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Tips for Small Businesses Looking to Maximize Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter

Tips for Small Businesses Looking to Maximize Facebook, Linkedin, and Twitter

A common mistake many companies make is treating Linkedin, Facebook, and Twitter as the same. You create a social media blurb, log into your social media management tool, such as Hootsuite, and then blast out that same blurb or link or post or whatever through all of your social media networks. Huge mistake. Linkedin, Facebook, Twitter, and other social media networks can be immensely useful, but you’ll only be able to maximize their value if you treat each of them separately and craft your messages to fit each one.
Each post needs to be optimized for each social media network. The audiences and behavioral patterns for every social network are distinct. Even if it’s the same person logging into Facebook, Twitter, and Linkedin, that person will use each network differently. So if you want to reach this person, your best bet is to acknowledge these differences, and to then craft messages that will key into their wants and behaviors on each network.
We’re going to jump into the details for all three networks, but it’s important understand two things. First, preferences can vary from person-to-person and company-to-company. Second, social media platforms and user preferences are constantly evolving. We’re going to provide you with the most up-to-date and well-researched insights possible, but remember to experiment. You may uncover insights particular to your audience, or evolving platforms and expectations might offer you new opportunities.
  1. Facebook for small businesses
    Via Pixabay
    Facebook is often the first social media platform businesses turn to, and for good reason. With approximately 1.79 billion active monthly users (3rd qtr. 2016), Facebook is by far the largest single social media network in the world, and while growth has slowed, it’s shown no signs of stopping.
    Facebook also makes it easy for businesses and other organizations to set up “pages” that people can then like and follow. Many businesses set up pages, but fail to utilize them properly. First, it’s important to understand why most people are using Facebook. They aren’t looking to be sold something, they often aren’t looking for any particular information at all. Instead, they’re looking to be social, to interact with friends and family, and to catch up on what other people are doing.
    Your goal is to fit into this social experience. You don’t want to be the annoying business that talks about itself, and its products 24/7. Instead, try to build up relationships with your viewers, and when you do promote yourself, try to make it personal, or else offer a great deal. Talk about your employee of the month, for example, and why she’s such a great worker. Or offer your Facebook followers a free cup of coffee if they swing by your restaurant.
    With this general business Facebook strategy in mind, let’s dig into some more specific details.
Facebook user
via Pixabay

Practical Facebook Tips For Small Businesses:

  1. Post up High Quality Pictures: More so than Twitter or Linkedin, Facebook is quite picture heavy. Post up genuine, high quality photos of your staff, your products and other things. Of course, you have to be careful not to come across as spammy.
  2. Write longer, more in-depth posts: No, you’re not working on the next great American novel, but people will read longer posts on Facebook. One study found that posts of 80 words or more get 2X as much engagement.
  3. Engage during “social” times: As a social experience, most people Facebook outside of work. Try posting up your posts while people aren’t at work. After hours and on the weekends are great times to post to your profile or page.
  4. Use punctuation widely but prudently: Hashtags and question marks can lead to big jumps in interaction (according to one study, 60% and 23% respectively). Exclamation points can lead to increased engagement too, but don’t over do it or you’ll come off as spammy.

2. Maximizing Linkedin: Be Professional, Be Helpful, Be Informative

Linkedin for SMEs
By Nan Palmero
Linkedin is home to fewer users than Facebook, and yet for many businesses and individuals, it is emerging as perhaps the most important single social media network. Why? Because Linkedin offers a large number business opportunities and potential connections. When people log into Linkedin they’re usually in a business mindset, looking to improve their careers or find great opportunities, or to connect with other professionals. Linkedin now offers a lot of opportunities for businesses and professionals looking to promote themselves.
When using Linkedin, you should consider how you can add value to people, and specifically their industries and careers. You can and should post frequent status updates. Read a great article in an industry magazine? Tell your connections. Just get invited to speak at an upcoming conference? Let your audience know the details. You can promote new products and services too, but don’t over do it, make sure your posts are organic and diversified.
Linkedin also offers opportunities to publish articles or posts. This way, you can show off your industry knowledge to your connections. Writing articles is time consuming, and you’ll likely attract only a small number readers at first. Yet doing so offers you a great way to show off your skills and to build up industry recognized expertise.


