You hear the buzzwords all day. They are almost like mosquitoes and twice as annoying. Your business should be in social media. If there is anyone who knows it is you. Do these people even know how many different social media platforms there are out there? A lot! The question that is never answered is what social media platforms should I be on?

That is what this little post is going to help tackle. We are going to look at the big boys, and then look at three smaller ones

The Social Media Platforms

Facebook

facebookThis is the 800-pound gorilla in the room. Your target customer is here. With 1.6 BILLION active registered users, your ideal target customer is here. If you can’t find your target customer in this network, you might want to look at a different business. Yet Facebook is in a way a walled garden. You have to be creative in getting people’s attention.

Right now Facebook has Facebook Live. This is a live streaming platform where you can talk about yourself or your business. The Facebook algorithm pushes Live video out to far more people than just regular text.

With Facebook, there are a few key choices you have to make. First, do you want a Facebook page? I lean towards yes. Facebook profiles are limited to 5000 friends. If you are good at marketing you will fill that up pretty quickly.

Social media Marketeers will complain about Facebook. How it won’t allow you full access to your followers. This does suck a lot but you are still able to get lots of engagement. Just look at your Facebook News Feed. There are lots of posts from Facebook pages listed in there.

Facebook isn’t going to make it easy just because they have all the marbles. Yet, you can get to your core customers and find lots of new and potential customers on this platform.

Pros –

  • 6 billion People on each month.
  • The cost to advertise is pretty low.
  • If you have never advertised your business before Facebook is a good place to start.
  • You will be able to understand the different marketing terms without breaking the bank.
  • You will learn a lot about who your actual ideal customer is from using Facebook

Cons –

  • Pay to play.
  • It is easy to use this platform.
  • If you want to get out in front of as many people as you can, then you are going to have to advertise.
  • Right now it is fairly inexpensive, but you will have to learn the system.
  • Just don’t boost a post.

If you do advertise be prepared to not get many responses your first couple of times. Because you will be dialing in who your target members actually are.

Twitter

TwitterThis platform is often looked at as a flood of information. Many folks see the rush if text going by and get intimidated. Then there is the limit of 140 characters. How is anyone supposed to communicate using only 140 characters? Believe it or not, it is not as difficult as imagined. It is not Facebook.

Brevity is the soul of wit as the Bard wrote in Hamlet. That is no truer than with Twitter. Twitter is one social media platform. You want to reduce your thoughts to their bare essence before you post.

Twitter is an open social media platform. Their API has allowed for many different tools to be created for the users. There are scheduling apps like Buffer. There are tools that help you monitor keywords or your competition like Hootsuite.

Twitter is often the first place people look if they are trying to contact a company.

Pros – 

  • Very Active user base.
  • There are 310 million active users on Twitter each month.
  • Plenty of tools out to help you post on a regular basis.
  • Opportunity to perform exemplary customer service.

Cons –

  • You can’t edit your tweets.
  • Information overload.
  • The Twitter crowd can be ruthless. If you market at an inappropriate time.
  • You can’t copyright a hashtag. Don’t try you will only look like a doofus.

Instagram

InstagramSmile! Selfies are common here on the most visual social media platform. So get ready to be the face of your business. Take pictures of what is happening in your company. You can also take one-minute videos of your products.

Discovery is incredibly easy with people doing hashtag tours. This is when people click on a hashtag and start looking at what is being shown. So you want to be strategic in your hashtag placements. Instagram actually goes against the common thought of hashtags. You are actually able to get more views of your posts if you use in the vicinity of 5 to 10 hashtags. Just make them relevant to your image.

Pros –

  • If your business is visual then this is the social media platform for you.
  • People are often looking to buy when they are looking through Instagram.
  • Help understand your business better

Cons –

  • To really make ground you have to post daily
  • Be strategic in your hashtagging.

LinkedIn

LinkedINWhen it comes to social media platforms for business, you can’t get more business than LinkedIn. Often thought of as just an online resume, this social media platform is more than that. It is a business networking medium.

You can look for the business people who are able to make the buying decisions. LinkedIn helps you to start building a relationship.

Pros –

  • If you are B2B then you might want to focus on this platform.
  • If you want to contact that hard to get CEO or Director of Business. This is a nice secret entrance.

Cons – If you want to get the most out of this platform you will have to buy one of the 5 different subscription plans. These can range from $30 to $100/month.

Pinterest

pinterest-iconYou may hear that this is a Social media platform for women. Far from the truth. Pinterest is a platform for those wanting to by. If you have products and services you want to show them off here.

Pinterest has based on the premise that it is a virtual Pinboard of I want this. So pits users find an image on a blog post or website and pin that image to a Pinboard. The user can then share that board out to other people who then are able to repin it to their boards.

Pinterest can be viewed as a search engine with a buy now button because they have rich pins. These are pins that give the user the ability to buy now. They can see a recipe or mark a location on a map for those time they are traveling overseas.

Pros – Rich pins allows your customers an easier time to buy your products.

Cons –

  • If you have to pin other people products too. If not people will only view that board as an only my board and will not follow it.
  • If you do not use one of the few approved 3rd party tools you can get into trouble and even banned.

