Customers are constantly glued to their phones, but what’s the best way for small businesses to reach people on social media? Kia Young, social media and content strategist, talked to our community about which platforms are best suited to boost your business, how their algorithms can work for you and when it makes sense to shell out for promotion.
Find your audience.
An entrepreneur’s first instinct may be to sign up for accounts on all the available social networks, but that may not be the best use of your resources. In fact, you may be wasting time and missing your audience by spreading yourself too thin. Go where your customers are. “What are the things they value? Do they value being inspired?” Young asked. “Do they value conversations and being able to connect with people? That’s how you decide what platforms you should be on.”
Is your content compelling enough to interrupt the mindless scrolling that we do on social media?
Regardless of which platforms you choose for building a community, it’s important to remember that posting more often won’t necessarily mean more interaction (or customers). “The idea that you need to post every day is not true, especially for service-based businesses,” Young explained. The key is to make sure your posts make an impact. “Is your content compelling enough to interrupt the mindless scrolling that we do on social media?” What content you create and what platform it should be posted to is dictated by your customers’ needs and habits.
Facebook is great for businesses whose customers are interested in having conversations with the brand and each other. Young pointed to conversations on personal profiles to get a sense of how the algorithm rewards conversation. “Have you ever noticed that when you post anything on Facebook, the quicker you reply to a comment on your post, the more engagement that you tend to get? That’s because the algorithm has picked up that a conversation is happening.” If your product or service is geared toward customers that are participating in particular conversations, you’ll want to be on Facebook.
Instagram and Pinterest
Instagram is a highly visual platform all about inspiration. “[Users] want to feel positive or passionate about whatever it is they’re seeing.” That means Instagram is the place for the things you’re excited about and that you think your customers will be excited about, too.
Don’t get discouraged if you see competitors with a giant Instagram follower count. Young reminded our community that what matters most is your account’s engagement, or the actions a user takes in response to your content. That means liking, commenting, saving or sharing via direct message. What qualifies as average engagement is actually quite small: interaction from 3% of your followers. Here is where more posts can work against your brand. “If you don’t have average engagement, and you’re posting too often, it actually hurts you,” she cautioned. Instagram’s algorithm rewards posts and accounts with high engagement by showing them to more users.
Young pointed out to our community that though Pinterest is a visual-first platform similar to Instagram, it’s where users typically go for aspirational content. If your business is for makers or for clients planning their big events, share your dreamiest images here. However, don’t expect to garner tons of comments from your followers.
LinkedIn and YouTube
LinkedIn is the professional network where business owners can share their expertise and connect with other professionals. YouTube can also be a way for you to provide education to customers and potential customers. As anyone who’s ever received a funny cat video knows,YouTube is also great for entertainment purposes. If there’s a playful side to your business, consider showcasing it there.
When should small businesses spend on social media?
Small businesses with small budgets have to be very careful with their spending. But there is potentially a lot to be gained from spending on social media ads; just be sure to spend on what’s already working. For example, when Facebook asks if you’d like to boost a post, as in paying for the post to reach more users, be sure you’re boosting a post that’s already popular with your community. Young’s rule of thumb? “If it’s not getting great organic engagement, don’t boost it.”
When asked about the benefits of busy entrepreneurs hiring social media managers, Young agreed it could be a great option—as long as you’ve laid the groundwork. “Make sure that as a busy, busy business owner, you’ve done that pre-work of making it easy for them to know exactly what your brand story is and what you stand for, so that they can put that out into the world for you.” A social media manager can only be helpful if you’re both aligned on how your business should live on your selected networks.