9 Small Business Social Media Success Stories

social media reviewsAre you curious what small businesses are doing to achieve success with social media marketing? Look no further.

This article highlights nine small businesses of various sizes and industries that have transformed their online presence with innovative social media marketing practices.

You’re guaranteed to find inspiration for your social media marketing efforts here.

These tactics will work for just about any business—from solopreneur to multi-employee manufacturer. So let’s dive in!

#1: JarvieDigital Photography

Scott Jarvie takes world-class wedding and nature photographs and he has trained a number of photographers using his unique methods. He’s even had a photographic method named after him: The Jarvie Window.

jarvie digital photography

The Jarvie Window has generated interest in Scott's photography around the world.

As a photographer, you would expect Scott to have exceptional photos on his site, and he does. But he uses them on both Facebook and Google+ to create personal engagement and promote his products and services. In fact, Scott has developed different engagement strategies for each platform.

jarvie google+ page

On Scott's personal Google+ profile, he is highly engaged through sharing resources and commenting.

jarvie google+ page

On his Google+ business page, Scott features his photo services.

While Scott is a premium photographer and trainer, he demonstrates his expertise and generosity to photographers worldwide through sharing resources on his website and through his social sites.

jarvie photo blog

Scott not only shares valuable resources, he also promotes the work of his students—a great way to show social love.

Key Takeaways

  1. Differentiate your social strategies on your personal profile(s) from your business pages.
  2. Freely share resources with your fans as a way to grow your fan base and your perceived expertise.

#2: The Prospecting Expert: A Consultant

Steve Kloyda founded The Prospecting Expert, a business-to-business consulting firm that helps salespeople with their prospecting skills. He has developed a powerful social presence through the use of video and podcasts.

prospecting expert

Steve provides valuable content through a regular podcast show and video channel. Notice also the use of social sharing buttons.

One thing Steve understands is branding. Through the use of his photo and logo, he has created a consistent look and feel across all of his social channels.

prospecting expert

Steve's brand is instantly recognizable. Notice also the friendly picture—important when your face is your brand.

One ninja trick executed by Steve is the creation of an iPhone app for distributing his content. While it could cost from hundreds to several thousands of dollars, the marketing benefit of having your content delivered straight to your users’ mobile devices could be invaluable.

prospecting expert

Let your customers directly access your content on their mobile devices with a customized app.

Key Takeaways

  1. Start a podcast or video show for delivering your content.
  2. Keep your branding consistent across all of your social platforms.
  3. Develop an app for delivering content to your mobile customers.

#3: Coconut Bliss: An Ice Cream Company

Coconut Bliss is an organic dessert company based in Eugene, Oregon. Their products have become widely popular due to their social media practices.

coconut-bliss

Coconut Bliss conveys a fun, social brand through rotating photos on their home page.

Technorati discovered in their 2011 State of the Blogosphere report that bloggers use photos more than any other type of media (80% use photos, around 50% use videos and many fewer for all other formats). Coconut Bliss makes an effective use of fun and friendly pictures to show customers eating their dessert products.

coconut bliss

Coconut Bliss integrates photos across social platforms.

Coconut Bliss makes an effective use of promotions to engage their fans. In this year’s Veggie Awards, they were able to partner with VegNews to offer a unique prize to Coconut Bliss fans while also getting partnership in a much larger promotion to all readers of VegNews. Two smart strategies: contests and partnerships.

Key Takeaways

  1. Invest in a decent camera and learn how to take captivating pictures.
  2. Integrate photos across all of your social platforms.
  3. Make strategic use of contests and partnerships to grow your fan base.

#4: JamaicansMusic: An Online Music Channel

Casey Hibbard highlighted JamaicansMusic in a Social Media Examiner post, but they have some unique social practices worth emulating. After all, they have achieved astronomical growth through smart social media practices—1.5 million new fans in 4 months!

When visiting the JamaicansMusic website, one instantly gets the feeling that this is a social company. In fact, there are three different places on their home page to connect socially.

jamaican music

Make it easy to connect socially, especially if there are multiple offers on your home page.

