11 ways to promote your small business in lockdown

Being able to promote your small business on social media and to sell online is essential during periods of lockdown – and it’s also a great way to boost income when life is more ‘normal’.

But it can be tricky to think of how to do this effectively, and without spending any (or more than a tiny amount of) money, can’t it?

If you’re thinking  ‘just how many social media posts can I put out, talking about the amazing stock I’ve got in, or the way that my service will transform their lives?’, I’ve got you.

I’ve got ideas and inspiration for simple ways to get your small business known about on social media – and by the right people!

Here’s a list of 11 ways in which you can really get your business visible, without spending all day in front of a screen.


11 ways to easily get your small business visible on social media

1. Go live!

Use the tools that are right there at your fingertips and ramp up the visibility of your small or local business on social media by livestreaming. You can do this on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook – use whichever social media network your customers are most likely to be on.

Facebook live controls

Going live on Facebook

It can be scary, but if you’re focusing on talking about your products or services, rather than on you, that can take the fear down a few notches.

If you want to get more used to the idea, try creating video using your phone first of all – you can delete it afterwards (or keep it if it’s good!)

Having a friend arrange to join you in the audience might make you feel more confident too.

What can you go live about?

Walk people around your shop, showcasing specific products and sharing your expert knowledge of them; or give them a guided tour of your showroom or workshop, or bakery or gallery … .Alternatively, let them know how your service helps – talk them through a case study, maybe with props, or in the work environment (if it’s safe.)

Going live is a great way to attract people’s attention in the social media newsfeed – your followers will even get notified when you do it! As you’re there, in front of them, they’re much more likely to respond and comment than they are to a written post! And the more people respond, the more your livestream will get shown to more people – it’s the way the social media algorithms work! And the more that happens, the more people learn about your small business, and the people behind it too!

The worst case scenario is that no-one turns up – but your effort won’t have been in vain! On Facebook, your video will be saved to the wall of your Facebook Page and you can always re-share it as a pre-scheduled Watch Party. You can also download it and share it anywhere else online, or copy the link to the post and direct people to it by email or from other social media networks.

On Instagram, you can download your video and post elsewhere, or use it to create an IGTV video, of which the first 60 seconds will be share as a preview post on your main feed if you choose this option.

On Twitter, your live video will be posted as a tweet. You can also download the video, when you finish, to your phone, to save it and post elsewhere.

Going live on Twitter to raise small business visibility on social media

Going live on Twitter

For the best results from going live on social media, let people know about it beforehand. They’ve then got a chance to put aside time to join you. Even better, when you post about your upcoming live on social media, ask what questions your audience might have, and that you’ll answer them live. That way you can get them engaged and active before you even start (and you’ll have some great structure for what to say!). THis will reduce the pressure as you won’t feel you have to talk only about your small business.

(One of the advantages of going Live on Facebook is that you can pre-schedule it and share a link. You can also create a Facebook event to promote it – if people respond to the event to say they’re interested, they will then get to see every post that you share on the event Page.)

As soon as you finish the live on Twitter or Facebook, check for any comments or questions that you might have missed and answer them. This will also add to the amount of engagement recorded by the algorithm, which will boost the reach of your livestream on social media.

And remember to share links to products and services that you’ve showcased, so that people can easily check them out (or tag products from your shop.)


2. Create a sale or special shopping event

If you run a time-limited special promotion in your small business,  in combination with going live on social media, it will give your audience extra motivation for buying straight away.

You might have retail stock that you want to reduce the price of, but a promotion doesn’t always need to be a straight discount.

Using a promotion to boost the visibility of your small business on social media

Using a promotion to boost the visibility of your small business on social media.

Other options that work well include creating bundles of products or services that fit together, with a lower overall price than the individual costs combined.

Or you could offer bundles that include an exclusive product or service that’s only available with the special promotion – maybe it’s personalisation, or a done-for-you service or even an online session to share your expertise and to help guide them to get the results they want.

(How about crafting bundles or offers in collaboration with another, complementary, non-competing business?)


3. Chat in a Facebook group

If you’ve already got a Facebook group for your small business, then why not use it to host exclusive demos, or Q&A sessions, or quick tips, by going live in the group?

People often feel safer asking questions or responding in a group than on public social media, so you may get much more response than you would on your Facebpok Page.

You may also find it more comfortable to mention and recommend your products or services, and to offer personalised advice, than you would on your Page, as you’re likely to know your group members better than people attending a livestream on your Page.

