Social media is a powerful tool for small businesses to utilize, but it can also be overwhelming and difficult to understand at times—especially when it comes to advertising. While understanding the social universe can be daunting, you can develop skills to help you confidently share your small business brand with an ideal audience. Here are some tips to ease the discomfort of using social media to help promote your small business:
1. Familiarize yourself with the tools you will be using.
Before entering the social media world, explore different social media platforms to see what channels and tools might work best for your marketing goals and audience. While platforms like Instagram, Facebook, TikTok, and LinkedIn may have some overlapping purposes, you’ll find different audiences on each platform. If you’re curious about who’s using which platforms, do a little research! This data from the Pew Research Center could be a good starting point.
In addition to familiarizing yourself with the various platforms, you can also explore online resources already available to you. Here are some of the free tools you can use to help inform your business’ social media strategy:
- Google alerts and SocialMention for monitoring mentions and internet activity related to your business
- Google analytics to help you evaluate the performance of your content
- HootSuite and Monday to help you manage your content calendar
- HubSpot and Linkedin Learning (which is often free through a library membership) for further education
2. Know your audience.
The most impactful platforms depend on where your audience is most active. It’s also important to determine what platforms best fit the audience your small business is trying to reach. Ask yourself questions such as:
- What is my audience interested in?
- When will my audience be most active on social media?
- What platform does my audience already have access to?
Once you know your audience, you can also micro-target within that group by catering your content to specific people.
3. Repurpose your content.
Although it could seem like a bad idea in the media world, repurposing your content can actually save you time and money. If you are using multiple channels, customize your content for each platform. Don’t post the same thing on every account. But rest assured, you do not have to create totally new content! For example, a longer blog post could become a quick tip video on TikTok or a post on Instagram.
4. Create a content calendar.
Content calendars can be very useful in keeping things organized when creating content for multiple platforms. Scheduling things out weeks or days in advance is also a great way to address problems or issues in content performance. Content calendars also allow time for businesses to think about what the audience is asking—what kinds of problems do people have that your business can solve?
5. Focus on quality over quantity.
Quality is important for the growth of a business. If content is consistent, then your brand will build a bond of trust with your audience. Although quality is more important than quantity, consistently posting content is also very important. Especially starting out, it’s imperative to establish a strong social media presence rather an inconsistent one. Developing content can take a lot of time, so look for opportunities to partner with others. For example—a water bottle company can partner with a brand of water. They are able to work together to create content for both businesses’ social channels.
So why does social media matter for small businesses anyway?
Social media tends to majorly influence how most Americans get their news, interact, seek out content, and find new products and places. Social media is a place for businesses to get their names and brands out there. If you want your business to grow, social media is a great way to start.
Betsy Anderson, Ph.D., APR, has a professional background in public relations and is an active member of the Minnesota Public Relations Society of America (PRSA). At Bethel, she teaches courses such as Writing, Content Strategy and Creation, Corporate Communication, and Social Media Strategy in the Communication Studies Department. Her research interests focus on how emerging technologies impact the work of communication professionals.