Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter were built for digital social engagement.
This might sound like a, well duh moment, but social engagement means two-way communication. It does not mean using your social channels as a billboard to offer promotions to buy your product. It means interacting and exchanging dialogue with others. Those that do that the best, win.
Facebook, Instagram and Twitter are communication tools. Small business owners, probably even big brands too, have a perception that each are direct sales channels that have the ability to yield immediate satisfaction of a sale — but at the cost of long term growth and audience development — because who wants to keep seeing promotions on their Instagram feed from said company.
In the spirit of keeping this short, audience development is the key to producing those sales, but it happens organically from customer loyalty as an extension of believing in a brand. Failing to do so only turns people away. We all know the sales push when we see it.
Branding is what sells. Engagement and communicating with your audience is what sells.
To win with your target audience on social, start first caring about them as individuals and giving them value.