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Start-ups and social media: the two should be destined to be together, but things like budget, manpower, and know-how often keep them apart.

Social media can be a powerful outlet for startups to market themselves and establish their brand. With a few campaigns, stunning visuals, and an ad budget, you can start building an audience, collecting market data, and testing your marketing prowess that will ultimately lead you to business success.

But getting started on social can seem like launching a mission to the moon for many businesses. Where do you begin? How much should you spend? How often should you post on social media? What do you say?

These five ideas for startups can help you begin a profitable social media journey just like the pros:

#1 - Set Specific Goals for Social Media

Social media channels can do a lot: bring in new customers, create brand awareness, generate leads, drive website traffic, earn reviews and other customer-driven content, learn about your audience - the list is seemingly infinite.

What are you specifically wanting to get from your social media strategy?

The more laser focused you can make your goals; the better able you'll be to build a strategy around those goals and direct your content and posts to achieve them. Don't just start posting willy-nilly - every moment you spend on social should be calculated and driven by a specific desire to maximize your time and budget.

#2 - Start Small

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, Google, Snapchat, YouTube - there are TONS of options when it comes to social media. Here's the good news: you don't have to be on every single channel to be effective. In fact, many startups find more success in using just one or two platforms. It's better - and cheaper - to go deep rather than going wide.

Do a little research to find where your audience is most likely to hang, then pursue that channel with all your heart.

#3 - Don't Just Focus on Vanity Metrics

One of the most flattering things for startups is to see Likes and Shares on social media. But remember, adding followers and getting Likes isn't necessarily going to bring you the results you need.

Rather than focusing on these vanity metrics alone, make sure you have a way to measure the greater impact of these actions. Are people clicking through to your website? Are customers converting? How far is your post reaching?

Success starts with a Like or a Follower, but it doesn't end there - and neither should you.

#4 - Don't Just Talk - Listen

You have a lot you want to share about your new company and are eager to get the word out. But every successful business knows when to talk  and when to listen.

Asking for feedback, ideas, and comments is critical in the early days of your business. Hearing your customers helps you fine-tune issues early before they become a profit-killing problem. Most people give new businesses the benefit of the doubt - they know you're new and working out the kinks.

If you listen to your customers, they can help you avoid repeating major mistakes.

#5 - Hire a Freelancer for Social Media

Freelancers usually cost less than agencies and can be just as effective. When you work with an agency, you may have one or more people working on your account, whereas with a freelancer you're working directly with the person handling your social media.

Find Social Media Success as a Startup

Social media can be time consuming, but don't think of it as just another thing on your to-do list. The value it brings can be worth every moment you spend on it, if you give it enough time and thought.

Author: Benjamin Shepardson is the founder of NoStop Ghost Writing, a Key West-based content agency specializing in delivering personalized experiences.