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Keeping up with every social network in an impossible task for any business owner. Learn how to pick the best social media platform for your business—and your customers.
It is no secret that social media is a key part of any digital marketing plan. But with limited resources (time, staff and budget)—and an ever-growing number of platforms to figure out—many small business owners want to know which social media sites can help them make the biggest impact.
The short answer is: it depends on your business, your goals and customers. Each social media platform has its own strengths, limitations and audience. Deciding what return you want from your social media investment can help in deciding which platforms are right for you. You need to be realistic about the time and resources you’re able to invest. It’s better to manage an active presence on two or three social platforms rather than start an account on 10 platforms that you rarely check or update.
The most widely used social media platform (more than 1.7 billion users—62% of the entire adult population, according to Pew Research), Facebook allows users to create profiles, share photos and videos, post and send public and private messages, and keep up with friends, colleagues, celebrities and businesses. You can make announcements, information, promote events, invite customer reviews, expand your audience with Facebook Ads and share updates about your business.
YouTube, owned by Google, is a video platform of user-generated and professional content. It has more than 1 billion global users worldwide (more than 81% of Internet users, according to comScore) and reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds than any network. Your videos can then be posted, shared or embedded online elsewhere. Customers look to YouTube for content that will instruct, inform or entertain, so it’s a great place to show off your skills. For instance, are you a plumbing contractor? Show viewers how to fix a clogged drain with an instructional video and promote your expertise at the same time.
Pinterest allows users to discover, group, share and save images in collections called “boards.” Users can upload and leave comments and likes for images they have pinned, and create boards for anything from wedding planning to decorating advice. (According to Pew Research, 26% of the adult population is on Pinterest.) Lifestyle and retail brands in particular have found great potential for deep brand engagement and loyalty-building on Pinterest. Landscapers, remodelers and other home services contractors can use Pinterest to share design ideas with potential clients and show off beautiful photos of successful projects.
Instagram is a mobile photo-sharing and video-sharing social media site. Its audience tends to be younger, with high engagement numbers. Users upload images and share them (with short captions) publically or privately; other users can then like, comment, tag other users and follow accounts. While relatively small compared to Facebook, it’s the fastest growing major social media platform for businesses. Make sure you set up a free Instagram for Business account to get special business-only capabilities, like a “Contact” button on your profile that makes it easy for customers to reach you.
LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network (22% of adults use it, according to Pew). It’s most popular with working-aged adults and those with higher educations and incomes. LinkedIn allows a robust 2,000-character description of your business, plus contact info. You can share brief updates with your followers, linking to recent blog post or sharing your take on industry news; join affinity groups of other small business owners with similar interests; and network via vendors and clients via private messages. It can be an effective platform for developing business-to-business relationships; but even if your customers are not on LinkedIn, you can connect with vendors, suppliers and others in your industry.
Twitter allows users to send and read short, 140-character called “tweets.” With 284 million users, Twitter is a popular way to manage customer service in real time and share timely news, like live updates and photos from a business event. Brief contact information can be added to your business’ bio. Tweets have a short shelf life, so you’ll need to post more often on this platform to stay relevant. You can share text, links, polls, photos and videos; you can also respond to and retweet others’ content.
This is just a handful of the available platforms that are out there. We recommend start by doing some research to find out where your potential customers are hanging out online.
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