Hosting regular ‘lives’ showcasing products and sharing tips is a tactic much-loved by network marketers to promote their small business on social media, because it works! You could make the occasion more fun by having a theme, or introducing a quiz, or whatever your imagination comes up with!

If you don’t have a Facebook group then now might be the time to think about starting one, as a way to share added value with your customers, and also to keep in touch with them in a light-hearted and personal way.

When a group on social media grows and people start chatting to each other, a real sense of community and belonging can be created, which will last long beyond lockdown and which will be a real asset to your small business in the future.


4. Promote personalised experiences

We all love to feel special, and your customers are no different! If the thought of doing a livestream tour of your shop or premises is scary, then why not offer a 1:1 personalised experience over Zoom? You can then post about this on all the social media networks that you’re on!

It could be a walk around your shop (using Zoom on your phone!), or it could be a skin- or haircare consultation, with the option to buy the products you recommend.

I’ve seen a small, high-end jewellery business promoting a remote afternoon tea and jewellery design service on social media. They deliver an afternoon tea basket and schedule a Zoom call to walk through design ideas.

Promoting a small business personalised offer on social media

Promoting a small business personalised offer on social media


There’s so much scope here for creating both free and paid-for events. Promoting a service like this on social media allows you to dig into the reasons why your customers buy from you and what triggers them to do so (rather than just talking about your small business, products or services.)


5. Set up a shop on Facebook and/ or Instagram

Facebook rolled out a load of new features in 2020 that were designed to help small businesses that were impacted by the pandemic to reach their customers on social media.

One of these was Shops – they enable you to link directly through to a ‘catalogue’ of your products, so that people can buy directly from your Page and/ or Instagram posts. You can also add tags to images and livestreams.

Here’s a detailed walk-through of how to set up your shop from Social Media Examiner

You will need to have products uploaded to a compatible ecommerce website, such as Shopify, but you’re not limited to using this – I’ve seen businesses link to their products in Etsy successfully.

(If you’re in the US you may be able to create your catalogue directly in Facebook.)

Given how readily people buy from seeing an image or video on Instagram (check out these statistics), this is a tactic that should stand you in good stead for months (or years) after lockdown has ended.


Want to easily ramp up the effectiveness of your social media marketing, without having to spend any more time on it?

If you’d like to discover the quick wins that could make all the difference to your social media results, then why not get your copy of my free checklist?

In just a few minutes, you’ll know what’s working well for you – and what you can easily change to get the results you want!

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6. Use the social media features that are the most effective

Each social media network has different features and some of them may be favoured more by the algorithm (the computational thing that determines who sees what in their newsfeed) than others. Some features may be great for attracting attention and engagement from your audience.It’s worth investigating which features might be best to use to promote your small business.

For example – Instagram offers Stories (segments of tiny video clips and images), IGTV (longer videos up to 10 mins), Reels (creative TikTok-like video content ) and Live as well as single and multi-image and video newsfeed posts.

(If you want to discover how to get started with Instagram and Instagram Stories, check out my video here)

Try out different social media features to see which suit your content and your small business best – and which your audience loves best. And please don’t worry about being perfect – more than anything, people want to see ‘real’ content right now, not some highly polished ‘marketing’ piece!


7. Engage!

Nothing increases the reach of your organic social media posts more than engaging with other people’s posts (unless you happen to create a ‘viral’ post – and the chances of that happening are about the same as the chances of finding a four-leaf clover!)

On Twitter and Instagram, it’s really easy to search for profiles of people and organisations with followers who could be interested in what you offer. Start making the effort to engage with the posts that they share and the increase in the impact of your posts will more than repay the time spent!

When you engage with other posts from another individual, organisation, or business on social media, they are likely to notice you and maybe check out your profile and content. An added bonus is that other people who see that business’s posts may well also see your comments and check out your profile too!

If you sell to customers from a local area, think about engaging with locally-based organisations as a starting point.

Using Instagram search to promote a small business on social media

Using Instagram search to find accounts mentioning Devon

8. Join Twitter chats

A Twitter chat is a great way to boost social media engagement for a small business! It’s where a group of people get together at a pre-scheduled time to chat about a specific topic on Twitter. You can find chats based on location (they could be great for you if you’re a local business) and niche – from planning a wedding to holistic health, to marketing, to horse care, to book clubs, and everything in between!

