How to choose the right social media platforms for your small business
Increase your chances of success by making the best social media selection.
When it comes to ‘wearing hats’, typically, a small business owner’s hat stand tippeth over.
Not only do they need to be an expert in their particular field, but the demands of their business can also see them as marketer, bookkeeper, debt collector, cleaner, receptionist… their list of responsibilities can go on and on.
This in mind, when adding ‘social media strategist’ into an already-busy mix, it might pay to focus on a few of the right platforms, rather than going for all of them.
But, where to start?
With so many social media platforms out there – and more popping up all the time – it can be tempting to throw your hat in the ring (yep, we’re liking the hat metaphor) and sign up to all of them.
The danger with this approach is mastering none.
So how can you make sure you harness the power of social media without getting lost down the online rabbit hole?
Here are some tips for picking the right platforms for your business, plus a selection of the most popular social channels around right now.
1) A few done well is better than many done badly, or not at all
It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of a new platform (especially if you’re avoiding a more tedious task) or think you need to be on every conceivable social site so you don’t miss out on any opportunities.
Rather, focus on the one or two platforms where you can best reach your target audience and do them well. If you find you have more time on your hands you can always expand to other platforms later.
You’ll potentially reap more rewards – and still have time to don that other beret, baseball cap, beanie…
2) Consider your industry and business
Some social media platforms will be a natural fit for your industry and business, while others won’t.
For example, if you’re in a conservative industry and your business persona is serious, then the fun-loving and youthful Snapchat is unlikely to be a good match.
Professionally focused LinkedIn, however, could be just the stage you’re seeking to share your expertise and interact with potential customers.
3) Think about the time and resources available to you
Will you be creating and publishing content, and growing your audience on your own? How much time, money and other resources can you afford to invest in your social media activities?
Will that be enough to do your business justice on those platforms, or is it more likely your reputation will take a hit?
Ensure you have enough resources to be effective on your chosen platforms to boost (not sink) your reputation.
Not enough up your sleeve? Then pare back your plans until your situation changes.
4) Consider the platforms you find easy and enjoy
Which social media platforms do you personally like and use? Facebook? Pinterest? Instagram? Providing they suit your industry and business, why not also use them for your work?
You’ll be more likely to stick at – and do well with – something you already understand and love.
That being said, you never know until you try.
If you encounter advice that suggests a certain platform might be great for your type of business, it’s well worth giving it a whirl and creating your own personal account, just to be sure.
5) Match your potential content to the platform
While (with a healthy dash of creativity) content can be created for just about any platform on any subject, it’s important to consider whether your potential content will easily align with your chosen platform.
Do you struggle to get images on your topic? Then you probably want to avoid Instagram. Is your subject matter too complex to distil into a couple of sentences? Then Twitter may not be your friend, my friend.
Speaking of social media platforms, let’s take a quick look at some of the more popular options available to you:
With its mission to ‘give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected’, Facebook lets you post text, images, videos, and links to your audience.
It’s free, and straightforward, to start a page for your business.
According to Facebook, there are a staggering 1.18 billion daily active users.
313 million monthly active users log in to Twitter to share thoughts, images and videos, all usually in the space of 140 characters.
The micro blogging site aims ‘to give everyone the power to create and share ideas and information instantly, without barriers’.
Great for linking to content on your blog or website, and an amazing way to keep up with what’s trending right now, it’s also free to sign up and begin tweeting.
For those that love to snap photos and share them with the world, Instagram offers ‘a fun and quirky way’ to do it.
More than 500 million people, including those running businesses, use the visual storytelling medium to captivate, inspire and sell. Join for free.
It’s like the ultimate TV with a never-ending selection of channels.
Billions of people across the globe use the popular video-hosting platform to ‘discover, watch and share originally-created videos’.
Another free site, it also gives you the potential to earn an income on your own ‘channel’.
The largest professional network in the world, more than 433 million members “get access to people, jobs, news, updates and insights that help you be great at what you do”.
Create a page for your business and share industry-related content, plus publish articles against your personal account to build your reputation as a thought leader.
Express yourself, live in the moment, learn about the world, have fun together.
That’s what Snapchat wants you to do, using its snap-happy app.
Take photos and video, add fun embellishments and chat with your followers.
It’s fun and finite – content disappears after a set time.
As a business, you can also work with Snapchat to create a branded, geo-targeted lens (like the one we did to celebrate the launch of Sky Muster™ II).
A visual smorgasbord pulled from the farthest reaches of the internet, Pinterest is “the world’s catalogue of ideas”.
Upload images and links to pin to themed ‘boards’, or re-pin (share) those you find on the site by searching a desired subject or following other users.
Sign up to a Pinterest business account and make it easy for others to pin from your website, giving your brand extra reach.
Plus actively pin content that you know your audience will love, rather than just sharing your own content.
Going social with your small business? Check out these extra tips on how to build an engaged online following.