Which Social Media Sites Should You Use for Small Business?

Elements of a Brand

One of Small Business Owners' Most Popular Questions

So which social media website should you use for your small business? Since we are a Canadian company I am going to focus on social media sites stats for Canada.

Let's start by looking the most popular Canadian social media sites from a report by Hitwise in June 2012. (By the way, Mashable.com lists some global social network traffic data by country if you want to look beyond Canada.)

  • Overall Facebook wins the lion's share for social networking face time with Canadians.
  • YouTube is a strong second; the video sharing website is also touted as the second more popular search engine in the world - something you may not have thought about before. Plus people spend long periods of time on YouTube and video is great for conveying emotion with visual and music!
  • LinkedIN, Twitter, Google+, Tagged, Pinterest, Tumblr, MySpace, Yelp and Instagram wrap up a virtual tie for third, in my humble opinion, as they all share fairly similar percentages in the social media space. However, recent social media industry data is suggesting that Pinterest is making a strong charge for increased market share. The same thing can be said for Instagram but growth isn't quite as strong as that reported for Pinterest.

So How Do You Decide Where You Should Spend Your Time & Energy in the Social Media Space?

Here are some tips to help you decide:

Social Web Analytics

Check Out Your Data - If You Have Accounts Open

Carrying out a quick check of this data can take you minutes so it's worth looking for the following.

  • First, if you have a website (and you do have a website right!) check your site's analytics. Google Analytics has a feature that allows you to add your social media channels in your GA account. Most other analytics tools have a similar feature. You can then track traffic from social sites, engagement of these people, etc.
  • If you have a Facebook page check the network's Insights section for traffic data; Facebook provides a lot of interesting data including gender, geographic data and the reach, engaged users and virality of your posts. The latter is my favourite data to look at as this is helpful to show my what types of posts are engaging with people.
  • Twitter has been promising that it will roll out analytics but it's not here yet. There are some tools like Twitter Counter and RavenTools that do a nice job tracking things like your follower growth, mentions and website traffic coming from Twitter. They are lot of other tools that slice and dice Twitter data.

You might be surprized but you will probably find most of your social media traffic is consistent with my list of the most popular social media sites listed above. That is, most of your social media traffic probably comes from Facebook, then YouTube, followed by Twitter and possibly LinkedIn. It's still worth checking just in case. Another social media site might be influential for your specific business.

Analyze Your Competitors

  • What social media channels are they using? Use the list noted above.
  • How often do they post? Daily, weekly, monthly?
  • How is their engagement? Define engagement as the number of comments, shares, LIKES, retweets, etc they receive.
  • What's the tone and messaging of their posts?

You will again probably find that Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and very probably LinkedIn are the first choices for many of your competitors but check out review sites too. These include Yelp, Trip Advisor, Angie's List, etc too. And if you have a bricks and mortar business way-finding, check-in apps like FourSquare are worth looking at.

Some Tips on Selecting Sites You Should Spend Time With

Here are few steps that I use when choosing which social media sites to use.

KnowEmFirst, you should at least 'claim' a variety of social media sites definitely including the more popular ones listed above. It's also a good idea to claim a lot more so that you 'own' your company name for a wide variety of social media sites. I have used KnowEm.com to claim long lists of social media sites for our clients. They also have a good list of 500+ social network sites available for reference if you aren't using their paid service.

Second, create a list of sites that are providing traffic to your website. Then add social media sites that show traffic and engagement for both your business, your competitors and similar businesses that may not be your competition.

HootSuiteThird, have a look at social media site sharing tools like HootSuite (our favourite) or SproutSocial. These tools allow you to post to the most popular social media sites like Facebook and Twitter via one control panel. But they also make it easier to post the 'second tier' of social media sites such as LinkedIn, Google+, Tumblr, FourSquare, MySpace, Flickr, etc. If you use one of these tools to post to the more popular sites like Facebook it makes sense to also add in the other sites within your sharing tool and post to other available social networks. (HINT: don't post exclusively to Facebook via social media management tools. Posting directly to Facebook routinely is good practice... especially for pictures!)

Fourth, consider your target market.

  • Cater to females? Then you should strongly consider using Pinterest because it has a high and very passionate female user base.
  • Have a bricks and mortar business where people check-in a lot? This includes restaurants, hotels, etc. Then learn more about FourSquare.
  • Are you a member of the travel industry? You should be active with TripAdvisor. And you should be prepared to monitor and respond to comments regularly.
  • Are you a service such as a dentist, plumber, hair salon, etc.? Then review sites like Yelp, Angie's List, etc are often very important.
  • Is your target market B2B (Business to Business)? LinkedIn is for you!
  • Have an older clientele? People 50+ years are often bigger fans of forums that specialize in niche markets like travel, genealogy, etc such as Genealogy.com
  • Have a younger clientele? Then Instagram and YouTube should be on your list of social media sites to consider.

Fifth, now the obvious. If you have a business and plan on staying in business you should be using Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. And while Google + isn't as popular having a presence here is influential because "Google eats its own lunch"... which is another way of saying if you post content on Google you can be pretty sure it gets indexed and possibly favoured just a little. Being active on such sites can simply impact your business very positively. At the least, use these social media sites to monitor and 'listen' to what's out there.

Sixth, find a way to measure your social media efforts using tools like Google Analytics, Facebook Insights, Twitter Counter, HootSuite Analytics, etc.

15 MinutesLastly, I would spend at least 15 minutes a day on your selected social media accounts. Obviously, the bigger the business the more time and resources can and probably should be devoted to the social media space! Think of it like a fitness program. The more often you keep it up and the longer you keep at it the better the results.

Now Your Help Please

Now if I could have a few minutes of your time...

If you found this helpful please share this information via a social media channel. Sharing buttons are located below. It's kind of like getting a 'tip' for providing good service!  ;)

Have I left off an important social media / network sites? Do you agree or disagree with any of my comments? I welcome your comments, suggestions or questions. Leave them below. Thanks!

Roy McClean
Aug 21, 2012
By Roy McClean
Which Social Media Sites Should You Use for Small Business?

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