What Are the Best Social Media Practices for Small Business Success?

Millions of small business owners nationwide may now be trying to properly harness the power that social media can certainly provide them if they use it correctly, but the problem is that many simply don’t know the best practices for doing so. As such, it may be wise for these entrepreneurs to at least brush up on the basics so they can get their online social media presence moving in the right direction.

Recent data shows that Americans conducted more than 113 million Web searches from their mobile phones through the end of last year, up 26 percent on an annual basis, while those on tables spiked 19 percent to 38 million, according to a new report from Business 2 Community. In addition, research has shown that consumers tend to rely heavily on mobile devices when they near the end of the buying process; personal computers may do a lot of the heavy lifting early on, but when it comes to last-minute decisions, that’s where phones and tablets come in.

Interestingly, those devices come with an added benefit that can be even more of a boost for small businesses, particularly when potential customers are already out shopping, the report said. Smartphone and tablet apps enabled with GPS capability will allow for consumers to identify companies in their exact areas that may carry what they want, and therefore, owners may want to set up profiles with at least a few of the major apps of this type — including Yelp, Facebook, Urbanspoon, and so forth — as a means of broadening their options.

How to go a little farther
Of course, doing that kind of thing is a great first step to letting potential customers know a small business exists, but those profiles, as well as similar ones on other social networks, need to step up the quality of engagement on those platforms as well, the report said. For instance, many owners know that most small businesses use social networks just about every day to grow their brand, it’s important to keep in mind what consumers like, and what their target audience may be. The vast majority of entrepreneurs – more than four out of five – use Facebook, while nearly three in 10 rely on LinkedIn and a quarter use Twitter.

However, those companies that are targeting a younger audience may not want to use LinkedIn, which tends to skew towards older consumers, mostly with professional backgrounds. On the other hand, those selling more upscale items may want to avoid Twitter because its user base is far younger and tends to be “early adopters” of the latest trends. Facebook seems to resonate across almost all demographics, and thus might be the best place to start engaging all potential customers going forward. Owners asking questions of themselves, including “How can this company help customers find what they are looking for?” may go a long way to helping to sketch out basic ideas behind how they will engage their followers on these sites.

With success in getting a handle on social media use may come similar improvement in the business itself, and that could embolden owners’ plans to bring on more workers or expand operations. This, however, may come with a large price tag, including those associated with small business insurance accounts. Policies including those for workers’ compensation and general liability insurance can get expensive for companies that don’t shop around a little bit, and doing so will help to ensure that these expansion efforts leave companies on the best financial footing possible.