Posted By

It’s no secret that social media can be a powerful way for SMEs to drive awareness and encourage people to engage with your brand. However, many small business owners are still unsure about which tools are right for their business and how to use them effectively.

Whether you’re using Twitter, Facebook, Google+ or Pinterest – not all social media platforms are created equal. Many of these tools appeal to a specific kind of audience which interacts with the technology in ways that may – or may not – be a good fit for your business. For example, the highly visual nature of Pinterest and Instagram are typically not suitable for companies that are unwilling or unable to update their accounts with relevant photo content.

With this in mind, here are five questions to ask when deciding which social media platform is right for your business.

1. What goal are you trying to achieve? When choosing a social media tool, it’s important to focus on what you’d like to accomplish with it. Are you using it as a direct sales tool to generate leads, or simply as a way to increase awareness about your brand? Once clarified, your goal will help you focus on the solution that best fits your needs.

2. How much time do you have to invest in managing it? In most cases, no social media presence is better than an account that is badly managed or infrequently updated. Since time is a limited and valuable resource for most SMEs, identifying who has the ability to monitor and maintain your company’s platform is key. If you’re unable to regularly post content or engage with customers online, consider outsourcing your needs to a social media specialist who can help you develop a strategy and maximise your return on investment.

3. Are your customers using it? Having the most beautiful Facebook page in the world is useless if your customers do not use it. Often, companies rush to establish a social media presence without considering whether the people they are trying to reach actively use the tool. Whether you’re consumer-facing or B2B, take the time to get to know the habits of your target audience to determine where they spend their time online.

4. How are your customers using it? Knowing how your target audience uses social media is just as important as knowing which tool they prefer. Posting product-based messages may be too formal for Facebook, but perfectly acceptable for Twitter or LinkedIn. Using the platform inappropriately can be as awkward as walking up to a stranger in the pub and randomly beginning a sales pitch, so ensure you familiarise yourself with online etiquette.

5. How will you monitor your social media and gauge its effectiveness? SMEs often overlook the importance of evaluation when selecting a social media tool. A company rarely achieves its business goals by merely increasing the number of followers, re-tweets or likes it receives. In order to maximise your return on investment, identify what kind of social media engagement is most valuable to your company and adjust your strategy to increase this activity over time.

Social media doesn’t have to be a source of anxiety. By setting realistic goals and developing an understanding of how people interact online, SMEs can identify the right tool to help them engage with target audiences and support the growth of their business.