An Introduction to Social Media for Small Business Owners

From creating content to engaging with customers, you may think there’s not enough resources or time in the day for your business to be active on social media. However according to emarketer, between 46% to 51% of US adults are using social networks more since the pandemic began. So, while starting social media may seem overwhelming, it’s actually more important than ever before. 

In this article we’ll cover the basics behind social media, from what it is to how you can start planning your content.

What is social media?

Social media is a form of online communication that lets people from all across the world engage with each other. Anyone with a smartphone, tablet, or laptop can create a profile in seconds.

Social media is most commonly used to connect people with their community, whether it’s with friends, family, or coworkers. Depending on the platform, users can post photos, videos, status updates, and more for their followers to see. Every platform also has an algorithm, which is the mathematical coding process that identifies content users will likely enjoy based on their online behavior. This content is then surfaced to their “feed”, where they can like, share, follow, or comment on it. 

Is social media right for my business?

According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of the public uses some type of social media today. With so many people actively engaging online, social media is an opportunity to spread the word about your business to even more people. Simply put, wherever your potential customers are spending their time, that’s where your business wants to be.

Advertising is another reason why many businesses use social media. Running a social ad campaign can be a simple and affordable way to target the right people and reach more customers. As a bonus, social media ads can increase brand awareness and engagement, and more engagement equals more word of mouth and more customer loyalty.

Best of all, creating and posting content has become much easier than ever before. There are a number of free online tools you can use to create engaging social content (e.g. Canva, Easel.ly, and more) without the requiring a lot of time or expertise.

Where do you start?

It might take some time to see the long-term impact, but when done correctly, social media can offer your business a lot of value. If this is your first time venturing into the world of social media, getting started is easy as filling in some information and clicking a few buttons.

1. Create your business accounts

Many platforms have made their sign up process easy and intuitive. If you’re just starting out, start with just one platform at a time. Once that first platform feels familiar and you know how it works, then you can move onto another. That in mind, not all social media channels are useful for all business types. Here are a few considerations to keep in mind:

  • Facebook: Facebook has changed a lot since its launch. While it used to be for sharing photos, videos, and status updates, today many businesses use Facebook primarily for affordable advertising.

  • Instagram: Does your business take lots of photos and videos? Instagram is a great visual platform where you can share photos and videos of your products and business (e.g. a restaurant posting photos of their seasonal specials or a photographer sharing their portfolio).

  • Twitter: If your business has news to share on an ongoing basis, Twitter can be used to share news and real-time updates with all of your customers (e.g. share your upcoming schedule, sales, and business milestones).

  • Pinterest: Does your business include visual work, such as food, design, or art? Pinterest can be a great channel for discovery and community building. 

  • LinkedIn: If your business revolves around professional development, LinkedIn is a useful platform where you can post jobs, business updates, and network with people.

2. Share engaging content

Being on social media also means you can (and should) actively engage with your followers through content you post. Sharing information with potential customers through videos, photos or simple status updates can help them decide if your business is the right fit for their interests and needs. If you don’t actively post, your audience will slowly stop engaging, leading them to unsubscribe or unfollow your account.

Think about an engagement strategy to filter out what type of content your followers would or wouldn’t enjoy. Social media is used to help educate potential customers, so it’s important to create content that’s engaging and useful, such as announcing a sale or new product releases.

Another consideration is how often you post. Posting too much or too little can actually decrease engagement, so finding that balance is essential to keep your audience’s attention. Making a content calendar can help track what you want to post, where it’s being posted, and when it’s being posted.

3. Build your online community

With social media, you’ll be able invite new and current customers to engage with you on a more personal level. Using tools like livestreams, polls, countdowns, and asking questions can make your community even more engaging.

Ultimately, social media is another great way for your business to communicate with current and potential customers. It’s never too late to get started using social media!

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Rachel Taylor