To achieve the level of success that you've been planning for, it's essential to raise awareness for your business and promote it. This task is now easier than it's ever been, thanks to social media.

With around 80% of Americans actively participating on social media, sites like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram have become the ideal venue for entrepreneurs to engage with existing and potential customers.

However, it's no longer enough for your business to simply be present on social media. The major platforms have recently implemented changes in how they display content. Those changes are sometimes detrimental to small businesses. That's why the owners of small businesses must now consider advertising on the social networks in addition to regular posting.

Algorithmic Feeds

When social media marketing was a new pursuit, entrepreneurs flocked to it because it was typically free. While that is still technically true, the three major networks - Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram - have switched to what are called "algorithmic feeds."

What this means is that instead of simply displaying posts in chronological order, an algorithmic feed tries to show users the "best" content first. Sometimes, this means that marketing posts, even if they are the most recent, can remain unseen.

This trend started when Facebook switched its default arrangement from a "Most Recent" feed to a "Top News" feed. When this happened, thousands of small business owners saw lower engagement with users. Even if customers "liked" your page, they weren't guaranteed to see your posts.

Twitter and Instagram recently started using similar algorithmic feeds, which they are in the process of fine tuning. Some small businesses are already feeling the effects. Ultimately, this means that in order to ensure your followers are seeing your most recent posts, social media advertising is now a paid service.

Targeting Your Audience

Facebook now boasts over three million companies advertising on their platform, an increase of 50% over the last year. There's a good reason for this: not only does the network provide access to an enormous group of users, but it also provides business owners with tools to effectively target the exact demographic they want.

When you set up an advertising campaign on a social site like Facebook or Twitter, one of the first questions you'll be asked is what your goals are. Some companies want to build a social following. Some want to drive clicks to their website. Depending on your goals, the network will provide options for the types of ads you can choose to run.

After defining the type of ad you're going to run, you have a range of parameters to set for your campaign. This includes simple demographics like location and age range as well as more detailed interests. There's even an option to target users who follow your competitors.

Crucially, all of these social advertising tools make it easy to set a budget for your campaign and provide insight into what results you can expect for that money. Thankfully, even $5 or $10 will stretch fairly far. This is significant, as experimenting is key to succeeding with these ads. When you're just starting out, it's important to try a few different strategies with small budgets to find out what works best before investing in a major campaign.

New Forms of Social Marketing

When was the last time you heard MySpace mentioned as something other than the butt of a joke? That site is a perfect example of the ever changing nature of social media. For a business owner, this highlights the need to be aware of new types for advertising and to follow your audience. If your key demographic happens to be Millennials, then you had better learn a little about Snapchat.

As a relatively new network, Snapchat is still learning what types of monetization work. It's not yet very effective for small businesses looking to advertise. That won't always be the case, though.

This is just one emerging social network opportunity, but there are always more popping up. Try to analyze new social platforms to understand if they're a good fit for your business or your demographics. It's a good idea to keep an eye on new trends, and don't be afraid to take some low-risk chances.

Give Social Advertising A Try

On Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, social advertising creates huge revenue that is mostly driven by small businesses. Those networks have all adapted to provide entrepreneurs with the tools they need to promote their businesses effectively. The bottom line: paid advertising. Simple social posting won't cut it any more. If you haven't started social advertising yet, now's the time to start reaching out to find new customers for your small business.

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