Social media landscape is changing quite rapidly and continues to evolve. New platforms keep emerging and disappearing as fast as they appeared. Just recall the hype with Ello and Tsu. Not only those, there are lots of other even more obscure social media platforms.

Not that they are bad or have no future but as a marketer or a business owner, how do you choose the best social media platforms for small business and reap the benefits of social media for business? Can’t you just choose one platform and really work on your presence there?

Here is the answer to the latter question: no, you cannot. You can’t choose one social media platform and be closed off in your little bubble. The reason being for it is not that it looks fancy to be present on every little platform. The reasons are these:

1. You have to be where your customers are. Chances are they are more than on one platform. Give them the choice of where to connect with you.

2. There is no perfect network. They all have their pros and cons. It’s generally recommended to start with 3-4 platforms at a time.

Pick 3 platforms that make the most sense for your business and drive them home before starting your presence on any more platforms.

Facebook

Suggested frequency of posts: at least 1x a day

Almost three quarters of adult internet users and 62% of entire adult U.S. population is on Facebook.  82% of online adults ages 18 to 29 use Facebook, along with 79% of those ages 30 to 49, 64% of those ages 50 to 64 and 48% of those 65 and older.  Yet, the trend is changing n that younger people leave the platform, while older population becomes more active on it. 70% of adults use Facebook daily.

Facebook is the giant of the social media landscape. Unfortunately, you can’t afford not to be on Facebook. This just looks weird. A majority of people check out companies on Facebook first, because Facebook has the freedom of lengthy posts, mentions, multimedia posts, reviews, etc. Not that you cannot do a majority of those things on other platforms, but Facebook is a go-to platform.

With all the recent changes, including decrease in organic reach, some experts envision Facebook’s fall as a marketers’ favorite platform. Yet, it won’t happen any time soon, so you cannot afford to skip out on it now. You might not want to pay for promotion, yet make sure that people who visit your Facebook page see a professional, well-designed representation of your company.

Twitter

Suggested frequency of posts: 2x a day or more

The platform is mostly popular among younger urban adults. About 30% of online urban residents use Twitter, compared with 21% and 15% of suburbanites and those living in rural areas respectively. 30% of online adults under 50 use Twitter, compared to 11% of older age group users. More than a third of adults use Twitter daily.

Twitter is another major platform that you might need to take a look at. Yet, Twitter is tricky in that it moves along really fast. If you created a Twitter account and post there once a month, better delete it right now, because you can be sure that your occasional message will be lost in millions of new tweets. The shelf life of a tweet is relatively short, so the more you tweet the better.

Twitter also encourages timely messages and speedy responses. So, unless you commit to checking Twitter at least once a day, don’t use it. Yet, once you develop a habit of tweeting every day, it becomes almost effortless and really one of the easiest social media platforms to maintain. You might not want to pull off a whole blog post each day, but you should have something to say in 140 characters.

Instagram

Suggested frequency of posts: 3x a week or more

Instagram is the place to reach millennial and ethnically-diverse audiences. 55% of online adults ages 18 to 29 use Instagram, as do almost half of African Americans and a third of Hispanics. Almost half of adults use Instagram daily.

Instagram is one of the latest additions to marketers’ arsenal. Not a lot of marketers still understand how to promote their businesses on Instagram. Yet, this platform can be very effective if done correctly. It’s very visual and drives higher levels of engagement.

Instagram also has this young, casual feel to it. If your target market consists of millennials, Instagram is arguably the best social media platform for your business. Feel free to share behind-the-scenes moments, showcase your products, announce new additions, create contests and encourage your customers to share their photos using your product. If your business is service-based, you still can take advantage of Instagram by showing “before and after” photos or behind-the-scenes content.

Instagram can be easily connected to Facebook and Twitter, relieving the need to create so much content for other networks.

the best social media platforms for small business

IKEA uses Instagram as a catalog!

Google Plus

Suggested frequency of posts: 2x a month or more

Because there are lots of inactive accounts, demographics for Google+ are somewhat obscure. 74% of users are male and 26% of users are female. More than a half of users are from the United States.

It is still a question whether Google’s social platform will fully thrive, but as of right now, it’s a great addition to all of your SEO efforts. Besides, when people search for your company or read reviews, Google Plus page appears in search results. So, it might be one of the best options for businesses.

