Social media is in the news. Okay, it’s always been in the news, for good or for ill. But lately, with Elon Musk’s purchase of Twitter, pundits and advertisers alike are tweeting about Twitter.
And then there’s Tik-Tok, the short-form video platform that continues to soar in popularity despite misgivings from some analysts concerned about unethical tracking and data mining of its users.
Don’t forget Facebook, or Meta as it is now called, and its quest to dominate your daily newsfeed with news and ads along with updates from your Great-Aunt Ethel.
No matter where you look, social media is in the news, and it’s here to stay. For small business owners, social media can still be confusing. Where should you maintain a profile? How frequently should you post? Should you be concerned about the ethics of the platform and pull your ads when something controversial arises or should you ignore the politics behind the scenes and focus on your core audience and where they like to gather online?
Here’s our take on social media and the trends impacting small businesses.
Social Media Is Here to Stay
First, let’s be clear: social media is here to stay.
Despite many saying they are leaving this platform or that one, here’s the latest statistics on the usage of the popular platforms:
Social media remains wildly popular among all ages and demographics. Users access social media via their smartphones, tablets, computers, and with video sites, even through their television sets. YouTube, for example, has a Roku app which enables Roku users to watch YouTube as a channel the way they can watch the movie channel or any of the other content streaming through the device.
Many adults are also now getting their news from social media. In a recent Pew Research study, 31% of American adults say they get their news from Facebook. Considering that Facebook users self-post whatever strikes their fancy, that’s a sobering statistic and a far cry from just a few years ago when people relied on major news outlets for curated, researched journalism.
But it does prove one thing: social media platforms are here to stay and are very much part of the average person’s daily life. The question, then, for small business owners, is how should they leverage this fact to remain visible to their customers?
Small Businesses: Do Not Build Your “House” on Rented Land!
Given the popularity and prevalence of social media platforms, many small businesses open a profile on a given platform and then make it their promotional ‘hub.’ Some even choose to leverage their social media pages as their dominant website presence.
This is a big mistake. We would like to caution all small business owners to avoid setting up their digital ‘house’ on ‘rented’ land.
What does that mean? It means that if you use a social media platform as your only digital presence, you are risking losing everything you’ve built overnight!
Social media platforms can choose, without warning, to:
- Remove your page
- Charge for your page
- Change the algorithm to hide your page
- Remove any features you are using
Although maintaining social media profiles is an important tactic for many small businesses, they should never be used as your primary digital presence. A website, no matter how small or plain, remains your property. You own and control a website and can choose what and how to display your company’s information on it without fear that at a moment’s notice the content can be taken down.
Stay Visible Through Organic Posts
So while we do not recommend using only social media platforms for your web presence, we do recommend that most businesses maintain one or more social media profiles. No matter which platforms you choose, you can leverage their organic reach to remain visible to your customers.
A few best practices:
- Complete your basic profile information
- Update the platforms of your choice at least a few times a week
- Include links to your social media platforms on your website
- Interact with others on the platform – social media is, after all, social.
You do not have to be everywhere – you can choose just one or two platforms that fit your business needs. It’s better to be active on one platform than to have five or six inactive profiles scattered across multiple social media sites. The more active you are posting and interacting, the better chance you have of remaining visible to your customers.
Remember to keep your posts strategic and aligned to your business brand and objectives. It is always wise to steer clear of controversial political, religious, and social topics (unless you’re promoting politics, religion, or a social movement!). Focus on what your customers are interested in whether it is thermometers for the process industry or dog training hints.Customers also like to see behind-the-scenes happenings with their favorite small businesses, so consider infusing your posts with a bit of personality, like sharing pictures of an employee’s birthday cake during lunch hour or congratulating an employee on achieving a certificate in the industry.
Consider Paid Advertising
Organic reach, or the free posts that you make every day, only reaches a portion of the entire target audience, including your followers and friends. The companies controlling the social media platforms are of course seeking to make a profit from their users and do charge for advertising. Social media advertising can help you:
- Promote special offers to a specific target audience
- Reach a highly targeted, segmented group of viewers
- Find and reach people who do not yet know your business
Social media advertising can be complex, so we recommend working with a professional to set up and maintain your advertisements and budget. Dashboard Interactive Marketing provides this service and we would be happy to provide you with a consultation. It is recommended that any social media plan be a part of a larger digital marketing initiative to ensure that it is a strategically sound choice for your marketing dollars.
Ready for Social Media Marketing?
Contact Dashboard Interactive Marketing at 763-242-2454 for a consultation. We look forward to helping you achieve your marketing goals and promoting your small business effectively on social media platforms and beyond.