By Rieva Lesonsky
For a small business owner struggling to keep up with social media’s constant evolution, the question is not so much whether to use social media as where in the social media world to put your limited time and efforts. A recent survey from The Creative Group shows that for most businesses, the focus is on Facebook—both today and for the foreseeable future.
More than three-fourths (76 percent) of advertising and marketing executives polled in the survey say their company has an active presence on Facebook. In contrast, only about half said they have an active presence on Twitter (52 percent), LinkedIn (48 percent) or Google Plus (48 percent).
The survey also asked what social media site respondents think has the greatest potential for business. Facebook beat out other contenders, cited by 45 percent of respondents—far ahead of second-runner Google+ with just 13 percent of respondents.
What do the results of the survey mean to you? Three lessons stand out to me.
- If social media intimidates you, get started by creating a Facebook page for your business. In most cases—especially if your company sells to consumers, as opposed to other businesses—Facebook is the best place for beginners. In fact, for some small businesses, it may be the only social media presence you need (at least for now). With even seniors now feeling comfortable on Facebook, it’s far and away the most widely used social site—not only by business owners, but also by consumers.
- Don’t get complacent. While Facebook is currently the 800-pound gorilla in the room, it won’t always be that way. Keep your eye on up-and-comers like Pinterest and Instagram. While these sites capture far fewer users, if your business is highly visual—such as a boutique, home décor store or hair salon—these image-focused social sites could be huge traffic drivers. And don’t ignore Google+–even though many of its users’ accounts are rarely used, the power of the search engine giant means you can’t count Google out of the running. Spend some time every week keeping up with social media news and trends so that you won’t be taken by surprise when a new social media site springs up or an old one surges in popularity.
- Remember that social is a two-way street. No matter what social media site/s your business relies on, success at social media requires a different approach than pure advertising or even public relations. Instead of talking “at” your fans and followers, you need to talk with them. Use the power of social media to solicit their opinions, emotions and insights. The information you gain by holding a conversation with your customers can only improve your business in the end.