Social Media Platforms are crucial in this day in age for small businesses. A small business owner can use it for free advertising, sales promotion, reach a larger audience, or even research the competition. Social media platforms can offer small businesses the attention and brand awareness they need to have to run a small business, whether that is an organic ad (meaning an unpaid ad) or a sponsored ad. The reach (people online able to see the advertisement or page online) social media has, is incredible and now necessary. Our culture today requires small businesses to have a presence online, whether that is on Facebook, Instagram, or LinkedIn. However, a lot of small business owners lack certain steps to start and maintain a social media presence.

The first step in developing a social media presence is determining a target audience. It requires a small business owner to analyze his or her product/service and the existing customers. Asking the questions of: ‘Is my product more feminine, or masculine, or both? Does my service attract an older or younger crowd, or is it broader than that? Who is buying my product?’ Small businesses are normally going to attract people within the location but determining a specific target audience can create more foot traffic because a post is targeting a more specific crowd within the location. For example, a restaurant in a college town might want to create ads that appeal to people ages 20-30. Or a candle shop in Tampa might want to create ads relevant to women ages 30-60. After a target audience is determined, then a social media platform can be chosen that best fits the target audience. For example, a funeral home’s target audience will have a better chance of being seen on Facebook, then they would on Twitter or Instagram because their target audience is going to be an older crowd, whereas a restaurant’s target audience might need to use all social media platforms because they can generate more attention because of how broad its target audience is.

The second step is creating a professional looking page. The name of each username, handle (the username name of twitter), etc., should be the small business name, or an acronym that is relevant to the small business (sometimes handles on twitter cannot fit a whole business name.) The name on the page, should be the small business name. A logo should always be present and should be the profile picture. Cover or header photos, which are only on Facebook and Twitter, need to include a logo, possibly more information and can vary from the location of the business, a picture of the staff, etc.  Biographies that are put on the page should always include a phone number, website link, and location, hours of operation, and what the small business is providing. Social media platforms should always include a direct way of contact, whether that is a direct message through the platform, a phone number, an email address, or another way a potential customer can reach the small business.

The third step is developing relevant content. This includes hashtags, photos, videos, reviews, links, quotes, articles, contests or sweepstakes, etc. Relevant content should include pictures of the business itself, customers, products, services, etc. Promotions going on in a small business should include pictures and a link to a website for more information. Some small businesses, not all, have an advantage with content, however. An owner can make the page more personal, talking about company events, like birthdays, anniversaries, or an employee’s first or last day. This allows a customer to have a more personal connection, like he or she is friends with the business.  This cannot apply to every small business because it depends on the target audience of the business. Using the funeral home and the restaurant example, a restaurant can make their page more personal, while a funeral home’s target audience might find that inappropriate. The crucial thing about uploading content on social media is that each social media platform that is used should be regularly updated with relevant content.

Every small business will require different things for social media platforms regarding content, the specific type of platform used, etc. however, the last and crucial step of having a prominent social media presence is maintaining the platform. Content should always be regularly updated. A hiatus from a small business might mean they went out of business, became irrelevant, or not interesting to a potential customer. Maintaining a page includes events being posted at a reasonable time, if there is a change in hours of operation, or if a business just wanted to wish a customer a good day. Keeping up with posts will show potential customers that a small business is active and engaged, and can rely on social media to get information and reviews.