Your Quick Guide to Social Media for Small Businesses

By Dan DelMain

Small Business Social Media Management

“You’ve gotta get your business on Facebook.” Maybe you’ve heard this before, but you’re skeptical. You’re thinking…

  • I don’t have time to do a bunch of social media stuff. I’m too busy!

  • Why do I need Facebook? My business isn’t online; it’s in the real world.

  • Social media won’t help me get leads. It’s just a bunch of cat pictures.

  • My customers aren’t online. Social media is just for young people.

I hear you. These are valid objections. But respectfully, they’re wrong (well...except about the cat pictures). This post will explain how different social media sites can help your bottom line, which ones to use, and a few tips and tricks.

But first, let me debunk those myths.

Social Media for Small Businesses: Real Talk

  • Social media doesn’t have to eat all your time. With scheduling tools, you can load up a bunch of posts in advance, and you can repeat content on different sites.

  • Even if you have a brick-and-mortar business like roofing or dentistry, social media can help. It can boost your company’s listing in Google results, for one thing.

  • Your competitors are on social media. Don’t let them dominate the conversation.

  • Yes, youth are the most tech-savvy, but Facebook is increasingly popular with older people who could be your customers. (59% of Americans over 65 are internet users, and about half of them are on social networks.)

For a small business, social media is a powerful tool. It’s free, and it puts you directly in touch with your customers (and potential customers). After all, 2 in 3 Americans have a profile on social media. Something as simple as getting a review on Google+ can help your small business show up higher in Google search results, which is directly linked with getting more clicks to your site.

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Now let’s take a look at the 5 main social networks, who’s on there, if you should use them, and what to post.

Facebook for Small Business

Summary: Facebook is the most popular social media site by far, with 864 million daily active users. Of American adults who use the internet, 71% are on Facebook (compared to 22% on LinkedIn, 21% on Pinterest, and 19% on Twitter). If you only have time for one social network, make it Facebook.

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Ideal for: B2C

Who’s there: Slightly more women than men; 35-54 is the biggest demographic (31% of users)

Tone: Fun, insightful, visual, and light-hearted. People go on Facebook to be entertained, not to read the latest industry news.

How often to post: Daily is best but might be unrealistic for you. Aim for 2-3 times a week. Most important: Post consistently. Facebook will punish you if you vanish for long periods by not showing many of your posts in people’s newsfeeds.

When to post: Before work, at lunchtime, the end of the workday, and before bed. Hubspot says 1-4 p.m., especially on Wednesdays. Facebook’s built-in scheduling tool makes this easy -- you can line up tons of posts in advance.

What to post: Links, photos, and videos. Your goal is to get people to like, comment, share, and click on your posts (long story, but that’s what Facebook’s “EdgeRank” algorithm rewards). The more people engage with your posts, the more your posts will show up in people’s newsfeeds, meaning more potential clicks to your website. Try to keep only about 1 in 4 of your posts about your company, and the rest more community-oriented.

What improves your SEO: Likes, comments, and shares on a link to your site (or photo that links to your site)

Twitter for Small Business

Summary: Twitter started out as an underdog, but it’s seen crazy growth. Now 1 in 5 adults who use the internet are on Twitter. The site boasts 284 million monthly active users, about 50 million of whom are in the U.S. Twitter posts, or tweets, are limited to 140 characters. And Twitter was the birthplace of the #hashtag (although now those are popular on Google+ too).

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Ideal for: B2B and B2C

Who’s there: Men 18-29 are the biggest demographic on Twitter. Business Insider says “22% of men use Twitter, while only 15% of women do.” After Instagram, Twitter is the social media site with the most racial diversity (41% non-white).

Tone: Conversational, complementary, and friendly. Twitter is about relationship-building. Being too self-promotional is a no-no.

How often to tweet: Lots of people post multiple times a day (anywhere up to about once an hour is fine). Aim for once a day. Remember, these updates are short.

When to tweet: Monday to Thursday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. And engagement goes up on the weekend, unlike Google+ and LinkedIn. Use a free tool like Hootsuite to schedule posts in advance.

What to tweet: Photos and links do well. You can share the exact same stuff as on Facebook. You can also just reply to someone else or share someone else’s tweet (called a retweet, or RT). Your goal here is to build an audience, connect with influential people in your industry, and build relationships.

