Evaluating Social Media - What's Best for your Small Business?
This article was originally seen in the Lee's Summit Chamber of Commerce's business magazine called Catalyst. You can see the original article in their magazine at https://issuu.com/lschamber/docs/julycatalystweb/38?e=0
The number of social media platforms are increasing nearly every day. Usage of these platforms is also on the rise for every demographic. Being involved with social media provides another way for customers to interact with your brand or product outside of the normal purchasing relationship. After first hearing or seeing your brand, many individuals turn to Google and social media to gauge your company's credibility. Social media takes it a step further by allowing potential customers to see which of their friends also connect with your company, which acts as an instant subliminal referral. Yet, with all these benefits, social media still remains a daunting challenge for most small businesses to tackle.
Part of the enormity of this challenge is the common misconception that your small business needs to be on all the major social media platforms as a minimum. This is simply not true, nor is it economical -monetarily or temporally. So, which platforms should your small business pursue? We recommend answering the following three questions to help get you started:
1. What platforms work for your type of business?
Is your product or service visual (i.e. a custom home builder or restaurant) or information based (i.e. accounting or legal services)? Highly visual businesses may push you towards Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest that are optimized for visual sharing. Are timely updates on industry news from your company sought after by your customers? For example, Twitter works well for this format. Would most of your posts consist of shorter or longer updates? The answers to these questions should help shape which platforms would work well for your business.
2. Where are your customers?
Just because your product or service works for a particular social media platform, does not mean that it will have success reaching your customer. As a company, you know who your ideal target market is, but can you deduce where they go for social media? For instance, if you're targeting business to business relationships, you might notice your customers are participating on LinkedIn or industry specific social media platforms. In Contrast, according to BI Intelligence's latest surveys, 83% of U.S. teens in wealthy households were on Instagram. If you do not know what social media your customers prefer, consider doing some research online for demographics usage statistics, or simply ask some of your current customers.
3. What can your company realistically maintain?
Even if the previous two questions point you to three different social media that work well for your company, you must identify what resources you can dedicate to managing social media. Having a presence on social media that is very rarely updated can be more detrimental than having no presence at all. We recommend that most small businesses evaluate how much time each week a dedicated member of staff can put towards social media. Additionally, it's helpful if the staff member has the ability or willingness to learn how to create content, whether it be written or visual. Typically, starting out with just one or two social media platforms is much easier to handle. If consistency and success is experienced with those platforms, one can expand to additional platforms.
Once you've identified the platforms that are ideal for your business, you must evaluate the monetary and time resources available. Then you can begin creating a posting plan and creating your content. If you are still having trouble evaluating which social media platforms may be right for your business, consider talking to a small business marketing professional. Many of which offer free initial consultations and proposals for small businesses looking for help getting started with social media.
If used effectively, social media should be seen as an additional part of your marketing team, not an overwhelming headache. Look at social media as a way to extend your brand's credibility and ultimately generate leads. Once you have the right tools and plan in place, success may be just a tweet away.