Utilizing Social Media in Business Part IV: Sites
As a small business owner, you’re likely well aware that social media is an absolute must for every business today, and it is especially important if you don’t have a nationally known brand. When thinking about how to begin creating a social media marketing strategy, there are a few things to consider. You should start by creating goals and thinking about what you want to gain. Ideally, you won’t be focused on becoming an overnight viral sensation, as those occur very rarely and you’ll likely be disappointed. Rather than thinking about gaining 100,000 fans overnight, focus on building an online community with meaningful and relevant communication, which will result in building a dedicated fan base. Create a content plan and note when you’re going to be posting so you’ll stay organized. Think about what your target demographic will want to see, and strive to inform your consumers (rather than simply sell products), as this will build trust. Knowing how to use various social media platforms is your main key to achieving virtual success, and there are several important ways to engage consumers: Ask questions; share users’ problems and triumphs with the community; make sure you communicate (answering questions and providing solutions) in a responsive and timely fashion.
Choosing appropriate platforms can be somewhat tricky, mainly because there are so many options. Twitter and Snapchat focus on quick blurbs; Facebook allows for longer discussions; Instagram and Pinterest are largely image-based. If you’re in a more professional realm, you’ll want to consider LinkedIn and Google+ as well, and don’t forget about YouTube, which is all about videos. When deciding which platforms to utilize, first consider where you would find your desired consumers. While it might be useful to try a few platforms out, don’t choose too many or you could quickly become overwhelmed.
Below is a brief summary of the main social media platforms small businesses are choosing to utilize:
- Your website and blog: This is arguably your most important tool and every small business should have a website and/or a blog.
- Facebook: Allows thousands of people to interact with your business, as you (and your followers) can post photos, videos and longer comments. Additionally, customers can use GPS to “check in” at your business, and they can also share your page with friends.
- Twitter: While Facebook mainly allows you to connect with friends or friends of friends, Twitter allows for you to connect with people you hope to create a relationship with in the future. It’s also a great way to stay up-to-date with current events, corporations and regular people.
- Instagram: This photo-based platform adds an extra edge, allowing users to edit and filter their photos, which creates a fun image-oriented platform that millions of people enjoy.
- LinkedIn: Largely a professional website, LinkedIn allows you to network with others in your industry and other related industries. It provides an easy way to introduce yourself to others in the business community as well.
- YouTube: This site is comprised of videos that provide quality content illustrating your products, services and how to use them. It’s a great way to create a “viral buzz” or increase consumer loyalty.
- Google+: This site allows you to integrate your social media life with search engines, providing you with the opportunity to add people to your circle of friends. You can create a business page, and your future search results will change based on what your connections recommend.
- Snapchat: This is rapidly becoming a hot social media platform, as it allows people to send videos back and forth that last for only a few seconds. It’s a simple way to communicate ideas and information without being concerned with long-term accessibility. Because it’s only available for a short period of time, you can send exclusive offers and product updates that the general public wouldn’t know about yet, which is quite enticing for a lot of people.
- Reddit: This site is dedicated to entertaining consumers. Users can surf the site to find something that piques their interest, allowing business owners to post compelling information about their products and services. There’s also a specific board for small businesses, where business owners can ask users specific questions (and simultaneously advertise their services). If something is popular enough, it will be propelled to the top of the site and can quickly be seen by numerous potential consumers.
Bottom Line: By testing out various social media platforms, you can further develop your brand and reach consumers who otherwise would never have known about your company or products.