Social media is an important piece of your puzzle for two reasons; it provides you with a free marketing solution, and it can greatly improve customer happiness. If you aren’t already using at least one social media site to promote your business, you are missing out on a valuable potential revenue stream.

But how do you know which networks to focus on? We’re here to help!

Facebook

Facebook has long been one of the most popular social media networks, and if you have any type of business you should have an active Facebook Business Page. As of Q4 2020, they had 258 million monthly active users throughout the US and Canada, proving that it is still a top contender in the social media space, even with the popularity of its visual media-focused daughter platform, Instagram.

No matter your business, brand, or community, if you need to market yourself online you should be on Facebook. This free networking channel is appropriate for virtually every business because all demographics enjoy Facebook heavily. Adding to their value are ever-popular Facebook groups, as well as their robust advertising options that can also transfer to Instagram ads at the click of a box.

DO set up a Business Page and post to it often, ideally more than once or twice per week. Many people use Facebook to look up a business and see if they are legitimate, or in the case of a local business to see when they are open. Make sure you are frequently active.

DON’T set up a regular Facebook profile and name it after your business. Doing this will take away so many of the business-only features that make Facebook such a great marketing tool, like engagement metrics and the ability to advertise on their platform.

DO engage with your followers, even if (read: especially if) comments or reviews on your page are negative in nature. Highlight how amazing your customer service is by interacting with anyone who sticks out a toe on your page. This can improve your reach on Facebook, snowballing into better leads, more sales, and boosting your algorithm ranking so that more non-followers will see your posts.

DON’T think Facebook is the be-all-end-all of social networks. Although it is incredibly valuable, using only one social media channel will stunt your growth by letting a small portion of your potential customers see your business on social.

Instagram

Instagram is a close second to Facebook as the most important social media network for any type of business. Why? In June 2018, they passed one billion active users and that number has held steady ever since. Their user base is primarily young, with more than half of their global users under 34 years old, so Instagram is absolutely essential if you are looking to appeal to millennials and younger.

The most successful brands marketing on Instagram are those that share beautiful or educational visuals of their product or service. Images are still king on Instagram, but videos are becoming increasingly popular, especially if they are kept under one minute in length so they can post directly in a viewer’s feed, rather than uploading to IGTV. Instagram Stories and Reels are also a great way to keep your name in front of followers, as well as a fun place to upload “behind the scenes” type content.

DO switch your Instagram account to a professional account immediately upon creation by updating your settings in the mobile app. This is essential for tracking your followers, engagement, and if you want to advertise on the channel.

DON’T upload any and all photos to your page just to have content. Instagram users expect high-quality photos and videos, and more than likely won’t follow you if you aren’t delivering on that promise.

DO remember that curation is key. Keeping your page “shiny” with beautiful, original content is a must. Curating your feed with a color scheme or content theme can really help you stand out.

DON’T overlook the power of Instagram contests and giveaways as a very low-cost marketing option. It could be as affordable as offering one of your products for free or giving away a small amount of your service. You can learn more about this in our Quick Guide to Growing Your Social Media.

LinkedIn

Although LinkedIn may not immediately come to mind when you’re considering social networks, it is an underutilized tool for certain industries and types of businesses. Because so many job-seekers and professionals are using the channel -- 2020 showed 62.1 million monthly active users within the US -- you may want to consider holding an active LinkedIn profile.

LinkedIn’s primary focus is on professional networking, so the companies and niches that tend to do best are going to appeal to those types of people. B2B companies can do incredibly well, especially with advertising, as can anyone looking to target working professionals and job seekers of all types.

DO consider setting up a LinkedIn Company Page even if your business or niche don’t fit perfectly within the guidelines mentioned above. It is an excellent place to hire team members and network with other professionals in your arena.

DON’T overlook LinkedIn advertising if your business deals mostly in B2B. Because so many professionals use the channel, there is a good chance your ads will fall into the right hands. The network’s advertising feature is also far less saturated than Facebook, so your advertising budget will go much further.

DO set up and optimize your personal LinkedIn page as a business professional. Share the posts from your Company Page to your personal page for more traction.

DON’T forget to tell your employees about your page so they can interact as well. Have them link their work experience to your Company Page to help you look more legitimate and active. They can also “follow” your new page and encourage their connections to do the same.

Twitter

You may have heard that “Twitter is dead”, but their 152 million daily active users say otherwise. While some business types won’t do well on Twitter, many will. A few of the most successful niches on Twitter are companies that can make their content funny or viral because of its voice, anything related to politics, and many businesses appealing to males aged 35-65, which is by far their largest demographic.

The easy share feature, called “retweet”, makes posts so easy to share with others that the virality potential of Twitter is evenly matched to Facebook and Pinterest. Many people also like the small bites of info -- only 280 characters per post -- that are easy to digest and then pass along or reply to. While Twitter may not be the best platform for your business, it is certainly worth exploring if your target demographic meets their statistics.

DO change your username before posting to your page. Twitter no longer prompts you to choose a username, and many people overlook this important and identifying profile feature.

DON’T use underscores in your username if you can help it. Try to stick with alphanumeric characters if possible and get your username as close to your actual business name as you can. It is helpful if you can match your username to your Facebook, Instagram, and any other social networks you’re using.

