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Social media for your small business

Cape Cod SCORE

Question: I hear that I need to be active on social media. I am not sure where I should be and to what extent I need to use social media.

Answer: First, think about the purpose of social media. It is a marketing communications tool, just like magazine advertising or direct mail. Its purpose is to attract, engage and retain customers. It seems like a daunting task to determine which platform will work best, what to post, how often to post and how to measure the effectiveness of its application. The task is one that is learned by doing and getting advice from professionals who specialize in digital marketing.

What are the best sites? First, what does best mean? Each platform needs to be evaluated in terms of your marketing communications objectives and using a checklist that includes cost, popularity or reach, target audience (demographics and geographic), and suitability for small-business application. You might also look at the features that are offered and ease of use.

Facebook is best for all businesses to gain visibility and to engage with new and existing customers. You can share business news, product/service information, articles and announcements. It is recommended to post three to seven times per week. Almost everyone in your target audience is on Facebook so you are most likely to reach them using this platform regardless of your business size and the size of your target audience. The first step is to sign up for a Facebook business page. Posting all your contact information is a good second step. Posting once a day about something about your business, including content that is of interest to your target market, will get you the top-of-mind awareness that you are seeking using social media.

LinkedIn is best for business- to-business audiences. You can share business activity as well as links to content of interest to your target market. Posting on LinkedIn is about half that of Facebook, so consider posting content one to four times per week. This is THE site for professionals and businesses. It the place where professionals in business and industry network, share ideas and become thought leaders by posting valuable content. The first step is to create a LinkedIn business page which will give the business a credible presence on this network. LinkedIn is also a great source of employees and potential hires.

Twitter is the place for tech-savvy users across all age spectrums. It is used for time-sensitive business activity updates in a maximum 280 characters with images and video in support of content. It currently has about 275 million monthly posts. If your target customers are tech-savvy, then this is a social media site you need to learn how to harness. Since it is the largest social media site, it is one that is a must in establishing brand identity. This platform also allows for retweets, so you can share important content. How many times per day? Three to five times posting original messages or retweeting content.

Instagram. The target for this Facebook-owned platform is urban and suburban

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millennials with more females than males in the audience. This is a social media tool to share photos and images, information about events and even people your targets don’t get to see in their interaction with your business. By posting three to five times per week, you can gain a following of those interested in more visual than content. If your target customer is a millennial, then use this platform where users spend up to 25 minutes per day. Experienced users have found they benefit from geotags and hashtags to move from trending topic to topic and increasing awareness in a specific, targeted area. Instagram ads are also available for the more aggressive marketer.

YouTube. If you are trying to reach the general public and want to combine entertainment with your message, YouTube is a platform to consider. It combines information delivery with entertainment, however it requires one to three postings per week to generate a following. This is the largest video site and the 2nd largest search engine after Google. If you can use a “how-to” angle to your branding message, this platform will work for you. Preparing and posting videos takes more time to prepare than other platforms, but using this visual medium creates greater memorability than posts on FB or LI. If you can produce about 10-12 videos and stage them to be posted once a week and building to several a week, you can create a YouTube strategy.

Google My Business – This is ideal way to reach any target market that is a Google user especially those who are seeking local sources of products or services. GMB creates a profile of your business that becomes the first stop for shoppers. There are no postings, but updating your profile is important as business conditions change. This business directory allows viewers to get a snapshot of your business, where you are located, maps to your location, hours of operations and contact information. Don’t forget photos of you, your business location or even products for which you are known. The first step is to create a GMB listing. Once you are online, customers can find you, rate you, recommend you and become an active marketer for you by noting benefits of doing business with you.

Pinterest. This largely female audience also attracts millennials to its totally visual environment. You can share images of your offerings, recipes, wardrobe, design, decorations, content via infographics and craft ideas, instructions and content. This pinboard is a place where buyers and potential buyers can save and organize images that link to your business and products. The most important marketing feature is that content is organized so that potential customer targets can easily access your postings. All you have to do is sign up with Pinterest, create a board and start posting to it. You can also post others’ content to your board to make it more valuable to viewers. The more interesting your pins, the more followers you will attract making this another important social media stop.

In today’s very complex marketing environment, using social media should be on every small business’s agenda to use in reaching its targeted buyers. What is the best platform? It totally depends on the business, the industry, the distribution of customers and where they get their information.

Contributed by Marc L. Goldberg, certified Mentor. Sourced from “10 Best Social Media for Small Business.” Fit Small Business, Daniel Threlfall, digital marketing strategist, July 13, 2018. For assistance with social media marketing, schedule a mentoring appointment with SCORE at capecod. score.org, capecodscore@verizon.net or 508-775-4884.

By posting three to five times per week, you can gain a following of those interested in more visual than content. If your target customer is a millennial, then use this platform where users spend up to 25 minutes per day.

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