Social Media 101: Choosing the Right Platform for Small Business Owners

It won’t be surprising if business owners – old and new – would absolutely raise their hands to capture the attention of online users who love to logon to their accounts on a daily basis. These social media fans are a target audience for businesses that know what channels to tap and engage people properly.

Brands who want to have a meaningful relationship with their target audience have learned that engagement is a continuous process. This means that conversation between the brands, through their chosen brand ambassadors and even the office front liners, and their target audience is a never-ending loop. As such, the success of these conversations will make a difference whether fans would turn out to be loyal brand followers.

Another key element in using social media platforms is the positive experience a person encounters during the whole process of accessing and engaging with a brand’s official accounts. If it is indeed a positive experience, you have an online user who will make an impact on your profits at the end of the day.

Also, business owners need to understand that by using social media channels they are humanising their brands. The easily downloadable and clickable icons help customers give insights like location and computing device they are using. Now you can quickly analyse the demographics of your fan base, the top language they are using, and what types of posts and topics are resonating with them.

And when the talk shifts to driving traffic to a website, it is not just about paid ads, organic traffic from search engines, or direct referrals. Website visitors can also be generated from social networking sites.

With the above impact of social media networking sites, you as a business owner should realize how having a presence on major platforms can:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Engage your customers directly
  • Establish your business as a thought leader
  • Be on top of your competitors
  • And generate those much-needed sales leads

For clever entrepreneurs, the next important question to resolve is: Which social media platform suits your businesses the best?

Let’s look at the various social media sites, along with the features that they offer so that you can assess for yourself which ones will be a fit for your business.

#1 Facebook

Who does not know Facebook? Boasting of 1.45 billion active daily users, Facebook remains a leader with 2 billion monthly active users, based on data from The Statistics Portal. Facebook offers a business page equipped with several features that provide brands the much-needed social media advertising push.

With the sheer amount of users on Facebook, you can use this to build relationships with your audience especially if they belong to the mid-20s to the mid-50s audience.

The downside of Facebook is its limited organic reach and since most brands are here you need to make a make a lot of effort in producing good content to differentiate your brand. Below are some of the features you can leverage:

Page Insights

Facebook_page_insights

Users can tap into your page’s performance as this works much like Google Analytics. You get an understanding of how many people like your page, who see your content, and the demographics of your captured audience.

Pages Manager App

Using Android or iOS-powered mobile devices, Facebook managers can easily post content. This gives Facebook followers the power to stay on track with the latest happening via a live page feed at the same time upload multiple photos in a single post and manage events.

Scheduled Posts

This feature provides content manager the ability to line up content at specific time and date. The only requirement is for the posts to be 10-minute apart. If you’re having a busy schedule and can’t find time to post at certain times, you will find this feature very helpful.

Promoted Posts

Small businesses can rely on this feature to promote their content even if they have little budget. Your post will be labeled as “sponsored” and will be shown to a wider audience for a longer time period.

This will only cost as little as $5 per post, and you can serve your ads to the right audience if you know how to use its advanced targeting options.

Graph Search

Graph Search aggregates user data to allow you to access customised search results according to your venture’s connections and interests. Your content can be seen in searches geared towards identified audiences.

Make sure to spell out the name of your business correctly along with the contact details so that when users search, they can see your business.

Facebook engineers use natural language processing to ensure it closely mimics a more search-engine like experience. A user just types in what he naturally speaks, every single word typed in will be processed by Graph Search algorithm separately, and then come up with what the user is looking for.

For example, people can check-in your store using Facebook. Using Graph Search, people can search the places or cafes their Facebook friends visited. If your business was one of them, other people can quickly check out your site and see what you have to offer and try out the places where their friends have dined in as well.

Places

Using GPS technology, Facebook users can add business as a place when they post. This gives you the ability to promote your business and its location. At the same time it allows people to check in upon their arrival, with a subsequent timeline notification.

Stock Photography

You can now integrate stock images from royalty-free photography provider Shutterstock. You can tap into Shutterstock’s catalogue using Facebook’s ad-creation tool and is also equipped with search-engine ability.

#2 Instagram

The downside of this platform is that it only allows links in the profile bio, but that should not stop you from using this platform. Check out Instagram’s interesting features:

Instagram Stories

Photos or live videos can be added and featured up to 24 hours. At the Instagram feed of mobile users, notice the circle just above. This means that Instagram Stories of people you are following are also being shown. You will definitely like the Stories amazing features:

  • Direct messaging within Stories
  • Limitless story additions
  • Up to 10 second image viewing
  • Up to 15 seconds video recording

Instagram recently rolled out the Highlights which allows users to keep stories in their profiles until they delete them.

The Instagram Algorithm Update

  • 79% higher engagement when Instagram users add location to their content
  • 56% more engagement when Instagram captions with mentions
  • 40% more response rate when using visual content versus plain text
  • 93% of consumers appeal to visual content prior to actual purchase
  • Almost 25% more likes when Instagram images with blue overtones are generally used

Push Notifications for Favorite Accounts

turning on push notifications on instagram

This is available for mobile device users. Just click on the hotdog icon (three dots) and then the “Turn on Post Notifications”. Updates will be made available to you when new content for that posts appear.

Unique Instagram Filters

Your content will get an added kick using Instagram’s 40 readily available filters. Just select the gear icon which can be found at the bottom of the filter list and then choose which filter you want.

This will help businesses maintain consistent content regarding style, especially if there are multiple users of your account.

Hiding Content from Profile

This will help your brand choose content that is appropriate or related to your niche, and solve other content-related hindrances that usually take lengthy research. Any unwanted content from random users tagging your business can be eliminated.

Geo-tagged content ability

View your content locations on a global map when you start tagging a location on a video or photo on Instagram. The downside is that videos or photos you did not tag as well will show up at the exact location of your Instagram posting.

