, under normal circumstances only about half of all establishments remain in business five years or longer.

And, as we all know, 2020 is anything but normal.

Nevertheless, there is one upside to this tumultuous year… the fact that many shoppers are planning to do more shopping at local small businesses. This is something that small businesses can take advantage of this holiday season.

Another trend that small businesses need to consider is the fact that social media usage and engagement are up this year and this trend could continue long after life returns to normal.

This makes social media an even more important way to connect with potential customers online.

Therefore, I was happy when Shelly Burr, owner of Voila! Media Group, offered to lend some insights into what small businesses should be doing to connect with their customers and potential customers on social media in the current business environment.

Shelly Burr’s Social Media Marketing Advice to Small Businesses

In your opinion, what is the most important advice that you give to small businesses when they’re planning their social media marketing strategy?

Shelly Burr: Talk about your customer’s problems. For clients and future clients to truly connect with you online, they need to feel that you are there for them, understand their problems, and give them the information they find valuable. Give more than you ask for. We recommend a 3 to 1 ratio of giving to asking. 

Experts often advise that businesses should “connect with customers where their customers are.” With this in mind, what social media platforms do your small business clients have the most success with? And, is there a new social media platform that you think more marketers should be utilizing? 

Shelly Burr: Different platforms attract different crowds, so be sure you know who your target audience is. LinkedIn demographics favor those with professional careers. Facebook is still the leader for reaching parents and grandparents, while teenagers prefer Instagram and Snapchat. 

TikTok is obviously the hot app right now — everyone’s been talking about it. Although the future of the platform remains uncertain, and it’s certainly not for everyone, it does highlight a consumer preference for short-form, video content. It may be worth brainstorming how your business can take advantage of these trends.

Let’s ask the question that’s on everyone’s mind. Has the COVID-19 pandemic changed the advice that you give to clients regarding social media marketing? If so, what adjustments are you recommending? 

Shelly Burr: Social media is the place to be during a pandemic. Consumers have downtime for social scrolling and the need to social distance leads to more online spending. It’s never been more critical to develop a consistent online presence and to portray your brand as sympathetic and approachable. 

It’s also crucial to keep in mind that many have seen a decrease in income as a result of COVID-19. Communicating your products’ and services’ value will justify purchases, even when budgets are tight. 

Focus on consistency across platforms and mediums, and if you only have time to create content for one platform, then focus on doing that really well before spreading yourself too thin. 

On your website, you have a document that can be downloaded that lists 6 tips to increase social media engagement. Is there one tip that you would be willing to share here?

Shelly Burr: Everyone wants to feel like the comment they made matters and has been heard. Remember to engage and continue the conversation on your social media channels. 

You should monitor your posts and add more value to comments, answer questions, ask questions back, give a link to one of your blog posts, or to another blog post, or just appreciate that someone took the time to comment on a post by liking the comment. 

Facebook gives your posts more reach, the more it’s shared and the more comments that are made. 

Shoppers always plan to do some online shopping during the holiday season. With the pandemic, this habit will only increase. It should also be noted that 66% of shoppers report plans to patronize local small businesses more this year! With this in mind, what social media marketing advice would you give to small businesses to cash in on these trends? 

Shelly Burr: Right now, your website is your MAIN LOCATION.  Right now, more people will visit your social media or website than your physical location.

Make the best use of your Facebook page, your Instagram channel, and your website. Since many social media posts direct people to take action on your website, you need to make sure your website message is clear. 

People don’t want to waste mental energy trying to figure out what you do and how it can help them. Make sure you say exactly what you offer, how people can get it, and how it will benefit them now or in the long run. 

Voila! Media Group offers social media kits to help small businesses plan and manage the content they create in order to best reach online consumers. How successful have these social media kits been? Is there evidence of a return-on-investment? 

Shelly Burr: We’ve been thrilled to see our social media kits used by leaders across all industries. Our clients report increased reach, engagements, and conversions.

Each kit helps busy business owners stop their stressed-out scrolling and reclaim the time they spend trying to create content, images, and a social media plan. They also help with organization and are packed full of ideas and prompts for additional posts. 

Business owners can focus on their passion while we transform it into profit… without breaking the bank. 

Here is what a few of our clients had to say about using our social media kits: 

I no longer have to worry about what to post, this is packed full of ideas to make it easy and save me a ton of time!” – Lori 

With the monthly social media kit, I’ve gone from stress to social media success. It’s easy to use and I’m seeing increased engagement too!”  – Emily

Final Thoughts    

I want to thank Shelly for taking the time to answer my questions.

By the way, I met Shelly on Alignable. As they describe it, “Alignable is the online network where small business owners across North America drive leads and prospects, generate referrals, land new business, build trusted relationships, and share great advice.”

I would suggest that you start to use Alignable. It has the potential to put you in contact with some very knowledgeable small business owners, like Shelly.

You can contact Shelly at:

Shelly Burr

CELL: 715.808.1610 
MAIN: 1.877.522.2988 Ext.

Successful Business Owners Group: 
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Chad Thiele

Chad Thiele

I am a marketing analyst and strategist. I earned my master's degree from West Virginia University in Integrated Marketing Communications in 2023. I also hold a bachelor's degree from UW-Madison in Sociology with a Concentration in Analysis and Research, and I completed the Mobile Marketing Professional Certificate Program from Auburn University in 2015.