Suppose your small business doesn’t have social media. In that case, you might be missing out on significant value, including new customers, insights into your brand and audience, and opportunities for engagement with both customers and competitors. Besides, social media can be a very cost-effective way to reach your customers in a personalized manner.
“Social media provides targeting capability, as well as reach and scale, at a lower cost than almost all other marketing channels,” said Abdul Muhammad, chief digital officer and partner at rbb Communications, in a previous Business News Daily interview. “People are on social media all day, every day – brands must go where the people are.”
However, if you plan to market your business on social media, it is essential to determine which platforms are suitable for your business and will provide the most value.
Not all social media platforms are suitable for all businesses, so you should invest your time and expertise in the media on which you are most likely to reach and interact with your target audience. Each platform has a unique mission, purpose and audience. For example, Instagram is heavy on graphics, while Twitter allows you to inject some personality into your posts and connect with followers.
To help you learn about the different platforms available, here is a description of the most popular corporate social media platforms:
Facebook is a top-rated social media network with a diverse audience, with more than 2.7 billion monthly active users in 2020. As such, every business should have a Facebook page. When used properly, a Facebook page can be invaluable and helpful to boost small business.
You can utilize Facebook to share and make public everything from photos to essential business updates. With a business account, you have access to powerful advertising tools and in-depth analysis. Professional pages also have many customization options. You can use Facebook to highlight information such as your contact details, hours of operation and the products and services you offer.
Instagram is also incredibly popular, with approximately 1 billion active users in 2020. From Instagram Live to Instagram Stories, there is no shortage of tools that companies can use to promote their services and products on the site.
It’s important to note that this platform is almost wholly mobile: you can’t take photos or post new posts in the desktop version. The more artistic niches usually excel on Instagram, and it might not be the best choice for your business depending on your industry. Either way, the person who manages your account should have a good sense of detail and at least necessary photography skills so that the photos and videos posted to your account are of high quality.
While Twitter is great for short updates, interaction with followers, and sharing links to blog posts, it’s not for all businesses. On Twitter, you can share short tweets (240 characters or less), videos, images, links, polls, and more. It’s also easy to engage with your audience on this platform by mentioning users in your posts, along with tweets of likes and retweets.
If you’re a very visual business or don’t have a strong brand voice, you might want to ignore this social media network. However, many companies excel on Twitter, like Wendy’s, because they have a unique brand voice on the brand on the platform they use to their advantage. Other companies are using this platform to manage customer service, as customers who are also active on the forum will be looking for companies to voice their concerns or share praise.
If you have great content and can engagingly express that content, Twitter is an excellent tool for getting the word out quickly. Hashtags help drive posts, and if a user with a lot of followers retweets you, your content could go viral. But with Twitter, it is essential to strike a balance. Don’t just share your links or media; make sure you also share lots of exciting and relevant content from other Twitter users.
This visually-oriented platform allows users to store and display content by “pinning” digital pinboards, which can be organized by category. For example, a personal user might have a food board dedicated to pinning recipes, another board dedicated to photography, etc. The platform also has many particular pin types called Rich Pins that brands can use to add specific information to their Pins, such as product details and location maps. Each pin on Pinterest contains an image or video, making it a purely visual social media platform. As such, Pinterest isn’t the place to share information such as working hours is great for niche businesses, but it may not be great for all businesses. Popular categories on the site include DIY projects, fashion, exercise, beauty, photography, and food. This is not to say that companies outside of these categories cannot succeed on the platform. Still, it makes Pinterest an incredibly useful marketing tool for companies in those areas.
Snapchat is another mobile-only visual social media network for mobile known for its endangered content. Users can send each other videos and photos or post content in their public stories, which will disappear after 24 hours. The app has expanded to include chat, messaging, picture storage, events, and media. Now, content posted on Snapchat can be easily saved and uploaded elsewhere.
Since the posts are temporary, there is less pressure to create super polished content. You can also see how many and which specific users have viewed your story. A small business will most likely use the Stories feature of the platform, but keep in mind that only users who have added you can view the content of your stories. Once you have an audience, Stories makes it easy for you to create interactive, story-driven content.
YouTube is the largest video-sharing platform where people can view, download, rate, share, and content comment. Now owned by Google, the site is a huge news and entertainment hub.
Many YouTube businesses have a creative, visual, or educational component. The platform is very innovative in nature, so you must have a dedicated video editor that produces content. However, your business doesn’t need a channel to market on the platform – there is a subculture of YouTube influencers who post videos frequently and often retain a broad audience. Often times, companies partner with YouTubers for product placement because those users already have an engaged audience. Using YouTube influencers can be an easier way to market your business on the platform, as you don’t have to spend time and effort into creating content and building a following which can take years.
LinkedIn currently has 260 million monthly users and is the most used platform for professional networking and business. It’s a great place to find the best talent, position yourself as an industry leader, and promote your business.
Users create resume-like profiles and businesses can create pages that showcase their business. Since LinkedIn is a professional platform, it’s the best place to post job postings and corporate culture information.
You can join industry-specific LinkedIn groups to ask and answer questions, establishing brand recognition and bring users to your company page and website. As on Twitter, it’s best to have a mix of original and shared content on your page, so commit to creating professional and polished content related to your business.
TikTok, a relatively new successful platform where users create and share short and creative videos. This platform can be a successful option for businesses, but only if used correctly. Since TikTok is wildly popular with the notoriously demanding Generation Z, it can be challenging to strike the right tone for success as a business. If you want to create a TikTok account, make sure you have a good understanding of your brand and how that translates explicitly to TikTok. See how other companies are addressing the problem before trying it out for yourself.
The leading social media platforms for businesses are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, Pinterest, Snapchat, and TikTok.
Opinions expressed by US Insider contributors are their own.