Linkedin art
By MarkoProto (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Practical Linkedin Tips For Small Businesses:

Make your titles short and to the point: Keep your titles to 70 characters or less, or the title will get cut off. Besides, people are going to be in “business mode” while on Linkedin. They’ll be glancing through posts and updates, looking for professional articles that add a lot of value.
Make link descriptions info and value packed: You get 250 characters to offer a link description for your post. Make sure you use these characters wisely. What will readers learn? Why should they read the post? How will it add value to readers, their careers, and their companies?
Sharing is caring- Want more engagement? Share links. Looking for comments? Try sharing images. How about shares? Include some videos. Further, if you’re writing posts make sure you slot in a good number of images, charts, and other visuals. At least two images/charts per 500 words is a good rule of thumb.
Publish regularly- You should publish status updates roughly once a day. By publishing twenty status updates a month, you’ll reach at least 60% of your audience, according to Linkedin. Further, if you want to become a thought leader, you should publish at least one article a week. By being consistent you can transform yourself into a genuine voice within your industry.
Publish during professional downtimes- Most people check Linkedin while they are at work. Problem is, people at work are often quite busy. So try publishing early in the morning (7:30 to 8:30AM), at lunch (12pm), or when people are winding down for the evening (5 to 6PM). Experiment as well. Sometimes odd hours, like Sunday afternoon, can pay off for your individual audience.

3. Maximizing Twitter: Be Punctual, To-the-Point, and Engaging

Twitter
Elisa Riva via Pixabay
Twitter has evolved into a sort of announcement and blasting platform. People don’t log into Twitter to read long posts, they visit the site on to get the latest happenings and juiciest tidbits. With Twitter you get only 140 characters to get your message across. You can also share links, and images (including ones with longer letters and articles), but by and large those 140 characters are what drives the Twitosphere.
Some businesses have been skipping Twitter because the platform itself is rumored to be “dying”. Huge mistake. Twitter isn’t dying, but it is evolving, and the way people use it is changing. It’s true, fewer “average citizens” are using Twitter, but the platform is still very popular for celebrities, politicians, and especially brands and companies.
As a constant interaction platform, Twitter now lags far Facebook. As a platform for announcements, Twitter is more popular than ever. Go read some articles on CNN or another news site and you’re sure to find embedded Tweets and other mentions of people and companies announcing this or that on Twitter.
Every medium-sized and larger company, and companies of all sizes working in niches, should have a Twitter account. Thought leaders tend to be active on Twitter, and often niche topics, like government software, or point-of-sales systems, or whatever, tend to be very active. By being active on Twitter you can start to network with thought-leaders in your own niche, which could be very valuable later on down the road.
Twitter
Via Pixabay

Practical Twitter Tips For Small Businesses:

Keep your Tweets short and to the point: When you’re writing Tweets, think of it as spending money on every word and every character. Obviously, you’d want to spend as little “money” as possible while producing the best results, right? That’s how it works with Twitter. You have very little space, so used it wisely and prudently.
Give shout outs- You can include other brands and companies’ Twitter handles in your Tweets, and you should. If you’re using stats from McKinsey Consulting, give them a shout out! You can and should also tag individual users via their handles. This increases the chances of them engaging with and retweeting you.
Don’t overdo hashtags- Hashtags (#) allows you to index keywords and topics, and can help you build an audience. Use them! But don’t use too many. Most of the time, it’s best to keep it to two or three hashtags. Also, don’t try to force trending hashtags, and if you’re operating in a niche, remember to prioritize that niche, not hashtags.
Pay close attention to your links: First, you should include links in quite a number of your Tweets. Second, you should put those links in the middle or even beginning of your Tweet, rather than the end. Third, use a URL shortener! This will shrink the size of your link, leaving you with more space to Tweet.
Pay attention to publishing times- As always, experimentation is good. As a general rule of thumb, publishing Monday-Thursday, 1-3PM will get the most clicks, while publishing between 4 and 5 PM on Fridays will get the most retweets.

Conclusion: Social Media is a Powerful Tool for Small Businesses

Every small business should have a social media presence. If you own a brick and mortar business, make sure you have an up-to-date Facebook page. If you’re a professional, say a consultant or accountant, make sure you are active on Linkedin. If branding is important, head to Twitter. Ideally, you should be active on multiple social media networks, but remember, you can’t treat them as the same!

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