The Social Media Guide for Small Businesses
There are dozens of ‘Social Media’ sites out there. “Do I need to be on [insert next big thing here]?” is a question we’re asked almost daily. Some businesses are a good fit for one platform, and a lousy fit for another. They all have merits, and they all take work. Which one ‘should’ you have profiles on?
Which services should you set-up?
All of them. Really. Of the five below, the correct answer is all of them. Perhaps planning to ‘use’ them all would be over the top, but signing up, and reserving your business or project name now is a positive step. Configure your profiles, add your website contact, ensure the address information is correct. Include your logo and / or profile photos, and put out a hello message, telling people to visit your site.
Once complete – at the very worst, you’ve got a backlink on the web expanding your brand, and creating validation for your website. This is a very powerful step in building your online footprint.
Here are the 5 most commonly talked about social services and where they excel:
Built on ‘personal’ connections, friends and family. Brand ‘pages’ can be created, but they are tied to a ‘real person’ who represents the brand. Once created, ‘managers’ can be assigned and ownership transferred but must be performed by and assigned to a ‘real’ facebook user.
Facebook is a great place for ‘person to person’ engagement. Communication is CRITICAL to facebook success, and responding to comments, questions, and requests needs to be done quickly if you want to earn ‘Prompt’ status – which will place your page higher in the queue for random promotion by facebook itself. It is also a requirement to have a ‘human’ account if you want to advertise on the facebook page. ‘Groups’ cannot be advertised, and aren’t appropriate for business engagement.
The Facebook platform for ‘Pages’ is a no-brainer for any small business. It’s ideal for extending word-of-mouth to the online space, and provides easy and familiar points of contact for your customers.
The instagram platform started as a small square image with a title – but has evolved into a much more ‘shareable’ platform. Owned by facebook, Instagram provides a visual exposure to your brand. Like all other social sharing applications, your audience is directly driven by your activity. Engaging other users, and your market on the platform, while creating and sharing content will build your following. If your business or service can’t be represented well visually, or you can’t tie experiential visuals you might want to save Instagram for a later time.
Avoid the mundane. Create content (images and short video) that is interesting, engaging, visually appealing, and suits your desired audience.
The video platform of the millennial generation. Snapchat videos tend to be short-lived, transient pieces. They exist until viewed, and then generally disappear. Again, your success on the platform is directly related to finding your audience, and creating content that THEY want. Large brands like Coke, Pepsi, Red Bull, DC Shoes, Monster, EPSN – are media friendly and have large budgets.
Your experiences on the platform will be the result of what you put in, but the ROI is completely in the hands of your audience.
Now – we’re not going to drag ourselves, or you into the debate about G+. Some feel that the platform is a failure in all respects, and others believe it to be superior to all other sharing systems. We believe that because G+ is inherently tied into the Google ecosystem, with location data through maps and video through YouTube, any business that hasn’t completed a profile on Google+ is likely missing out on potential ‘value’ through the largest search system on our current planetary body. Simply put; creating a personal profile with your google account allows you to create a Business ‘Page’. That business page – when completely populated with information – will allow you to be seen on google maps by every smartphone running an android variant (which isn’t small.) Additionally – by tagging your posts, and creating links to your website and partners, you will build additional value for your web efforts.
This is a social service no business should omit (regardless of how you feel about the value of the platform…)
The ‘if you shout it will they hear’ platform. Twitter provides a platform best equated to a soapbox. Your messages are merely shouts heard only by those who are interested in what you have to say. Early on – users started identifying ‘key’ words and topics with the use of a ‘#’ symbol. Over time – this was adopted by Twitter as a de-facto means of grouping topics and ideas and was added to their search capabilities. The ‘hashtag’ is now recognized on many platforms because of its frequency of use, and practicality. Building ‘followers’ is an active task. You’ll need to engage with others – using their @name on twitter, following, and commenting on their tweets. Search for #ideas that align with your brand. Comment, engage, and follow.
Over time – you’ll build an audience. There are a number of automation tools, but to build a real following you’ll simply need to put in the time.
Social channels are for building presence
You can’t expect search engines to bring you all of your traffic. The online space gives us the ability to ‘find’ our customers online. By exposing our brands, wares, and services, in the places we find these customers – we are creating opportunities for relationships with our consumers and providing spaces to use their appreciation and loyalty to build our brand. In the 1800’s – businesses expanded through word of mouth and positive experiences carried as many miles as wagons rolled. We still have to work for that goodwill in 2017. Creating content that our customers need, in the places they are comfortable can directly work toward building their loyalty and familiarity and help build great customer relationships.
Greg is the Marketing Strategist at Microtek Corporation. He helps businesses make the most of their Online Footprint, and provides insight and guidance on how to use online resources – particularly Google Adwords, Facebook Ads and Engagement to build brands, and increase loyalty and conversion with customers.
Microtek offers services throughout the site development process. Site development and consulting, copy-writing, search optimization, and pay-per-click / display advertising solutions.