"A 2011 report published by Nielson, Americans spend nearly a quarter of their online time on social networks and blogs." (BMighty2).
Now that report is six years old and social media has expanded even more since then. 2011 was a time when we had Twitter and Facebook were the main sources as Myspace had long since expired. Instagram was in its beginning growth stages--but years later would be a major hub for business. With this being said, it is easy to see how social media is a huge part of everyone's life, but needs to be a part of every small business owners life as well.
We now have so many ways to be social including Vines, Snapchat, Tumblr, Pinterest and even social media's still in creation as we speak. We are digitally connected 24/7 and it is important to be promoting your business on many different platforms. The big question is, what platforms are best and what to put on each one--as each platform has different algorithms and purposes. I wanted to touch on the main ones that may help small businesses grow.
Twitter: Twitter has always been best for short, sweet snip-its of information (hence why it has a small character limit). The best information to be put on Twitter is quick promotions about products, services or events followed by the usual hashtags. Unlike other social media, Twitter's algorithm is meant for hashtags so make sure the hashtags are relevant. If you are offering marketing services, it may be best to use #marketing #smallbizmarketing #marketingwork and other relevant hashtags connected to what you are promoting and Twitter also allows you to search for followers within a certain industry.
This idea can be carried over to any other business and just create hashtags appealing to customers. Also, a picture underneath your post (pictures do take up characters so be careful) can really make your post stand out among others--and gifs help even more.
*Twitter should be your most updated platform as it is the easiest to update. You can share as many posts as possible, but try not to seem spam-y. Twitter allows you to tweet your own information as well as re-tweet others in a simple step of hitting the re-tweet button. This is a great way to gain followers and gain businesses partnerships within social media.
Facebook: Facebook is like Twitter only fleshed out--and hashtags should be used less as Facebook's algorithm does allow them, but they do not benefit like Twitter does from usage. Facebook allows you to expand upon what you want to get across. Maybe you have a huge sale at your business or are offering new products--in which Facebook allows you to say more. Facebook also allows you to upload a picture just as Twitter, but you can use the caption space underneath to say more about what you are trying to sell or show--which is something you cannot do on Twitter.
Also, just as Twitter allows you to find good followers in an industry, Facebook does as well so you can follow businesses and owners within your market.
*Facebook can be updated daily with one or two posts. It is a great platform to not only share your own business info, but also other articles from other businesses to form partnerships, keep your own customers engaged and offer information other than just your personal work.
Instagram: Instagram is my personal favorite, but it does have its limits. Instagram truly engages people into a visual on your products, services and business as well. A shot of some work you are doing, a shot of your office, or maybe a visual shot of the services you offer. Instagram allows you to portray your business in an artsy way--which is truly engaging to many different demographics (especially millennials). Instagram also has an algorithm which allows hashtags to help you find businesses and businesses and followers find you.
The only drawback is that links do not send you to a website with a click like Facebook and Twitter so you need to have the link to your main page in your Instagram header instead of being able to promote on each individual post. This may be tedious, but having an Instagram can truly help you visually standout.
*Instagram can be updated daily with new pictures and hashtags to continuously promote business. Even a shot from your office or commute to work can be beneficial.
Pinterest: Pinterest to me is less about being social and more about gathering/putting out information. It is great to have a Pinterest whether you are a florist, marketing manager or chocolate shop owner because there is always a pin for everyone or someone looking to pin something you have to offer. Pinterest is definitely where you can find and share info graphics for others to enjoy or even post your own work for free promotion
Pinterest is also a great tool to use and find ways to make your business better or just simply a way to promote (similarly to Instagram) your ideas to others. While this means your business and thoughts are in an open air market of sorts and someone can potentially steal your ideas, you have to be in it to win it.
*Pinterest can be updated daily or weekly depending on what new pins are available and if you have any pins to share.
Youtube: Youtube can really benefit businesses that are around to help others via a process. While you may not want to give your entire process away, it may be a great tool for engaging customers by allowing them to see some of the work you do while they are not around. Maybe you own a bakery and want to do a video showing how you make one of the types of cookies you make--that you are fine sharing the entire process with customers, of course. This allows customers to feel like you want them to be a part of your process and can really go over big in customer appreciation. It is never fun walking into a business and never knowing what the creative process is or how they create whatever it is they sell or produce.
*Youtube is definitely something you want to do weekly or bi-weekly, but not too much where you run out of content to share--as that won't look good on your end and may lose viewership or customers.
SnapChat: While SnapChat to me may not be a universal social media tool, I did want to bring it up anyways as it does have its purpose. SnapChat is like Youtube, but condensed. This may not be the best tool for some businesses, but say you are a florist, you may want to use SnapChat to show a quick video of a portion of your process, or promote your flowers for prom or wedding season. Another business to benefit is a coffee shop simply making a SnapChat showing how to pour a latte into a pretty flower form--and engaging the senses like Instagram does.
This platform really only works if you have something to show that includes a process as anything else may seem weird to the viewers--like if you do accounting and you are just showing you crunching numbers which may push away customers instead of engaging them.
*SnapChat really comes down to what you have to share. I would use discretion with how often you share on SnapChat as a business as you don't want to come across immature by sharing unimportant videos. Sticking to once or twice a week may be best unless your demographic or business calls for more.
There are many other social media platforms out there, but I wanted to touch on the main ones and how they CAN help. It really comes down to how social media savvy you are when you start out, but social media is a must--even if you have to have someone do it for you initially while you learn because people trust a business with a social media presence more-so than those who do not.
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Socially Dedicated, a Philadelphia-based firm, provides marketing, content creation, public relations, business management consulting and social media management to small businesses. Check out our website or locate us on social media using the icons below.