Social media is ever-growing, expanding, and changing, with new platforms entering the market all the time. Navigating this resource is crucial to growing your small business, but can be overwhelming since you are being presented with so many options. It can be difficult to tell where to even begin! This guide will help you map your priorities and understand the different social media platforms most commonly used in order to reach your target audience.
First and foremost, ask yourself, “What is my target audience? How old are they? What are they interested in? These questions will help you decide which social media platforms to hone your focus on.
An Overview of the Platforms
Surprisingly, YouTube has the highest percentage of U.S. adult users. 73% of U.S. adults say they use YouTube, which is almost ¾ of the entire adult U.S. population! Additionally, video marketing is becoming a popular option with small businesses and it’s linked to direct results for the businesses who use it. 76.5% of professional marketers and small business owners say that video marketing has had a direct impact on their business. Now could be the time to jump into video marketing!
Facebook is the platform that everyone is on, with 69% who say they use it, making it one of the most commonly used platforms in the U.S. 81% of adults from ages 18-29 and 78% of adults from ages 30-49 use it. You can post events, status updates, videos, photos, promotional materials, ads, and more on this platform!
Instagram is a social media platform that solely focuses on the posting of photos, typically accompanied by a short caption. You can also post short videos and post to your Instagram story, which is basically a temporary way to advertise or put information on your account that will only last for 24 hours. The majority of those who use this platform range from age 18-24, with 71% of this age range using the platform. If you’re trying to target a younger audience, this is a good platform to try!
Pinterest is another photo sharing social media platform that allows you to create Pinterest boards with your own posts or posts that you’ve reposted from other accounts. 28% of U.S. adults use Pinterest, and it’s a good way to post eye-catching photos that have links to either your website, or other content that you’ve created.
Snapchat is a platform that allows you to communicate with others by sending photos back and forth that typically only last for a short period of time and then disappear forever. As a business, you would most likely take advantage of the story feature on Snapchat, which allows you to temporarily post a photo that all of your followers can see. Only 24% of U.S. adults use this platform, and many of the users are within the 18-24 age range.
Twitter is a platform where you send out “tweets,” which are essentially status updates. The number of characters you’re allowed to use is very limited, which makes Twitter a great place to utilize photos and videos to make a larger impact. 24% of U.S. adults utilize Twitter, making it one of the lesser used social media platforms. Still, it is a great way to consistently connect with your customer base.
Building a Social Media Strategy
"Companies should focus more on BEING SOCIAL than DOING social." Convince & Convert 7 Simple Steps to Social Media
Now that you have an idea of what purpose each of the social media platforms serve, it’s time to choose which platforms to focus on and think about how to use them.
If you’re a small business with a small marketing department, it would probably serve you best to choose only two or three platforms to really put your best effort into because trying to juggle all of them may result in you spreading yourself too thin. Decide what the purpose and objective of using social media is for your business.
- Are you advertising a product?
- Reaching out to new clients?
- Maintaining relationships with current clients?
- Raising brand awareness?
Chances are, you’re doing a little bit of each of these but it’s important to have a clear vision for the purpose that social media serves in running your business. On whatever platforms you choose, make sure to share visual content consistently because data has shown posts with visual content such as photos, videos, GIFs, and more have a higher engagement.
55% of social media marketers are rightfully concerned with Return on Investment (ROI). Added focus is needed on ROI and other Key Performance Indicators (KPI's) for your business. Common focal points include:
- Engagement: likes, comments, shares, etc...
- Reach: How many people saw the post
- Traffic back to the website/landing page
- Conversions made and/or Leads Generated: how many people signed up or purchased your product or service
This data is the most important information to consider in your social media strategy. Luckily when you create a business Instagram account, you are able to access your insights through the Instagram app. These insights tell you how many people have viewed your profile in the past week, how many accounts you've reached over a certain period of time, how many people have seen each post whether or not they liked it, when your followers are most active each day, and pretty much anything else that will help you understand your audience better. Facebook business pages and Twitter analytics offer similar access to your social media data.
Combining the native analytics programs on the social media platforms with Google Analytics allows you further data analytics to understand who came to your page from which social media platform and what web pages they visited.
You can also use the platforms to run ads you create to targeted audiences. Any likes you generate on these advertisement posts are considered paid likes, but the posts can still help to get your company in front of more potential customers. This doesn't always translate to creating new loyal followers, but it can often be a great jumping off point I you have the budget to afford the advertising.
As a small business, it is important to respond to your customers when they reach out to you. Reply to comments, take note of those who regularly interact with your social accounts, and build relationships in whatever way you can. Customers will be more likely to purchase your products if you’re responsive. Be intentional about the content you post on your social accounts, because one of the main reasons someone will unfollow a brand is because they post too much promotional content
One last tip: be consistent! Regularly posting on your social media accounts will help customers develop brand recognition and make them feel like they are getting to know your company on a more personal level.
Hopefully you have a new understanding of social media from a small business perspective that will help you connect with customers and grow your business.
Statistics provided by Pew Research Center