Ranking the Top 5 Social Media Sites for Small Business

If you have a small business or are considering starting a business, chances are you have considered a social media strategy, or at least getting your business on a social media site. However, there are hundreds of social media sites out there and while many of them are not worth your time, there are a select few that could really improve your brand awareness, brand equity or, most importantly, your bottom line.

Facebook is clearly at the top of the social media mountain, and all others are pretty far behind. But starting a Facebook business account can be daunting as the social network is becoming more “pay-to-play” each year and often requires some sort of social media marketing budget. You can always go the organic route and try to grow your following with a grassroots approach, but that requires a lot of time and devotion that a small business may not be able to afford. That is where this list comes in handy.

I have combed through data and combined it with my business experience in the social media world to provide a shortlist of social media sites that can provide a small business with a strong digital presence. These sites will require their own strategies but, if done correctly, can really boost a business in more ways than one.

1. LinkedIn

What you need to do: Create a professional profile and company page

Time required: Minimal

Learning curve: None

This gets the top spot because it requires the least amount of up-front legwork and is the best networking option available. The only thing that is required is to create a company page and subsequently connect it to your profile. Easy.

Consider what professionals do when they meet new connections: they add each other on LinkedIn. If you meet somebody and spend 15 minutes explaining your company, they will expect to see it connected to your LinkedIn profile when they see your information online and they may even click on the company name to learn more. On the other hand, if you connect with somebody and do not have the time to explain your company, then the LinkedIn connection is the perfect opportunity for you to educate that person on what you do. In fact, LinkedIn users are more likely than other social sites’ users to click through your profile to your website.

This may seem basic to some, but there are countless profiles without companies listed. Do not just put your personal profile on LinkedIn – make sure your company is there too.

2. Pinterest

What you need to do: Create pins and boards

Time required: Moderate

Learning curve: Moderate

Surprise! Bet you didn’t expect to see Pinterest on this list, much less ranked number two. But Pinterest has quickly become a must-have social presence for any small business that offers goods online or any creative service. Graphic designers, writers, developers, savvy marketers and any other company that offers something with a visual component needs to be on Pinterest.

Post samples of your work or services on Pinterest by creating pins and adding them to public boards. Or, if you want to put some money behind it, you can promote your pins and get your material in front of thousands of new potential customers. Pinterest denizens look for a wide variety of material, whether it be art, do-it-yourself projects, writing or even slick websites. And when it comes to user engagement and converting visitors into potential customers, Pinterest ranks second behind only Facebook.

3. YouTube

What you need to do: Create and post videos

Time required: A lot

Learning curve: Moderate

It is no surprise that YouTube graces this list, but its power lies in more than video. YouTube is the second most used search engine and specific types of video searches are growing exponentially each year. In some regards, YouTube is like the stock market and video views are your currency – the longer your videos exist on YouTube, the more views it will accumulate over time. But if you put minimal effort into your video work, you will see minimal returns. It is important to spend time optimizing your videos for keywords and making sure they have a legitimate purpose. Ask yourself, “why would somebody want to watch this video?” Make sure there is a purpose, whether it be B2B or B2C.

Right now, some of the most popular video types of “how-to” videos and those cooking videos that you see shared across other social sites. The key to any good social video is to get people to share it on their other networks. People rarely go to YouTube just to browse its vast collection of videos. Rather, there is some other video or curiosity drawing them there. Make sure your videos are either shareable or can quench that thirst for knowledge.

4. Soundcloud

What you need to do: Podcast

Time required: A lot

Learning curve: Substantial

Podcasting is one of the more time consuming yet rewarding social actions and Soundcloud is one of the top podcasting sites. Over 98 million people are expected to regularly listen to podcasts by the end of 2017. And there is room for improvement: only 2 percent of drivers listen to podcasts on their commute, compared to 54 percent who listen to AM/FM radio. As vehicles add Bluetooth technology and other easy ways to listen to audio, podcast stats are expected to grow with commuters. Plus, Apple is making podcasting simpler with their new iOS update coming later in 2017.

Podcasting is similar to blogging, except you need some additional equipment (a microphone) and probably some editing software (to delete you “umms” and backchannels between individuals). From there, think about the topics which you are most passionate, and start rambling! Nobody’s first podcast was ever an award-winner, so make sure to practice and perfect those podcasting skills.

5. Twitter

What you need to do: Tweet

Time required: Minimal

Learning curve: None

To be perfectly honest, Twitter is only here as a foil to Facebook and the other great social sites on this list. What was once a legitimate threat to Facebook’s social media throne has now fallen to a distant third on the monthly active users list and the average engagement rate is abysmal compared to other sites. Some of the most-followed celebrities with some of craziest and most engaged fans normally see engagement rates below 0.2%. None of this is good news for small businesses.

If you are looking to gain referral traffic from Twitter, you should focus on high-volume times to tweet your links. Tweets receive the most impressions when they use popular hashtags at popular times like major events or when news breaks. But make sure the current event drawing Twitter traffic is related directly to your content (i.e. if you are an NBA blogger, then the NBA Finals or the NBA Draft is the perfect time to strike). As you may already be thinking, those chances are rare, nor will you always be able to get your content out there at the most opportune time.

In general, Twitter is best for driving brand awareness. Some brands have mastered this art such as Wendy’s and Arby’s. But don’t go into Twitter expecting to see a fat return on your investment. Like podcasting, it takes minimal energy to tweet something clever about your brand and you will likely receive minimal return.

Have other social media sites that you think could benefit small business? Shoot me a message or leave a comment!

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