Small Businesses Looking for Value Out of Social Media Need to Start with the Basics

If your business is not on some type of social media platform, you’d be known as a laggard. To be clear, a laggard is a person (or in this case a business) who makes slow progress and falls behind others. They represent about 2.5% of companies in existence. Presuming you’re not a laggard and your business is utilizing a social media platform, the next BIG question becomes – is this platform(s) adding value to my business in some way?

This question is difficult to answer for a few reasons and requires further probing. First, what is your definition of value? Second, are you spending ample time to make that platform valuable for your business? Third, are you even using the correct social media platform?

We know social media is a powerful way for businesses to reach their audiences, yet for small businesses this seems like a constant uphill battle. Big companies, from the outside, look like they have this figured out. They run great social media campaigns across 100 different mediums—some of which you’ve never heard of (what is periscope?). But there’s something that can be learned from their approach. Like technology, popular social media platforms are growing at a fast rate and knowing which platform to use for your company can be difficult. For small businesses, getting back to basics is a great start.

Choose a platform that caters to your purpose

Every small business owner is looking for ways to make money. But the hard truth about social media is that it’s not geared to generate revenue for small businesses. Rather than naively convincing yourself that this is where your time is best spent, restructure that focus into customer nurturing. There is an inverted effect to revenue growth when businesses simply engage with their audience in their social experience rather than using that platform to promote the company and its products. Understanding and embracing this approach will provide the groundwork to which platform best serves your company’s social media purpose.

Know your brand and your audience

There are many platforms to choose from but there is typically one platform that should stand out among the rest. Knowing your brand will guide you to where your audience is. For example, if your product is visually appealing or targeted towards a younger audience, you may already have a following on platforms like Instagram. Instagram is among the best platforms to group like-minded people together by using hashtags. Hashtags provide a great opportunity for businesses to segment and nurture their audience by organically engaging in their experience. This has been widely popular with restaurants, non-profits, food delivery services, clothing brands, sports and fitness, music, and art.

For manufacturers and B2B businesses, your brand is typically illustrated through some type of process. This may be a value chain process or even the physical construction of a product. Video is the best medium for showing these processes. Platforms like YouTube, Vimeo, and Facebook each allow for videos to be viewed and shared with ease. It is also a great way for sales representatives to nurture prospective leads through the sales channel by explaining the value of a company through video.

There is no perfect algorithm to be great at social media. However, knowing your purpose as a business, your brand, and your audience will get you going in the right direction. These three components will allow you to generate great content that is targeted to your audience while allowing you to engage in your audience’s social media experience.