Social media has made a big impact on small businesses across the country. It has allowed consumers and businesses to connect directly, helping to increase customer relationships and build better brand loyalty. It's also made way for online reviews to help businesses spread the word about the services they offer. 

Perhaps most importantly, social media has given small businesses new access to marketing and advertisement techniques. Business owners who run their own pages can post for free about special sales and deals they have to incentivize customers. It allows small companies to control their own ads directly without chipping away at their budgets.

To get the most out of social media for small businesses, however, owners may want to try investing in targeted, purchased ad campaigns. 

"Social media ads can help businesses reach new, relevant clients."

Targeting ads to new customers
While free advertising on business pages can help reach followers and alert customers to new deals and products, it's not as helpful for reaching new clients. Some followers may choose to share an interesting post to their own feeds, but small businesses can't always rely on voluntary shares to spread the word about their companies. 

Purchased social media ads can help businesses reach new, relevant clients. Unlike traditional ads in newspapers or TV commercials, targeted social media ads let businesses seek out their most likely clients. Instead of spending more money to reach people who may never be interested in their products, small business owners can invest in more likely shoppers.

Take a store that sells children's toys or clothes, for example. Rather than advertise to people who don't have kids and are unlikely to need those services until a baby shower or relative's birthday party rolls around, social media can target existing parents based on their social media profiles.

On Facebook, advertisers can choose to only run their ads to certain demographics, as The Next Web reports. If business owners want to promote an in-store only deal, they can choose to just advertise to people in that geographic region. They can also opt to show their ads to people who have certain interests. A kitchen supply store can target anyone who lists "cooking" as one of their interests. This helps businesses to buy smaller ad campaigns and maximize their effectiveness by showing them to people who are the most likely to want to shop there. Small business owners can even build campaigns that are specific to the amount of money they want to spend each day on these advertising campaigns. 

Newest trends in cross-platform advertising
The news and entertainment website Buzzfeed made headlines in mid-March for unveiling a new social media advertising campaign at the technology conference South by Southwest. According to Adweek, Buzzfeed's new Swarm marketing campaign allows advertisers to buy ads that can be integrated across multiple social media platforms, so that business owners don't need to spend their time developing and purchasing multiple ad campaigns to fit different platforms. 

Swarm works to send advertising content out on the social media platforms Buzzfeed currently has accounts on, Youtube, Tumblr, Facebook, Instagram, Vine and Snapchat. The source reported that the first ad campaign to try Swarm was NBCUniversal. The company purchased the cross-platform ads to promote the movie Sisters in December 2015. 

Buzzfeed Marketing Chief Frank Cooper said this campaign is ideal for creating mass awareness of an event.

Other companies and marketers will likely be watching to see how Buzzfeed succeeds with its Swarm platform. Many others may look to start developing these kind of campaign ads for more companies to use in the near future.

Running ad campaigns on social media allows small businesses to reach customers on their favorite sites. Running ad campaigns on social media allows small businesses to reach customers on their favorite sites.

Updates to social media advertising
Many of the social media giants that have dominated interactive ad space online for the past few years are looking for ways to mix up what their companies can offer. Micro-blogging platform Tumblr, for example, spent its early years not offering any kind of paid advertising. Now, companies can buy sponsored posts that show up in users' newsfeeds.

According to SmallBizTrends, the social media website Twitter is also making some changes to how its users can advertise. Companies can purchase sponsored hashtags, which creates a better call to action than simply sponsoring or pinning a tweet. It also gives companies a way to interact with customers and seems less stuffy than a traditional ad.

Equipment and business industry piece brought to you by Marlin Equipment Finance, a nationwide provider of commercial lending solutions for small and mid-size businesses. Marlin's equipment financing and loan products are offered directly to businesses, and through third party vendor programs, which include manufacturers, distributors, independent dealers and brokers in the security, food services, healthcare, information technology, office technology and telecommunications sectors.