Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Social Media for Small Business: Which Social Media Platform is Right for Me?

As a small business, you have many challenges you face every day. Not only is your time spread thin, your dollars are stretched tighter than pantyhose on Miss Piggy. And you still have to work on your business while you are working in your business.

Here is an important quote from Henry Ford.

“A man who stops advertising to save money
is like a man who stops a clock to save time.”

Even with everything else you have going on in your business, you must make the time and the investment to market your business. For small businesses, social media is an excellent way to continue to market your business without a large investment of money. But it does take time, and you have to start somewhere. So how do you navigate the many different social media opportunities available to you?

To help cut through some of the clutter, this will be the first in a series of articles on Social Media for Small Business. We will start with the top seven social media sites that are appropriate for small business – Facebook, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube.

To aid in breaking down the overwhelming amount of information, we've created an infographic that illustrates the most useful information about each of these sites. Click on the graphic to open a larger version in a new window.

 Social Media Infographic developed by ProfessionalEdge

In this article, we will focus on how to determine which social media opportunities will work best for your business.

Let’s start with what each of these sites can do for you.

Facebook is a social networking site with 1.3 billion users and growing rapidly. Because of this high number of users, it is where the highest amount of content is shared. Facebook is a medium for businesses who want to connect with individuals or other small businesses. It’s a great place to post important information about your business and to have conversations with customers and potential customers about how you can meet their needs.

Instagram is a visual marketing site with 150 million users. It allows you to relate to consumers through pictures and video. Instagram is a medium used by photographers and videographers to showcase their talents and could also be a good way for small boutiques, fashion designers or similar small businesses to post photos of their merchandise.

Google+ is a social networking and identity site with 500 million users. Google+ is similar in a lot of ways to other social networking sites, so you may think it is redundant. But consider that is owned by Google, one of the largest search engines in the world, so every time you post on Google+ it increases your SEO (search engine optimization). Google+ also includes an authorship tool that associates web-content directly with its owner/author.

LinkedIn is a business networking site with 240 million users. It offers opportunities to network and connect with business associates and potential business customers. It is best used to make and cultivate connections for your business.

Pinterest is a visual discovery site with 70 million users, the majority of whom are female. This site allows you to post or pin pictures of things you like or want to share and to connect with others through their pins and posts. Pinterest is a tool to enhance your other social networking by sharing pins and posts on other sites. Small businesses who want to share photos of their merchandise, recipes or items in a portfolio should consider adding Pinterest to the mix.

Twitter is a micro blogging site with 600 million users. Each post is limited to 140 characters and can now also include a graphic or photo. Twitter is used primarily to share real-time information about what is going on in your business. It is a tool for on-the-spot communication about events, sales and other promotions and can also be used to share blog posts and other important information about your business. Twitter takes an investment of time overall, but there are many tools available to help you schedule and plan posts in advance. We’ll talk about them in more detail in a future article in this series.

YouTube is a video marketing tool with 1 billion unique users each month. It is owned by Google so it also helps increase SEO. YouTube provides and opportunity for businesses to share how-to’s, training and other informational videos about your business that can be added to posts in other mediums to increase visibility. Creating videos doesn't have to be expensive and can be done on most laptops or tablets now with only an investment of time. They should be considered as an add-on to any small business marketing strategy.

That is each of the top 7 social media opportunities in a nutshell. There are of course many other ways for businesses to use each of these sites. Please comment below to share how you are using these or other sites or how you want to incorporate them into your small business marketing strategy.

Please take a moment to share our blog with your colleagues and friends who you think may benefit. The next article will dive further into each of these sites and talk about good posting strategies to enhance your social media effectiveness.

Kerry Brooks is Co-owner of ProfessionalEdge Associates, offering a wide range of marketing, event planning and support services to businesses that want to increase their success, but aren't in a position to add to their staff. Learn more at

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Social Media Series for Small Business – An In-depth Look at LinkedIn for Your Small Business

This week we are back to our Social Media Series for Small Business with an in depth look at LinkedIn.  To date, we've talked about which Social Media sites are best for your business and what good posting strategies you should be using, and we've taken an in depth look at Facebook for small business.

Let’s take another look at the enhanced version of our Social Media for Small Business Infographic.

As we reviewed before, LinkedIn is a business networking site with about 240 million users. The best use we've seen for LinkedIn is a networking tool for those out of work or looking to move in a different direction with their career.

But LinkedIn can also be a great tool for small business.

First, start by creating a LinkedIn Company Page to raise brand awareness and teach potential customers about your products and services.

Use your posts to attract followers to your company page. Followers are key to driving word of mouth, recommendations and referrals. The more quality followers you have, the more you will increase your reach and engagement.

You can start increasing followers by asking your employees to add your company page to their personal profiles. By doing this they are automatically following your company page and can like and comment on posts about your company. Do the same from your personal page and you've just expanded your company page’s reach significantly.

Next, ask your customers and potential customers to follow your Company Page – include links to connect on your website and other social media as well as in your email communications.

Increase your exposure by posting regularly. Share company news, industry articles and start key discussions about topics important to your customers and potential customers. We recommend 2 - 4 times per week; others may recommend daily. Like every other social media site, the key to success is to have a strategy and be consistent.

LinkedIn may take a bit more effort to cultivate, but the opportunities to expand your network may well be worth the investment of your time.

How are you using LinkedIn to benefit your small business?
Kerry Brooks is Co-owner of ProfessionalEdge Associates, offering a wide range of marketing, event planning and other support services to businesses that want to increase their success, but aren't in a position to add to their staff. Learn more at