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Social Media Success: Tips to Use for Your Small Business

In today's digital age, social media is one of the most powerful tools you can add to your marketing tool kit. 

But countless platforms, neverending trends, and unfamiliar buzzwords can make using it a daunting undertaking.

Whether you're looking to get your small business on social media or want to make the most out of what you're already doing, we've broken it down into simple steps that will guarantee your social media success.

It All Starts With A Plan

Because so many of us use social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram in our day-to-day lives, you might think that setting up your small business is just as easy. And it can be—but resist the temptation to get started before you've come up with a plan.

Using social media as a marketing tool requires the same planning as any business decision. Your social media marketing strategy should look something like this:

  • Set specific, measurable goals that you want to achieve by using social media.
  • Research what competitors in your field are doing successfully.
  • Get to know your target audience and their online interests/habits.
  • Set up your accounts, or improve them if you already have an online presence.
  • Create a social media calendar to keep yourself on track
  • Conduct social media audits along the way and adapt your strategy when needed

Pick Your Platforms

With a social media strategy, you'll be ready to pick which platforms best suit your needs and audience. Start by looking at demographic information for all of the major social networks.

Generally, social media platforms fall into one of six categories, and you'll have to do a little research to determine which of these channels your potential customers frequent:

  • Social networking sites, such as Facebook
  • Social news sites, such as Reddit
  • Media sharing sites, such as YouTube
  • Microblogging sites, such as Twitter
  • Bookmarking sites, such as StumbleUpon
  • Blogs and forums

Once you know which types of social media your audience uses, you can horn in on the most relevant platforms and start creating your business accounts. And it doesn't have to be an all-or-nothing approach—you can use different platforms to meet other objectives.

Know Your Customers

Now that you know which platforms your target audience prefers, it's time to get to know them better. By understanding your customers, you can find ways to reach more people like them and build your customer base. If you have existing customers interacting with you online, you can use social media analytics to track these key data points and create the perfect buyer persona:

  • Age (no need for specifics, focus on decade of life or generation)
  • Interests (activities, hobbies, other businesses they interact with)
  • Language (never make assumptions based on local languages)
  • Location (including time zone and periods of peak online activity)
  • Stage of life (parents, college students, new homeowners, etc.)

Focus On Relationships

In addition to finding new customers, you can use social media to bolster your customer retention. When someone engages with your online content, you can directly respond to their post or comment and foster meaningful one-on-one relationships. These little gestures build an impressive amount of trust and loyalty, and it's worth taking the time of day to interact with your customers.

In addition to nurturing these day-to-day interactions, consider some of these other methods for building online relationships and sparking interest in your business:

  • Use interactive features such as Facebook groups, Twitter polls, and Instagram stories.
  • Mention your followers in your posts and reshare their user-generated content.
  • Connect with other aspiring entrepreneurs on social media in your field.
  • Reach out to micro-influencers and nano-influencers.

It's About Quality, Not Quantity

Like all good things, the best social media strategy emphasizes quality, not quantity. With over four billion people worldwide currently using social media, and hundreds of millions of posts each day between them, you might be tempted to churn out content on as many platforms as possible. Resist this urge, however.

Overloading social with a shotgun approach rarely resonates with customers. Instead, take a moment to step back and look at current trends in social media and do some social listening to guarantee that the content you create caters to your target audience. Use these simple tips to fine-tune your content creation process:

  • Focus on creating high-quality content for a few dedicated platforms.
  • Apply your customer data to create content that appeals directly to them, not the public.
  • Use visual elements frequently—images, videos, infographics, etc.
  • Don't use social media to sell or pitch your business to customers.
  • Instead, create posts that offer value: educate your audience, offer solutions, or start discussions.

Mastering social media takes time, but don't let that discourage you. Start today with these simple steps and get your small business on the right track for success.