How to Decide Which Social Media Platform is Best for Your Small Business

March 09, 2015

Social media is one those topics that leaves most small business owners confused. From deciding what platform will be best to how much time it will require and what the benefits are, the list of questions is usually endless. If you are wondering, there is no definite answer as to which platform is best. Depending on the industry you operate in and your business goals, you can choose one that best serves your needs.

One of the common reasons why some small businesses are uncertain and reluctant about social media is because they are unsure of what using it entails and the commensurate value to be gained for it. Indeed, there is reason to be weary, as it feels like one new platform pops up every other day. Just when you think its Pinterest, Instagram becomes the new big thing.

There are benefits to be gained from embracing social media for your business. First, social media gives you the opportunity to interact directly with your customers. It also provides relevant feedback that can be used to improve your products and services. Another key benefit is improved brand awareness and an avenue to target your ideal customers.

To kick-start the process of utilizing social media for your business, do the following:

1.    Review your business philosophy and goals: This will entail evaluating your overall business culture. For instance, do you manufacture a product? Are you in the creative industry? These factors will help you narrow down the platform likely to give you the most exposure. Also, if you are a B2B company, you will be focusing on avenues to meet and interact with other companies rather than individuals.

2.    Formulate objectives: Since social media can be used for different purposes, it is ideal to set a goal and have your resources steered towards achieving the set goal. Typically, you can set out to increase brand awareness sales, share content, or obtain feedback on your products/services etc.

3.    Determine responsibility: Like every other element of business, achieving results from social media requires time, effort and dedication. Do you have enough time to be actively involved or would you need to get someone else (a member of your staff) to manage accounts on your behalf. Keep in mind that hiring someone outside your business will mean incurring additional costs.

4.    Focus on the Target group: Judging from demographic factors of your customers, you can postulate where they will most likely be "hanging out" online and work towards connecting with them.

5.    Create a plan: This serves as a working document for how you wish to establish your online presence. Would you start with one or two? How often will you put up new content? How will you generate new content?

Now that you have given it some thought and are ready to go social, below is a summary of the major platforms and their attributes:

  • Facebook: Ideal for building a community, engaging customers, and driving sales through content sharing. Popular among all ages, it is the favorite platform for small business owners.
  • Twitter: With posts restricted to 140 characters, it can be limiting to an extent. However, it is great for instant sales, breaking news, and real time engagement with customers.
  • YouTube: Largest online platform for sharing videos. Good for building relationships by sharing quality content. Great for business with products that require manuals and assembly.
  • LinkedIn: Good for building professional relationships, recruiting, and sharing content. It is also a great platform for sharing expert knowledge.
  • Instagram: Best for sharing pictures and short videos. Also great for creating brand awareness. Serves as a unique avenue for businesses to showcase their products.

As a small business owner with limited time and resources, you have to be deliberate about how and where you apply your resources, and this applies to social media as well.

Guest Contributor
Marieanne Atim, ASBC
Principal Consultant
Owens & Xley Consults
1 Abayomi Durosinmi-Etti Street
Marwa, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos


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