Anyone who’s anyone is deeply invested in social media — and many small businesses are ready to make the leap.

If your small business is considering a social media marketing campaign, there’s no time like today. There’s a lot more to social media than sharing cat memes, but once you get the hang of it, it can prove to be a valuable brand marketing tool.

Getting Started: Have a Plan

Too many businesses burn out on social media or report lackluster results because they never had a very good plan to begin with. Instead of trying to out shout the competition, it’s important to take a minute to prepare. Start with your audience: Who do you want to attract to your business?

The world we live in today deals in niches, so knowing your audience is paramount. If the target for your record store is college aged kids that love 70s rock music, own it and target to them. Sometimes you’ll have several different audiences, requiring more than one plan. You might find those college kids on Reddit, but if you also want to attract nostalgic Baby Boomers, you’re better off looking to Facebook.

Knowing your audience helps you find your starting point. Don’t go after all your audiences at once when you’re just dipping your toe in the pool. Choose one, give that a try, then move on once you’re seeing good results. Choosing appropriate KPIs is also vital to your marketing plan, that way you can see how far you’ve come and when you’re ready to branch out to your next audience.

Being Social on Social Media

Social media marketing is a wholly different beast from anything you’ve ever tried before.

Instead of boasting about your products or services, you’ll do best to literally position your offerings in a way that creates a conversation or becomes highly shareable. It’s all about giving to your followers, not about selling to them — but it’s not as tricky as it sounds.

Give these social media shares a try:

Authoritative content. Having a blog will give you endless opportunities for social media shares, provided you have it linked to your social media. As you build content, you can show it to your audience. Make sure what you create is useful to them — authoritative content is all about establishing your expertise in your field, not about selling (a soft call to action is appropriate).

Industry news shares. Another way to give to your audience is to share things about your industry that you find interesting. This can be anything from new regulations to technological leaps to completely absurd products. Give your audience an opportunity to interact with you about these posts and you’ll slowly build up your fan base.

Funny or thought-provoking shares. This one is much riskier. One man’s funny is another’s offensive, so keep your business’s key values in mind as you decide what’s share-worthy. If you can conquer humor, though, it will often pay off hugely. Everybody likes the funny guy in the room, after all. Make sure you add something to the conversation when you share content like this, otherwise it can risk looking like spam.

Getting started in social media can be tricky, but it’s not the hardest thing you’ll do in your day by far. If you make a plan to connect to your audience and then give them something worth sharing, you’ll soon need to bring new help on or hire an answering service to handle all the calls that are pouring in.