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How small business owners can step up their social media game

Tribune Content Agency logo Tribune Content Agency 10/27/2021 Kathleen Furore, Tribune Content Agency
Social media has become a must for businesses of any size. © Dreamstime/TNS Social media has become a must for businesses of any size.

DEAR READERS: Small businesses have many challenges that larger companies never have to face — and keeping up with technology and social media is one of them. What are the first steps a small, entrepreneurial company take to create a social media presence that will drive business if they can’t afford to staff devoted to managing their social media marketing?

The first thing to realize is that social media has become a must for businesses of any size.

“While small businesses are already stretched thin, it is integral for every company to have a presence on social media,” stresses Alesia Riley, branding and events director at blk haus branding + events.

But with limited time and resources, focus is extremely important, notes Kyle Dulay, co-founder of Collabstr, a marketplace to find and hire content creators on Instagram, TikTok and YouTube

“One of the most common mistakes that small businesses make when it comes to social media is trying to tackle everything at once,” Dulay cautions. “When business owners think about social media marketing, they typically go off and create a Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, Twitter and more for their business. There is really no reason for your small business to focus on so many social media channels at once, especially if you’re resource constrained. If you do this, you will ultimately burn out and achieve nothing across the board.

a woman smiling for the camera: Kathleen Furore. © Provided by Tribune Content Agency Kathleen Furore.

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So, what’s the best approach to take?

“With several platforms and limited time, first owners should take the time to research the online habits of their ideal customers or clients,” Riley suggests. “For example, if you’re focusing on older individuals, TikTok or Instagram may not be where you should focus your time, as their audience skews younger — so focus on Facebook. However, if you are trying to reach Gen Z or millennials, Instagram, TikTok and video use should be intertwined into your strategy. Of course, many small businesses are targeting people of all ages. In that case, businesses should research scheduling platforms like Hootsuite, where you can create one post and have it publish posts to a variety of platforms.

Whatever platforms you ultimately chose, Jacqueline Snyder and Minna Khounlo-Sithep, co-founders of The Product Boss and Shop One in Five, say to approach social media like a business tool.

“It’s a business tool to get to know what the customers wants from you,” says Snyder.

“It’s also a tool for you to be able to personify and humanize your brand,” Khounlo-Sithep adds.

Once you’ve identified your audience and begin to understand what they might want from your business, Snyder and Khounlo-Sithep say your social media content should do three things: educate followers about your products and services so they know why they should do business with you; entertain them in a way that humanizes the personality of your brand in a way they can relate to; and inspire them by showing them how your business can contribute to their wants, needs and desires in life.

“Most of all, it should feel like a two-way conversation for you to connect with your customer. We like to say: It’s a dialogue, not a monologue,” Snyder says.

(Kathleen Furore is a Chicago-based writer and editor who has covered personal finance and other business-related topics for a variety of trade and consumer publications. You can email her your career questions at kfurore@yahoo.com.)

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