The amount of social media websites and apps is forever increasing, and a really common question I get asked is: where should my business be socially?
The question depends entirely on your type of business and who you’re selling to, and the amount of time you have to dedicate to posting content.
Quite a few small business owners have simply created a profile on every single social network available. The thinking is that they would rather be visible everywhere even if they don’t log in every day (or even every month).
Personally, I suggest not doing this. Why? A few month’s ago a colleague recommended a local pub. I located the pub’s profile on Twitter and tweeted them asking if they were dog friendly. Realistically, this would’ve made all the difference as to whether or not I went there, because I don’t like leaving my dog home alone any more than I have to!
Weeks went by and I heard nothing. It made me think they weren’t that bothered about my custom if they couldn’t take the time to respond.
Of course, it probably wasn’t a conscious decision to not respond to me. I’m sure they didn’t see my profile picture and think ‘We don’t want the likes of her in our premises!’ (well, my photo is of me swimming through a muddy lake at a trail race, so perhaps they did!). I later noted they hadn’t posted on Twitter for a good 8 months. It was probably more than likely that they hadn’t bothered logging in to Twitter in a while and perhaps the notification email went into their Spam box. Even so, what a missed opportunity. It was incredibly annoying that they didn’t respond. Yes, I know, I could have picked up the phone and called them. But social media is tonnes more convenient. And it’s not really the consumer’s job to trawl through all their social media profiles to decipher what one is monitored.
[Edit: Today I had another frustrating experience. I wanted to contact a camera shop in Newmarket to ask if they sold compact flash cards. They have a Facebook, but hadn’t posted since 2013! I came to the conclusion they wouldn’t respond to me if I asked, so I didn’t bother. It annoyed me, and I’ve since ordered a different CF card online from elsewhere. Again, a missed opportunity.]
Hopefully you can see my point. Having a useless social media profile could actually work against your brand’s reputation and could be the difference between gaining a new customer or frustrating people to the point they don’t bother and, even worse, tell their friends and family about the poor experience.
So where should you be?
There’s a multitude of networks available, the most popular being LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram. And there’s LOADS more. Pinterest, Tumblr, Flickr, Reddit… Now Snapchat is emerging in the business world and there’s even now ‘Tinder-for-business’ Shapr.
Use what you know
For a lot of small businesses, I simply recommend what they know best. If someone uses Facebook in their personal life, chances are they understand it quite well. Quality is always going to be better than quantity with regards to social media marketing. There’s just no point having a social profile on a site you don’t know how to use and therefore can’t respond to messages on. It’s better to just use one social network you know really well and focus on that.
Use what your audience uses
This one might be self-explanatory, but you need to consider where your target demographic are. A beauty salon targeting adult women might realise the majority of their buyers are on Facebook and Pinterest. A skateboarding designer might realise their buyers are young boys who watch a lot of YouTube and use Instagram. A bit of research will go a long way. If you don’t know where your target audience are, just ask them!
Use what you have time to use
It is also best to assess how much time you genuinely think you can devote to social networking and start small. A trial with one social network will enable a business to work out if they have time to post enough valuable content, and work up from there. As the business expands, you might even employ a marketing department to take care of these things for you!
Share what social networks you’re on in the comments below! I’d love to hear what works for your business.
P.S. The only social network I’d recommend getting on for the sake of getting on, is Google+. I always recommend setting up a profile on Google+, even if its not used daily, as it can help with search engine optimisation purposes as long as the profile is properly completed. Of course the more you use it, the more you’ll reap search engine opto. results!