Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay. Of course, as a small business, you have to be aware that using social channels can be disastrous – just Google “social media fails” and you can see millions of results where companies took a chance and missed hard – but that shouldn’t mean you should keep your company offline.
In 2021, your customers will use social media, and if you’re not there, you’re going to be skipped over.
Speaking of skipping over: if you’re short on time, jump straight to The Find My Social Media Cheat Sheet. It will give you a quick breakdown of the most popular social media channels today, and help you evaluate whether they’re the right fit for your business.
Not entirely convinced that you need social media for your business? Not really moved by statistics like 73% of marketers think that social is a “somewhat to very effective” element of their business strategy?
We understand. But there is one statistic that might convince you that social is worthwhile:
54% of social browsers use social media to research products. That’s your audience. Out of everyone that uses social media, more than half are using it to research brands.
How many people is that? What kind of figures are we talking?
The Short Answer: A lot of people. If you’re happy with the short answer, feel free to head down to the next section.
Let’s do some quick math.
This might be a good time to point out that a billion is also known as one thousand million.
Think about the biggest crowd you’ve ever been in. How large was it? A couple hundred people? A few thousand? Ten thousand? Half-a-million, maybe?
54% of 1.6 billion (or 1,600,000,000) is eight-hundred-and-sixty-four million (or 864,000,000) people. All using Facebook at least once per day.
That’s over 2.5 times the population of the United States. It’s nearly double the population of the EU.
These numbers scale down when you get into less-popular platforms – Instagram, for instance, only reported 600 million daily active users – but they’re still nothing to ignore.
Even if some number of those accounts or active users are fake – robots, trolls, test accounts, whatever – the fact is, you’re talking about a massive amount of people. A staggering amount of people. A most-people-can-only-halfway-imagine-this-number number amount of people.
In other words, if you think people are going to look for your company on social media, you’re right. They are. And there could be more than you could ever imagine.
Convinced? Somewhat swayed? Let’s figure out how to find your audience, and then how to find the best social media platform for you.
The first and most important step in figuring out which social media channels you should use with your business is to follow your audience. If the people who are going to use your products or book your services aren’t on Twitter, you shouldn’t be either.
But your audience isn’t a nameless, faceless person behind a computer or a smartphone. They’re real people, with real interests, and you probably have a better idea of who they are than you think.
How do you find your audience?
Take a minute to spend some time thinking about your perfect customer. How old are they? What activities do they enjoy? Where are they likely to spend time on the internet? Where are they most likely to want to see your business on the internet? What apps are they using? What apps do you use?
If you’re a fashion designer, you know you’re looking for clients and customers who are visually motivated and appreciate excellent product photography. What does that mean for social media? It means they’re likely to be on Instagram. Score one point for creating an Instagram Account for your business.
This works for other businesses, too. If you’re a high-end renovation company, you might think that you’re most likely going to find a good audience on Facebook. You think this because people love to show off their new homes and additions on Facebook, especially if they’ve been done by a local company.
Let’s take this logic a little further and create an ideal customer (marketers call these personas) for our renovation company.
Her name is Susan. She’s 48 years old. She loves watching television programs about home makeovers and other DIY repairs because she loves looking at redone homes. She spends a lot of time on Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook, where she tags her closest friends on real estate posts for “beautiful fixer-uppers” all across the country.
See that? That’s a persona. With one minute of thinking, we had an idea that she might use Facebook. With five minutes of thinking, we can guess that this ideal customer uses Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram because it makes sense for her to use it.
The best way to use this idea? Try it with your existing customers. Ask them what social media channels they use and see which ones are the most popular.
Ok, so, we have some idea about our audience. We have a good idea about what they’re looking for. Now we want to think about us. We want to think about our business.
Which social media channels play to our strengths? Are we a company that can say a lot with striking images? Does our work show well on video? Are we mostly targeting professionals with great advice and interesting articles? What kind of content do we already have?
These are all important questions to consider when you’re thinking about social channels. Fit is important. If you are a company that doesn’t do anything with video content, and you don’t have any good video content ready, you probably don’t need to create a Youtube Channel.
On the other hand, if all you do is photography, you can feel safe striking Twitter off of your list of possible social media channels.
In other words, if we can sum up Step One as go where your customers are, then Step Two can be boiled down to go where it makes sense for your business to be.