DO use Twitter like you’re an actual person. Show your wit, don’t be afraid to be funny and “call people out” to make your posts go viral. The restaurant chain Wendy’s is a great example of this type of ideal Twitter marketing in action.

DON’T forget about the importance of interactions on Twitter. Users love to see “retweets” and will happily share your content if you start sharing theirs. This is free marketing at it’s finest.

Google My Business

Google is hands down the most popular search engine, holding nearly 88% worldwide market share. They are so popular that the term “Google it” has replaced most other terms for searching the internet. Because of this, it is essential that every business – big or small, local or online – hold a Google My Business profile. This will guarantee your company pops up on the right side of a Google search window when someone looks for your business using the engine.

Not only does holding a My Business profile let you show up in search, but it more seamlessly incorporates your business into the Google world, meaning advertising is better and your analytics will improve. There are many Google services, many totally free, that can help your business succeed and grow. Even if you don’t use Google often, it pays to hold a My Business listing.

DO point customers to your Google My Business page to leave reviews. Since your listing links with Google search, positive reviews will show to potential customers in search before they even click to your page.

DON’T skip verification by mail, even if you don’t have a business location. It will unlock all parts of your profile so that you look legitimate and customers can leave reviews.

DO claim your free $100 in advertising credit. It is absolutely worth it to advertise with Google!

DON’T forget to update your hours and add special hours for holidays. People use Google to search for business hours frequently, so failing to do this may hurt your business.

Pinterest

Pinterest may not be on your radar as one of the most essential social networks, but if your target market is women aged 18-49 you should definitely consider using the channel. If you are selling a product or promoting your blog for more traffic, consider posting regularly on this channel so that users can share your Pins and spread your name by word-of-mouth.

Pinterest is well known for it’s shoppable posts and Pins that let users easily share images and ideas. They also allow the creation of Boards to organize the Pins you save, making it a great place to store recipes, craft ideas, or even wish lists for wedding registries and the like.

DO create a Pinterest profile if you sell a product or post to your blog regularly, and make sure you are pinning regularly.

DON’T worry about Pinterest if your target demographics don’t meet theirs, you’re selling B2B, or you’re selling a service. It is not necessary to focus on networks that won’t serve you.

DO install a Pinterest plugin on your website so people can easily Pin your products and blog posts. Free advertising is the best kind!

YouTube

Visual media is by far the most popular at this point in time, making YouTube one of the must-try social media channels for really any business. YouTube has captured 126 million active monthly users and is by far the most popular video-based platform. With 63% of their users logging in at least once per day, keeping an active presence on this marketing channel is a great way to keep your name in front of purchasers.

Really any business can find success with video marketing using YouTube, but the determining factor is if you can show something positive about your product or service in an entertaining way. The vast majority (82%) of YouTube users visit the channel for entertainment purposes, with only 18% of US users saying they follow brands or companies. Uploading how-to videos, humorous or captivating content, or even unboxing-style videos can make this free marketing platform work in your favor.

DO consider YouTube an important social media platform, even if video is uncomfortable for you. You do not have to be in front of the camera to create an appealing video. Instructional videos can show your hands or others on your team, or even use a voice-over with still images.

DON’T be afraid to get creative. Use humor. Enjoy this experience. The more fun you have with it, the more likely you are to go “viral” and find free marketing success.

DO make sure you are only uploading high-quality videos. Use your camera in good lighting to avoid dark or pixelated video, and make sure you are using reliable editing software to improve the flow of your video, add music or voice-overs, or place text. There are some excellent free apps on both the computer and mobile devices.

DON’T forget to plug your YouTube channel in all your other social media profiles and on your website. You are working hard to create these videos -- make sure you show them off! The best way to grow in this marketing climate is self-promotion using social media.

Other Popular Networks

TikTok: TikTok is having a moment and many users have found stardom from posting to the platform. TikTok markets itself as “the leading destination for short-form mobile video. Our mission is to inspire creativity and bring joy.” You can learn more about TikTok here.

Snapchat: They originally gained popularity with their disappearing content, making it a hit with younger generations. Snapchat Filters and Lenses are a huge selling point for users and brands, which Instagram copied in their Stories feature. You can learn more about Snapchat here.

MeWe: Similar to Facebook but with a lighter approach to content moderation. Their active user demographic is broad and they offer similar functionality to Facebook, such as Groups. You can learn more about MeWe here.

Yelp: More of a directory than a social network, Yelp is a major player for helping people find local businesses. Each listing page contains information, links, photos, and reviews to give legitimacy to your business. Companies that do the best with Yelp tend to be servicing a specific location, as finding local spots is the main reason people use Yelp’s website and mobile app. You can learn more about Yelp here.

Gab: A social network centered on free speech to protect the US’s First Amendment rights. Their demographic is primarily conservative. They do not offer a mobile app, but their mobile website is app-like to compete with the more popular networks. You can learn more about Gab here.

Parler: An alternative to Twitter, especially for those censored or removed by the more progressive social networks like Twitter and Facebook. The platform is marketed as an unbiased, free-speech-focused alternative to more mainstream networks. Their demographic tends conservative. You can learn more about Parler here.

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