You probably know by now that you are supposed to be promoting your business on social media. Many of you may be doing just that; the latest stats indicate that about half of small businesses have gotten with the program.
Today what I’d like to discuss is not whether you should use social media, but rather, which social media platform is best for your small business? It is not an easy question to answer because many factors come into play – the needs of your business, its size, your goals, etc. It is really a matter of weighing the pros and cons of each and applying that to your circumstances.
To help you, below are the top 7 social media sites and their strengths and weaknesses.
1. Facebook. The Big Kahuna. Everybody is on Facebook personally and the steady drumbeat is that your business should be there too; an added bonus is that creating a Facebook page for your business is pretty easy. The challenge may be keeping the page fresh with new content. It takes commitment. But even so, you should have one, right?
The good news is also the bad news when it comes to Facebook. Yes, it is very big, and very popular. That means that you will have, potentially, a big audience. It also means however that you will have a lot of competition for eyeballs.
Consider the stats below from StatisticBrain.com. Facebook has 1.4 billion users. Everything else pales in comparison:
Facebook: 1.4 billion
YouTube: 1 billion
Google+: 347 million
LinkedIn: 336 million
Twitter: 289 million
Instagram: 302 million
Pinterest: 73 million
2. YouTube: The only thing close to Facebook is YouTube and YouTube is nice for a few reasons:
- First, people love video. It is the present and future of the Web.
- Second, people are engaged when on YouTube. They spend a lot of time watching videos.
For that reason, the site ranks consistently high when it comes to redirecting traffic to a website. As such, if your business lends itself to a visual, video presence, YouTube is a great way to both extend your brand and get clicks.
3. Google+: Google+ has a variety of tools, including Circles, Hangouts, Messenger, and Hashtags. A newcomer on the block, G+ has two distinct advantages over the competition:
First, because it’s Google, you can expect to get better SEO and visibility.
Second, Google+ Hangouts are great because they offer you the chance to create engagement by broadcasting online. For instance, I have done a series of G+ Hangouts over the past year with my friends here at Bank of America. The conversations are always interesting and (hopefully!) useful for you, our tribe.
Doing something similar for your business or in your industry could really help you create a brand and a following.
4. LinkedIn. I once heard someone describe different social media sites this way: Facebook is the living room, YouTube is the den, and LinkedIn is the home office. It’s a pretty apt description and it describes LinkedIn well.
In the past few years, while LinkedIn has added many services, including the ability to post content and polls, join groups and what not, the site still is best for what is was designed to do: Link people up professionally. If you are looking to make business connections, LinkedIn is the place for you.
Tip: It is especially important to create a strong LinkedIn profile because it is often what people will find first when they Google you.
5. Twitter: Twitter, while it gets a lot of attention, is actually fairly small in the social media universe, based on the stats above. It can also be a challenge as crafting a valuable message into 140 characters (the Twitter limit) is no easy feat.
On the other hand, Twitter can really be a powerful tool to set yourself up as an expert/resource and, in that regard, it seems to be especially helpful for professionals and service-oriented businesses. Additionally, it can be an excellent networking tool since it is a great way to meet people you otherwise would not normally meet.
6. Instagram: Instagram is sort of like Facebook, but with pictures. You can post graphics and captions and have people follow you. As it is popular among younger people, Instagram really works if that is your intended demographic.
7. Pinterest: By the very nature of the site, whereby you create visual storyboards and “pin” things to it (pins can be pictures, videos, comments, etc.), Pinterest is a site that works great for businesses with visual appeal.
So, which site is best for your business? As I said, it is tough to generalize. Your best bet is to weigh the pros and cons of each, choose one or two, and jump in.
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.
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