(note from author: updated stats 8/2016 – the landscape has changed since my original post in 2014.  Facebook is dominating, Pinterest is continuing it’s climb and Twitter is slipping in importance.) 

“Which social media site should my business be active on?”
This is the most frequently asked question I hear from small business owners. You can’t ignore the social media platforms, but then again you don’t need to be on all of them!

Maintaining social media sites for your business takes time and resources. You don’t have an infinte supply of both.  But on the other hand, know that your customers are on these platforms.  As of August 2015, here are the stats for online adults use social networking sites, PewResearchCenter.

Start by considering two questions:

#1 Which social media sites are your customers using?  
You need to be where your customers are.  Find out where they get their information on-line.  Which social media platforms do they subscribe to?  Send them a survey, or simply ask them. Then go to that platform, build a business presence and start a conversation!

#2 What sites are easiest for your business to set up and use?
Each one of these platforms needs a staff member or yourself to take ownership.  Each social media platform needs someone to write, create images, post content, monitor and measure for success or failure.  Customer comments need to be screened and replied.  A conversation has to take place. Maintenance is the key word here.  Social media platforms cannot be created and then left alone. They are a lot like babies, once you make one; someone has to take care of it.

Here are my top six recommendations for small businesses, in order of importance.

Your business should be active on at least one or more of these six sites. I can’t tell you exactly which ones are right for you without knowing more about your business and your customers’ behavior.  However, you can start by choosing a few, experiment with them and see which ones give you the best response

1) Google Plus (A MUST FOR SMALL BUSINESSES)

posting on Google Plus maximizes your visibility on Google search pages. Every small business should take the time to set up a business site and post on Google Plus.  It’s a huge SEO boost to your business’ presence on the internet. Customers are also drawn in by you providing key business information — such as location and directions, phone number, photos, reviews and more.
Google Plus for Business: How to  Put the Platform to Work for Your Brand

2) Facebook

is used by more people than any of the other platforms today.  As of the 1Q 2016, Facebook had 1,712 million monthly active users.  It  is the best platform for building brand awareness and community.

3) Pinterest

is now the third most popular platform. As of July 2015, Pinterest had  47 million unique visitors from the United States.  21% of all US adults use Pinterest, with 84% of those users are female.  Pinterest is perfect for e-commerce businesses.  Any brand that targets women and has products that are highly visual should build a business page on Pinterest.

4) Instagram

ranks a close third as well. As of June 2016, the photo sharing site reached 500 million monthly active users. The most important thing to remember with Instagram is the age demographics of Instagram users; 43% of the users are between the ages of 18-29 years old. So if you have a business that is “image” friendly, and targets young customers, start taking photos of your products and post them on Instagram.

5) LinkedIn

is a popular platform with a great number of users.  2Q 2016 reporting  LinkedIn had 450 million members.  However, this site is a professional networking site it is not designed to grow your customer base. LinkedIn simply does not have the daily traffic like Facebook and the others on my list.  I recommend every business owner become a member and put his/her personal profile on the site. But don’t waist too much time on LinkedIn.

6) Twitter

has slipped to last place. As of the 2Q 2016, the microblogging service averaged at  313 million monthly active users. However, Twitter users “use” more frequently than Facebook users.  So, if your business relies on reporting “in-the-moment” developments, and frequently, this is the best platform for you. It goes without saying, Twitter is a high maintenance platform.

Get up and running on any one of the sites listed above. 

What platforms does your small business use? Tell me why in the comments below.