By providing contests, free music, games and other valuable resources, JamaicansMusic has given their Facebook fans lots of reasons to revisit their pageand tell their friends about it.

jamaican music songwriting game

When playing this creative songwriting game, JamaicansMusic offers fans more ways to connect socially.

Key Takeaways

  1. Provide fans multiple reasons for returning to your site by offering games, contests and valuable content.
  2. Give visitors lots of opportunities to connect socially.

#5: SEOMoz: A Software Company

SEOMoz is a search engine optimization and social monitoring service provider. One thing that distinguishes their site is the use of gaming mechanics to spur participation from their writers and site members. Each post, comment and Like generates points that help distinguish the experts from the crowd.

seomoz member profile

Gaming mechanics encourage site members to actively participate if they want to rank well against their peers.

Not only does SEOMoz invite social engagement on the first visit, they also use social proof to earn the trust of visitors. See the recognizable brands in the image below.

seomoz social proof

If you've done business with name-recognizable companies, ask if you can tell others. It provides significant social proof for your business.

Key Takeaways

  1. Build gaming mechanics into your site to increase social behaviors (Liking, commenting, posting). It will increase engagement and the SEO benefits are huge.
  2. Remember the important benefits of social proof.

#6: Ana White: Carpenter

Ana White is a carpenter billing herself as a “homemaker” who has a website to empower women to do carpentry projects. With over 51,000 Facebook fans, Ana has created a massive following among women (and quite a few men) who love her easy-to-follow blueprints for do-it-yourself furniture projects.

ana white facebook page

Ana's Facebook page has over 51,000 fans. Her fans post tips and projects here frequently.

Since late 2009, Ana has been publishing free how-to guides for furniture. She also asks her fans to post pictures of their success stories—the very thing people love to do (talk about themselves). As a result, she has a very popular site where most of the posting comes from fans. Very smart!

ana white brag blog

Ana's fans love to post pictures of their successful home projects.

ana white bunk bed project

Notice all the social sharing options Ana makes available at the end of the post above. She makes it easy to share with friends.

Ana has also created a very engaged community on her Facebook page that complements, but is distinct from, her blog.

Remarkably, she doesn’t post that often—she doesn’t have to. While she comments on at least half of the posts, her fans are busy posting and answering questions for each other.

Key Takeaways

  1. Create a community where users can talk about themselves.
  2. Empower your fans to share their experiences with other users.
  3. Have clear strategies for your blog and Facebook page.

#7: EasyLunchboxes

Kelly Lester founded EasyLunchboxes out of a personal desire to find healthy ways to package food she sent with her children to school. As a solopreneur, she has found unusual success due to her wise social practices and great social branding.

Her blog presents a clean, compelling look into her company. On her website, Kelly has integrated multiple opportunities to connect socially and to subscribe to her newsletter.

easy lunch boxes singing ceo

In addition to inviting social connections, Kelly has positioned herself uniquely as the "Singing CEO," a title that will be easily remembered.

An important piece of social real estate is the Facebook welcome tab. Kelly makes good use of this space by keeping her brand exciting, telling visitors what to expect from her page and promising valuable content.

welcome tab

Your welcome tab should give visitors a sense of what to expect on your page.

Kelly has created a focused plan to market through Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and her blog. She delivers unique content on each channel and integrates them with each other—all while maintaining her personal life as a mom and actress.

With her acting background, Kelly has distinguished her YouTube channel by creating her own TV series. This includes over 150 videos where she has even given her audience a chance to share videos of why they like EasyLunchboxes.

lets do lunch

If you or someone you know has an acting flair, think about creating your own video series.

Key Takeaways

  1. Take full advantage of Facebook’s welcome tab to let potential fans know who you are and why they should Like your page.
  2. Differentiate your social strategies to match the platform and your skill set(s)—think outside the box if you have some unique talents available like acting or singing.
  3. Take the time to get your visual branding right.

#8: Social Media Explorer: An Agency and Online Service

Social Media Explorer is a business-to-business education and information products company focused on social media and digital marketing.

