Using social media for business can be a great way to engage with customers, view competition and develop a brand voice.
Facebook alone has 2.7 billion active monthly users.
The main social media platforms used for business include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.
This article is for small business owners who want to learn about the different types of social media platforms used for business and the benefits of using social media as a business.
If your small business isn't on social media, you could be missing out on significant value, including new customers, insights into your brand, and audience and engagement opportunities with customers and competitors alike. Plus, social media can be a highly cost-effective way of reaching your customers in a personalized way.
"Social media provides targeting capability, as well as reach and scale, at a lower cost than almost all other marketing channels," said Abdul Muhammad, chief digital officer and partner at rbb Communications, in a previous Business News Daily interview. "People are on social media all day, every day – brands must go where the people are."
If you're considering getting your business onto social media, however, it's important to consider which platforms are right for your business and will provide the most value.
Not every social media platform is a good fit for every business, so you should invest your time and skills in the platforms where you're most likely to reach and engage with your target audience. Each platform has a mission, purpose and unique audience. For example, Instagram is heavy on visuals, whereas Twitter allows you to inject some personality into your posts and engage with followers.
To help you learn more about the different platforms available, here are descriptions of the most popular social media platforms for businesses:
Facebook is a highly popular social media network with a varied audience, with over 2.7 billion active monthly users as of 2020. As such, every business should have a Facebook page. When used correctly, a Facebook page can be invaluable to a small business.
You can use Facebook to share everything from photos to important company updates. With a business account, you have access to powerful advertising tools and in-depth analytics. Business pages also have a lot of customization options. You can use Facebook to highlight information such as your contact information, hours of operation, and the products and services you offer. [Read this guide to learn more about Facebook for business.]
Instagram is also incredibly popular, with around 1 billion active users in 2020. From Instagram Live to Instagram Stories, there is no shortage of tools businesses can use to promote their services and products on the site. Instagram is a visual platform based entirely on photo and video posts, so it's best for businesses that have strong visual content to share.
It's important to note that this platform is almost entirely mobile: You can't take photos or create new posts on the desktop version (although some social media management tools, like Hootsuite and Buffer, do allow for direct Instagram scheduling on their desktop platforms). More artistic niches tend to excel on Instagram, and it may not be the best fit for your business, depending on your industry. Regardless, the person running your account must have a good eye for detail and at least basic photography skills, ensuring the photos and videos posted to your account are high-quality. [Read this guide to learn more about Instagram for business.]
While Twitter is great for short updates, engaging with followers and sharing links to blog posts, it isn't for every business. On Twitter, you can share short tweets (240 characters or fewer), videos, images, links, polls and more. It's also easy to interact with your audience on this platform by mentioning users in your posts along with liking and retweeting tweets.
If you're a highly visual business or you don't have a strong brand voice, you may want to skip this social media network. However, many companies excel on Twitter, such as Wendy's, because they have a unique, on-brand voice on the platform that they use to their advantage. Other companies use this platform to handle customer service because customers who are also active on the platform will seek out companies to express concerns or share praise.
If you have interesting content and can voice that content in an engaging way, Twitter is a great tool for quickly spreading the word. Hashtags help boost posts, and if a user with a lot of followers retweets you, your content could go viral. But with Twitter, it's important to find balance. Don't just share your links or media; make sure you are also sharing a lot of interesting, relevant content from other Twitter users. [Read this guide to learn more about Twitter for business.]
This visually oriented platform allows users to save and display content by "pinning" digital bulletin boards, which can be organized by category. For example, a personal user might have a food board dedicated to pinning recipes, another board dedicated to photography, and so on. The platform also has a series of special types of pins called Rich Pins, which brands can use to add specific information to their pins, like product details and location maps. Every pin on Pinterest includes an image or video, making it a purely visual platform. As such, Pinterest is not the place for you to share information like your business hours
Pinterest is great for niche businesses, but it may not be for every company. Popular categories on the site are DIY projects, fashion, exercise, beauty, photography and food. That's not to say that businesses outside of these categories can't succeed on the platform, but it does make Pinterest an especially good marketing tool for businesses in those areas. [Read this guide to learn more about Pinterest for business.]
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