Why small businesses can’t afford not to do social media and how to get started

When you’re starting a small business, there is much to do, so it’s easy to get overwhelmed as things get going. However, there’s one additional thing small business owners can’t afford not to do — starting from the very earliest days of their business.

Social media can be an entrepreneur’s best friend, but only for those who know how to launch an effective campaign.

Why social media is essential for small businesses

Launching a social media campaign is one of the fastest, cheapest and easiest ways to hit the ground running with your new business.  Many entrepreneurs launch their small business and then start to think about advertising a while after they open the doors.

However, anyone who has started a business knows it can take some time before things really start rolling along, and advertising is critical, especially for web-based businesses. Of course, traditional ads like those on TV or radio or in newspapers or magazines can become expensive rather quickly, although this rate of priciness differs from medium to medium.

Social media is often an excellent way to connect and engage with potential customers, even before you open the doors, so to speak. Creating a Facebook page is free, as is posting publicly on your profile. Using the right keywords can attract eyeballs to your business page with little to no upfront cost. Another excellent place to position your business for success with little to no cost is LinkedIn.

While purchasing ads on social media does cost money, an effective social media strategy utilizing just your business and personal profiles can be a great first step toward attracting business.

How to begin an effective social media campaign for your business

Of course, to enjoy all the benefits of a free social media campaign, you have to know what you’re doing. You won’t become an expert overnight, but taking just a few simple steps will help you get your business off on the right foot.

It comes as no surprise that small business owners have a lot on their plates, so as with everything else, it’s important to prioritize your time. When dealing with social media, that means prioritizing which social networks will draw the most attention to your business.

Unfortunately, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution when it comes to social networking. While Facebook may be the easiest option and the closest option to a one-size-fits-all network, it might not be the best source of attention for the type of business you run, although it can be a good place to start if you’re not sure.

Picking the best place to start

The benefit of Facebook is that it tends to reach people of all demographics, although some groups may be spending less time there than on other social networks. With roughly 3 billion monthly active users and over 200 million businesses active on Facebook, it offers a sizable audience. However, the most-engaged demographic on Facebook is adults ages 18 to 44, so if your target customer is older or younger, you might want to start somewhere else.

Twitter also spans a wide audience range, with users spanning the ages of 16 to 64. It’s also sort of a generalist platform like Facebook, except it focuses more on conversations. Thus, Twitter is an excellent place to start if you want to draw your business into public conversations around what you do. Using the right hashtags will also bring some essential exposure to your business.

On the other hand, photo-centric social networks like Instagram or Pinterest may give you some better alternatives to showcase your brand, depending on what it involves. Instagram users tend to be younger, between 18 and 34. The social network also offers in-app shopping, providing an easy way for potential customers to buy from you, and the average user spends 11 hours a month on it.

Meanwhile, Pinterest users tend to be women between the ages of 25 and 34, with only 15% of users being men. This platform also offers shopping, so it can be a great place to be if your brand is visual and targets women. In fact, 75% of Pinterest users say they’re constantly shopping.

TikTok is also a visual-oriented social network like Instagram and Pinterest, but it’s a video-sharing site rather than photos. It’s a great place for creative and visual businesses, but it can take time to make videos for the platform. Additionally, TikTok’s audience is significantly more limited than with other networks, with most users between the ages of 18 and 24.

Fast tips for getting started on social media

After prioritizing which social networks you want to tackle first, you’re ready to get started. Given your time constraints, it can be tempting to create posts spontaneously when you have a spare moment, but social media experts advise against this.

In fact, it can actually take longer to create posts if you don’t plan everything ahead of time. A great way to connect with potential customers is to share what’s happening with your business, whether it’s a new launch, a sale, new products, or anything else. Thus, syncing your social media content calendar with your business calendar just makes sense and makes planning your posts a snap.

You can also save time by scheduling your posts in advance so that they get the most exposure. Tools like Hootsuite, Spout, Feedly, or Tweetdeck ensure that your posts not only go out but go out during periods of maximum usage. You’ll have to do a bit of research to determine what times of day your target customers are using social media so that you can schedule your posts to go up during those times.

Live and learn on social media

Finally, you might need to do some testing and run some analysis to figure out what’s working and what isn’t with your social media strategy. No two businesses are exactly alike, so what works for one company might not work for another.

Paying attention to the types of posts your target customers appreciate and when they get the most engagement will be critical to developing a successful social media campaign.