Small businesses can use social media in a way that suits their unique business needs, with more than 9 platforms available. Small businesses have the opportunity to increase their brand authority and reach a wider audience through social media.
Social media is an essential part of a successful marketing strategy for 62% of small businesses. Small businesses need to be aware of the 9 most popular social media platforms to maximize their resources and achieve specific goals, such as increasing website traffic, brand awareness, and growing followers.
While Facebook is used by almost all small businesses, their investments in platforms like Instagram, YouTube, and LinkedIn are different depending on their industry, age, and marketing goals.
We surveyed 529 small business owners in the U.S., to find out which social media platforms they used and why. We refer to small businesses as those with between 1 and 500 employees and low revenue. This is consistent with the Small Business Administration’s definitions of small businesses.
This report can be used by businesses to understand the risks and benefits of different social media platforms.
- Nearly all small businesses (89%) use social media. This shows Facebook’s value and popularity for businesses.
- Certain industries are more active on social media than others. For example, more than half (56%) of small businesses in the retail and hotel industry use Instagram. This compares to 42% of small financial businesses.
- Small businesses with 50 employees or less invest more in social media channels like Facebook (85%), YouTube (69%), and Instagram (63%) than small businesses with fewer employees.
- Nearly 90% of small business owners (88%) intend to invest more in social networks. However, the channels that they choose will vary depending on who the owner is.
- Nearly half (48%) of respondents to the survey plan to invest more in Instagram and YouTube, which are channels Generation Z prefers.
- 64 percent of small businesses will not reduce their investment in social media platforms in 2019, according to the majority. Small businesses tend to maintain their social media accounts once they have them.
- 25% of small businesses (25%) employ influencers for social media marketing. This could explain the increase in Instagram investment.
Facebook remains the most popular social media platform for small businesses
Facebook’s 2.3 billion active users and advanced marketing capabilities make it the top choice for businesses. Nearly all small businesses (89%) have a Facebook page.
Nearly half of the small businesses use Instagram (48%), and YouTube (48%), while 41% use Twitter.
LinkedIn is used by only 33% of small businesses, while Pinterest (21% and Snapchat (18%) are used by less than 25%.
Cydney Hatch is the social media manager at the digital advertising firm Disruptive Ad in Lindon. She said that Facebook still has value for small businesses as it has the most regular users.
Hatch stated that businesses need to be visible where their target audience spends their time online. Businesses need to know that social media, especially Instagram and Facebook, is all about building relationships. Marketing campaigns often fail to connect with customers in a two-way way.
Facebook’s large user base and data make it a great marketing tool for small businesses. Instagram is also owned by Facebook and has similar advertising capabilities.
However, small businesses must use Facebook to build relationships, not promote products or services.
“If you want Facebook to make money, you must go out and help as many people as possible to solve their problems or achieve your goals. Hatch stated that once you know the answer, your goals are going to be easy.”
Facebook offers business account tools that can be used to measure and expand the reach of small businesses on the platform.
Brandi Zatorski is the marketing manager at LYFE Market in Atlanta. She stated that “everything can be tracked.” “You can quickly see which creatives work, which audience works, which campaigns are successful, and which don’t. This will allow you to allocate your budget for the campaigns that are performing well.
Facebook’s advanced tracking tools make it easy to measure the success of businesses’ efforts.
Businesses can easily view Facebook notifications and respond to messages or comments.
Facebook is also a great place for small businesses that want to create a community around their brand.
“What Facebook hopes to achieve is to drive conversation, and build community,” Keith Kakadia, CEO and founder of socially in Birmingham, Ala.
Small businesses can create Facebook groups to engage and attract people interested in their brand.
Small businesses can use social media to increase their reach. However, the industry a business is in will determine how they use it.
Social media for small businesses varies by industry
Social media is used differently by small businesses in different industries.
For example, more than half (56%) of small retail businesses prefer Instagram to promote their products or brands. Only 42% report using Instagram for their financial business.
