Social Media for Small Business, Part 1

Social media: it’s not if you’ll use it, but rather when you’ll use it. Social media is a valuable tool for many organizations. It’s no surprise, as nearly one out of three Americans receives their news from Facebook. Facebook isn’t the only powerhouse social media out there, as the average online shopper spends average of $140 when coming from Pinterest versus $60 when coming from Facebook. The average Twitter user spends 170 minutes per month on the website or mobile app. With statistics like that, it’s hard not to see the allure of bringing your startup or small business to social media.

Before you jump right in to social media, it’s important to start with a strategy. As with anything in business, strategizing and planning is essential. You will need to determine:

  • Why your organization wants to use social media.
  • How you want to be portrayed on social media.
  • The brand image of your business. Your brand image will help determine how you will go about accomplishing your goals.

Why Are You Using Social Media?

Speaking of goals, be sure to set some measurable goals before you get started on social media. Your goals are why you’re using social media and what you hope to accomplish while using it. Often we call these goals our objectives. Common objectives for social media consist of:

  • Building awareness
  • Sharing your story (also known as sharing content)
  • Generating interest or leads
  • Customer/sales acquisition
  • Improving customer service
  • Starting a movement
  • Building an email list
  • Improving your company’s brand

What Social Media Channels Should You Use?

Once you’ve determined your objectives for using social media, it’s time to determine which platform is best suited towards your needs. There are five major social media platforms that are best suited for startups or small businesses: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, and LinkedIn.

  1. Facebook: Accounting for 71% of adult Internet users and 58% of the entire adult population, Facebook is currently the largest social media platform with 700 million active monthly users. With the number of seniors that use Facebook is at a steady increase, Facebook is typically one of the best social media platforms for startups and small businesses.
  1. Twitter: If your organization is focused on distributing content and customer engagement, Twitter is a prime candidate for your social media debut. Boasting 23% of adult Internet users and 19% of the adult population, Twitter hosts users that are typically college-educated and under the age of 50.
  1. Instagram: With 26% of adult Internet users and 21% of the adult population, Instagram grows more popular every day. Fifty-three percent of Instagram users are between 18 to 19 years old. Instagram is ideal for an organization that has access to unique snapshots on a regular basis.
  1. Pinterest: women are the dominate user base of this platform. Pinterest hosts 28% of adult Internet users. With its increasing popularity, visual aesthetics, and easy methods of link sharing and purchasing, Pinterest is becoming popular among small businesses and startups.
  1. LinkedIn: LinkedIn is a prime option for startups that are B2B oriented and looking for business partners. Acting as a “professional Facebook,” LinkedIn serves for improved facilitation among professionals and businesses. Accounting for 28% of adult Internet users and 23% of the entire adult population, LinkedIn is the only platform where those ages 30 to 64 are more likely to be users than those ages 18 to 29.

What Should You Talk About?

Once you’ve determined which social media platform(s) are best for you, it’s time to start planning and scheduling content. Yes, social media and its creative content requires a plan. This plan should cover a schedule of what you will talk about each day. Scheduling in advance is one of the best ways to accommodate your new plan. Begin by making a content calendar and watch how easy it becomes to plan and schedule your posts. Your content calendar helps you plan what you’re going to talk about. Staying current with local events, holidays, seasonality, industry trends, new product arrivals, and specials you’re having is a reliable place to start.

It’s important to remember that your social media is not always about you. An important part of social media is the “social” portion of it.

  • Make a point to follow industry and community influencers, such as trendsetters, journalists, and topic experts.
  • Share articles and stories from other organizations that you follow, support, or respect.
  • Curate content about the industry that isn’t self-promotional; remember, images and videos are content too.
  • Don’t be afraid to engage in your social community. Monitor what others are saying, comment on their pages and be a part of the conversations happening all over social media.
  • Be diligent in responding to comments and messages on your page.
  • Make a point to respond to retweets and thank your audience regularly.

You’ll hear a lot about driving engagement and being engaging. This really means that you are interacting with your connections in these channels. These are people, not just a fan or a follower, but a person who has liked your page, your company and what you have to say. If they comment, send a message or have an interesting note, be sure to talk back to them. Thank them, answer their questions, connect with them. People like transparency, meaning that you talk to them directly – and promptly – whenever possible. Remember, be social, be friendly, be honest, interesting and helpful.

This is part one of two. Look for part two coming in the next few days. And, please feel free to share your comments and questions with us here or through our social media channels too.