In an article about social media and small businesses, a chalkboard in a shop window reads 'Thank you for shopping local.'

How Social Media Is Helping Small Businesses Thrive

Marketing can be tricky for small-scale operations, but these networks are making it easier than ever before.

People use social media to connect with friends, family and coworkers. Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and TikTok also provide opportunities to network and join interest-based groups. After the COVID-19 pandemic, many low-wage workers quit their jobs to start their own small businesses. While some entrepreneurs found success, others struggled to reach customers. They tried various methods such as word of mouth, business cards, websites and small group parties. However, some small business owners found that social media, especially among younger generations, was the best way to market their products. Social media helps create brand awareness, promote content and provide insight into customer preferences.

Social media is used to expand a small business’ customer base by reaching a large audience through videos. Platforms like Facebook were initially popular among small business owners to promote their brands, but other social media platforms, like TikTok and Instagram have since become more popular.

According to data from SCORE, 77 percent of small businesses use social media to build brand awareness, provide customer service and increase revenue. For example, 83 percent of Instagram users discover new small business brands on the platform, and they can share these brands with their friends and family to increase brand recognition.

TikTok helped Taco-Bout-Joys, a struggling taco shop in Glenview, Illinois. The social media platform increased the visibility of the shop, resulting in hundreds of new customers. The video went viral with over 4 million likes and tens of thousands of comments. One customer stated, “it’s crazy that something so close to us is so viral and I wanted to be a part of that.”

Social media allows for the creative promotion of products by business owners. Platforms such as Facebook Messenger and sharing stories on social media allow users to become familiar with brands. Snapchat and TikTok also allow for creative approaches, such as demonstrating how a product can benefit customers. A TikTok video of a businesswoman promoting skincare products showcased the benefits of the masks, their low prices and where they were imported from. The woman even tried one of the face masks herself, stating she makes her customers happy by “giving them luxury but affordable at-home facials.” She also shared customer reviews and her company’s website to further raise awareness of her products.

Social media can help small businesses understand their customers and their preferences. Some small businesses do not know their audiences; without this knowledge, it can be difficult to sell products that customers need. For instance, a jewelry business owner must know their target audience to sell jewelry effectively. Platforms like Facebook and Instagram gather data to help define a target audience. 

Social media can be a valuable tool for small businesses. By posting on Instagram, a jewelry business owner can gauge user engagement through likes and comments. By posting the jewelry’s style and creating a logo, the business can attract and retain its target audience.

Small business owners may face challenges when transitioning from traditional marketing methods, such as handing out business cards, to social media platforms. However, they must adapt to the changing world and new technologies. Using social media can attract more customers, provide opportunities for creativity and facilitate networking with other businesses. Building a following and increasing engagement on social media takes time. But as owners become more knowledgeable in marketing their products on social media platforms, their business profiles can gain popularity. Older marketing strategies may no longer be effective, but, with some effort, business owners can shift their marketing approaches. Doing so ultimately allows them to expand their business while also gaining expertise in using social media and technology to reach new customers.

Caroline Ocampo, The University of Texas at Arlington

Writer Profile

Caroline Ocampo

The University of Texas at Arlington
Creative Writing

I am a down to earth person that loves reading books, spending time with my family and nieces. I also love animals and have a 1-year-old pug named Coco who I love playing with. I am a history major who loves reading about how people lived back then and using my research skills to write an informative article about past events.

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