You’re on Facebook. You’ve heard your kid talk about Instagram, but mixed into sentences with other words you’re quite certain she made up.
The other day, you saw the President tweeted again about something or another, and last week you read the news and like many others, found Snapchat’s IPO valuation to be pure insanity. You’re not sure exactly what Snapchat does, but it sure as hell isn’t worth $33 billion dollars. In your spare time (haha!), since it seems to be ubiquitous, you Google how to leverage social media for your business and then the phone rings so you’ll get back to that later. To be honest, it’s hard to keep up with it all so maybe you won’t, but you take comfort in thinking you can’t possibly be the only one who hasn’t jumped into the conversation on behalf of your company.
And you’d be right about that. In a recent study surveying small businesses on their digital marketing habits,
Clutch found that 24% of SMBs are still not using social media.
Of all the businesses surveyed, 8% said they’re not only not using social, but also have no plans to do so. Uh oh. Whether it’s because social media is too time consuming or they don’t see social media as valuable to their particular business, we’re sure you won’t be surprised to discover that we respectfully disagree.
What we do understand is that it’s no small feat to implement a consistent social media strategy.
Getting your feet wet can be incredibly daunting. There are about a million and a half things to consider before publishing your first post, but having a strong foundation will considerably simplify the process. Before anything, devise a strategy for how to communicate your brand in a way that drives business. Then, have an understanding of each platform so you can determine which are right for your business. And start speaking the same language as your kid again.
Facebook: If nothing else, do this.
With well over 1 billion monthly active users, Facebook is a behemoth and the world’s leading social media platform. In fact, its competitors are no longer rival social platforms, but the world’s leading companies period. Think Apple and Google. Regardless of what kind of business you have, having some kind of presence on Facebook is pretty much a non negotiable.
Your target customer is almost guaranteed to be on Facebook, but that’s not the only reason you should be there. Facebook’s advertising platform is the best in the business, allowing you to put your message in front of exactly those who need to see it by providing audience targeting parameters as detailed as filtering users by what kind of phone they own. Beyond that, Facebook Pages are among the top search results in search engines, providing your customers a natural way of getting the most up to date information about your company.
The question with Facebook is not if establishing a presence there is right for your business, but how you’ll use it to communicate with your customers.
Instagram: For pretty, pretty #pictures.
Owned by Facebook and steadily growing in popularity, Instagram is known as the visual platform. Increasingly, this means video in addition to eye catching images. The restaurant, fashion and travel industries have thrived on this platform for having a natural association with striking images, but any business can harness its power with the right approach. Use Instagram as a means of visual storytelling to showcase your brand.
LinkedIn: Lead with a professional attitude.
Once known as the social network to find a job, LinkedIn has continued honing in on its product to earn its reputation as the place for professionals. Use this platform to build your personal brand as a leader in your industry through thought leadership pieces and to expand your professional network.
LinkedIn is more peer-focused than consumer-facing, making it an ideal place to share your business’ accomplishments and community involvement, if that makes sense for your brand. An active presence on LinkedIn gives potential customers and partners a better idea of the individuals behind your business. Depending on what type of business you have, this can spur interest from the press and become a powerful PR tool as well.
Twitter: News in 140 characters.
Despite some recent instability within the company itself, Twitter has maintained its position as a valuable news platform since its inception. People come to Twitter “to discover what’s happening in the world right now, to share information instantly, and to connect with people and businesses around the globe.” We see Twitter as a valuable tool for improving customer service and driving website traffic; a complement to marketing platforms like your website and Facebook presence that provides a direct line to your business where interaction with customers is bite-sized and happens instantly.
YouTube: Where great videos and makeup tutorials live.
People are often surprised to find out that YouTube is the 2nd most used search engine & 3rd most visited website in the world, second only to Google and Facebook. Millions of hours of video are streamed to tens of millions of people every single day. YouTube isn’t the first platform that comes to mind for small business marketers, but the opportunity is immense should you have the time and resources to create original video content on a consistent basis. As a member of the Google family, an active YouTube presence is also incredibly influential in keeping your search rankings high and your brand more visible to potential customers.
Snapchat: Like its messages, this one might disappear if you don’t act quickly.
Having recently gone public with an IPO valued at just over $30 billion, Snapchat is one social network that got more than its fair share of press coverage earlier this month. With a price tag like that, it’s fair to assume this very well may be the next thing for small business marketers, but a look at the current social media landscape might say otherwise.
In the beginning, Snapchat was the younger demographic’s image and video sharing app of choice. In addition to providing a service that became the visual version of texting, Snapchat introduced cool features like geofilters and using face detection technology to change user faces with fun lenses. Yet, there’s something about a secret getting out that just doesn’t make it as fun anymore. While the growth of users is increasing, we expect frequency of app usage to decline, especially as Facebook & Instagram continue to integrate Snapchat’s core technology into their own products.
While definitely a fun app to play around with, we believe social media is only useful to small business if it can drive real business goals -- something we haven’t quite seen Snapchat’s been able to do yet.