On their home page, Social Media Explorer has taken advantage of Intent, a Twitter plugin. This allows a user to see if he or she already follows this business.

jason falls twitter

What is seen before following Jason Falls' Twitter account

jason falls twitter

What users see if they are following Jason Falls.

As a blog, Social Media Explorer features numerous guest authors. To show social love to these authors, Jason Falls and Aaron Marshall have prominently highlighted the social profiles of each of their authors. This allows readers to quickly connect with the experts and enables the authors to expand their influence.

jason falls

Each Social Media Explorer author receives prominent recognition for their articles and an easy way for readers to find them on various social platforms.

Key Takeaways

  1. Make it easy for site visitors to follow you.
  2. Show appropriate social love to your guest authors by featuring their social profiles prominently.

#9: Orabrush: A Dental Product

After years of failed attempts to market his innovative tongue brush, Dr. Bob Wagstaff decided to give YouTube a try. Spending only $500, he created his first video. In less than 3 years that video has been seen more than 16 million times and helped to generate over $1.6 million in sales and contracts with Wal-Mart and CVS Pharmacies.

While you can’t guarantee a video will go viral like this, there are some lessons to be learned:

  1. Talk about something that people care about—in this case, bad breath.
  2. Keep your video short—Dr. Bob’s video was only 2 minutes long.
  3. Embed your video on your home page.
  4. Grab people’s attention in the first 5 seconds—with some minor editing, this video incorporates quick, edgy statements that pull the viewer into wanting to hear the solution.
  5. Offer something for free—your first Orabrush is free, if you’ve watched the video.

Here are more tips on video marketing.

orabrush video

Orabrush embedded their popular video on their home page, while answering a problem that concerns many people: bad breath.

Some other best practices used on Orabrush’s website: They made it easy for users to tell their stories with video clips. They also prominently feature quotes from the traditional press on their page. Finally, they make their YouTube channel prominent, because this has been a key to their success.

orabrush

Let individuals and the press sing your praises through videos and quotes on your website.

Finally, Orabrush understands the importance of keeping customers on their website, so they integrated Facebook onto their site.

orabrush facebook page

Integrate Facebook to keep fans on your website.

Key Takeaways

  1. If you have a great product or service, don’t give up on your dream. Instead, think about how social media might help you get your ideas in front of your ideal customers.
  2. Follow best practices for creating quality videos.
  3. Make use of fan and video reviews on your page.

These nine small businesses have many more things to teach other small businesses everywhere, but they aren’t the only ones.

What do you think? What have you learned that you’d like to share? Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

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About the Author, Phil Mershon

Phil Mershon is the director of events for Social Media Examiner. He has worked nearly 25 years in corporate training and management. Phil is also a professional jazz and church musician. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.dirtyseagulls.com/ Dirty Seagull

    I particularly like the first one with the photography. I like the social sharing he does with past students 

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  • PhilMershon

    Thanks for reading. Another thing I like about Scott Jarvie is he will take free pictures of random people and post them to his website. These pictures are stunning and I’m sure he gets new fans as a result (and eventually new business).

  • Jean

    Thank you for this informative article.

  • PhilMershon

    You’re welcome, Jean. I hope you found some ideas you can use.

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  • http://EasyLunchboxes.com Kelly Lester (Easy Lunchboxes)

    Thanks again for the huge shout out about my page SME! I am so excited to share more of my Facebook tips and strategies on Feb 2 during your Small Biz Success Summit :)

  • chicksinger23

    this is a fantastic article! sometimes, I feel like I read through all this stuff about social media and there is nothing to actually learn, just a lot of advertising…I’m putting this in my “reading list” so I can reference it over and over…thanks so much! ;-)

  • PhilMershon

    Thanks, Kelly! We’re looking forward to your presentation.

  • PhilMershon

    Thanks, chicksinger23 (should we understand you’re a female singer? :) )

    I love to learn from examples like this. 

