Choosing social media channels for your business is not as obvious as it once was. In the early days, just having a presence on the Big Three networks—Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn—was a major accomplishment for B2B companies.
According to HubSpot, more than one million SMB marketers now use social media in North America alone. As more businesses join the party, just showing up isn’t enough (if it ever was in the first place).
- 49% of SMBs use social media for learning, specifically to access a network of peers and to learn from industry experts.
- Two-thirds of SMBs say LinkedIn gives them the opportunity to connect with vendors and other partners.
- 75% of small and mid-sized business marketers use LinkedIn to help build their credibility.
*Infographic courtesy of Media Bistro
So. Which social networks does your business need to join? And what should you be doing once you get there? These are questions we face regularly as an agency offering social media marketing services. Here’s what we tell our clients:
1. Identify Your Customers
It all starts with defining your customers, or buyer personas. This article, Buyer Personas 101, can help you get started. Once you determine your different types of customer, you can research where they are hanging out online, and build a strategy for each category.
2. Determine Your Bandwidth and Social Media Resources
How much time will your company devote to social media? Will you outsource the entire project to professional social media marketers, or do you have knowledgeable employees who can assume ownership of regular posting and interaction?
Remember: effective social media is not a one-way street. In most cases, you need to share and comment on other people’s news more often than you promote your own. You also need tools and resources in place to respond when social contacts engage with you.
3. Choose Your Social Media Channels
Unlike the global consumer brands, it’s not worth your time to build a following on every social channel there is. You have to prioritize and do some experimenting. How do you choose? Here’s a good outline of the major social networks and how they can help different types of SMBs:
Social Media for All Companies
Twitter – Twitter can work for any business. However, Twitter is an extremely active channel and proper resources are required to take advantage of it. So if you’re a local B2C business, Twitter is a channel you can probably forgo. If you are a growing software company, for example, and are allocating resources to social media, you probably want to be on Twitter.
YouTube – YouTube is another channel that can absolutely work for any business. People love to consume videos, and there are many advantages to video including allowing your companies' personality to shine through. Owned by Google, YouTube integrates with your Google Plus page. The negative to YouTube is professional video marketing is not cheap. Smaller companies may be able to get away with homemade videos, but most B2C & B2B companies are going to require a professional to properly implement video marketing.
Social Media for B2B Companies
LinkedIn – For B2B companies, there is no better multi-purpose online business hub than LinkedIn. According to this article about LinkedIn Stats, there are 277 million LinkedIn users in 200 countries worldwide. Launched in 2003 and getting stronger every day, this networking, job-finding, information-sharing powerhouse is here to stay.
LinkedIn’s marketing, sales & advertising platform continues to improve and offers more ways to connect. As an introduction, companies should take advantage of the free Company Pages. On a more advanced note, companies can participate in advertising campaigns, hire employees through the jobs section, increase their sales efforts, and more.
Social Media for B2C Companies
Facebook – For businesses that are targeting consumers, Facebook is still the frontrunner. The juggernaut has one billion active users. How active are they? Facebook users share 2.5 billion pieces of content every day!
According to Marketing Charts, one in five social media users are likely to make a purchase directly on a social network this year that’s a lot of opportunity. Facebook’s advertising platform is simple and affordable—and a great way for companies to expand their reach.
On the other hand, young users are flocking away from Facebook, or not joining in the first place. If your audience is young, you definitely need to round out your exposure on some other sites.
Specialty Social Media Sites
- Houzz – Houzz is the social media powerhouse for the design and home improvement industry. Growing by leaps and bounds with 15 million active monthly users, Houzz is a great place to be if you are in this industry.
- Instagram – While many major corporations are participating, the picture and video sharing site remains dominated by young users. So take this into consideration when choosing this growing channel of 150 million active users.
- Pinterest – With 70 million active users, this social site is all about Discovery. Categories with the largest opportunities on Pinterest are décor, babies, weddings, fashion, and recipes.
While there are many things to think about when choosing social media channels for your business, with the right planning, guidance, and execution, your social connections should start working for you.