More than half a million new small and medium sized businesses open for business each year and many are in the retail sector. Spreading the word and generating excitement about a new retail outlet is a real challenge, particularly when you are at the business end of opening a new store. Among all the tasks that are on your to-do list, creating a large customer base is perhaps one of the toughest to achieve and you don’t always see immediate results. Then there is the crowded marketplace. Using social media is one way to bring a buzz about your business and generate excitement about your new store but with 91 per cent of all retailers using at least two social media channels, there is a lot of noise for your message to cut through. But, with the right strategy in place, social media can be a huge asset in building awareness of your brand and announcing your arrival on the retail scene. Here are a few ideas to get you noticed and on the right track. 1. Start early. If you are having a big launch for your new business, give yourself a four to six week roll-in period for your social media campaign. This gives you enough time to build noise, create relationships and generate a following. 2. Plan your social media strategy. Don’t just jump in, have a think about what you want to achieve. Think about who your audience is; which social channels work best for you; your brand voice – what messages and in what style do you want to be heard; what content are you going to post; and, importantly, what are your goals – who do you want to reach, what is your message, what do you hope to achieve with your social media strategy. 3. What to post. If you are planning a launch, how about some ‘behind the scenes’ images, sneak peeks will make your followers feel part of something. Post interviews with the people who are part of the business - make it personal so followers feel an emotional attachment to your story. Above all, visuals are the posts that get the biggest audiences - so by all means write article but make sure you have images to go with them. 4. Engage with local influencers Work with bloggers from your sector to get your brand noticed. Do your home work, who are the influential people in your sector or community. Once they have been identified, engage with them, include them in your posts, arrange to meet and chat with them. 5. Paid social advertising. After you’ve created and populated your social media pages with organic content, run paid ads. These will position you in front of the right audience. You can also choose the geographic parameters for the ad’s distribution. Targeting your audience in this way is a cost effective way of getting in front of the right people. 6. Keep momentum Once you have built an audience, keep engaging with them. It will have taken you time, effort and some investment to build your online community, if you fail to keep in front of the audience, they will drift away. Community management and proactive social media marketing remain essential to your retail business. You can use social media to stay top-of-mind long after your new business has celebrated its one year anniversary. use email marketing campaigns, regular giveaways/contests, post user-generated content, and engage with customers via your branded social channels.