Chats work by using a hashtag – all the tweets in the conversation will use the specific hashtag (such as #devonhour) so if you use the Twitter search function to pull up all the tweets containing that hashtag you can easily respond to what other people are saying, as well as posting yourself.

Using Twitter chats to promote a small business on social media

Tweets from #DevonHour Twitter chat

Twitter chats are a great way to raise visibility of your small business, to quickly build relationships , and to grow your social media followers. For best results, show up regularly and share useful advice and respond to others, rather than sharing only promotional tweets.


9. Consider Facebook boost posts

If you’re on Facebook, you probably know that getting good reach with organic posts there is hard work, because of the way the algorithm works. And if your Page is relatively new, it’s tricky to build a community for your small business for the same reasons.

A quick way to build visibility for your small business is to use a simple boost post. That way, you’re paying Facebook to show your post to exactly the people you want, for as long as you want. So you no longer have to rely on the hit-and-miss nature of organic social media posts – you have much more control.

(Note some marketers are still very negative about boost posts but that is based on outdated information – check out my explanation of this HERE.)

A simple strategy that works really well is to create a short video (remember it doesn’t have to be perfect!) each week that shares useful info or is entertaining and to boost that with a budget of £10 for a few days. Repeat every week, adding in the occasional promotional post.

You will very quickly gain lots more visibility and enquiries will follow!

If you want more info about how to set these up, check out my simple step-by-step guide HERE.


10. Collaborate

If part of your small business activity involves selling at events, fairs or markets (or even if it doesn’t!) why not consider getting together with other businesses to hold a virtual event that you all promote and can all sell at?

I’ve seen this approach used very successfully by small vintage homeware (brocante) businesses who take part in online vintage/ brocante fairs held on social media, usually over a weekend.

In the run-up to the event, the businesses involved will post photos of what they’ll be selling on Instagram/ Facebook, to help promote the event. And then, when it’s live, the selling starts! The organiser will usually have a web page detailing the businesses involved – then each  small business either sells from their website, or directly from posts on their Instagram (or other social media) account (using direct message.)

As you can tell, I’ve followed these events – and bought from them – and have also watched items get sold out pretty quickly!

Collaborating with other businesses as a way to promote a small business on social media

Example of a collaborative online vintage fair 

There’s no reason why this needs to be organised by one business though – it could equally well be a joint effort – and could work for so many small business types.

The advantage of pooling your resources like this is that you all get to reach new audiences on social media, and your combined promotion can build a lot of buzz very quickly!

Could you swipe this idea and use it for your small business?


11. Get in touch!


If you have an email list – use it! (And if not then now is the time to get going with building one!)

Keeping in touch with your audience or customers by email is a great way to let them know about new products/ services or promotions.

However, if your emails are always promotional, your emails won’t be helping you to build relationships or to demonstrate your expertise or vision.

So make sure to send out emails that share value too – from top tips and advice, to entertaining stories, case studies, or news about your sector. (Think about creating emails in a similar way to creating social media posts.) You can still add a call-to-action at the end of a value-based email that reminds your audience about your small business and how you can help.


And here’s a bonus tip – not about promotion so much as making sales :


12. Consider using alternative ways to make sales


If lockdown or restrictions are stopping you from operating right now, there’s no reason why you can’t sell vouchers for a future date. Maybe you could offer a special ‘bundle deal’ or a one-off unique level of product or service that’s only available to purchase by voucher.

You could create unique, personalised experiences by combining the product/ service to be delivered with maybe an online video training session with you, or an audit carried out over email, for example.

Another way to generate income right now is to use Facebook’s Paid Events feature. These are very similar to the usual Facebook Events we’d set up from our business Pages, but they allow you to charge a fee to attend, which Facebook collects on your behalf. (At the moment, they’re not taking any commission.)


Setting up a Facebook paid event as a way to promote a small business on social media

It’s easy to set up a Facebook paid event.


Facebook walks you through setting up the payment option. The event is delivered using Facebook Live within the Event page itself – so there’s no need for Zoom or Paypal integration. It’s a ‘one-stop-shop’!


I really hope that these ideas have been helpful and have inspired you to think of new ways of promoting your business online.

What will you try?

Please let me know in the comments!


Want to make the most of every minute you spend on social media?

If you’d like to discover the quick wins that could make all the difference to your social media results, then why not get your copy of my free checklist?

In just a few minutes, you’ll know what’s working well for you – and what you can easily change to get the results you want!


Click Here for Your Copy