Social media is everywhere, but you shouldn’t be everywhere on social media. Here’s why.
So many small business owners I know feel ambivalent about social media—compelled and overwhelmed at the same time. On the one hand, it feels like everyone is “doing it” and you feel like you should, too. On the other hand, you have a ton of work to do and you’re not sure how you’re going to post/tweet/snap/insta and get the rest of your work done. To top it all off, you may not even see a return on your investment. I know this because I’ve been there.
The reality is that the strategic use of social media can be a great way to connect with current clients, potential clients, former clients while demonstrating your expertise and humanity. That being said, not all social media is created equal. Choosing the right social media platforms is important to your business, and you will save you a ton of time and money by being selective.
When you’re trying to decide which social media platforms you might use to connect with your audience, you need to look at the data. The raw data is clear but can be a little deceiving. Just because LinkedIn has 400 million users doesn’t mean that’s how many people are actively using that social media platform. In actuality, LinkedIn’s active users are about 100 million users a month; that’s one-fourth of their total users. I took a look at the numbers on Statista.com for the numbers of active users for some of the more popular names in social media and here are the numbers for monthly active users:
- Facebook: 1.55 billion
- Instagram: 400 million
- Twitter: 316 million
- Google+: 300 million
- Tumblr: 230 million
- LinkedIn: 100 million
- Pinterest: 100 million
You shouldn’t decide solely based on the number of active users, though. What other things should you consider when choosing your social media platform?
- Your Market. Are you a looking for business to business (B2B) or business to customer (B2C) connections? If you’re looking for B2C connections, you’re probably not going to use LinkedIn to find customers. You’ll spend more time developing your business connections through Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter. If you see B2B, you’ll get a bigger bang for your buck by connecting with your market through LinkedIn and Twitter.
- Your Offers. If you’re offerings are visual in nature—a wedding planner, for example, you should choose a visual platform such as Facebook, Pinterest, and/or Instagram. If you’re offering information products for sale, you can rely on Twitter and LinkedIn more. Don’t be fooled, though—you’ll get much higher engagement on any platform if you have a relevant video element, a picture or video that draws your audience in.
- The Cost of Reaching Your Audience. You might also consider the costs associated with various platforms. Recent changes in Facebook’s algorithm make it very difficult to reach your audience unless you pay Facebook to advertise or “boost” them. Without paying, your great content will be hidden from most people’s walls, even if they have opted in and “liked” your Facebook page. I have seen examples where Facebook Pages with 1,000,000+ likes were being throttled down to minimal reach (less than 10,000) when the page owner wasn’t paying to “boost” posts. Even though Facebook can be an excellent advertising platform, you should still consider the overall investment before you make your decision about which social media platforms to use.
Here’s my number one rulePick one or two places where your prospective customers hang out and focus your energy there. Don’t be everywhere. It would take too much time and, honestly, it probably wouldn’t help you make more money. You’d need a whole department dedicated to social media. Instead, choose your top one or two social media platforms and build your relationships there. Quality, not quantity, is what’s most important.
My number two rule for small business and social media is:don’t hire your 16 year old niece to handle your social media because she spends a lot of time on Instagram. Many business owners want to throw up their hands and delegate social media because it’s time consuming and can be confusing. And, because they saw their niece posting about Christmas dinner on Facebook, they assume she can handle their business’ social media duties. The truth is that social media is about representing your company in the best possible light, with the intention of building your relationships and ultimately making you more money. You wouldn’t send your 16 year old niece to do an important sales presentation for a big potential client, would you? You shouldn’t turn over your company’s social media marketing to her either.
If you’re niece shouldn’t do it, who should? Here are my three recommendations in order of preference:
- You. No one knows your business like you do. No one will have the perspective and motivation that you have to grow your business. If that’s not feasible or likely, though, you should consider asking
- Someone who works for you. I’ve implemented this successfully in the past, but it takes a fair amount of work on the front end to teach that person what you want, what you like and don’t like, what you never want to see discussed, what you want them to do if there’s a legitimate complaint that comes to you via social media or a “troll” that’s looking to stir things up. If you invest the time, though, it can make things much easier for you. If you don’t do it yourself or have someone who works for you do it, though, I recommend you find a…
- Social media manager. This is a great alternative if you want your social media to work on your behalf without investing a lot of your own time. There is still an upfront investment of time—usually a lot less than when you train someone in house to do it—but then you delegate the day to day responsibilities and monitor your social media results regularly. This is one of the services that I offer my clients because I know the value of a “done for you” social media manager, strategically generating content and engaging your audience.
Here’s my number three rule of small business and social media: don’t start if you’re not going to keep it up (or have someone keep it up on your behalf). I see too many companies who start a Facebook page, post a few things, then let it go. Maybe the person lost interest, or maybe the business closed down. I was recently looking for a company’s information on Facebook and the last post they had was from 2013. The website they had encouraged people to go to on their Facebook page wasn’t even a working website anymore. I knew this company was in still in business, but most people have just moved on. Seeing an abandoned Facebook page is like visiting a ghost town. You don’t want your business to come across like that.
If you have questions about which social media platforms would be right for your business, or if you would like to find out what it would look like for my company to manage your social media for you, email me. I’ll be happy to help any way I can.