How To Choose The Best Digital Platform For Your Small Business
So, you've launched a website, or maybe you're in the process of getting one live, and you're starting to think about all the ways you can drive people to it. Unfortunately, web traffic doesn't just start flowing once you publish your site, and knowing what platforms to invest your time in can be invaluable.
You can't be everywhere all the time and surely don't have time to be managing 20+ accounts. Every business is different and creating a profile on EVERY SINGLE platform out there is a waste of time. So today, we're helping you narrow down the options and decide which is right for your small business.
Although many people believe YELP is no more than a platform for "wanna be" food critiques to voice their opinion, it's much more than that. If you are a restaurant OR you have a service based business like a law firm, a salon, a lawn care company, and home improvement style business, you should be on YELP. It's a secondary information hub and way for people to find your business. It allows you to post business hours, photos, contact info and more. If you are just getting started, asking happy customers to post a review can also increase your ratings and make you seem more reputable to new customers.
Not all YELP reviews are filled with glitter and gold though. You may not like what you see when someone posts a negative comment. However, it does provide you an avenue to reach out to them directly and apologize for any issues they may have experienced. You also have the opportunity to redeem yourself with the customer by offering them a deal to return to your business.
Have something to say in 140 characters or less? Twitter can be great for your business if you are regularly sharing blog posts, statistics, news, or want to be regarded as an expert in your field. Many large companies also use it as a tool for customer service. Think airlines. Chances are, your small business doesn't deal with that influx of customer service requests that they do though. Open Twitter and you'll quickly notice a pattern of the type of content being shared. It is primarily thought of as a real time news source. We place such a lack of importance on Twitter for small businesses that even WE don't have an account. In our eyes, it's a platform for sharing articles, which we post few of, and one that is very hard to get noticed within.
Surprised this is on the list? LinkedIn has more than 106 million unique monthly visitors. And in case you haven't been on LinkedIn in a while, it's more than just a network that helps you find a new job or connect with your old co-workers. It's filled with oodles and oodles of articles on business and what's trending in the world. In fact, your home page in LinkedIn is basically a Facebook newsfeed without the pictures of babies or your friends vacation. It's VALUABLE content. And if you have valuable content to share, like blog posts or other exciting news about your company, you should consider posting your link here too. Product-based small businesses need not apply. It's not a place to advertise the latest flavor of herbal tea you're selling.
Pinterest is extremely visually based and becoming more valuable for small businesses to drive traffic, but only if your content is pinnable. DIY addicts, interior designers, makeup enthusiasts, fitness bloggers, recipe creators, and so many others use Pinterest to target a largely female based audience that is ready to re-design their kitchen or make a family dinner. If you are selling a physical product and its target market is females, then this is one opportunity you don't want to miss out on. Pinners make purchases. Simple as that. When they open Pinterest, they have spare time to browse. They are sitting on the couch, drinking tea and ready to hit the BUY button.
Disclosure: The problem with Pinterest is that it can be hard to be discovered amongst the crowd unless you spend money to promote your post. At least this is also one of those self-serve ad platforms where you can choose what to promote and when, all on your own terms.
Millions of photos are being shared every day on Instagram and it's clear that visual content is now king. Business Insights, the ability to capitalize on hashtags, geo-tags and find your competitors audience make it a small business gold mine. The cherry on top is the fact that Instagram is now a self-serve ad platform. But that alone doesn't guarantee it's the right platform for your small business. Even if the images you are sharing are a 10/10, it doesn't mean you will be successful here. You still need to provide a value with what you share.
Not all small businesses create content with value, and that's OK. Here are some examples of companies that may not benefit from Instagram: Law Firm, Lawn Care Services, Moving Company, Plumber, Home Cleaning, Roofing, Electricians, etc. See a pattern here? Maybe it's just us, but looking at pictures of all the fresh cut lawns in the neighborhood really just isn't our thing. Value can however come in the form of an image that inspires, shows your work, encourages users to go to a page where you have new info, a new blog post, new service, a freebie, a product, etc.
I hate to say it, but in 2017, there are only a handful of businesses that I think wouldn't benefit from having a business page on Facebook. Almost everyone and their mom has an account and it's easy to suggest that your connections on Facebook "Like" your page, which makes it one of the easiest platforms to gain a following in a short amount of time and with little effort. Facebook allows you to post images, articles you've written, offer deals to followers (even without paying for an ad), update them on news and communicate via comments on your posts. This one is a no brainer, create a business page.
Does your business produce video content like 'How To' videos or videos that show your product being used or how it's created? Maybe some behind the scenes footage of how it works? If the answer is no, then you likely do not need to have an account on YouTube. Here are a few ways that small businesses might use the platform in case you are wondering if it's right for you:
- Upload past commercials you have aired
- Upload a 'How to Video' on how your product or service works
- Showcase customer testimonials
- Utilize as an FAQ alternative for an intricate question (A video could communicate the answer better than a paragraph of copy in some instances)
- Upload a video showing the office, restaurant or event space
Ah, the newest and quite possibly least used platform of them all. If we had to rank this list in order of importance, this one would be positioned at the bottom of the pile. Unless you are a blogger or travel enthusiast and your business is based off of sharing fun little video clips and intimate moments in your daily life, Snapchat is not for you.
We hope this breakdown helps you decide where to invest your digital energy and more importantly, where not to! And if you still aren't sure if it makes sense for your business to be on a certain platform, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can help you sort it out!