Social Media and Small BusinessSocial Media with all its complexity and platforms can be a scary place for a small business, and those who don’t have experience with social media platforms may be completely scared away. However when a small business is determined to grab social media by the horns, that business will reap benefits in no time at all.

Here’s what small business owners need to do to understand social media, and prepare themselves to embark on a social media journey:

  • Start Small: Although that may sound simple, it’s crucial to social media success. As a small business your time is already limited. Set aside a little time to make social an addition to your current day to day activities, and do not allow it to drown you. Figure out which social platforms will best suit your marketing needs. Do not dive into every single platform that is out there because it seems like you need to. It’s not necessary and you will find yourself overwhelmed. Once you have picked a platform, learn the rules of opening a business account on that platform, get a feel for how others use the platform, figure out what kinds of posts get the most engagement, and most importantly think about your business and how you’ll be able to use this platform to reach your target audience.
  • Check Out Your Competitors: It is likely that some of your competitors are already on social media. What are they doing? Try a Google search for their social media accounts and take a look at what they are doing; the things they are posting, what their fans like, what their fans do not respond to, how often they post, and what else you you may find. From here you can get an idea of how to use that platform for your business, and how to differentiate yourself from the competition. If you cannot find any competitors, or you are the first in your area of your industry to jump on social media, then check out other business’ social accounts even if they’re not direct competition for you.
  • Understand Social Success: Your target market is out there, and they are waiting to learn more about your services and/or products. So tell them what you do, where to find you, and what type of products you offer. You may think you have nothing to share, but you do. As a small business, you can share your story and your products with your audience! Social success lies in keeping fans hooked by figuring out the right balance of posting promotional content, informative content and fun content. It may take you a little while and some trial and error to figure out the perfect balance, but you’ll get there. Now before you jump in, ask yourself this: what is it that I want to achieve by using social media? Define your own terms of success.
  • Know The 80-20 Rule: You’re probably familiar with this rule, and in social media this is what it means: 80% of your posts should be informative–excerpts and links to your blog posts, images, videos or sharing other people’s posts etc. Remember not to share information that’s too far off-topic, but information that will be beneficial to the audience that follows you. Be aware that if you spend the majority of the time talking about your business, you may end up sounding too pushy or absorbed and turn fans away. That’s why 80% of your posts must be informative. The remaining 20% of your social posting can be all about your business. You earned those fans, and you do deserve to tell them about your products, services and promotions so feature your business and sales pitch away!
  • Set and Track Goals: If you are starting social media without any goals, it will be extremely hard to measure how well you are doing, or where there is room for improvement. Set some goals about what you want to get out of social media. Goals can be about engaging your audience, increasing fans, frequency of posting, and so on. After setting your social business goals, remember that along the way you will probably end up tweaking them and adding to them. Regularly review your goals and compare to your statistics, to see where you stand, what you need to work on, and where you want to go next.