The world has changed drastically over the last few years, and it seems as though the speed of our fast-paced world continues to grow faster each year. The internet, smartphones, pseudo-currency and so many other revolutionary elements have shown us that our world– and our society– is becoming more digital all the time. As much as any of the major advancements that have come about in the last few years, none have had quite as dramatic an impact on our society as social media.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn and all the others have completely changed the way humans interact with one another. The reverberations of social media’s impact can be felt in every aspect of our lives, and the business world is continually trying to adapt. The world of advertising may have felt this impact the most strongly, as social media has become the most effective advertising outlet in the history of capitalism.

Social Media and Small Business

While every technological and societal advancement of previous decades seemed to favor large corporations and the wealthy, social media has actually had a very different effect. In fact, it has essentially helped to level the playing field between international corporations and small businesses. By allowing independent entrepreneurs and small business owners the same capabilities of reaching mass audiences, effective social media marketing can be small business’s best friend.

Most small business owners have already tried social media marketing, but not always with great levels of success. It may seem like Facebook ads and clever Tweets are a perfect way to reach your customers, but if you do not understand some of the subtleties of how they work, it may not be as effective as you think. Many businesses can benefit from the help of a Facebook advertising agency or a social media expert, but there are some simple steps you can take on your own to make more efforts more efficient.

Define Your Goals

Any successful plan needs to begin with clear goals, and social media marketing is no exception. It is not enough to say I want to reach more customers or I want to increase sales; you need to develop clear, realistic goals that will help you achieve your overall plan of increasing business. You will also need to have proper benchmarks and know how to measure success.

Identify Your Target Audience

You clearly want your ads to bring in as many new people as possible, but you’ll need to focus on which demographics are the most important for you. Major social media outlets know pretty much everything about their users down to their shoe size, so they can help you target users by age group, gender and interests. Decide which groups are most important for your business and focus specifically on them.

Promote the Right Image

If you are already using your personal social media accounts to promote your small business, stop. Professional companies need to have professional accounts, and you should not mix business with pleasure. That is not to say that you should never mention (or link to) your business on your personal accounts, but each should stay clearly separate.