Rachel Knights are the social media and marketing manager at Imagine Media Consulting. This social media company is based in Atlanta. According to Rachel Knights (social media and marketing coordinator), business-to-business (B2B) companies use Social Media differently from business-to consumer (B2C).
Knights stated that LinkedIn is a great place to invest your money if you are a B2B company looking to generate leads. Because it takes more than just having someone follow you or getting a like on LinkedIn, you will pay more for each result. Although the cost per result may be higher, it is well worth it.
LinkedIn may be more expensive for small businesses, but B2B companies that want to generate leads need to include it in their social media marketing strategy.
Small businesses in B2B should focus their LinkedIn strategies on building relationships. Robin Scott is the director of Silicon Dales in the United Kingdom, an e-commerce development company for B2B businesses. Through networking, he uses LinkedIn to increase brand awareness.
Scott stated that he uses LinkedIn to connect with industry colleagues. It’s best to use LinkedIn as a recruiting tool or to connect with people who may refer to your business.
LinkedIn provides tools that allow individuals and businesses to connect with clients or potential employees.
However, cold-contacting prospects via LinkedIn can have negative effects on a B2B business.
Scott stated, “As a B2B provider, I receive a lot of requests to subcontract some aspects of our work.” “I don’t believe this kind of cold contact is a good starting point for a strong partnership.”
To find the best social media channels for small businesses, it is important to study industry trends.
Many small businesses plan to invest more in social media
Small businesses can use social media to market their products and marketing services in Phoenix. It is highly customizable and easily trackable, and often requires minimal financial investment.
88% of small businesses will increase their social media investment in 2019, which is a sign that social media continues to be a valuable tool for a digital marketing agency in New York.
Nearly two-thirds (63%) of small businesses plan to invest more in Facebook in 2019.
Many small businesses are planning to increase their investments in platforms that rely heavily on video and visual content. 37% of small businesses plan to invest more on YouTube and 28% will be spending more on Instagram.
Nearly one-quarter of small businesses (23%) plan to increase their Twitter investment, while only 18% will invest more in LinkedIn.
One-tenth (10) of small businesses plan to increase their presence on niche social media platforms like Snapchat (10%) or Pinterest (10%).
Instagram helps small businesses increase brand awareness
Instagram’s versatility and growing user base make it a viable option for small businesses that want to increase brand awareness and engagement. Instagram, for example, has new features that allow consumers to interact with brands.
Knights stated that Instagram recently added a quiz option to its Instagram stories. It’s a great way to increase engagement and educate your audience about your brand.
Instagram introduced a quiz feature, in April 2019, which allows brands to add multiple-choice questions to their stories.
Interactive quizzes can be viewed on your Instagram account.
Pinterest is emerging as an effective platform for small businesses in B2C
Pinterest is a platform that allows small businesses to increase brand awareness. It also helps them build trust with their users.
Knights stated that Pinterest is a crucial platform for B2C brands as it’s where people plan big moments in life and are looking for inspiration. You’ll be able to get your products in front, even at an early stage, and you will set yourself up for success later on.
Pinterest announced it had 250 million monthly active users in 2018. According to the same survey, 78% of Pinterest users found branded content useful.
Lily Stern, social media analyst for real estate blog The Close uses Pinterest to promote her brand.
Stern stated that Pinterest is a “diamond in the rough” that not many small businesses consider using, but it provides the perfect platform for connecting with their target audiences.
More than 3500 people follow The Close’s Pinterest page. Several boards can be used to organize advice, decorating tips, or lead generation.
Pinterest is visually and user-friendly. This means that The Close’s readers can quickly navigate to the content they are looking for.
Stern claims that The Close’s real estate professionals are inspired by Pinterest.
Stern stated that we provide real estate professionals with strategy, industry insight, and tools that they can use for more sales. “A large percentage of those professionals are on Pinterest.”
Pinterest is The Close’s content hub, with more than 500,000 monthly visits to its account.
The 42 boards of The Close include original graphics as well as interior design shots that will inspire their audience.
