Social Media in Business

The digital world has made online advertising an absolute must for many companies. While it is the primary way to get your name out there and attract the billions of dollars that flows through e-commerce and retail stores as a result of online advertising, it’s not without its downfalls. When you’re setting up an online advertising campaign, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of the situation before you invest a significant amount of time, money, and effort into the process.


  1. You have the ability to reach your potential customers at the places they visit online. Online advertising through search engines, social media sites, and popular websites gives you adspace on some of the most trafficked places on the Internet.
  2. Ad targeting. While you can simply get impressions on high traffic sites to get as many eyes on your advertising as possible, your marketing results tend to be much better if you do some targeting before you start running the ads. Many sites have extensive data on the type of reader who visits and uses their sites on a day to day basis. Some have ad platforms that allow you to only display your ads to certain user segments, such as the way Facebook handles their advertising. Since a significant amount of demographic and location information is shared by Facebook users, this allows the social networking site to give you a great deal of opportunity for laser focused ads.
  3. A wide range of costs. Whether you’re just starting out or you’re a massive business, there’s a site that has an advertising cost that meets your needs. Smaller niche sites also have the advantage of attracting your target demographic, so you’re getting high quality traffic without having to pay an exceptionally high price.
  4. Responsive testing. In the print and television advertising world, it takes time to change marketing collateral to adjust to errors in the advertising, change marketing tactics, or update the information. Online advertising allows you to quickly change your marketing materials, sometimes even without the direct intervention of the publisher. For example, the Google Adwords backend allows you to make on the fly adjustments of existing advertising so you can see the phrasing or style that works best for you, and what’s falling flat for your company.
  5. Easy split testing. Many online advertising platforms allow you to load several versions of a particular ad, as well as how often you want to run a particular ad type, so that you can test several ads at the same time. This makes split testing and other types of online advertising testing easy to accomplish.


  1. Many website visitors are so inundated with online advertising that they experience ad blindness. Their eyes simply skip over the locations that banner advertising and other types of advertising are located, and may have a negative view of sponsored content.
  2. Ad blocking. All current versions of popular Internet browsers such as Google Chrome have access to ad blocking extensions. Instead of experiencing banner blindness and not seeing your ads, they completely block the ads from getting to their browser. By default, these extensions block a majority of ad servers and are updated to adjust to new ones on the market as well.
  3. Competition. You have a great deal of opportunity on the Internet, but you also have a great deal of competition. You can’t just set up an e-commerce site and expect the money to flow in. If you don’t have any way to set yourself apart from your market, you’re going to be drowning in a saturated market. Your online advertising is likely to be displayed alongside competitors, so it’s important that you have a way to stand out.
  4. Distraction. When you’re advertising through a search engine or on a site that has a lot of content curation, your potential customers are getting distracted by dozens of things on the screen at once. The amount of traffic leaks can easily lead your online advertisements to not be as effective as they are.
  5. Analytics learning curve. To completely take advantage of online advertising methods, you need to spend a lot of time tracking the data and adjusting your advertising by watching stats tracking and other analytics programs. If you haven’t used this before, there is a learning curve before you understand how all of the stats interact.


Using social media for business isn’t exactly the same as using it for pleasure, however, there are some similarities. So, if you’re new to this social media for small business thing, don’t fret. It’s not difficult once you know the basics.

Once you’re in the social space, you’ll begin to see the benefits to interacting with customers and potential customers alike. And although you may be tempted to jump in with both feet (after all, you’ve been using Facebook for years), it’s definitely a good idea to learn how to use social media for business before you go out there and start posting.

In many ways social media is temporary, but as we’ve seen many times before, mistakes can follow you around for years. So be careful, follow these 10 tips for a successful campaign, and have fun!

1. Understand the Importance of Social Media in Business

Many small business owners have trouble understanding the need for social media. Small business owners are pulled in so many different directions that it can be difficult to make time for something that doesn’t provide a clear and instant return on your investment (whether it be time or money). But whether you realize it or not, social media is reputation management, and that is extremely important if you want to make money online. Also, when a developed audience is properly addressed, ROI can be instant, and it can be awesome. Social media and business should always go together.

2. Know the Social Media Sites for Business

There are some social sites that are built for business. LinkedIn is a great example. However, that doesn’t mean that business-centered social sites are going to be right for your business. Many of these sites are ideal for companies that sell B2B or target professionals, but if you aren’t in these categories, it won’t do you any good to post there. Figure out where your audience hangs out and create your strategy around this site.

3. Listen to the Social Chatter

Before you start posting, and put your proverbial foot in your mouth, pay attention to what is being said in your space. What are other businesses like yours posting? How are they interacting with their audiences? This doesn’t necessarily mean that you should copy what they’re doing, it might mean the opposite, but you should pay attention to the things that people respond to and those they don’t. This will help you formulate a strategy.

4. Research Your Market (Know Your Customer)

You can start learning more about your target customer by paying attention to competitors on social media. Look at who is following them, and who among those followers are most engaged. Depending on the network, you may be able to get a feel for what those people like and the pages they find important. In addition to the customer profiling you’ve done in your marketing strategy, this is a good way to get a feel for your audience. It’s important to know who you’re talking to before you start talking.

5. Learn How to Provide Value

If you listen to the social chatter and research your market, you should have an idea of the type of content that your audience will find interesting. Now, it’s time to provide value. It’s one thing to regurgitate the content that others provide. There’s definitely value in curating good content. But it’s another thing entirely to produce the content yourself. If you can publish cartoons or surveys or quizzes that people will want to share, your social sites will get a lot more attention.

6. Connect with Your Audience

Now that you know how to produce the right content, your goal is to start conversations. When you post content, try to encourage conversation. Ask questions. You might be surprised about how a simple question can spark engagement. Just don’t be offended if you ask questions and no one responds. It happens, nothing personal. :)

7. Be Consistent

Social media isn’t a set-it-and-forget-it kind of thing. It requires consistent attention. Some liken it to a plant that needs water and light every day in order to grow. Others think of it as a friendship. If you are only there for your friends when it’s convenient for you, well, you aren’t being a very food friend and you’re not likely to keep your friends around long.

8. Set Alerts and Listen Some More

In order to talk about all of the things that are happening in your space, you need to be informed. Try to be among the first to break relevant news, and if you can’t be that quick, at least add something to the conversation. Visit to set alerts for relevant keywords in your niche. If you can relate your product or service to the current news (in a way that’s flattering, of course), all the better.

9. Build a Relevant Audience

If you need help building an audience, resist the urge to outsource this job to the lowest bidder. There are some great contractors out there, but if you don’t know what to look for, you can end up doing more harm than good. The best way to build an audience is to do so organically, but if you have some money to spend, consider testing ads. Most social sites allow in-depth targeting that can be very beneficial.

10. Use Your Cultivated Audience’s Attention

Once you have the right audience and are posting quality content to keep them engaged and entertained, it’s time to sprinkle in your sales message. This isn’t an overt, over-the-top hard sell, though. Think of how you would pitch your product or service to a close friend.


Written by Alexis Kestler

A female web designer and programmer - Now is a 36-year IT professional with over 15 years of experience living in NorCal. I enjoy keeping my feet wet in the world of technology through reading, working, and researching topics that pique my interest.