It’s never easy to manage Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts, but why not make it easier on yourself by choosing the right social media accounts for your small business. Some social media channels are wrong for your small business. Knowing which ones to avoid means you wont have to try to manage manage multiple accounts that don’t fit your needs or customer demographic and therefore don’t return any value to your business.
Does Your Small Business Come Here Often?
I promise we will jump into the various social media platforms in just a moment, but before we do, please take a long, hard look at your calendar and decide in advance if you even have time for social media marketing? At Marketing Java, when we take over publishing for a businesses social media accounts, it has typically been more than a year since the account last had new content published. When people do find you on social media, you never, ever want to the post they see to reference something that happened a year ago! If you can’t make the time to post at least once a week, you either need to pay an agency or an employee to make the posts for you, or you need to focus on some other channel for your marketing. If your small business can’t find a way show up on a social media platform often and consistently, then don’t set up the account to begin with.
What is Your Marketing Goal?
Marketing is not the same as sales – sales is a quantifiable transaction that you measure in dollars – marketing is the messaging you do to reach your market. Your market consists of current customers, past customers, and prospective customers. Some of your marketing efforts are designed to retain the customers you have, some help you reach back out to former customers and get them excited about doing business with you again, and some marketing activities help you reach brand new customers who have never done business with you, but might, if they like what they see. Before you sign up for Twitter, you need to know if your tweets will help you with your past, current, and prospective customers – and you have to know what your marketing goal is if you are going to reach it.
Who Do You Love?
You probably have a good idea about who your customer is, or who you wish your customer was. According to blogger Mike Ciota, there are some questions you need to ask yourself about your customers before choosing a social media account:
- Business or consumers?
- For consumers;
- Male or female?
- Younger or older?
- For consumers;
- For Business and Consumers:
- Service or Product?
- For product;
- leisure or business?
These labels will help you use the list below to more easily locate the demographic your are seeking on a specific social media channel.
Who Loves You?
One of the hardest parts about being a small business is knowing what you are and what you aren’t. Comparing yourself to the competition can be both helpful and heartbreaking. When you seek to build a presence on social media, it is critical that you know who your demographic is (for real, not just who you wish or hope or think they are) and what channel to find them on. Breaking social media demographic and business related purpose down by channel, from largest to smallest, looks something like this:
Consumers aged 25-54, mostly female. Why socialize here? To stay connected to your current customer, to the extent the Facebook even allows folks who have liked your page to see your posts. You will gain some exposure and brand recognition here, but you are unlikely to create new customers (meaning a click thru to purchase) on Facebook unless you advertise with them, which might not be a bad idea.
Consumers and B2B, all ages. Why socialize here? Definitely NOT to generate a direct sale. YouTube conversions are nearly impossible to get, even if you promise a free, new, funny cat video every week. If you have the resources (time, money, and skill set) to produce your own video, what you might be able to gain is some love from someone who is trying to learn how to do something, but the competition is fierce and we’re talking about an awful lot of content in order to appear credible. You can also post before and after content and testimonials on your YouTube channel if you offer a service and can wow your demographic with moving pictures, but it is still resource intensive and difficult to get enough content on your channel to impress the masses.
Consumers and B2B aged 18-29. Why socialize here? Once again, NOT to generate any “clicks to purchase.” Twitter can help with your public relations and the general perception of what you are all about, but you have to be SO consistent and frequent with your messaging, and for at least a little while longer, you have to get your message across in 140 characters or less. This adds up to an endeavor that is pretty labor intensive. Oh! And you will need properly sized images; tweets with images do much better than those without. You can build a reputation as the go to guy or gal for your product or service, but it’s going to take time, focus, and a playing field that has room for you.
B2B aged 30-49. Why socialize here? If you are a B2B firm, this is a good place for you to reach the 30-49 year old decision makers. How? You can blog there – which is something you should be doing on your website anyway. Just make sure you blog has a good call to action and that your offer inspires readers to contact you or submit a request for contact to you. If you are going to blog there, you will need to take the time to get your business profile [ https://www.linkedin.com/company/2332192? ], not just your personal profile, set up on LinkedIn .
Consumers and B2B aged 25-34, male. Why socialize here? Maybe you don’t need to be where the tech savvy boys are? Wait! Regardless of who is seeing what you share on Google Plus, and how you might hope to dazzle them, you absolutely must keep your Google Plus and Google My Business content fresh and frequent (explaining the relationship between G+ and GMB will take another blog post – think of them as a married couple). Why? Well, duh… because it’s Google! There are strong indications that a healthy G+ presence will help boost your rankings on Google.
I’m going to say consumers aged 18-29. Why socialize here? This is a tough one – you can’t get any clicks to specific content, so the call to action is sort of a bust. People can go to your profile and find a link there, which you can change as often as you like… but do you know any 18-29 year old who is willing to scroll back up and click on a link, even if they like the pic you posted? When I as posting for a college on Instagram, my intent was to provide images to prospective students that allowed them to see themselves at the school, and to be excited about the potential of attending. I’m not sure if I was successful or not. I like Instagram and have run a successful community building campaign there, but I don’t see the value to a for profit business beyond building awareness and generating leads (if they scroll up or find you elsewhere as a result of having seen your Instagram page). I’m not saying there’s not a good business application out there, I’m just saying I don’t know what it is yet. Your comments on this topic are welcome!
Consumers aged 18-35, female. Why socialize here? Similar to Instagram in many ways, Pinterest offers a younger, narrow demographic focused on seeing what there is to see. Unlike Instagram, however, there is a way to peddle your products (but not really your services…) and you can pay to promote your posts – which could be a good idea if the demographic is an excellent fit. I don’t pay to promote posts for Marketing Java, and I don’t use Pinterest for anything other than compiling information that may be of interest or of use to my customer and colleague community (there are way to many pins about cats and coffee in there!). In the community building sense, Pinterest is more like Facebook than Instagram, but you have to keep in mind that the demographic you are seeking may not be there either way you approach your content.
As a small business owner, it’s challenging just keeping in touch with your customers. If social media helps you to generate a warm fuzzy feeling in the heart of your current customer, then use it. And if you can tell it is helping you generate a new customer base, by all means, post away! But it is never easy to manage social media accounts, and to stay abreast of all of the changes in audience expectations and channel rules, but you really can make it easier on yourself by learning which social media channels are wrong for your small business and why. If you have questions about your specific situation, you know we’d love to talk to you! Marketing Java offers a free 30 minute consultation to new customers by phone, or if you prefer, you can submit a form with your question.