When used correctly, social media for small business can be a powerful marketing tool for self-starters in any industry. It can lead to better visibility, a stronger understanding of your market, and a chance to connect directly with potential customers.
It’s important to know which social media platform best suits your business and way of working. To supply some more practical information on what which platforms are right for your small business customer engagement, we spoke to David Reid, lecturer in Advertising and Digital Media at Swinburne University.
“Social media is pervasive, and if you look at active user data you can see very quickly that Australians love to inhabit this space,” he says.
“In business your priority must be consumer engagement, so I would suggest to look firstly to the dominant platforms – Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.”
Many small businesses make the mistake of using all available social media channels, just for the sake of being online everywhere they can. Choosing the right social media channels for your business is the first step in boosting your online presence.
“Every dollar in terms of marketing spend requires a return on investment. But building brand awareness doesn’t necessarily mean an immediate return,” Reid says.
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Thanks to a complex system for targeting and retargeting specific demographics, Facebook is designed to make your brand as visible as possible to your social media audience.
“[If you run] a small business you need to operate here. It’s cost-effective and you can engage with your local community,” Reid says, “I would suggest it’s the best place to start.”
But it’s not just about being seen – a huge number of small businesses use Facebook to interact with their social media audience and build communities around their brands. From customer engagement to general enquiries, it’s a direct way to connect with consumers and add a much-needed personal touch.
Designed to be aesthetically-focused, Instagram is a social media channel that helps brands create a strong visual identity and can be used as a space for curation and inspiration.
“Providing you can create engaging content, you will get cut through with Instagram,” says Reid.
“It’s also a platform that skews to a younger demographic, so dependent on your business, this might be more appropriate.”
It is perfectly suited to designers, artists, builders, product developers and retail small businesses. In fact, you can integrate Shopify with Instagram, so customers can see and buy your products, all without leaving the app.
People from all walks of life use YouTube to watch music videos, movie trailers, educational material and long-form content. They also use it to stay up to date with their favourite content creators, influencers and brands.
“I would suggest that Youtube works well in partnership with other platforms such as Facebook, particularly if you can create great content,” says Reid.
If you make video, or do something that sells better when customers can see it move, it’s a social media channel you should be using. Especially if you can use it to tell a story, too.
Designed primarily as a social media channel where professionals can network, LinkedIn has become a place where small business owners can tap into their existing connections and drive customer engagement through word-of-mouth.
“I’m a big fan of LinkedIn, and if business-to-business marketing is your focus, then this is a platform to take seriously,” says Reid.
LinkedIn content is generally more focused around industry trends and the people behind businesses, but it’s an essential channel for those looking to connect with small business influencers and decision makers, and to become “thought leaders” in their field.
Keep an eye out for the second part of our Social Media For Small Business series. We’ll be discussing how you can create the right social media tone of voice for you and and your small business.
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