Posted on Aug 18, 2015

The Best Social Media Platforms to Use

You’ve decided to take the leap into social media, and now need to know where you should focus your efforts. You’re certain that you can’t do everything. As a small business owner, you’re aware that there are certain places you should be – and other places you should avoid. Large companies even concentrate their efforts on particular channels, and you need to learn which social media platforms make the most sense to your industry and business.

In a previous post that looked at the benefits of social media to small business, we introduced a fictional gourmet food store. Let’s use that example again for businesses with a business-to-consumer offering.

But we’ll also use a second example – a small accountancy firm – to show how social media can benefit companies with a business-to-business offering as well.

Here we go:

Facebook

With 1.3 billion users, Facebook is easily the biggest social media platform in the world. Users log on to the site regularly, and they spend a lot of time with it, so it has tremendous potential.

  • Gourmet food store – their customers are probably on Facebook so this is an ideal platform
  • Accountant – Facebook is better known as a B2C marketing tool, so an accountant will have to work hard to generate a return. It is possible, though, if they adopt B2C-style postings – like Intel does on its Facebook page.

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Twitter

Like Facebook, Twitter also has a large and active userbase, with about 650 million members. It has a more immediate feel than Facebook, which makes it ideal for customer service applications and sending out messages with strong, urgent calls to action.

  • Gourmet food store – use Twitter as a customer service tool so that customers can make contact easily and quickly
  • Accountant – use Twitter to post tips, and link to articles that will be helpful to their customers. This will build up their reputation as leaders in their field.

LinkedIn

Where Facebook and Twitter are about consumers and entertainment, LinkedIn is about business. When people use LinkedIn, they’re thinking about their careers, their business, and their professional goals.

  • Gourmet food store – has limited use for LinkedIn
  • Accountant – use LinkedIn to establish a reputation as an expert, and to give information on what the business offers. It can do this through group participation, and posting helpful non-sales content to their page

Google+

When you look purely at the number of users, Google+ ranks highly, but it doesn’t have the same rate of engagement as the other social media platforms. It does have one major benefit though – its connection with the Google search engine. Many search professionals think that good Google+ profiles help with search engine rankings. For that reason, Google+ can help the accountant and the gourmet food store.

With the latest addition of Google Alphabet, it’s important for both business-to-business and business-to-consumer industries to stay up on the latest happenings. 

Best Of The Rest

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ are the biggest social media platforms, but what others might you consider?

  • YouTube – YouTube is a niche platform. But it is huge. The gourmet food store could use this platform successfully by creating recipe videos using the products they sell. This takes time and effort so it’s not ideal. But it’s worth considering if you want to challenge yourself and grow an audience.
  • Instagram – Instagram’s niche is in sharing attractive photos that represent a brand’s personality. It’s a perfect platform for the gourmet food store, which can use it to share mouth-watering images of the food that it sells. It’s important that the images are high-quality. Invest in a professional camera or use filters to make each photo pop.
  • Pinterest – Pinterest is about images too, but it’s more focused on users “pinning” content. Think of a pin as a “vote” for the content, which means it has SEO benefits. Both types of business can benefit from Pinterest but it’s much more of a B2C platform. Unless the accountant is super creative with its use of Pinterest, the platform is more geared towards the gourmet food store.

The best approach is to decide what you want to achieve from social media. Whether you’re looking to improve your customer service, increase brand awareness, or become an expert in your field, look at the platforms that speak to these objectives – and then select the ones that are the easiest (and most fun!) to use.

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