Multiple Instagram Account Management

The ability to manage multiple accounts was rolled out in 2016. This means users can switch to various brands. This is most useful to an organization or a company that manages several brands. A good example is “Adidas”.
Accounts can be accessed by users using one profile after they clicked on “Add Account” located at the bottom of the list. Just tap on the username at the profile screen top to switch accounts.

#3 Twitter

Users are allowed to post as long as the message does not exceed 280 characters. You can use hashtags to emphasise topics or conversations. Following back the people who follow you is easy, making it easier to establish a following unlike a targeted and more disciplined approach at Facebook.

There are several Twitter features that will help marketers master the art of tweets.

Quote a Tweet

At your Twitter account, for instance, you can just click the retweet button or choose to add your comment. In the text field, type your comment. When using mobile, two buttons can be accessed when you tap the retweet icon – to retweet or add a comment.

The Quote a Tweet feature is most ideal when you are building relationships as adding your thoughts and sharing your content is possible.

Twitter Lists

This allows you to create feeds beside your main timeline, with identified accounts only. Click on the small profile picture, and a drop-down menu will show a “Create new list” on the page. Notice that you can set the list setting as private or public.

This feature allows you to create a list based on interests, segment followers, or even to track competitors.

Tagging Accounts

Up to 10 accounts can be tagged on the Tweet’s image, and you will show up on the tagged account’s notification inbox. This will boost your chances that the people you included in the tag will reply, share, or, if you get lucky, both.

Pinning a Tweet

At your Twitter profile page, you can assign a Tweet to stay on top of your feed. Click the small down arrow located in the selected tweet’s top right and click “Pin to your profile page” option. It will stay on top of your page until you select another Tweet to pin.

Tweeting Website Cards

When you notice Tweets with clickable images plus a caption appearing on blog posts and web pages, these are the Twitter cards. At your WordPress website, install a social sharing plug called Social Warfare, or use Yoast SEO. This automatically creates codes at your site so Twitter website cards can be enabled.

At the Twitter ad platforms, you can also manually create cards. No payment is required to create the cards, however, Twitter will ask for your credit card information for the ads account.

#4 YouTube

Do not forget the YouTube video’s back-end keywords as they bolster your presence in the world wide web.

The launching of YouTube for schools will mean a new opportunity for online marketers. But the primary beneficiaries are students who want free education access from YouTube videos numbering over 400,000 educational videos. Top partner organisations for this project are Stanford, TED, PBS, numberphile, Khan Academy, and Steve Spangler Science. A school can choose the content it can show to its network by selecting the YouTube videos.

The downside of YouTube is that it can be quite resource intensive in terms of video production as compared to the other social networking sites. But with its strong user base and traffic, you can definitely hit the gold mine if you can leverage this channel.

#5 LinkedIn

The unrivaled B2B social networking site remains to be LinkedIn. Since its establishment in 2002, LinkedIn’s growth is unstoppable, netting two new members every second. As of today, LinkedIn users stand at 135 million active users in over 200 countries.

LinkedIn is more than the vehicle for people to showcase their resumes and find their next job. You can tap into over 870 groups. Make sure you look presentable, give your best smile, and update and edit your CV as you’ll never know what business leads you’ll get soon.

#6 Pinterest

For those who have visually appealing merchandise, Pinterest should be their choice as a social media platform. It has a vision board-styled social photo sharing mission to link people from across the continents who share common interests and things.

The users of Pinterest are predominantly female, and you can get the most out of this site by ensuring that you link pins to your website.

  • Customer list targeting – relies on mobile ad IDs or emails to target current customers;
  • Visitor retargeting – engage people who become website visitors;
  • Lookalike targeting – engage people who look and act like your target audience

Moreover, theme-based boards are available, with a “Pin It” button. You can divide your postings into gifts, videos, pictures, and discussions. Any brand or any person can be followed, with each user can click on the “repin” button if they like the items they are seeing. The most that gain in this platform are companies with a deep catalogue of photos.

#7 Google+(Google Plus)

Since its inception in 1996, Google remains king among the 1 billion unique visitors it generates on a monthly basis.

Originally envisioned for personal use in June 2011, Google Plus eventually accommodated brands. Both personal and business users can avail of Google+ features, including Instant Upload, Messenger, Hangouts, Hashtags, Circles, and many more

For businesses that want to consider Google+, no available URL dedicated to your brand is allowed. It will really be a big help if businesses that want to rate highly at the search engine make their presence felt at Google+ as well.

#8 Snapchat

Using Snapchat, you can give your target audience behind-the-scenes glimpse on how you run your business, tap into innovative ads, makes use of instant promos, and excite audience to make a decision or miss out on snaps features.

The Takeaway: Know your target market and choose your platform wisely

With so many to choose from, small business owners can make a mark on social media. It is a matter of matching what you need and what is the available platform.

From the beginning, assessing your overall business goals and understanding the available features of each social media networking site can help you make a wise decision.

It will be a significant business advantage once you have selected what is appropriate for your niche. Once you have thoroughly imbibed what you want to target, prepare yourself or your team to the content that you need. This is because you will be creating non-stop content and these materials are not just there for posting.

The content your brand will be sharing to the world is for the public ideally. However, it will be a good start if you know which materials you want to prepare for specific audiences you have in mind who will make up your client list.

Choose the best social media platform and get ahead of other businesses within your niche!

Mark ThomsonThis is a guest post by Mark Thompson; Mark is a professional writer and part-time contributor at Assignment Masters . It is his passion for Internet marketing that drove him to establish a business where he can share his professional experiences as well as his devotion to guest blogging and travelling.

When he needs to take a break, he loves to chill out in his garden and play with his dog.

Leave a Reply