If you own a small business, you know you need to be on social media. But you probably don’t know how to use it most effectively, which social media platforms you should be using or how to find the time to fit social media management into your already busy day.
First let’s tackle the question of which social media platforms you should be using. There are currently hundreds of different social media sites out there. Obviously, you do not have time nor would it make sense as a small business to try to keep up with even a tenth of them. And for the purposes of this article, I am going to assume that your business is based in the United States and caters mainly to that audience so we will concentrate on only looking at the most popular platforms here in the states. (If you sell quite a bit overseas, or have ambitions to do so, it would pay to research some of the social media apps that are most popular in the markets that you wish to move into.)
Know who your audience is and where they hang out online.
Each social media community is different and caters to a specialized audience as well as facilitating different types of interests and communication styles. You do not need to use the apps that don’t cater to your audience. If you mostly sell your products to retirees, you don’t need to waste your time on a site that is populated by teens. If you’re trying to attract female millennials, you want to focus on the sites they use, and so on.
Important Features of the Big Seven Social Sites
These sites are listed by popularity based on how many people have an account that they use at least occasionally.
- YouTube. Are you surprised to see this one at the top? Perhaps you don’t really think of YouTube as a social media channel. But YouTube is very social. People create channels based on a theme or topic, they share lots of interests and comments with each other, and it is a hugely influential and highly trafficked site. Popular videos include those having to do with DIY and how-to’s, music, entertainment, news and more. Posting video is a fantastic way to get potential customers to discover your business and the site appeals to every demographic.
- Facebook. Facebook is pretty much the giant of social media, dwarfing the activity rates of all the other sites listed below. It has a wide range of ages and demographic representation who check in daily. People share all kinds of things on Facebook, but it’s especially dominant for promoting events and creating groups for sharing interests and passions of all kinds.
- Instagram. Most users on Instagram are between 18 and 35. It is a highly visual and creative medium for sharing. If you have a product or service that can be shared in attractive, eye-catching visuals, this can be a good marketing platform for your business.
- Pinterest. This site has a mostly female audience (although that may be changing). Users create pin boards of interests organized around topics like fashion, food, decor, weddings, workout, crafting, DIY and other hobbies. If you have a business that could create posts about clever hobby ideas that enthusiasts will pin and share, this could be a good site for you to use.
- LinkedIn. LinkedIn tends to focus on professional development and networking. If you want to target elite professionals, managers, business owners and people with college degrees, LinkedIn can be a great place to be.
- Snapchat. This is where the kids hang out (for now anyway, kids are fickle). The average age on Snapchat is 13. If your business targets a youth audience, you need to check out Snapchat.
- Twitter. Twitter tends to have a young audience as well, but more in the 18 – 29 year old age range. Conversational and edgy, its users are interested in sharing news and chatting about entertainment, sports, politics, and marketing. Twitter is fast-paced and focused on trending topics which are constantly changing based on whatever is breaking in the news.
Based on the info above, you have probably narrowed down to a couple of platforms that seem like they might be a good fit for your audience. If you’re still not sure where to focus your energy and you can only find time to use one platform, try Facebook. It’s easy to use, is highly trafficked and there are a wide range of ages on the site. Plus, it is easy to create and target ads to very specific audiences. Small business can get a good bang for their buck by running Facebook ads without spending much money.
Tips for Getting Started in Social Media for Your Small Business:
- Do a little research on the social media platform of your choice and see what your competitors are doing.
- If you are starting from scratch and have absolutely no “fans” of your social media page yet, you may need to pay for some advertising at first to get your name out there and attract sign-ups. But be sure that you have some interesting and helpful content on your page first, otherwise no one will see the value of “liking” you.
- Experiment and see where you get the best results. Try sharing an interesting article, some videos, or a beautiful photo and pay attention to what people are responding to. Continue to refine your strategy based on that response.
- Be consistent. You don’t have to be posting on social media constantly, but make sure that whatever frequency you decide on for sharing on social media, that you keep a steady flow of content, whether it be twice a week or twice a day.
- Consider outsourcing your social media management. If there is someone on your staff that is social media savvy and has the time to handle your online presence, great. If not, consider hiring someone who handles social media marketing to take it off your plate and give it the attention it deserves.