How to choose the right Social Media for your Business
When it comes to choosing a suitable social media platform for your small business, there is no shortage of options. But with most business owners being enthusiasm rich but time poor, not every single one can be covered. In an ideal world, the small business owner would be able look into each and every social media channel and determine which would deliver the best results for them.
There are a whole range of factors that determine the success of a particular social media for you: your products / services, human resources, audience and financial resources all need to be taken into account.
Let’s look at the five big ones that may be useful for your business:
Google Boss Larry Page has trumpeted the growth of Google+ at every opportunity but you need to wary of this – his company has made “membership” of Google+ mandatory for usage of Gmail and Youtube. Apart from this, who actually uses Google+? I tried for a short time but found that the circles concept is fundamentally flawed to reach a larger audience with update posts.
On the plus side, Google+ is powered by Google so it isn’t disappearing without a fight. It’s also intrinsically linked to Google search so there may be benefits to some benefits in that one fact alone.
You, like me, may need to test this one out for yourself.
Essentially an image sharing platform, Instagram is slightly more suitable for business than the other image sharer platform, Pinterest, through its clever use of hashtags and plugin integration. Whereas Pinterest allows people to collect images that are of interest to them, Instagram can be integrated directly into business websites allowing site owners to draw in real-time content from their own customers.
A great example is used in online fashion stores – with a simple WordPress plugin, a site owner can display their products as worn by their customers – after purchase! The customer simply has to take a photo and upload to their own Instagram account with a suitable hashtag. The website detects this tag and displays the image in the online shop. What a great way to show your products in use by everyday people – not shop models!
Instagram is great for businesses with a teen/young adult market – they are all over this!
LinkedIn has been designed from the ground up to cater for the Business to Business market. At current, over 2.7 million businesses are represented on the platform but it may not suit your needs if you cater to the public consumer.
If your small business provides services to other businesses (large or small), LinkedIn is ideal for creating connections within your industry. By simply “connecting” with one person, a whole spider web of possibilities opens up to you. Your connections still need to approve your invite to connect, but this is lot more personable than a cold call.
Facebook is the one Social Media that everyone knows and everyone is on. Luckily for business, it is fantastic no matter what service you provide or products you sell. If there is one social media you must be on, in my opinion, this is it.
Facebook not only allows businesses to build a fan-based community around their brand but it also enables the business owner to directly target their ideal audience. Is your target audience 15 year old boys who love to surf and skateboard? Facebook has them covered. What about pregnant 30 year old mums? Too easy.
By ensuring that users enter information about themselves, Facebook can specifically target these audiences.
You can boost your posts on Facebook through the usage of paid advertisements or, in the initial period, try it out with your own audience (people who click LIKE on your website).
Another must in the Social Media arsenal for business owners, Twitter is great for a whole range of reasons. You can use it to start or participate in trending topics (once again using hashtags), both locally and worldwide. Better still, you can graphically the trends across the world.
Announce your latest news, products, blog posts and anything else you want to share, instantly. Start instant competitions for your business with no need for outside promotion (great for those times when business is slow).
Hashtags are the key. Before posting anything on Twitter, do a quick hashtag check (I use Tweetdeck) and see if there is a similar tag that you can use. This way, you will “hook” into a movement that has already started.
On top of the five mentioned above, there are many more Social Media channels to choose from, including the popular Foursquare, YouTube and Pinterest options.
When choosing the platforms that you want to use, don’t forget that nothing is set in stone. If, six months down the track, you decide to try something else, there is no barrier to stop you.
Just remember that as a small business, being on too many platforms can spread you out too thin, effecting your productivity and results. Hopefully, armed with the information written above, you can make an informed decision on which platforms to focus on to help boost your business.