How to Choose a Social Media Platform as a Small Business

Social Media is a great tool for reaching potential customers as a small business, but it can also seem intimidating. As a small business owner, you may have a lot of questions. “How often should I post? How do I promote my page? What do I post?” These are all valid questions, but there’s one key takeaway that small business owners often forget: “Which platforms should I be on?” 

Why choosing a social media platform is so important

1. It allows you to target a specific demographic.

Think of it like choosing a target audience: you’re picking the people you really want to advertise and appeal to.

2. We live in the age of social media.

Roughly 90% of Americans are active on social media, so having a social media presence can really help your business build relationships with potential customers.

3. Advertising on social platforms is highly targeted.

Most social media platforms have algorithms developed to show your content to those who will want to see it. This means that social media advertising can help your brand target specific customers. 

Shouldn’t I be on as many platforms as possible?

Yes and no. As a small business, you want to make an account on all major social media platforms so you can reserve your username while it’s still available. This prevents potential customers from thinking another account is your business.

This doesn’t mean you need to regularly post on all social media accounts. Select one or two of these social media platforms that really resonate with your brand to post regularly on and keep the others semi-active with posts occasionally, if it’s relevant to the platform.

Which platform should I start with?

We’re going to break down the top six social media platforms used for marketing, including their typical users, the type of content usually posted by companies, and how their advertising works. We’re going to break down the top six social media platforms used for marketing, including their typical users, the type of content usually posted by companies, and how their advertising works.

Steps to Choose a Social Platform

Step 1: Evaluate your customers, both current and potential

Looking at the demographics of customers (both past and future) is important to picking out a social media site. You can also look at your buyer personas if you’ve created them. How old is this group? How much time do they spend online? Sitting down and hammering out exactly who you’re trying to attract with social media advertising is crucial to picking a platform. 

Step 2:  Factor in your current resources and available time

Most companies will follow the general rule of posting onto social media once a day, but it’s important to shape your social media around your small business’ resources. If you have a designated marketing or social media person, encourage them to set aside time each week to plan out your upcoming social media. Creating one post a day per social media platform can seem intimidating, but having a schedule laid out makes the process much smoother. Having a posting schedule that balances in-depth, well-researched social media posts with fun, everyday posts allows for some flexibility with content scheduling. 

Step 3:  Create a content strategy

What kind of content would you make on each platform? You need to think realistically about how people would interact with this kind of content. If you’re a paper supply company that primarily sells to other small businesses and wants to post special discounts, you’ll probably find that utilizing LinkedIn (a primarily B2B platform) would work better than TikTok.  

Step 4: Look at your competitors

Instead of just checking to see what platforms they’re on, check to see how well they’re performing on these platforms. How many likes are they getting on each post? How many followers do they have? Are they getting a lot of comments? This is a great way to gain insight into how companies like yours do on this platform.  

Step 5: Start small

At first, pick one or two social media sites to really focus your efforts on. Build out a following and see what content formats people are really interacting with. From there, you can add on more platforms into your posting schedule as you see necessary. Remember, it’s ok if it’s taking a while to gain an audience on a social media platform! It’s better to have a smaller audience that really engages with your content than a large audience that doesn’t interact with you at all. 

Step 6: Align your social channel goals with your business objectives

Look at your primary goals within your business and create social media goals that align well with them. The main purpose of your social media should be to support your business objectives. When you align these goals, you’re able to accomplish both at once. For example, if one of your business objectives is to share useful industry information with your audience, you can achieve this through informative social media posts. 


three screens showing Facebooks User Interface for a small business, including their homepage and a direct message feature
Image courtesy of Social Media Examiner


Why choose Facebook?

Facebook is the most used social media platform, which means it has the largest consumer base. What makes Facebook so popular is its algorithm, which prioritizes family and friend content over business content. While this is a huge win for consumers, it makes it more difficult for businesses to gain organic traffic without paying to advertise.

Luckily for small businesses, Facebook has a plethora of user data, so when you pay to advertise on Facebook, you know your ad will be seen by the right people. Some options for paid promotion include:

  • boosted posts (not necessarily ads, but “boosts” your post so it’s more likely to be seen by users organically)
  • promoted posts (this is a typical in-feed ad) 
  • promoted stories (this ad appears as users are clicking through other users’ stories)
An example of a Facebook in-feed sponsored post, courtesy of Instapage
a webpage showing how to boost a post on facebook
An example of the boost button being used on Facebook, courtesy of Hootsuite
a facebook story ad showing a new collection of hats from tentree
An example of a Facebook story ad, courtesy of Instapage

In short, if using Facebook as a small business, you want to pay to promote some posts, but you’ll know you’re getting worthwhile traffic from promotion.  


two screenshots of the instagram user interface, one shows a personal profile and the other shows a business profile for sprout social
Image courtesy of Sprout Social


Why choose Instagram?

