Social Media For Small Business Marketing: Which Social Media Platforms Make Sense For Your Small Business?
Small businesses should absolutely be using social media to promote their brand. Social media is an inexpensive way to get in front of most people (about 75% of Americans are on social media). While some social media platforms are necessary for all businesses (yes, we’re talking about Facebook) your business doesn’t need to be represented on every platform. You are not trying to reach 75% of America–that’s bonkers–the purpose of social media for small business marketing is to reach your target audience within your niche.
Invest your time and energy into the platforms where your target audience actually spends time. To get started, you need to develop a basic understanding of the top social media platforms and what type of people thrive on them. The Instagrammer is not the YouTuber who is not the Titter-er, dear friend. Once you have a grasp on the basics of each social media platform, you can work with your branding and marketing teams to develop a social media plan that will best reach your target audience.
A good chunk of these numbers were gathered from the 2018 Social Audience Guide by Spredfast.
Facebook is the household name for social media, which is why every business should have a Facebook page. People search for a business’s Facebook page as a sign of credibility, so you will want to take advantage of the Facebook reviews, the shop syncing and newsletter syncing. If you use these features correctly, Facebook can be instrumental in the growth of your small business.
- 2 billion Users
- Primary Generations: Millenials and Gen X
- Average Daily Use: Over 20 minutes
- 30% of retail shoppers claim to have discovered a product on Facebook
Pros: The Facebook Business account allows you to review analytics, post ads to reach more of your potential customers, and boost posts and speak to your loyal customers.
Cons: Facebook has a lot of rules about the language used in posts, so be sure to read the Facebook Community Standards and other posting policies to ensure you’re complying with all the rules.
With 1 billion monthly users, Instagram is arguably just as essential to small business social media marketing as Facebook. The argument, for the curious, is that Instagram gained popularity for its artistic focus. So if you don’t have high quality, branded photos and good content to share in the captions, then you could be wasting your time. Keep your ugly stock photos off this platform.
- 500 million daily users
- Primary Generations: Millennials and Teens
- 59% of users are between the ages of 18-29
- 53% of teens prefer to learn about new products on this platform
- Average Daily Use: 15 minutes
- 53% of users follow brands
Pros: Businesses with an excellent sense of visual brand storytelling should definitely be on Instagram. With features like Instagram Stories and and Instagram Live, the photo-centric platform offers several tools you can use to connect with your audience through brand storytelling and paid advertisements.
Cons: Because Instagram is primarily mobile, there are some limitations to the desktop site (No posting! No camera!) unless you have scheduling software like Hootsuite or Buffer.
Twitter is probably the third most popular social media platform, with 326 million monthly users. Twitter is meant for posting short 240-character updates, tagging others in entertaining or informative content, and sharing media (videos, articles, photos). The small character count and retweeting etiquette are indicators that Twitter isn’t essential for a small business social media plan.
- 326 million monthly users
- 29% of Americans with a degree use Twitter
- Average Daily Use: 2.7 minutes
- 84% of Twitter users rely on the platform for coupons, deals and discounts
Pros: It’s easy to interact with users through tagging and retweeting, so if your brand has a lot to say then Twitter could be a good fit. If your target audience uses Twitter to share ideas and comment on topics relevant to your brand, then Twitter could be an excellent platform to engage in customer services as well. Twitter is also great for small businesses that create plenty of unique, relevant written content.
Cons: If you don’t have a blog or your business uses hoards of visual media in your brand storytelling, then Twitter is not for you.
YouTube, which was recently acquired by Google, is a video-sharing platform where users can upload their own content or comment and share other content that is relevant to them. The most popular videos on YouTube serve as entertainment or educational resources. YouTube has the highest average daily use per individual at 40 minutes (those darn cat videos are addicting!).
- 1 Billion users
- YouTube reaches more 18-49 year olds than any American cable network
- Average Daily Use: 40 minutes
- 50% of views come from mobile
- Best social media platform to reach a male audience
Pros: YouTube is a fantastic platform for highly creative small businesses that primarily produce visual content. The quality and consistency of YouTube videos is key to success, so it’s best if you have a video editor or someone on staff that creates content for YouTube full time. Small businesses can often benefit from partnering with a YouTube influencer to advertise their product in the form of product placements to a loyal following that aligns with the brand.
Cons: If you don’t create any video content, don’t bother.
Pinterest is first and foremost an inspiration platform. Pinterest allows users to gather and categorize visual content based on their interests so they can refer to it later. For example, users could have a file (board) for their wedding inspiration, holiday recipes, hot bod goals, true crime obsession, or Comic-Con costume ideas.
- 200 million monthly users
- 60% of Pinterest users have children 5 years old or younger
- Average Daily Use: 14.2 minutes
- 80% of millennials say Pinterest informs their purchasing decisions
- 40% of new Pinterest sign ups are men
Pros: Pinterest is a great platform for visually oriented product brands and niche businesses, particularly lifestyle brands. Features like Rich Pins allow businesses to add product information and location details on each pin.
Cons: General product and services businesses will have a difficult time gaining the attention of users, as the site is known for DIY projects, tutorials, and insights in the fashion, health, beauty, home decor, and food industries.
Snapchat is a mobile platform that was originally used to share in-the-moment, disappearing content. Traditional posts disappear immediately while content posted to a user’s story lasts for 24 hours. Now there are features that allow users to easily save content and chat with one another. Unlike Instagram, Snapchat content doesn’t have to be high quality or artistic.
- 300 million users
- Primary generation: Teens
- Snapchat users open app 25+ times per day
- Average Daily Use: 25 minutes
Pros: Snapchat is great for small businesses who frequently uses Stories to connect with their audience. If your small business has a strong following, you will easily be able to share engaging, in-the-moment content with your followers.
Cons: If you are struggling to gain a following on Facebook and Instagram, then you might run into the same problem on Snapchat. With Snapchat users have to add your account in order to see your Stories, which can be more pain than it’s worth for small businesses. Also, if your target audience is primarily Gen X or Baby Boomers, Snapchat would be a complete waste of creative energy.
LinkedIn is the underrated social media platform, despite its large user base of 260 million monthly users. LinkedIn is a more professional platform than other social media platforms, and it can be great for professional networking and establishing the decision makers in your company as thought leaders.
- LinkedIn is the most popular social media platform for Fortune 500 CEOs
- 80% of B2B social media leads come from LinkedIn
- Average Daily Use: 17 minutes
Pros: LinkedIn is perfect for your small business if you want to establish yourself as an industry expert, connect with potential leads and partners, and share your industry-specific content to promote your business. Account profiles resemble resumes, which nods to the main purpose of LinkedIn: to find jobs, post job openings, and share information about the company culture and services.
Cons: If your brand is relaxed, conversational, and more “no shoes, no shirt, no problem, plus F-bombs” than suit-and-tie, LinkedIn might not be for you. LinkedIn may also be a waste of time if you don’t have a thought leader “face” of the brand or industry-specific content to share with other like-minded professionals.
Now, What To Do With The Numbers?
Now that you have the numbers, invest some creative time into identifying which social media platforms make the most sense for your brand. The purpose of social media for small business is to connect with your target audience in genuine ways through brand storytelling and organic engagement. This part is essential to a successful social media marketing plan. If the idea of managing your own social media platforms overwhelms you, buy us a beer to see if Bareknuckle’s team of strategists and storytellers can help tell your brand’s story on social media.
Check out more in-depth social media user information from the 2018 Social Audience Guide by Spredfast.