  • http://mightywisemedia.com/ Eric T. Wagner

    Hi Phil.  Thanks for taking the time to really dig into this.  It’s funny, ’cause there are so many ways to attack a social media strategy.  And many of them work exceptionally well.  But at the end of the day, it really comes down to what works best for YOUR business and YOUR customers.  Don’t you think?  :-)

  • http://www.DevaniAnjali.com/ Devani Anjali

    Awesome post! Love the one about the Coconut IceCream and the Alaskan mom who started a blog! Definitely an encouraging read to help the rest of us small biz owners :-)  

  • PhilMershon

    Thanks, Devani. What’s really cool is that several of these businesses were virtually unknown as little as 3 years ago. Social media has helped in a major way.

  • PhilMershon

    Eric,
    I tend to agree. That’s what makes this “social” marketing. You don’t approach relationships in a formulaic way and neither should you with social media marketing. There are, of course, best practices that can help.

    I think you can see that each one of these businesses does unique things based on their market, personality and audience.

    What are your thoughts?

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  • Steve Cornelius

    Brilliant – good to get the variety of content to reflect and most align with my business. Still gathering the knowledge before looking at the plan.

  • Gabriel

    Any idea how Orabrush integrated Facebook onto their site? Thanks, and great article!

  • http://frankjkenny.com/ Frank J. Kenny

    Great cases. Thanks for going through the work of pulling this together. While achieving these levels of success is never easy, seeing common people who have done it is inspirational. Sharing.

  • PhilMershon

    Thanks, Frank. I think one thing all these businesses share is persistence. Their levels of success vary significantly, but they have all seen tremendous growth because of their social media.

  • PhilMershon

    Gabriel,
    I think they are using a variation of the Facebook Like box.

    Thanks!

  • PhilMershon

    Thanks, Steve. It’s always a good idea to create your plan first. 

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  • chicksinger23

    lol! yes! if you have time you can find me at chicksinger.org.  I am moving towards leaving the “traditional” and having my singing/teaching be full time.  I am doing all of my own SM and to see real, working examples of success and WHY they are successful is the entire reason I peruse these types of articles! hope your day is great! ;-)

  • caseyhibbard

    Great stories Phil! Thanks for rounding them up.

  • NyssaYassa

    I am in the beginning stages of starting a new business and I’ve spent some time reading about good social networking practices. I love SME, and I learn something from each article. This one, however, is such a wealth of info, that I too will refer to it again and again! I hope to be reading more of your articles soon. Thank you.

  • PhilMershon

    Thank you, Nyssa. I’m glad this is a good resource for you.

  • PhilMershon

    Thanks, Casey! Of course, you get credit for the Jamaican’s Music lead! But the growth they had in last year’s 4th quarter is staggering (1.5 million between Sept. and Dec.)

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  • roni dagan

    Awesome post!
    Very interesting to see how some SMBs really know how to leverage social media and invest their time in doing so. We are running into SMBs who are very stretched for time, and don’t see how the investment in social media can pay off. Do you think the case studies you presented here are typical? Or is it more typical for certain verticals? would love to get your opinion.

    Roni Dagan
    Co-Founder & CMO
    Brandsforce
    http://www.brandsforce.com

  • Laura Dragomir

    Extremely resourceful… good job!

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  • PhilMershon

    Roni,
    I think you will find that there are SMB success stories in most every industry–these examples certainly cover a wide range. The keys seem to be persistence, patience (don’t give up before you establish a track record), creativity (some industries require more of this than others) and focus (don’t try to do all of it).And, of course, following good principles as practiced by these examples.

  • spike humer

    This is very good stuff, and it is good for those person who would like to open for his/er small business. Thanks for such a post.

