For small businesses owners looking to take control of their digital marketing and increase their online presence, social media is a critical component. Although it requires a decent amount of time and effort, when implemented correctly, social media can provide tremendous growth for your business.

Social media gives small businesses a unique way to connect and interact with their customers on a more personal level. Small businesses are generally more community and individual focused, providing them with a huge opportunity to share information and generate engagement among these local followers.

Here are a few steps for kicking off your small business’s social media strategy.

Decide on Platforms   

The most important aspect of social media is being where your customers are. Therefore, when starting out, it’s best to determine which channels will reach the greatest portion of your target audience. That way, you can focus your efforts on those channels. Other social media accounts can be created once you feel comfortable and organized with your current platforms.

Also keep in mind the type of content you want to share with your followers and which platforms make the most sense for delivering it. Leveraging different content across various relevant platforms can prove useful when executed correctly.

Fill Out Your Profiles Completely

Once you’ve filled out all of the basic information, (business name, address, phone number, hours of operation, etc.) you’ll come across areas that are slightly more complex, like your business description. It’s here that you’ll want to provide a focused explanation of your business specialties. Ask yourself, what problem am I solving for my customers? What products and/or services am I providing them? What sets me apart from my competitors? Provide content that will answer these questions and educate your customers.

Provide Social Links on Your Website

Your website and social media channels should work together. It’s important to make sure that your website links back to your various social media accounts and vice versa. Create social media icons so that users know exactly which platform they are being redirected to from your website. You want to make it easy for your customers to find and contact you on these channels.

Promote Your Pages

All social media channels have numerous options available for paying to promote your pages or content. This will help you reach a broader audience and can help increase your followers and generate greater engagement. Choose posts that are packed with information and appealing to consumers, then select a target demographic that you want the post pushed out to.

Create a Schedule for Posting

Once you’ve got your feet wet, it’s important to formulate a schedule for posting and stick to it. Consistency is key, as most of your followers are likely not checking your pages regularly. Content on feeds changes quickly, so you need to make the most of both the timing of your posts as well as the content you’re putting out.

Formulate a strategy for consistent posting times and follow the 80/20 content rule: 80% of posts should be informational and entertaining content and the remaining 20% can be self-promotional.

Utilize Visual Content

Reading line after line of text can get old after a while. Be sure to mix in some visual content to grab the attention of your customers. Research shows that 40% of online users will give more positive responses to visual content than text-based content. Both images and videos can be used across all the social channels. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram allow users to ‘go live’ with their followers, providing them with a live feed. This is great for promoting and showcasing things like sales, promotional events, work within the community and more.

Don’t Forget to Engage

Don’t just publish your content and forget about it. Make sure you look back at what you’ve posted to check for engagement. You should be actively responding to your followers, as this will build trust and loyalty with them. It will also showcase to others that perhaps aren’t following you that you’re a business of integrity and that you care about your customers.