No matter how you might feel about social media on a personal level, it’s difficult to deny that platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram can have a tremendous impact in helping small businesses reach potential customers.

Add to that the fact that social media is generally free to use, and the case for going online becomes infinitely more compelling.

Not sure where to start? Just check out the tips below:

Do Your Research

Look at the social media pages for other businesses in your industry. Compare likes, number of followers, comments, etc. to determine who seems to be generating buzz from their social networking efforts. Then take some time to study the “successful” businesses so you can emulate their strategies.

Choose Your Platforms Carefully

If you’re like most small businesses, you probably don’t have endless hours to devote to social networking every day. So pick just a few platforms to focus on. If your line of work has a visual component, Instagram and Pinterest are great options. Instructional or informational videos can be posted on YouTube. And Facebook and Twitter are great for sharing interesting tidbits, linking to articles and more.

Set Up a Schedule

Make a formal outline of what you plan to post, where you plan to post it and when. (Just remember you’ll want to be somewhat flexible about your schedule so you can capitalize on any external factors that might take place within your industry.)

Keep Promotional Post to a Minimum

These days, consumers don’t just want to be “sold” to — especially when they’re perusing social media sites. Take a different approach by offering helpful tips or interesting information related to your line of work. For instance, if you own a heating and air conditioning business, you could provide tips on how homeowners can lower their heating and cooling costs. This offers value to the consumer, while simultaneously putting your industry knowledge on display.

Tweak Your Strategy as Needed

After a few months of posting and sharing content on the social media platforms of your choice, gauge how well your strategy seems to be working. If certain types of posts seem to be faring better than others, do more of them (and vice versa). Over time, you’ll learn what works for you so you can derive the greatest benefit from your social networking endeavors.

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