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“Newsfeed”: Capitalizing on Social Media in 2014
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It’s no secret that social media can be a great tool for small businesses. It’s inexpensive, versatile and you can reach out to your customers and potential target audiences in one shot.

But with so many options today and constantly changing technology, businesses need do more to stay current. This means learning the new intricacies in social media and using it strategically to grow your business. According to a new study released by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, Facebook remains the most popular platform though Twitter, Instagram and Pinterest all saw surges in usage from the previous year. Not to mention personal blogging, Youtube, LinkedIn and Google+ are all just some of the new ways younger businesses are using to cast their PR net wider.

In this blog post, we will introduce some of the new rules for social media strategy and tease out the “TAKE HOME” messages you need to make the most out of your investment in social media this year.

When in Doubt, Stick with the Classics

The Pew Research Center’s survey, which was conducted in 2013, reported that Facebook remains the dominant social networking platform based on the number of users. The Pew Research Center found that of the 5,112 internet users ages 18+ included in the survey, 71% of online adults use Facebook, 18% of online adults use Twitter, 17% use Instagram, and 21% use Pinterest.

  • TAKE HOME: If you’re new to social media or have limited resources to devote to it, Facebook is still a good starting place for your business to establish a social media presence.

Know Your Audience

Keep in mind that fit is becoming a more important component to a successful social media strategy and you will need to choose an option that works best for your goals. Today, Internet users are incredibly savvy and selective in how they want to be connected to via social media.

To see whether these findings are part of a growing trend, I compared the survey results from 2013 with the survey results from 2012.  Facebook use was in the lead in both studies with 71% of adult users, up from 67% of online adults in 2012. But, other social networking platforms also jumped up in users from 2012 with Twitter at 18% up from 16%, Instagram at 17% up from 13%, and 21% using Pinterest compared to 2012’s 15%. In both studies, Facebook was the favorite among users, but the increased use of other social networking platforms shows that users are not solely committed to a single platform and there is interest in trying alternatives.

  • TAKE HOME: Take the time to look at how your industry has benefited from social media as well as think about how you would want to be marketed to. Use those cues to choose the most efficient platform to sink your effort into.

For instance, if you know that the majority of your customers use Twitter, you may want to get on Twitter first before moving onto Facebook. On the other hand, Instagram or Pinterest might be a better choice if your business is interested in using media as a way to promote your services. Instagram and Pinterest are photo-sharing sites that can be a great marketing tool for businesses in the arts and entertainment industry. You can promote your business by posting photographs from a publicized event, showing examples of work for recent projects, or showcasing a new collection of products.

Preferences Matter

Current users will know what they are looking for in message delivery style, access point and content so they will naturally gravitate to their preferred platforms. The study found that 73% of online adults are currently using social networking and 42% of online adults reported using more than one networking site. In addition, Instagram users are nearly as likely as Facebook users to check in to the site on a daily basis.

  • TAKE HOME: If your business can benefit from posting frequently and updating followers, don’t forget to factor this in when you choose your social media platform and devise a strategy for how you will use it. You may want to use an alternative to Facebook, such as Instagram and if you use both, you may want to update Instagram first before Facebook.

The Right Tools for the Job

As the saying goes, “when your only tool is a hammer, all your problems look like nails.” Sometimes the glitz and glamour of using social media can lead to overspending and going over budget. Just like you need to know your audience, choosing the right social media platforms with your specific goals and industry in mind is vital to a successful social media effort.

Since the Pew Center study focuses on individual online adults and not on businesses, these findings could be less applicable if your company is a business-to-business service provider and Facebook may not be the best choice. Think about your target audience, who is it that you want to reach? And think about what you want to achieve by reaching this audience.

Furthermore, let’s say you want to use social media to interact with your customers more than selling to them. Twitter may be a great choice for your business if you’re interested in using Twitter chats as a marketing tool or your brand is associated with fast changing trends and news. (For those unfamiliar, a Twitter chat is a public Twitter conversation that centers on a topic that is specified using a tag (#), called a hashtag, and allows the topic to be followed on Twitter. A popular Twitter chat for business owners is #smallbizchat.)

Remember, your goal does not have to be a direct way to generate revenue, but can still build your business in other ways. Don’t forget, social media can do more than just marketing and your business may gain more by using social media in other ways.

  • TAKE HOME: If your business is new, you can use it to build brand recognition or as an efficient way of communicating news to your customers. These benefits may be less direct and therefore the impact may be more difficult to measure compared to marketing campaigns, but establishing a social media presence early can lead to great success in the future. Reaching your target audience can be tricky and it will take time to establish the right network.

Get LIKED in 2014

As you bring your business into the new year, bear in mind that Social Media is increasingly becoming a finely tuned instrument rather than a blunt object. Treat your social media efforts with some thought and strategy, and you will avoid getting left behind in the social market.

Jennifer ShinFounder and Principal Consultant, 8 Path Solutions LLC
Jennifer is the Founder & Principal Consultant of 8 Path Solutions LLC, a NYC based management consultancy and data science startup that aims to bridge the gap between science, technology and industry and tackle real world challenges. | @8PathSolutions | Facebook |More from Jennifer

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Discussion (1) Comment

  1. Thank you so much for sharing your detailed thoughts. I have found that using the @ before each friend name and page name helps me in creating hyperlinks so that individuals can bounce around in an easy manner. This practice really helps when I am trying to promote my new business pages with limited marketing funds. BTW my girlfriend (Missy Brandt) just attended a social media conference on the coast of Georgia and they stressed making at least one post a day on a business page…basically don’t be afraid of too much posting.


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