Social media can be extremely beneficial for small businesses. It can help build your brand and reputation, attract new potential clients, improve customer loyalty, and more. However, the hardest part for many small business owners is just getting started. Which platforms should I be on? What should I post? Do I need a social media strategy?

To help answer some of those questions for social media beginners, I'm writing a blog series called "Small business social media for beginners," covering topics and FAQs like those above. This blog will focus on what to do before you even make your business profile: creating a social media strategy.

Why do I need a strategy?

It can be tempting to jump right into social media, but it's important that you think about the larger strategy around your social media program. Having a strategy allows you to:

  • Define goals for your social media program
  • Decide the best platform(s) for you to be on
  • Maintain a consistent brand and voice for social media
  • Create standards for what you should post
  • Measure success of your social media presence

We'll focus on a few of these important details in this blog, and will cover others in subsequent blogs.

Define social media goals

You don't want to create a social media presence for your small business "just to be on social media." You should have defined goals that align with your overall business goals, so you can create a focused social media presence to achieve those goals.

Social media goals will vary for everyone, depending on their industry, longevity of the business, target customers, and other factors. Here are a few goals as examples:

  • Bring more people to your physical store / restaurant / location
  • Build a reputation as an expert in your field
  • Attract more visitors to your website or online store
  • Create a relatable, human brand for your business

To get started, I recommend choosing your top two or three goals to start crafting your social media strategy. 

Choose your social media platform(s)

Beginners to social media sometimes think that the best strategy is to have a presence on as many social sites as possible. However, the opposite is usually true, especially for small businesses.

Instead of trying to do it all and spreading yourself too thin, it's a better idea to choose one or two platforms to get started on. You may potentially expand to others in the future, but focusing on just one or two can help you start off strong.

The two main consideration when selecting with social media platform(s) to be on are where your target customers spend time and the nature of your product. If you know your average customer spends time on Facebook but doesn't even know what Twitter is, you obviously want to be on Facebook. Or if you have a very visual product, you may want to focus on Instagram or Pinterest, as those sites are image-based.

Do some research on the demographics of each platform, and also some research on your own target customer. If you're not sure where they spend time on social media, ask. Survey some existing customers and/or talk to people who represent your target customer.

Doing this initial research will help you decide which platform(s) make the most sense for your small business.

More "social media for beginners" resources

Once you've written your social media goals and chosen the best platform(s) to create a presence on, you're ready to move into more of the nuts and bolts of social media, such as what you will post, your "voice" and how to achieve your goals. We'll cover those in subsequent blogs.

If you would like a little more guidance on creating a social media presence, or want to learn everything you need to know quickly, you may be interested in this Social Media Basics and Best Practices course.