YouTube

youtubeIf a picture says a thousand words then the video says 30,000 words every second. When it comes to talking about your service or product YouTube is a social media platform that is indispensable. With the ability to share each video out to Facebook twitter and 11 other social media platforms.

Pros –

  • Free storage of very costly videos.
  • You can embed your videos on your site.
  • Other people can embed your videos on their site.

Cons – Commenters Lots of trolls love to roam YouTube. So be ready for some rude comments mixed in with the god comments.

Google Plus

gplusMany people have claimed that Google plus or Google+ is irrelevant. This is far from true. If you want your business to show up on Google maps. Or, you would like to be able to respond to reviews about your brick and mortar business? If you would like your blog posts to be indexed by google faster. The Google plus is a needed platform in your arsenal.

Google Plus also has a good community feature. It allows you to help people who could be your potential customers. This will help build trust in your brand and offers the ability to help others.

Google plus has collections. This is often thought of as Google’s attempt to copy Pinterest. The big difference is that Google plus is not as visual. It does help with showing google how popular your posts are.

Pros –

  • Beneficial to your SEO
  • Helps with your local SEO.

Cons –

  • Lack of engagement.
  • If you want to use Google Plus for your business then you want to go through Google My Business.

Snapchat

The new kid on the block. If you want to reach the millennial demographics, then Snapchat is the social media platform for you. Once you have the feel of the interface you can create engaging stories about your day.

Snapchat is growing fast. They have passed Twitter in usage. With 7 billion 10 second videos being viewed each day. You can see why businesses want to be in front of this crowd. You have to be fast. The snap, as they are called, disappears after viewing and your story is gone after 24 hours. So you have to keep generating content.

Pros – Insane engagement.

Cons –

  • The video disappears after viewing.
  • The interface is not intuitive at all. You have to feel around a bit by swiping up or down or Left and right.
  • Don’t sell Millennials can smell a pitch.

Niche Social Media Platforms

Sometimes there are needs to address a social media platform that is a little more niche. The following are a combination of Niche platforms that address a different part of business.

Behance

Adobe’s social network for graphic artists. This is a place for graphic artists to display their skills and imagination. Anybody can join but if your business isn’t graphic oriented. You won’t get much use out of it.

About.me

This is your site. about. I allow for you to share who you are. Often used as a hub for other social media platforms. Other users are able to browse your profile and give kudos to your picture or your information.

Ello

The Facebook killer that really didn’t happen. There is a reason that Facebook is able to make money. Facebook uses its uses data to serve up ads. Ello was going to show that you didn’t have to do that. What it showed is that you can’t pay your bills with a smile. It has become a hub for creatives to post their images.

Swarm/Foursquare

So where are you? Swarm has created the gamification for reviewing a physical store. The game is played by checking in to a location and if you check in enough then you will be able to be the Mayer. This is a good idea to use if you want to give the mayor special discounts. There are possibilities here.

Swarm’s big brother Foursquare is where you can search and find restaurants or other stores. You are able to read reviews about the store and see pictures that were taken by the users.

Yelp

So what is everyone saying about your business? This is the place to look. Yelp is the social platform for reviews. You are able to see if people are seeing your site in a good light or are they saying that Hostess Nancy needs to leave.

 

Bonus

Your Blog

Yes, this is the best social media platform for YOUR business. This gives you the opportunity to talk. So Talk about everything about your business and your products. Everybody who stays and comments has a very high likely hood of being your target customer. If your site doesn’t have a blog, get one. Post to it weekly or more.

So what social media platform should you use? That is the questions that started this whole post. The answer is not easy but I would recommend tackling at least one Facebook has the most while Snapchat has all the millennials.

The question you should ask is where are your customers? Are they on Facebook? Well with the 1.6 billion people that would be a safe bet. Yet you will have to pay eventually. Twitter is good and you will get the needed engagement. If your business is visual then Instagram and Pinterest would be good choices.

Think of your customer. Ask them, when you are conducting business with them. I haven’t ever heard anybody say it is none of your business. The more you ask the more you will find out.

Though this is only a small fraction of the different social media platforms out there. You want to be selective. Pat Flynn is often cited as saying be everywhere and that is true. Be everywhere your customers are at. So, you want to get to know who your customers are and where they meet. This includes meeting with them in real life. Shaking hands sharing a smile. This is the best networking you can do. It builds the strongest relationships that will last for the longest time.

Though this is only a small fraction of the different social media platforms out there. You want to be selective. Pat Flynn is often cited as saying be everywhere and that is true. Be everywhere your customers are at. So, you want to get to know who your customers are and where they meet. This includes meeting with them in real life. Shaking hands sharing a smile. This is the best networking you can do. It builds the strongest relationships that will last for the longest time.

 

I am here!

Bryan Goodwin

Social Media Manager at Goodwin Social Media
Bryan has been in the social media field in one form or another. whether it is blogging, podcasting, or trying out the latest social network . There is a good chance that you will find him talking somewhere.
I am here!

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The Best Social Media Platforms for Small Business
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