Which Social Media Platforms are Right for Your Small Business?
in Small Business Marketing on November 5, 2019
The short answer is NOT all of them.
Small business owners have widely varying opinions on social media. Some view it as a necessary evil—something they have to do to keep up with the competition, and they do the very least they can to maintain a presence. Perhaps they set up a Facebook page with a bare minimum of information and steer clear of all the other platforms. Others take a polar opposite approach and blanket every platform with images and posts touting their products and services.
What’s the right approach for YOUR small business marketing strategy?
Social media is an amazing tool for entrepreneurs. Savvy small business owners realize the value of social media as an integral part of their small business marketing plans. In addition to in-person networking, it’s a way to stay in touch with their current customers, introduce new products and services, show off projects that have been completed and court new prospects. Plus, unless you’re advertising on social media, it’s free, so it won’t cut into your marketing budget or your cash flow.
Make sure it aligns with your business. Savvy small business owners realize that not every platform is the right fit for them. Posting on platforms that aren’t the right fit for your business is like walking into a roomful of people who are already engaged in a conversation and realizing you have nothing to say to them. Don’t let anyone convince you that you have to be on every platform.
The top social media platforms for most businesses are Facebook and LinkedIn. Houzz is a great option for contractors and other home improvement businesses but not appropriate for other types of businesses. Instagram and Pinterest are perfect for retailers, artisans, restaurants and other businesses that create a product with a strong visual impact. Twitter tends to be more of a conversational platform, often focusing on current events and politics, but it could be used to communicate promotions.
Be committed. Once you’ve chosen the platforms that are appropriate for your business, keep them updated. Make an effort to post once a week and no less often than once a month. Failing to update your social media sends a negative message and may be worse than not being there at all. If it’s been a while since you have updated your social media, don’t give up. After people like or follow your account, they often only notice your posts when they appear in their feeds. So all is not lost. Any time is a good time to get committed.
Let’s take a look at some of the top social media platforms for businesses and evaluate which types of businesses they’re most appropriate for.
While Facebook is a good small business marketing medium for B2C businesses to share more “fun” content, a presence on Facebook is expected for most every type of business, and prospective customers will often check out your business’ Facebook page to get a more personal view of your business than what your website presents. (However, small business owners should know that a Facebook page does NOT take the place of a website … you need both.)
- Should your business be on Facebook?
- In a nutshell, every business should have a Facebook page. No matter what industry you’re in, consumers expect to be able to find you on Facebook.
- Facebook is particularly helpful for these types of businesses:
- Businesses that do special events, promotions, sales, or open houses.
- Businesses that regularly create blogs, as Facebook is a great place to share them.
- Using it to your best advantage:
- At the bare minimum, your Facebook page should contain your logo, be listed in the proper business category and contain your correct phone number, address, website URL and hours of operation. However, in order to maximize your impact, you should be posting not only your products, specials and innovations, but also sharing your blog posts and offering content that’s helpful to your target audience.
LinkedIn is the premier platform for B2B marketing. A strong following on LinkedIn will lend credibility to your company. You should encourage all your employees to update their profiles with their positions at the company, “follow” the company and share any articles or posts that the company and their co-workers make.
(Here’s a helpful LinkedIn hint: Username and password recovery with LinkedIn is very tricky. As a business owner, it’s a smart idea to create a separate email address and password for your business’s social profiles. If you have an intern or other employee set up your LinkedIn profile with their own email address and they leave the company, you’ll have a difficult time gaining access to your profile without access to their email.)
- Should your business be on LinkedIn?
- Any professional service, software, or manufacturing company should absolutely have a LinkedIn page. It’s less important for retailers and other businesses that market exclusively B2C.
- LinkedIn is a great platform for:
- Business professionals on LinkedIn are often looking for people or companies who can do one of three things: give them great advice, provide a solution to their business problems, or hire them.
As a result, LinkedIn is great platform for posting thought leadership articles, announcing new products or services (especially technology or SaaS) and posting open positions if you’re looking to add to your team. LinkedIn is NOT intended to share GIFS, funny anecdotes and/or personal stories; doing so may lessen your credibility.
Instagram and Pinterest
As we mentioned earlier, Instagram and Pinterest are amazing platforms for businesses that create or promote visually impactful products. These media are not the right place for professional services or manufacturing businesses.
- Should your business be on Instagram and/or Pinterest?
- These platforms are ideal for showing off things like beautiful, completed projects (like renovations), pictures of food, jewelry, clothing and homes for sale.
- Using it to your best advantage:
- Choose your images carefully. There’s a lot of really stunning stuff getting posted all the time. Remember that you’re adding to a “wall” of images, so think about how your images will fit together as part of one big, beautiful digital billboard for your product or service. Instagram and Pinterest are also very emoji-friendly, so make sure you include relevant emojis to make your posts more engaging.
Summing up social strategy for your small business marketing plan…
The ultimate takeaway here is this: Social media offers small business owners awesome opportunities to connect with current and future customers, promote their products and services, share ideas and show personality in a way that websites don’t allow for and generally stay top-of-mind. However, there’s no perfect combination of platforms that’s perfect for every business, so be choosy and commit to only the platforms that make sense for your business. Then, get creative and watch your followers and business grow!
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