Which social media platform best suits your business?
I had lunch with some close friends of mine who own a gym.
They told me that their marketing consultant recommended they get on Twitter as soon as possible, use Instagram as much as they can and ramp up their Facebook page, to which they already get a great level of traffic and, more importantly, close engagement with clients on.
My advice to them: beware of fragmenting your social media presence.
Focus on what works; work out a schedule and some goals and see how they go.
If you're hitting those goals and have the resources to spare, then start looking at additional platforms. Why? Because you're going to find different kinds of clients on different platforms.
While big companies can boast big budgets, smaller businesses that have committed to growing on one platform have a distinct advantage, as long as they know an audience is there and they're seeing results.
Here is a breakdown of the social media networks and platforms that Australian small business is most engaged with in 2013 and how they can work for your business:
Great for: Retail, Services, Hospitality, Interest Groups
For too long, marketers have insisted that you HAVE to be on Facebook – if you’re not there, then your business is dead already. But, like any social network, you get out of it what you put in.
While your primary presence on this platform is engagement, there are other areas in which Facebook can help you.
While direct eCommerce eBay-style isn’t encouraged by the network, it provides a range of tools that allow potential customers to purchase directly from your page (see Ecwid).
Another area you can utilise the huge stable of free apps Facebook make available: many are free, others are paid for, and the network has the capacity to create apps too.
By offering one extra reason to spend time on your page, you’re giving more reason for your client to trust you.
Ironically, while Facebook heralds social media as more effective than traditional advertising, its Facebook Ad platform is essentially that.
However, it’s extremely cheap and you can hyper-target your desired demographic.
With improved mobile eCommerce and a Graph Search product on the way, Facebook is trying hard to help your business become successful on their network.
- Humidity Gifts & Homewares
- Lolo & Wren
- Public Bar
Great for: Retail, Services, Tourism, Entertainment
Many have extolled the power of online video, though small businesses are yet to see its true potential.
Online video, done well, can be the most tantalising internet fodder available. The arrival of the NBN (assuming it isn’t reigned back post-2013 election) will allow consumers and businesses access to faster download speeds, meaning better and faster video feeds.
Add this to better device technology (smartphones with cameras) and cheap/free editing apps, and producing engaging video content isn’t as hard as you’d think.
From blenders to tech companies, sharing video content has become a primary point of sale for many overseas businesses – what better way for your consumer to get behind the scenes, get tips and advice, or be entertained than by short videos?
If you’re a micro-business, YouTube even allows you the chance to be their next ‘How To’ guru, positioning your industry know-how in the limelight.
- Skydive The Beach
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Great for: NGOs, Technology, Hospitality
The potential of this micro-blogging platform has been extensively covered.
However, SMEs need to be aware that time commitment and a clear content strategy are essential for success on Twitter.
SMEs using it well use it best for its main intention – immediate communication. While many use it for direct customer interaction, many small businesses don’t necessarily have the time or resources to monitor every tweet or direct message.
However, it’s brilliant as a way to inform and alert your customers to what’s happening in your world.
Menu based on seasonal ingredient and there’s a new lunch special? Tweet it. Need to share a petition as quickly as possible? Add a hashtag and start a wider conversation.
Tailored Trends allows you to follow hashtags relevant to your industry, which puts you in the thick of relevant conversations.
- Taco Truck
- Mag Nation
Great for: Finance, B2B, NGO, Academic, Government
Believe it or not, LinkedIn has the capacity to become a great business spinner, as long as it's treated as a legitimate part of your marketing strategy.
While a lot of areas of retail may struggle in this, many in the B2B space know that rubbing shoulders can convert into sales – LinkedIn allows a virtual version of this.
By linking a personal profile built around your experience in your industry to a business page or group, you’re allowing potential leads to see what you offer without getting in their face about it.
Utilise your presence in groups – that's not a licence to sell, but I know a number of small businesses that have gained local and international business solely through being thoughtful and adding value to conversations in group discussions. If potential clients see that you know your stuff, they're likely to want to deal with you.
- CP Communications
- Australia Unlimited
- Google+: Will eventually become part of the crew, but its use in Australia is still limited.
However, if your client is tech/social media savvy, this presents an alternative way to engage with them outside of the bigger networks. An extensive suite of Google Products makes this platform even more attractive.
- Pinterest: Design-based industries, from graphic design to craft will benefit from this ‘scrapbooking’ social network. Perfect for highly visual SMEs looking to showcase and share their wares.
- Instagram: Again prone to more visual industries, however, a great way to showcase products in new ways and yet another platform to share what you’re selling. A big hit with hipster retailers and restaurants.
- MySpace: The original big social network is resurgent due to some smart thinking from their execs. This design-focused MySpace will engage those businesses wanting to try something new that may (or may not) become the new place to be for Generation Alpha (post-Gen Z).
- Reddit: As Digg appears to be suffering a slow death, this bookmarking tool has the potential to spread information you want about your business. If you’re a keen blogger look into it. Also see Stumbleupon.