Social media marketing is practically a necessity for any business today. For small businesses, social media can be a big advantage—if you use it the right way. So, does that mean you have to create and maintain active profiles on every social media network out there?
Trying to use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, YouTube, and Vine at the same time can actually be detrimental to your small business. It’s far more effective to choose a few social networks, and dedicate your marketing time and resources to building solid platforms on those networks. But which ones should you choose? The answer should depend on your unique marketing goals.
The personalities of social media networks
The major social media networks each have different strengths and advantages, making them useful for different strategies. Here’s a quick look at the biggest social media platforms:
- Facebook: This network is the champion of personal interaction, able to put a human face on your business. Facebook is a great place to display the visual side of a small business with page headers, profile pictures, and photo albums—and it’s also the place for longer content, since you can put up features and notes.
- Twitter: Fast, furious, and informal, Twitter is the network for big audiences and building buzz. Personal connections aren’t as important on this social media network, but you need content that people really want to share—and you have to get it across in 140 characters or less.
- LinkedIn: The network for businesses talking about business, formal and professional LinkedIn is the place to make connections within your industry. If you’re a B2B small business, this might be your main platform.
- YouTube: Still the biggest video content sharing network on the planet, YouTube works best for small businesses with a lot of visuals and events, or those who can make a great personal presentation. If you’re an excellent speaker with an entertaining or engaging style, you could get a lot of followers on YouTube.
- Google+: While this network was once touted as “the new Facebook,” the mass exodus to Google+ never quite happened. Still, Google+ is the best social media platform for optimizing Google searches and local keywords, because it’s tied directly to the search engine giant.
Matching social media networks with your target customers
The other half of your decision on which social networks to use can be found in your ideal customer. Once you know where the people who are likely to want your products or services are, you can concentrate on reaching them through their preferred social media.
What are your customer demographics? For freelance writers like me, who offer contracted services, LinkedIn is a good choice because there are so many business decision-makers on the network looking for contacts. If your small business is very local, such as a single-location storefront, you may choose to concentrate on Google+ to reach potential customers in your area. Facebook, with its ability to personalize a business, can also be good for local markets.
Small businesses with primarily online transactions might prefer Twitter for its fast and expansive reach. Companies that revolve around entertainment or live appearances can find a lot of traction on YouTube, where people go to watch samples of what they can expect.
When you understand your social media marketing goals and your target customer, it’s fairly easy to decide which social media channels will be most effective for your small business. Where are you networking today?
Melissa Rudy is a full-time freelance copywriter with Words by Melissa in Cincinnati, Ohio. She and her team specialize in web page content, articles, product descriptions, brochures, postcards, press releases, and other marketing collateral. Melissa previously held roles as an E-Commerce Content Manager and Technical Writer.