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  • Casey Domnick

    Phil,

    What a great blog about social media in small
    businesses!  In this day and age for
    small businesses to be able to compete with larger businesses, corporations,
    and franchises, small businesses need to use every avenue they can to promote
    themselves.  Social media is the best way
    to reach out to the general public and especially the younger generation.  All of these tricks and tips posted on how to
    save money with apps, to different ways to use facebook are great for anyone,
    not just small businesses.  Aristotle’s
    Nichomachean Ethics points out the fact that all human activity aims at some
    good and that the function of human beings will show what the ‘best good’
    is.  It then goes on to say that
    happiness is that which is aimed at for itself and is the goal of our
    actions.  This is what the business
    owners in your blog have set out to do. 
    They have set out to find happiness and have done so by using various
    devices and techniques like that of social media.  Being able to apply social media to find
    their happiness is something not everyone can set their mind to.  In the book Communication Ethics Literacy it says “the area of applied
    communication has come to embrace not only issues of social problems, but the
    marketplace as well, with the aim of developing meaningful connections between
    social goods and marketplace practices” (pg.35).  This is just another great example of how
    applied communication is thriving in the workforce today.  Great insight on social media!

    Casey Domnick

  • http://eclectickle.wordpress.com/ Angelo Barovier

    Fine, fine arty, sir.

    There is no ‘right way’ to conduct social media (way too many variables, starting with the client, product, or service) but I do believe there are solid ground rules to consider.  You’ve accumulated a great many of them here, in one article, easily identified them as Key Takeaways, and all of this from cited examples.  Thanks for giving me this year’s document to thrust at people and save me oodles of explaining.  I appreciate your contribution to my laziness.

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  • http://twitter.com/NeepaSharma Neepa Sharma

    Informative and Inspiring… Thanks a lot for the article! :)

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  • http://deepfootprints.co.uk/ Joel Chudleigh

    Really great to get practical ideas that have already worked for other small businesses. Common thread is great content or product as the basis for the strategy. Without something worthwhile then social media will not work as a marketing strategy as people do not share crap. I saw a good piece analysing how a big business does social media through looking at the Old Spice campaign:http://www.mywebpresenters.com/articles/2012/01/look-at-your-viral-video-now-look-back-at-mine/

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  • http://www.linkedinatm.com/ Jason Baudendistel

    I love this article the great thing about social media is it is such a powerful medium for leveraging your brand and growing on the cheap.

  • Autumn Burns

    Took some helpful notes from the article, thanks.  Also noticed a strategy you used…replying to several comments.  People appreciate the engagement and are likely to follow your articles more often.  Nice.

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  • amoeslolo

    thank you for the information,  knowledge and inspirations you pass and with images it is even better.

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  • Michelle Chu

    Hey Phil! I didn’t know you wrote for Social Media Examiner! I read articles here all the time! I’m actually in Beijing doing digital marketing, so this site is super helpful. Hope you’re doing well!

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  • http://www.facebook.com/KeithEneix Keith Eneix

     Fantastic Post. It’s amazing how social media can affect a business’ bottom line. Another good point to consider is that an understanding of Search Engine Optimization is a great prerequisite for properly managing a social media marketing campaign. Both services work really well together. Google continues to blur the lines between both of these services as natural content and natural linking become more important with each Google search engine algorithm change. Seattle SEO

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  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Justin-Post/100003663653212 Justin Post

    SEOMoz is a great tool – highly reco

  • Susanm

     Just bringing our company into the social networking realm, and I especially like the video lessons to be learned. We’re gong to give it a go!

  • http://www.facebook.com/MobileAppsDevelopersNewYork Cristina Velasco

    Great post shared here….really appreciated

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  • Emilyhf

    I found this blog very interesting. Most of these companies I had never heard of, but their success is worth being knowledgeable about! After reading, I checked out most of the websites and the innovation and creativity is noteworthy and inspirational. My favorite concept is “Social Media Explorer”. What an excellent tool for companies, new and old. Social media blunders are abundant in today’s society, whether that be attributed to lack of education or experience. With this website, companies can educate employees about proper ways to use social media, learn about educational events and raise awareness to new promotional techniques. 

  • Gemma

    Very interesting. I think this shows that almost any company can have a successful social media presence or campaign. I have never heard of a lot of these companies, yet they are still exceeding my expectations in their social media department. This post has a lot of valid points and also good examples of how other companies can enhance their social media.

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