It's tough out there for a small business. Competition is stiff and resources can be scarce, so how do you find time to devote to developing your social networks? You may find yourself wondering if it's even worth it.
Every business can benefit from social. It gives you a way to connect with your customers, build brand awareness, develop customer loyalty, and improve your search results online, to name a few. That said, there are far more social networks than any single business could properly maintain with limited man power.
The good news is, you don't need to be on every platform. You just need to be on the right platform(s). If you've been hesitant to jump in, take a look at these pointers to help figure out where to start.
Identify Your Audience
Who are you trying to reach? It's important to identify the demographic for your target audience. For example, Facebook tends to have one of the broader audiences in terms of age, gender, and income. While Snapchat, though also aiming to appeal to the 35+ crowd in the future, currently skews much younger.
It's worth spending time thinking through who your potential audience might be with consideration to a number of factors. Are they on social media? Which platforms are they on the most? Does your business appeal to a certain age? A specific gender?
If you can't answer these well, you might end up investing your time and energy growing an audience that will never buy your product or use your services. Here's a recent study examining how the demographics play out on a number of social platforms.
Keep It Visual
Images and video are some of the most engaged with pieces of content when it comes to socials. And video in particular has seen a dramatic increase in use and platforms, with predictions forecasting video will dominate website traffic by 2017.
Most of the major players in the social space allow for the inclusion of both. The question becomes, what type of visuals are you planning to post?
If your primary business function involves products that photograph beautifully (food or interior design, for example), then you could definitely benefit from being on an image-focused platform, like Instagram, where the emphasis is on high-quality visual imagery. If, however, your business is more informative (possibly insurance or medical), then you might prefer to stay with something like Twitter or Facebook which allows you to quickly share information that better aligns with your profession. This doesn't mean you can't be on a different platform, but it might require additional creativity on your part.
As for video, if you're a business that has a lot of live events or seminars, you might want to see if something like Periscope or Blab would be a good fit for getting people engaged in real time with your live video content. If you do quick tips, Vine or Instagram, which both allow for very short videos, could be more up your alley. Instructional videos might be better suited to something like YouTube, depending on length.
There are many other things to take into consideration with visuals (infographics, memes, GIFs, etc.), but the most important thing is to decide what type of content you'll be creating for your brand and decide accordingly.
Know Your Limits
If you've looked around and decided there are at least 5 or 6 viable social options for your business, the next thing you want to consider is how much time you can actively dedicate to growing and maintaining them. This includes posting regularly, answering questions and comments in a timely manner (most expect a response within an hour of posting before sentiment turns negative), pro-actively engaging with others to help grow your following, and keeping the content of interest to your audience. If you have enough resources to keep these pages active, then you can consider it.
But if you're like most small businesses, you have a business to run and don't have the time to spend hours a day managing your social accounts. You want them to enhance your business, not become it. Though there are tools to help simplify posting to multiple platforms, you might want to limit yourself to one or two social accounts to start and grow your network from there. The last thing you want to do is start a social account that you later abandon.
Another thing to keep in mind is that social platforms shift constantly. If you don't have the time to stay on top of the latest digital trends and upgrades, you might wish to hire someone, even if only on retainer, to help keep you informed of changes that could impact your accounts. Here at Tigerlily, we know how hard it is to stay abreast of all the changes, that's why we keep our clients informed and advise them on how to make the necessary adjustments.
There are so many additional things to consider as you navigate the world of social media. I've only touched on a few here, but I feel that these are some of the most important things to ask yourself. I've met too many clients who are frustrated and overwhelmed by their social media accounts, and the truth is, they didn't need to be. They just needed a little guidance and support to give them a solid foundation from which they could grow.