Top Tips for Social Media

I’ve picked my top ten local businesses on social media based on how they’re effectively using simple social media tactics available to everyone.


Personality can be hard to get across, but two local businesses smash it – The Vaults Real Ale Bar for the feel – good videos that always make me laugh and capture the team spirit and Colour Me Sophie B for pure sass and positivity. The secret is to be confident about who you are and what you represent.


Consistent content across images, video production and stories can help tell your brand story and reinforce your brand values. Jacques of Knowle do this beautifully. You can get help creating brand guidelines, or you can create your own using a framework to take you through fonts, colours and style.


Great images sell great products and 1683 The Chocolate Place have nailed it with the images they use, whether featuring a collection or a single flavour, the pictures of chocolates are mouth-wateringly tempting. Whether you use a local photographer or take your own, think about composition and lighting, and any style guidelines you’d like to follow to tie your images together.


Video is something most of us cringe at, and don’t particularly relish, but videos are an incredibly effective way of connecting to customers, especially in lockdown. You can say so much more, talking to the camera as if they’re a customer. Two great businesses who regularly post good videos showcasing their products are Cristal Ladieswear and The Sale Room. As other retailers say, sometimes you just have to go for it and post it. Your video will be better than you judge it, and with practise you’ll get even better.


Competitions are a great way to both create engagement and spread news about new products & services. They can be used to ask followers to create slogans, send in photo’s, review products or sign up to something – check out Eric Lyons who have used competitions effectively including promoting their new YouTube channel, and, just for fun, running a fantasy football league.

Local Love

Promoting the support local / support small message is something close to my heart. By talking about supporting small businesses, you’re contributing to your own brand ethos and story, as well as supporting your neighbouring businesses. Freda’s Deli consistently and eloquently promotes the shop small / shop local message and is a real High Street Champion.


It’s hard to know how much to talk about Covid-19, but customers do like to know you’ve got everything in place to keep them, your team and everyone else safe. Isabella Independent Hearing, who are open during lockdown, post about the measures in place to keep their customers safe.


Social media is so much more than posting your own news. To really make it work for you, connect and engage with your local community – your customers, your local businesses and wider network. Comment on other people’s posts. It can be a quick emoji, or you can start a conversation that builds. There are lots of businesses that do this consistently locally, and as a result, they steadily build their own followers. It’s hard to single any one account out, but look at Achill House and Spa over on Instagram.

Of course, there’s more in the social media toolkit, including stories, tagging, hashtags, linking your online shop and advertising but the first steps are all about creating content. Build your social media confidence and knowledge by following accounts you admire, listening to experts and building your own toolkit step by step. It’s not just the national retailers who are making social media work for them. Independents are making the most of social media too. Check out the Instagram & Facebook accounts for everyone I’ve tagged for a little inspiration.

Hashtags for Independent Retailers

Some local retailers have been asking about hashtags and how they can use for their business, so here’s a quick guide.

Why use hashtags?

Hashtags help people find content they are interested in. By clicking on a hashtag, users can see posts using that hashtag. If you follow a hashtag, it will automatically appear in your feed in Instagram and LinkedIn. You’ll also be able to find and join conversations around that subject. If you’re content is engaging and relevant to that hashtag, you should find customers interested in you and what you are talking about. In turn, they may then follow you.

Make sure the hashtags are relevant to your brand & message.  

Keep a list of hashtags including brands, place and sector hashtags, then target and match the most relevant ones to individual posts  

Use tools to find the most popular & related hashtags for your sector

Understand how others are using hashtags, & learn from them  

Use hashtags of brands you stock  

Use analytics to see which hashtags are working best for you  

Don’t use the same list of hashtags with every post

Don’t go over overboard with hashtags. You can use up to 30 on a post on Instagram but 9 is the recommended optimal number, and 10 for a story  

Don’t inadvertently spell out an unwelcome word or phrase when you merge the words together! Check your hashtag works before posting

Don’t forget to refresh your list once in a while and find out the latest trending hashtags

How to use them

You can post hashtags at the bottom of the content. On Instagram you can add them more discreetly in a comment once you’ve posted, making your post looks less cluttered. You can also hide hashtags within your post on Instagram. Follow hashtags too so that you can take the opportunity to be part of conversations.

Hashtags for independent retailers

To promote independent retailers and to connect to those following shop local campaigns, take look at the hashtags below for independent shops.

Placing yourself in your locality and surrounding areas is also important, so use local hashtags, or tag in local campaigners. Also use hashtags relevant to your business is important too. Take a look at what your business neighbours are using to find the right variant for your area.

Hashtags related to a day of the week can works for your business if you can relate the theme to you in a relevant way. Running a campaign over a number of weeks can work well.  Bring it all together and a running shop could use #run #solihull #mondaymotivation #shoplocal on a Monday post talking about planning your runs for the week ahead.

For independent’s











Daily Themes











Local hashtags

#your town
e.g #Solihull

#visit[your town]
e.g. #visitSolihull

#love[your town]
e.g. #loveSolihull
Sector Specific

#[your sector]
e.g. #bikes

#[your passion]
e.g. #cycling

e.g. #velo

Campaigns to follow and join in with

There are a number of campaigns through the year, and if you are joining in, tagging the campaigner means they are more likely to see the post, leading to possible comments and shares. Not only can you join in with campaigns, but they share useful tips and advice, so they are worth a follow throughout the year.

@Savethehighstreet – driving footfall to the High Street

@totallylocally – promoting FiverFest

@smallbizsatuk – promoting small businesses and deliver the Small Business Satuday campaign (1st Saturday in December)

@independentsdayuk – promote the shop indie campaign on July 4th

@shopindieuk – run the BestSmallShops competition

@justacard – encouraging people to support and buy from artists, crafters, independent shops


Hashtags are there to join a conversation and let others looking for conversations about their particular subject find you. They help you target customers interested in the same things as you. The golden rule is to keep them relevant to your message, your sector and your locality. Don’t forget to keep a list of your core hashtags, so that when you’re posting, you’re not racking your brain trying to remember exactly what they are!

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