Never have there been so many opportunities for one to become a public persona.   The social media allows us our 15 minutes of fame and some, and it has brought out the narcissism in many of us.  However on the plus side social media is a god send to the small business owner and has also transformed larger companies into world brands.  One can tweet, link in, share, poke and post ad infinitum for free.  Its also great for networking.

Canary wharf

The founders themselves have become the new ‘rat pack’ of  social media with many of them now multi-millionaires, with even a few billionaires.  Facebook enjoys a threesome with and more recently WhatsApp for which it paid an eye watering $22 billion. Social Media for businesses is good as it raises your website profile with Google and ensures your website gets higher rankings in the search engines.

So the main Platforms:

Facebook is by far the most visited site with over 1.3 billion members.  It is a great way to interact and keep in touch with both new and old customers.  However, it is wise to set up a Facebook page which is different from a standard Facebook Profile.  It allows you to keep your Facebook profile private, so you can add on as many ‘fans’ as possible to your business by just getting them to like your page.  If you do set up a page try to post on it regularly and keep your fans up to date with what you do.  If you don’t tell them they will not know!  Facebook is more suited to those who sell their products/services directly to the consumer.  There are also paid adverts that appear to produce good results.

Another big one is Twitter, with over 271 million users.  Personally, I do not use this site as much as I would like to, but for those who use it properly it does seem to work for them.  It allows you to send up to 160 characters in one tweet, you can tag others in your tweet.  There is a hashtag which is used to organise tweets so they are easier to search by others.  I have met people in my network who have over 16K followers.  I have only 70!

LinkedIn is very good for professionals and businesses who offer products and services to other professionals and businesses.  Its easy to set up a profile, be sure to add a photo, some testimonials and include links to your website.  Joining different forums on LinkedIn and posting comments about your business expertise is a great way to get known. LinkedIn has over 260 million users in over 200 countries. There is a paid version, but the free one is adequate for most users.

Pinterest: Now if you are in the design, fashion or baking industry this would be like gold dust for your business, as you can post your pictures and get them pinned i.e shared with other people and your name and product spreads like wildfire.  Be sure to tag your website in your pictures so you get click backs to your website. This is all very important for your search engine optimisation. Instagram is similar to Pinterest as its a picture sharing platform.  Its used by the big brands too, to keep the brand alive, generate interest and enter new markets.

WhatsApp is not quite a social media platform but it is a great communication tool and can be used to send messages and updates to your contacts via their telephone numbers.  It also allows you to set up groups, which I have used to put together small groups for my clients, its more interactive and because its mobile phone based, people are more likely to see the messages you post. It has amassed over 600 million users worldwide.

There are other platforms but these are the main ones.  Not all platforms will work for you. Do your research – test, measure and see what works best for your business.  Remember to put links to your social media on your business cards, email signature, website and promotional material.