What improves your SEO: When other users retweet or favorite tweets of yours that link back to your site.

Pinterest for Small Business

Summary: Pinterest showcases beautiful photos of clothing, recipes, and inspirational quotes (all of which are called “pins”). NY Mag calls it an “interactive catalog.” Women are by far the most active on it -- and often buy things from it. Pinterest hasn’t announced its user statistics, but it’s estimated to have 70 million users worldwide, and 40 million monthly active users.

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Ideal for: B2C and anyone targeting women

Who’s there: Gender estimates vary, but it’s 70% to 85% female, especially women 19-39. Pinterest attracts affluent, aspirational women planning their weddings, parties, homes, and outfits.

Tone: Text is less important than the photo or image you pin. Striking visuals are king, just don’t say anything too salesy about them. And add some hashtags for good measure.

How often to pin: Whenever you have a beautiful image -- twice a week or more is good.

When to pin: Late afternoon (2-4 p.m.) or bedtime (8-11 p.m.), according to Business Insider.

What to pin: Thought-provoking images or something helpful like an infographic.

What improves your SEO: When other users like and repin photos that link back to your site, especially with a link to your site in the pin description

Google+ for Small Business

Summary: What started as competition for Facebook morphed into its own nerdy, techy community. Google+ may have fewer users than Facebook, with 400 million worldwide, but they’re more engaged. You aren’t going to get a ton of leads from Google+, but it will improve your SEO. Instead of a newsfeed, Google+ has a stream; instead of liking posts, you +1 them; and instead of friending or following people, you add them to your circles. After Twitter, Google+ is the most important site for hashtags, so #use #lots!

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Ideal for: B2B

Who’s there: Mostly men (64%) and young people (two-thirds of active users are 16-34), as of August 2014

Tone: Semi-professional, semi-techy, funny, visual

How often to post: Once a day is ideal, but 2-3 times a week is fine

When to post: Weekday mornings, 9-10 a.m. Wednesdays at 9 a.m. are the best.

What to post: Clear, high-quality images -- Google+ is more visual than Facebook. You can also post links, videos, events, and even polls. Don’t just post, though. Join curated groups in your industry and contribute advice to be perceived as an expert. Build your professional circle. And get reviews for your company that show up in your Google results and encourage people to click.

What improves your SEO: When people +1 or comment on a post that contains a link to your site.

LinkedIn for Small Business

Summary: It used to be just an online version of your résumé. Now LinkedIn is where professionals hangout. People network, post relevant news articles, and even blog on LinkedIn. It’s smaller than Facebook (about 300 million users worldwide), and it drives less traffic, but the leads it drives are more high-quality than Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest! The only site that creates more engaged leads is Google+.

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Ideal for: B2B

Who’s there: Business Insider says it best: “LinkedIn's core demographic are those aged between 30 and 49, i.e., those in the prime of their career-rising years. Not surprisingly, LinkedIn also has a pronounced skew toward well-educated users.” It skews slightly male.

Tone: Professional

How often to post: Once a week

When to post: Tuesday through Thursday at noon or 5-6 p.m.

What to post: Links are important because they get 45% more engagement than just text, according to LinkedIn. Photos and videos are highly engaging too. Also post lists, tips, and insights from the industry. Besides posting, you should join curated groups, seek out specific individuals and ask for a connection, and build relationships with industry power players.

What improves your SEO: When people like, comment on, or share a link to your site

 

So there you have it. Remember, you can put the same blog post, news article, or infographic on multiple social media sites. Plus, you can recycle content. If you shared a blog post or company update a few months ago, there’s no harm in sharing it again! Social media doesn’t have to be overwhelming.


Dan DelMain has a history of helping businesses realize their potential through online marketing. Before developing DelMain Analytics, Dan DelMain managed the marketing department for an e-commerce company. He left that company to form DelMain Analytics in 2009, where he could share his digital marketing talents with multiple businesses. A graduate of University of San Francisco with a degree in International Business, Dan enjoys being active indoors and outdoors, traveling abroad and playing bagpipes.

Follow Dan on Google+Twitter, and LinkedIn.