Are you using social media? You’re not? What’s wrong with you? Don’t you know that social media is the future? Come-on, get with the times!
If that conversation sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. According to the latest Bank of America Small Business Owner Report, only 41% of small business owners surveyed said they are using social media as part of their marketing mix.
Why is that? Why aren’t more small businesses using social media?
Well, many see social media as time-consuming and difficult to learn and measure. However, it is an incredibly powerful and affordable way to get the word out about your business.
Another problem is that the term “social media” can be overwhelming, with many small businesses unsure of where to start. The fact is not all social media platforms are created equal. The big four – Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and, yes, YouTube – are actually all very different. Indeed, depending upon the type of business you have and the goals of your social media campaign, one of these platforms is probably a far better use of your time and efforts than the others.
Let’s drill down and explain that in a bit more detail:
Facebook: The good news about Facebook is that everyone uses Facebook. The bad news is that everyone uses Facebook. Although Facebook is an easy way to reach your consumers, it can be difficult to attain visibility as your competitors are using it as well. So you should only be there if it will help grow your business.
So, what type of business benefits does Facebook offer? Generally speaking, studies show that the businesses that do best with a Facebook Fan page are retail establishments. Why? It’s because Facebook makes it easy for such businesses to interact and connect with their customers, friends, and fans. For example, on the site, you can:
- Post pictures and videos of your business, or of your customers or products, etc. Facebook fans love to watch videos and see funny photos.
- Have a contest: Facebook is the best for this sort of promotion, and such promotions usually work best for retail companies. After all, it would be hard to see a law firm having an effective contest on Facebook, but it would be a winner for a restaurant.
Twitter: By the same token, Twitter, while not nearly as big as Facebook in terms of popularity, lends itself to being a very effective tool for professionals. On Twitter, it is easy to establish yourself as a “thought leader,” by tweeting valuable content that builds your brand and engaging in smart conversations with people in your industry. Twitter allows professionals to create a desired and respected persona.
Twitter, as opposed to Facebook, can be useful for all types of businesses.
Different platform, different purpose, different outcome.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn, as you well know, is a very different animal than Facebook and Twitter. This site is great for networking, finding the right person to do business with and making new connections.
I have a pal who owns a business in California. LinkedIn is his site of choice. Whenever he is ready for new partners for a deal, or a new big customer for his custom product, he finds the right person on LinkedIn and gets an introduction. That is how he gets all of his business.
YouTube: Though YouTube is not always thought of as a social media site like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, it is one of the most popular sites on the planet and people share the content they find there to an extraordinarily high degree.
YouTube is great for those folks whose message can be shared visually without being a professional videographer. Tim Carter of AskABuilder.com has a very popular YouTube channel where he shares tips on home improvement. If you can figure out a way to share your story via video, it might do very well for you too.
The secret to it all then is to find the right social media site for your business.
Which social media platforms do you use to grow your business? Share your story below.
About Steve Strauss
Steven D. Strauss is one of the world's leading experts on small business and is a lawyer, writer, and speaker. The senior small business columnist for USA Today, his Ask an Expert column is one of the most highly-syndicated business columns in the country. He is the best-selling author of 17 books, including his latest,The Small Business Bible, now out in a completely updated third edition. You can listen to his weekly podcast, Small Business Success, visit his new website TheSelfEmployed, and follow him on Twitter. © Steven D. Strauss