Make sure your page is optimized and consistent with other platforms, then you can post just a few times a month if you see a return on your efforts. I prefer to automatically share my latest blog posts on the platform.

Youtube

Suggested frequency of posts: at 2x a month

YouTube boasts more than a billion users. On mobile alone, YouTube reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds than any cable network in the U.S., and the average viewing session on a mobile device is more than 40 minutes.

YouTube’s reach is truly impressive, yet requires a lot of effort on your part. Creating quality videos arguably takes more time than creating written or image-based content. However, there are tons of benefits as well.

For one, you’ve seen the reach of the platform. People go to YouTube, the largest search engine only second to Google, each and every day to be entertained, educated, and updated. Secondly, in a mobile-first world where people prefer multimedia over written content, YouTube has to be your go-to platform for connecting with your audience on their terms. Finally, YouTube improves your SEO.

You need to get really clear as to what you’ll do on YouTube. Will you upload occasional video content, like press coverage and product demos, or will you employ YouTube to its fullest potential with daily updates, podcasts and behind-the-scenes videos? That is completely up to you, but once you choose a schedule that works for you, stay consistent.

LinkedIn

Suggested frequency of posts: 1x a month or more

This platform is especially popular among working adults and recent college graduates. LinkedIn is the only major social media platform where usage rates are higher among 30- to 49-year-olds than among 18- to 29-year-olds.  The platform also boasts a highly educated and relatively wealthy audience. 13% of adults use LinkedIn daily.

LinkedIn is traditionally associated with B2B businesses. Yet, it is worth having for B2C businesses as well, because the platform proves very helpful in finding sales leads, recruiting, networking opportunities, building authority, etc. Again, make sure it looks professional and consistent with your overall image and don’t forget to post informational updates once in a while. This should be enough for your LinkedIn followers.

Pinterest

Suggested frequency of posts: 2x a week or more

Pinterest is heavily skewed towards female population. 44% of online women use the site, compared with 16% of online men. Those under the age of 50 are also more likely to be Pinterest users. 17% of adults use Pinterest daily.

Pinterest is another highly-visual network, ideal for showcasing your business. It’s perfectly fine to pin other people’s pins, so you can populate your profile with content relatively fast. Once you create a Pinterest account, create at least five boards. This way, your Pinterest account won’t look empty until you create lots of original content.

Pinterest is great in that you can create multiple boards that demonstrate multiple related interests of your audience. Say, you have a sportswear company, then you can create boards about exercising, outdoor fun, healthy eating, etc. If you have lots of products — say you own a furniture business — you can organize boards by type of furniture or collections.

the best social media platforms for small business

BCBG Max Azria uses their own and user-generated content to create inspirational boards

Snapchat

Suggested frequency of posts: 1x a day or more

You cannot ignore this network if a majority of your audience consists of teens and young adults.

Snapchat boasts one of the most youthful user bases. Almost half of Snapchat’s adult users are between 18 and 24. The app has more than 100 million daily active users that send over 400 million Snaps every day.

Snapchat is one of the youngest social platforms, but by explosive growth of its audience you wouldn’t really know that. Marketers were wary of this platform at first, mostly because of its short content shelf life (stories disappear in 24 hours) and its initial reputation. Yet, reputation has changes and short shelf life proved to have its benefits in a form of a better attention from the audience (they know they will miss out on stories in 24 hours).

What can you post on Snapchat? You can create amazing behind-the-scenes moments where your followers will truly feel special since the access and the sneak peeks are really short and limited to the fastest-acting followers. You can also provide audience on Snapchat with private content which only will deepen a sense of exclusivity.

Again, choose only 3 platforms at first and create a great user experience there. Once you feel ready to add more platforms and efforts, add one platform at a time.

I would not recommend having more than 6 platforms and would suggest focusing on the once outlined here. After all, these platforms are already established in the industry and provide obvious benefits for business. Time will show if any of other platforms will stay and prove useful for marketers.

Statistics are provided by Pew Research Center, Sprout Social here and hereBusiness Insider, and Google.

In your opinion, what platforms are the most appropriate for small businesses? Share in the comment section below.

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