The Major Players
While there are many, many social media sites out there, it is best to begin with the ones that have captured the largest share of attention or the ones that help you with your search engine optimization. Here are the top 3 players in which every small business should participate.
If you can believe it, Facebook just celebrated its 10th Anniversary last week and boasts an impressive 1.3 Billion monthly active users, making it the world’s largest social network. This massive audience is one of the features that makes Facebook such a necessity for businesses. The likelihood that your target audience will use this behemoth social media channel is very high if they are using social media at all.
It is difficult to pinpoint what the “average” user is on Facebook because there is such a large demographic. Here are some numbers according to Business Insider’s Social Media Report from Q4 2013 that can help put it into context for you:
67% of Internet users in the US are on Facebook, increasing to 82% in the UK
From 2012 to 2013, the 45-54 user age bracket saw an increase of 43%
In the US, 73% of adults earning more than $75K per year have Facebook profiles
The short answer here is that Facebook is the right platform for 99% of businesses. Even if you are in the financial or medical industry where pre-cautions must be taken for privacy reasons, there are still plenty of types of content that you can share with your audience.
On Facebook, content that performs the best is visually oriented content such as photos or videos that would appeal to your demographic. For instance, a medical clinic might create a series of posts about healthy food groups or show an image of their office poster with tips for lowering stress levels. These are items that align with the purpose of the business as well as the interests of their patients. Other posts that ask your audience to complete a sentence or answer a question are excellent for engagement.
What you should NOT do is share link after link to articles that may or may not interest your fans and subsequently get no “likes” or comments. You may as well be playing to an empty room if your content has no engagement. Don’t forget that the importance of social media is to BE SOCIAL!
Twitter is another of the social media giants with 100 Million daily active users and 500 Million Tweets per day! What does this mean for small business owners? It means that there are a lot of conversations happening on Twitter that you could be participating in! Does your sales team need more qualified leads? Why not have them go onto Twitter to see who might be talking about your brand, or better yet, the need your company fulfills?
Twitter works by using the hash tag (#) to participate in conversations online. There is a whole blog post on how to properly use and leverage Twitter hash tags for your business’ benefit that I suggest you read to understand the pure power behind this medium.
Similarly to Facebook, most businesses can benefit significantly from properly using their Twitter profile. However, the most important aspect of this social platform is CONVERSATION. Therefore, if you don’t have a person within your office or staff who can dedicate an hour or a few hours per week to managing this account, you should either hire a professional social media manager or steer away from this channel. The important thing to understand is that by not participating, you are basically leaving money on the table and no small business owner likes to do that.
This is perhaps the most misunderstood social media channel of all, partially because it has an identity crisis. To the general population, Google + is a social media channel that was launched to compete (poorly) with Facebook because these two Internet giants can’t seem to get along. To Google, however, Google + is much larger in scope than just a social media channel. G+ is a way for the search giant to consolidate all of your activity within any Google application, including, but not limited to Google Maps, Calendar, Gmail, Drive, Places, and much, much more. You may remember about 18 months or so ago when they decided to consolidate all of their Terms of Service from 90 different agreements into one? This was the Gotcha! moment for G+ that most users didn’t even notice.
The ‘big brother” implications of this consolidation aside, there are many terrific features of G+ that are being used more and more every day. One is the proliferation of Google Authorship within blog posts and SERPs. You have likely seen small pictures next to a search result yourself. That picture is fed from the author’s G+ account. There are countless other features that can positively impact your search rankings that are outlined in this well written article by Social Media Examiner. Once again, my recommendation is that every small business owner utilizes this channel for their business, if only for the SEO implications.
Tune in next week for Part 2 of “Which Social Media Networks are Right for Your Business” when we will discuss LinkedIn, Pinterest, Instagram, and Youtube.