We have done the research. We know we want to go where our customers are, and we know we want to go where it makes sense for our customers to be. Now we need to decide which channels to pick.
Then it’s time for the Find My Social Media Cheat Sheet. Why didn’t we just put this at the top of the article? Because, just like any other cheat sheet, the Social Media Cheat Sheet is just a general rule of thumb to use, it is not something you should use without consulting steps 1 & 2.
Here we’ll discuss specifics. We’ll chat about how to evaluate Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, TikTok, and LinkedIn.
If you jumped here directly from the intro: You’ll want to make sure to apply the first two steps in this post to any thinking you do around these social media channels (and others).
Definitely take a moment (when you have one) to go back and check the rest of the article out if you skipped ahead.
Facebook is good for businesses that can create lots of sharable content. Content like:
Notice any common thread here? This is all content that people are likely to share with their friends and family. This, when you boil it down, is the core of Facebook. The platform loves sharing.
Right now you’re probably thinking about something “going viral”, but being sharable doesn’t mean that it becomes the next Baby Shark. It just means that it is something people are likely to see and pass on to someone who might be interested.
For businesses that sell products, the Facebook Marketplace is also a strong reason to consider using the platform. And, if you’re a UENI customer, you can always sync your UENI account with your Facebook Store.
Instagram is a great platform for visually-driven businesses. So, naturally, if you can create content like:
Instagram should be on your list. Visuals are king on Instagram, so if you’re sharing company news or relying on people to click through to longer-form content, you probably won’t be as successful here.
The name of the game on Instagram is likes. This means it has to be pretty quick to digest, it has to stand out, and it has to provoke an immediate response.
If you’ve set up an Instagram account for your business, you can also link your UENI shop with Instagram. This allows your customers to buy directly on the platform.
YouTube is the world’s second-largest search engine. It is also a massive video library. As you might guess, deciding whether or not your company is a good fit for YouTube depends on how confident you feel making videos.
Specifically these two types of videos:
Why? Because while most people use YouTube as an entertainment platform (usually for music), people will look at company YouTube videos primarily to learn things from you.
Whether that’s yoga that you can do at home, how to cook a new dish, or which board game to buy for someone on Christmas, people are going to visit your YouTube page expecting to learn something from your company about a topic that they’re interested in.
Why long-form videos? YouTube’s monetisation policy heavily leans on videos that are over 10 minutes long. As a result, most of the most popular YouTube channels create videos that are at least that long, and people have come to expect it.
The kind of content that is going to succeed on YouTube for a business (unless, of course, you’re a musician or songwriter backed by a major label) is going to be educational, entertaining, and very high quality. Unfortunately, this is also a time-consuming and potentially costly enterprise.
TikTok is the newest emerging social media network, which means there’s a lot of mystery surrounding it, especially if you happen to be above a certain age.
That certain age seems to be 30, because 63% of TikTok’s userbase ranges from ages 10-29 while 41% are 16 to 24-year-olds. Teenagers and young adults, Millennials and Gen Z, whatever you want to call them.
What you need to know about TikTok is that it operates on short videos (they have to be 60 seconds or less), it has approximately one billion users worldwide, and it’s heavily dependent on influencers.
The questions you need to ask, then, are a little bit different. Specifically:
What is short, effective content? This blog post gives some good examples:
Another simple way to create popular content is to offer how-to’s, tips and tricks, or insider secrets from your industry.
If you own a bakery, you can show a pared-down, visually appealing version of the steps in a recipe, like baking a cake to the tune of a pop song where the final version appears when you show yourself snapping your fingers.
Sell clothing? Show how many ways a piece can be implemented into an outfit or the secret steps of your perfect shirt knot.
You’ve got the idea.
LinkedIn is a slightly more professionally-oriented platform, which means that the best kind of content for this platform is:
Did you notice the word that didn’t come up? Video. LinkedIn is not really a video-centric platform, it’s a text-heavy platform that relies a lot on direct discussion between professionals.
This is great for professional service providers who may not have the same resources (or interest) in creating visual content. The primary purpose behind LinkedIn has always been professional networking, and as a result, professionally-driven content performs well.
If your business regularly creates content that would be good to share at a seminar, a conference, or in another similar professional setting, LinkedIn is most likely a good fit for you.