10 Aug You Don’t Need to Be On Every Social Media Platform
“Your business NEEDS to be on social media!”
How many times have you heard this? New business owners have a lot of new options when it comes to online marketing, and for those who aren’t already in the social media game, it can be hard to see why social media is a useful platform for building and growing a brand. From an outsiders perspective, social media looks like a venue where people just go to hang out…no real business happens there.
Nay, my friend. Put on your marketing glasses, and you’ll see a sea of posts wooing customers to buy the latest consumer goods, as well as social media managers posting cat photos in an effort to seem hip and cool to those internet savvy Millennials and customer service reps frantically trying to placate angry clients. Upon closer inspection, you’ll see businesses riding the social media wave, not only because they’re told that what they should do, but because that’s where their customers are.
Once small business owners “get” that they need to be online, there’s then the rush to be on every single social media venue possible. I’ve had clients insist that they need to be on Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google+, YouTube, Snapchat, Vine, Houzz, Periscope, Yelp, and more OMGRIGHTNOW. For some brands, yes, it makes absolute sense to be on all of these platforms, but for most businesses (and especially small businesses), not only is this difficult to accomplish, it’s just not necessary. Think about it…if you’re an interior designer in a very rural town, with an average client age of 55-65, why would you be on Snapchat or Tumblr? Is that where your clients are hanging out? Not to mention the time commitment required to run a fantastic social media campaign on every platform. Social media isn’t about throwing just any content up and expecting potential customers to engage. You have to work for that engagement, providing the right kind of content for your audience, and being there to answer questions when they arise. Much like building a website, it’s not an “If you build it, they will come” scenario. You have to put in some time and effort (although there are tools out there to make social media management significantly easier).
So what platforms should your business participate on? The answer depends on your business. First, decide what your goals are for social media engagement – maybe you just want more name recognition for your brand, or more visitors on your website. Next, pick one social media platform to get started with, work on a routine for that platform, then add another relevant platform to your marketing plan. It’s better to take baby steps than to overwhelm yourself, get frustrated, then walk away entirely.
But where should you start? Let’s take a look at some of the more popular platforms out there.
Facebook: According to a survey conducted by Pew Research Center in 2014, Facebook remains the most popular social media site in the United States. Nearly three quarters (71%) of adult internet users in the U.S. have a Facebook account, including 56% of adults over the age of 65. If you want to dip your toe into social media marketing, this is a great place to do it, although Facebook continues to go in the direction of being a pay-to-play venue (i.e., expect to spend small amounts of money to grow your following). Start here, get a routine for posting in place, and then see what other platforms you may want to add to your social media plan.
Good for: Starting out with social media and reaching a broad audience (especially if you have an advertising budget).
LinkedIn: This is the second most popular social media site, with 23% of social media users over the age of 18 maintaining an account. That’s a pretty big difference from the numbers seen for Facebook, but LinkedIn serves a very different purpose. Their focus is squarely on career and business, making this a great option for companies operating within a Business-to-Business marketing structure or businesses heavily involved in recruiting activities.
Good for: Reaching out to other businesses through participation in LinkedIn groups.
Pinterest: If your business is design-oriented, then Pinterest is definitely a social media platform you should pay attention to. Pinterest is a great venue for showing off your portfolio, or drawing in potential customers with great visuals. It’s also a fantastic platform if your business is targeting women – 42% of users are female. The site also tends to attract users with strong education backgrounds and higher income. Another great thing about Pinterest? Posts tend to stick around longer, so you really get more bang for your buck from shares on this site.
Good for: Businesses focused on design, with lots of visuals available for sharing.
Instagram: Another platform that’s great for design-based businesses, Instagram provides a chance to let clients “get to know” your brand on a more personal level. Instagram images have the tendency to feel candid, giving your clients and potential clients insight into the day-to-day activities of your business. If you’re not a design-based business, you can still leverage Instagram to add a more personalized feel to your social media marketing, but know that this platform requires a higher time commitment than some of the other available platforms.
Good for: Businesses that want clients to feel like they’re getting an “inside look” into the brand.
Google+: This is a social media platform that many users overlook, as it tends to not get a lot of publicity, but is still important for your website’s SEO. Not as many people use this platform, but those who do are deeply committed, which means if you strategize, you’re likely to get more engagement here. It’s an audience that is mainly male, and tends towards being technologically-savvy, so it’s great for businesses that focus on tech, engineering, or programming. And those +1s definitely mean good things for your site when it comes to appearing in search results.
Good for: Tech-focused businesses who want to reach a niche crowd, or anyone who cares about SEO.
YouTube: If you are a business with the time to create instructional or informative videos, then you may want to consider YouTube. Sure, people visit regularly to get their cat video fix, but they also routinely search for how-to and instructional content on a myriad of subjects. Not only is the site a great place to host your video content, but the sharing opportunities are immense (not to mention the fact that you don’t have to host the video content on your own server). People visiting your YouTube channel can easily share your content from whatever social media platform they like, which means it can be a great way to spread the word about your brand.
Good for: Businesses who want to create tutorials or other informational videos to share with their potential clients.