Instagram is extremely popular among a younger crowd and it’s much more of a visual platform than other social media sites. This means that posts from businesses integrate themselves very well into the feed of their consumers. Instagram is a great place to create a visual showcase of your company through posts about products, special deals, and brand life. Users can also shop through Instagram by buying products directly through your page.

Instagram is a powerful advertising tool for small businesses, with two main forms of advertising: paid in-feed ads and influencer marketing. Because Facebook and Instagram are owned by the same parent company, Meta, this means that Instagram shares Facebook’s vast consumer data resources. Managing paid ads through Instagram and Facebook simultaneously is significantly easier with Meta’s Business Suite, meaning these two platforms pair extremely well together.

In short, Instagram is a great visual platform for a small business that wants to display products or brand life. It also works really well when paired with Facebook.


a screenshot of the EarthLink business profile on LinkedIn


Why choose LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is a professional networking site used by young professionals. This means it is best suited for businesses that primarily work with other businesses instead of individual consumers (also known as “B2B”).

Businesses will typically host their content on a LinkedIn Business Profile, where they can promote deals and share a glimpse into office life. LinkedIn is also the prime platform to post job openings within your company. Most advertising through LinkedIn is done through sponsored in-feed posts or sponsored direct messages.

In short, LinkedIn is a great social media platform for B2B companies looking to promote their service to young professionals through sponsored posts and messages. 


three screenshots of duolingos business page on tiktok featuring their mascot, duo
Image courtesy of Future Famous


Why choose TikTok?

TikTok is one of the fastest growing forms of social media due to its video sharing feature and advanced algorithm. It’s best suited for brands with a product or service that is best advertised through video form. Most companies use TikTok to give a glimpse into company life, or for content marketing.

One of the benefits of TikTok is that, since most users spend time on their “For You Page” (an algorithmic feed), they’re mainly shown TikToks the algorithm predicts will resonate with them, not necessarily just videos from creators they already follow. For small businesses, this means you don’t have to have a lot of followers for your content to be seen by lots of people. Unfortunately, the downside to this is that you can’t predict how wide your reach will be without paying to promote your videos.

The two main ways that businesses can pay to promote their content through TikTok is paid in-feed ads or by sponsoring an influencer to talk about your business.

In short, TikTok is a great platform for content marketing or showing off your product/service to a new demographic without having a large base of followers.


two screenshots of pinterests user interface, one is of the users feed and one is of a pin featuring buyable products
Image courtesy of Pinterest Newsroom


Why choose Pinterest?

Pinterest is a visual platform used to find inspiration, so it’s an ideal site for small businesses based in creativity to advertise. Users often look to Pinterest for inspiration, so sharing pins that display work you’ve done, a product that could be helpful towards others, or even tips within your industry are all great starter points for a small business. Companies that do well on Pinterest are those that resonate with the platform’s creative users, like freelance artists, wedding planners, interior designers, etc. 

Businesses on Pinterest will typically promote their in-feed post to reach their target audience or promote in-search posts that appear when certain terms are searched related to their brand. 

In short, Pinterest is a visual platform that can be leveraged well by creative companies and businesses that reflect the platforms creative users.

Commonly asked questions about small business social media

It really depends on your specific small business. The best social platform for one business might not be the best for another. The two main things to consider are: 1. What social media platform does your target audience currently use? 2. What kind of content would you make on this platform? If you’re looking to advertise to other businesses, consider using LinkedIn. If you’re looking to just get your brand name out there to a younger audience, TikTok might be the platform for you! It’s important to continuously monitor how well your social media is doing, and if something isn’t working well after a while, it’s okay to switch platforms.

Social media marketing is great because it’s an extremely cost-effective marketing tool. While it can be difficult at times to get impressions without paying to promote a post, it is possible (especially when you’re producing the right content). By adding value through advice, entertainment, or tutorials, you can build up an audience for little-to-no cost on social media.

Digital marketing is any marketing having to do with the internet. This includes a wide variety of formats, including a brand’s website, Search Engine Optimization (SEO), digital ads, and social media. Social media marketing is all media created for a social media platform (both paid and unpaid). It’s a smaller section within the digital marketing sphere.

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