If your business doesn’t have a social media presence, you’re missing out on potential customers, incredible growth, and success – but if you weren’t born with a smartphone in your hand, it can be difficult to sort through what social media platforms will be helpful to your business and what might just be a frustrating waste of time and manpower. In an effort to demystify social media, let’s take a look at some of the major platforms and what they do. Remember: most people are on social media at this point, and a lot of those people use social media to find businesses and ask their friends for recommendations. Think of your online presence as a way of gaining credibility for your business. Having an online social presence will benefit your business, and can do so with a little bit of effort and even NO MONEY. Say it with me now: “Yay free marketing!”

LinkedIn –

LinkedIn is a professional network online, that you and your business should absolutely be a part of. LinkedIn gives you a chance to connect with a network of other professionals, connect yourself directly to your business, and to establish your business as a serious and professional entity. You don’t have to worry about posting on LinkedIn every single day. It’s a good way to give your business instant credibility. You can, of course, post updates on your business as often as you like, and use your LinkedIn network to find information about all things business, and share that information from your own page in videos, articles, blog links, etc. Anything that inspires you professionally can belong on your LinkedIn page. Following the pages of your favorite brands, businesses, and business people can help you to have shareable content that your own followers will also want to see. People go to LinkedIn to see you, your resume and professional history, and the people that you know and interact with professionally. This can also be a great tool for finding new employees as your business grows!

Facebook –

Social Media isn’t just a millennial’s game, and Facebook can prove it. Pretty much universal, Facebook built the bridge between the original social media platforms and the modern ones. If you’re feeling uncertain about social media or nervous about the time it takes, you should start with a Facebook business page. Whether you have a website or not (you should, but one step at a time here) a Facebook page will give your business a leg up. People have started to use Facebook in addition to Google as a sort of search engine. When people are looking for a certain product or service, Facebook is one of the places they turn to, whether via the search bar or a status asking for “recommendations.” If your business has a well-kept Facebook page, you gain some of that credibility we talked about. You’re easily found, easy to contact, and in direct contact with the general public, and people like for things to be easy. Facebook is a great starting point, because it’ll put you in front of the widest social media audience, and you can tailor it to really work for you business. You can even sell directly from your facebook page, if that works for your business. If you’re serious about growing your business, you can pay for ads on Facebook through Facebook Ads Manager. This is a great way to reach new customers that otherwise may have never known about your business, as you can specifically target certain audiences, and you can set a precise budget for your advertising on Facebook.

Instagram –

Instagram is a wildly popular photo sharing app owned by Facebook. If millennials are part of your target audience, Instagram is the place to reach them. This is one of my favorite platforms both for personal and business use – Instagram is a great way to appeal to the visual side of your business. It’s an artistic, creative platform, and most businesses can find a way to make it useful! Your Instagram should represent your brand and the individuality of your business and the people that make it work. For example, a restaurant on Instagram might post well-lit, beautifully presented photo of their weekly specials. You don’t have to be a professional photographer to have a successful Instagram account, any modern smartphone will do! Just mind your lighting, and spend some time looking at your competitor’s accounts or your favorite personal Instagram accounts to get ideas. Spend time working on a well-composed caption and research what hashtags are trending that are relevant to your content; every detail of an Instagram post matters. Give yourself the opportunity to have some fun with it and get creative with how your brand appears to the world.

Twitter –

Twitter brings a whole new meaning to the concept of “short and sweet.” Instantly show the most concise version of your business’ message to the entire world. Branding is everything these days, and having a consistent, strong brand presence on Twitter can make a big impact. A major trend right now is for businesses to use their social media presence to show themselves as a group of people with a message rather than a faceless company. Personalize your Twitter. Interact with your followers and keep up with trends. Twitter is a constant conversation, and it’s common for people to use Twitter as a space to directly (often publicly) contact businesses with questions, opinions, and complaints. This kind of exposed presence for your business can give you an excellent challenge and opportunity to stand out not only as a brand but as a business with purpose and excellent customer service.

Pinterest –

Pinterest is an idea platform. People visit Pinterest to be inspired and find solutions to everyday challenges. Anything crafty, diy, and inspiring can find a place on Pinterest, but not just that! Food, travel, art, planning, organizing, and home improvement are all popular topics on Pinterest, too. Maybe you have a business in the home improvement industry, or a small business that sells art, crafts, one-of-a-kind products – sharing your products on Pinterest can be a great way to be discovered, and your pins lead new potential customers right to your website or blog. Just like with Facebook and Instagram, Pinterest now offers the option of making sales listings so people can shop right from the Pinterest app. Make sure to include a link to your website or blog on any posts that you create – make sure your posts can always be traced back to you, regardless of how many times and where your pins end up, well, pinned. Similar to Facebook, people use Pinterest as a sort of alternative search engine. It helps to bridge the gap between discovery of your brand/product/service and a purchase, too, so Pinterest oftentimes helps businesses see some quick conversion. If nothing else, you’ll likely see a jump in traffic to your website, blog, or other social media profiles. You can also use Pinterest as a tool to learn more about your own audience. Who follows you? Who else do they follow? What are they looking for that led them to your page? Ask yourself these questions and follow up based the answers!

Google –

Google+ hasn’t quite taken off like some of the other platforms on this list, but Google is worth mentioning here, as plays an important role in all of this. Your website and social media presence are important and will be recognized and picked up by Google search. It’s not a bad idea to be on Google+, but it’s a great idea to make sure you have a Google My Business account. If your business has a physical location, then GMB is exceptionally important. This is the key to being found in the top suggestions for Google – think about when you search for something specific on Google, like “Mexican food.” You aren’t likely to scroll through seven pages of search results, you’re going to pick one of the first three results on the list, probably the closest option with the best reviews. You want people who search for what your business does to find you in the top three results. Having a Google profile that is completed and tagged with the correct categories are the first steps to improving where you find yourself ranking in searches.

Snapchat –

If your target audience is a younger crowd, then your business might benefit from Snapchat. I would suggest getting established on Facebook and Instagram before tackling this one, since it’s a little more complicated. Snapchat works on a large scale for businesses through their “stories” feature (a concept recently adopted by Instagram, too). This gives an excellent opportunity to provide a “behind the scenes” look at your business. Who isn’t tempted by an “exclusive sneak peek” into what goes on at their favorite brand or business? Snapchat gives your business the chance to appear as individual people who believe in a brand message and a lifestyle, not just a company. Snapchat is another image based social media platform, and it’s constantly evolving. So if your business is visual, your audience is young, and you’re up for the challenge of keeping things fresh and a little more personal than corporate, consider a Snapchat account!

Ultimately, it’s worth your time to research how your competitors are using social media platforms and which ones seem to be the most active, engaged, and impactful. Whichever platforms you decide to spend time on, make sure that everything about your page exudes the message of your brand – profile photos, captions, hashtags, etc. This list doesn’t include every single social media platform, either. Every business is different, and every platform exists for a different type of audience. Your social media pages should serve as a pathway to your website or blog, and give people a reason to follow and pay attention! Social media gives your business access to a worldwide audience, and if you use your tools effectively, your business can benefit greatly. Do your background research, think about where your target audience is, and don’t be intimidated by the newness of it all.

Still not sure about how social media can benefit you and your brand or business, or wondering how to get started? Give us a shout, let’s talk! Learn more about social media marketing with Epic Nine.