What can I do with a communication arts degree? If you've ever asked yourself whether a degree in communications is one you would actually use, the answer may surprise you. This type of degree may indeed prepare you for a career in journalism or television, but perhaps more importantly, it can give you the communication skills needed to succeed in a variety of other industries as well, including being a small business owner. For example, did you know if you opened a business today, and four of your friends also opened businesses, odds are good that one of your companies would shutter within the first year? These are the current statistics in today's market. It's tough to own a business, especially now, when consumers are reluctant to spend money on things other than groceries and gasoline. However, that's not to say it can't be done. 

To be a successful business owner, you must first draw customers to your product or service. Most businesses do this through marketing campaigns. Generally, there are two ways to market your goods or services so they reach the right audiences -- through paid promotion or organic growth. Social media for business can help with both.

Why Would I Want to Use Social Media to Promote My Business?

In the 21st century, social media sites are the place to be if you want your business to become or remain relevant. The statistics on social media's top performers explain why:

  • Approximately 1.96 billion people log in to Facebook every day
  • As of the third quarter of 2021, 10 million businesses were advertising on Facebook
  • Twitter draws in 229 million users daily
  • Roughly 92 percent of all Tweet interaction on Twitter involves users clicking in-post links
  • 93 percent of users on Twitter welcome platform interaction from popular brands
  • Approximately 90 percent of all Instagram users regularly follow at least one brand

The question should be how to use social media to promote your business, not why. There's no easier way to gain the eyes of millions of people in an instant than through the effective utilization of social media. The audience is already there and waiting. All you must do is get their attention.

What's the Difference Between Organic and Paid Promotion?

In the most basic terms, paid promotion requires the exchange of money. Organic promotion does not. For example, if you're paying a fee to Facebook to boost a post, you're using a paid marketing technique. However, if you've created a Facebook business page, generated thousands of followers, and are posting free articles that link back to your merchant site, you're using unpaid, or organic, techniques. Both can be successful when done correctly. However, it usually takes longer for organic methods to cause conversions. A conversion happens when someone buys your product or purchases your service. Then again, organic promotion is free, which may make it the better choice. The only way to know for sure is to try both and monitor your results closely.

How Do I Know if I Should Use Organic or Paid Advertising?

Often, the answer to this question comes down to time and money. How much of each are you willing to invest? Organic advertising is free, but it takes a while to build up momentum. Paid advertising will get your brand out there much more quickly, but it can be costly. A mixture of both types is ideal. However, for many start-ups, both time and money are scarce in the first few years. That's why it's important to have a firm grasp on how to use social media to promote your business before you begin investing money in marketing.

Which Platforms Should I Use to Promote My Business?

This answer is different for every business owner. That's because, ideally, you need to go where your target customers hang out. To do this, you need to know who your target audience is. For instance, what are you selling? If it's a product or service that's most important to consumers over the age of 50, then Facebook and YouTube are your go-to sites. But if you're marketing toward a younger generation, say one that's aged 18-29, then you may want to market your wares on Instagram, Snapchat, or TikTok. According to the PEW Research Center, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram are the big three. But it's important to familiarize yourself with all the various social media platforms and who generally uses them:

  • Facebook: Mostly white, Black, or Hispanic men and women, aged 18 to 65+.
  • Twitter: Used more by men between the ages of 18 and 29.
  • Instagram: Used more by women between the ages of 18 and 29.
  • TikTok: Mostly Hispanic or Black women between the ages of 18 and 29.
  • Snapchat: Overwhelmingly young women between the ages of 18 and 29.
  • WhatsApp: Mostly Hispanic men between the ages of 30 and 49.
  • LinkedIn: Mostly Black and white men between the ages of 30 and 49.
  • Pinterest: Overwhelmingly women between the ages of 50 and 64.

There's little reason to market vitamin supplements for seniors on a platform such as TikTok. Likewise, Pinterest ads are not likely to offer a good return on investment if you're selling trendy twenty-something apparel. The first rule of marketing is to know your audience. The second rule is to find where they hang out regularly.

Where Do I Start My Social Media Plan?

Ideally, marketing should be part of your business plan before you ever open the doors to your brick-and-mortar store or online website. If hiring a marketing professional isn't in your start-up budget, then it may be a good idea to take some classes in marketing or communications yourself. You may be offering the best product or service in the world, but you won't make money unless your target audience finds it. These are some good places to begin.

Build an Email List

If you build an email list of consumers who show interest in your product or service, you can send them targeted emails that include coupons, store flyers, and other notifications such as invitations to customer appreciation days or closed shopping events. An easy way to build an email list is to run a paid ad on a social medium such as Facebook that offers something of value to those who sign up to receive emails. You might give away a free eBook, a free sample of soap or lotion, or a 25% discount on an oil change.

Encourage Visitors to Fill Out a Survey

Store surveys may give you valuable information, including a home address where you can send marketing materials such as coupons and rebate offers. They may also provide insight into who's visiting your business, so you can narrow your target audience for future marketing campaigns.

Run a Retargeting Campaign

Through retargeting, you can show customized ads to consumers who have recently visited your site. For instance, if a visitor lands on your page, lingers to look at high-heeled shoes, and then clicks away, you can show them ads on other websites that link back to your shoe selection. If you've ever shopped for an appliance online and then suddenly saw an ad on Facebook for the very stove you were considering, this is because you were retargeted.

How Can I Learn More About Social Media Planning for My Business?

To learn more about how to effectively reach your target audience through social media, consider taking classes or earning your degree in communications. With a Bachelor of Science in Communication Arts from University of the Cumberlands in Williamsburg, Kentucky, you'll be well prepared to launch a successful marketing campaign. The Bachelor of Science in Communication Arts includes coursework in the following:  

  • Social Media
  • Fundamentals of Advertising and PR
  • Audience Insight
  • Creative Strategy
  • Theories of Persuasion

Our core classes provide you with a firm foundation and understanding of how to use social media for business. Whether you're still in the planning stages of introducing your startup or you're already a business owner who would like to squeeze more return out of your marketing dollars, a communication arts degree from University of the Cumberlands is the perfect place to begin. Contact our admissions office today for more information or to apply for our upcoming term.