The lens allows users to search with their mobile device’s camera for content.
Pinterest Lens is a great way to direct real estate professionals to any of The Close’s inspiration boards for home decor.
Stern claims that the high-quality content The Close has on its Pinterest page answers audience questions on Pinterest Lens. This has helped to increase its monthly viewers and resulted in more conversions.
Pinterest is a dynamic social networking platform that allows small businesses to connect with their customers through visual content.
Social Media Platforms for Small Businesses Depend on the Age of Business Owners
The platforms that small businesses intend to increase their investment in are determined by the age and interests of the business owners.
Nearly half (43%) of millennial small-business owners aged 18 to 34 plan to increase their investment in Instagram in 2019, compared with 25% of Generation X owners ages 25 to 54.
Zatorski believes that small businesses should choose which platforms to invest in on the basis of their potential customer’s age, and not the owner.
Zatorski stated that it has less to do with the age of business owners and more to do with the age of target audiences.
Based on their target market’s age, small businesses may use different platforms. However, younger business owners might be more tech-savvy and more likely to use platforms other than Facebook.
Small businesses owned by younger entrepreneurs tend to gravitate towards certain platforms. This is likely due to the age of both the target audience as well as the company.
Small businesses can build trust with their audience by becoming social media influencers
Instagram has become synonymous with influencers. According to a 2019 study, there are over 500,000 Instagram influencers.
Small businesses are increasingly turning to social media influencers for help in managing their social media channels. 25% of small businesses use influencers to maintain their social media presence.
Small businesses can use influencers to create content that promotes their brand. Their network of followers can help build trust in the company’s products or services.
Alex DiBacco is a social media influencer who has more than 40,000 fans. She collaborates with small and big businesses to create sponsored content that is integrated into her lifestyle brand Chasing Daisies.
DiBacco’s Instagram account and blog Chasing Daisies combines organic posts about fashion, travel, food, and fashion with branded content by other businesses.
She believes that partnerships with influencers can be a boon for small businesses.
DiBacco stated that brand awareness is the biggest benefit of using influencer marketing techniques.
According to DiBacco brand awareness sometimes requires extra effort from small businesses.
DiBacco stated that it usually takes a buyer three times to see an item in three different ways before they make a purchase. While some influencers can generate huge sales by showcasing an item on their website, it is more likely that businesses will need to collaborate with several influencers to make the sale.
DiBacco says that customers often need to view a product online multiple times before they make a purchase decision. Small businesses need to establish partnerships with multiple influencers.
DiBacco stated, “Once a product appears on multiple Instagram grids… [it] becomes even more popular.”
DiBacco suggests that small businesses work with multiple influencers simultaneously to promote products across multiple accounts.
Small businesses can use social media influencers to reach a larger audience and maximize their content creation.
For small businesses with limited budgets, influencers can replace online marketing agencies
Small businesses understand that influencers are an important part of the social media landscape. They can often be cheaper than hiring agencies, and they can also help them grow their business.
DiBacco believes that small businesses that aren’t ready to invest in a Miami digital marketing agency can still work with influencers to manage their social media accounts.
DiBacco stated that “influencers are generally less expensive.” While smaller influencers might be able to trade products, larger influencers are likely to charge a lower fee than agencies.
Digiday’s 2017 State of Influencer Marketing Report shows that the more influencers have, the more valuable they are likely to be. For posts with 500k to 1,000,000 followers, you can expect to pay between $5,000 and $10,000.
Influencers can be hired by small businesses that have a lower budget. They will usually have fewer followers and more influencers in a specific market.
Small businesses that are looking to hire influencers need to do extensive research about the influencers, their audience, and their pricing range.
The reach and audience of influencers are benefits that can be worth the investment. However, small businesses must research and find the right people to partner with.
Larger companies with more resources invest in social media platforms
Small businesses with 50 employees or less are more likely to be able to choose from a variety of social media platforms to achieve their business goals. Because smaller teams have fewer resources and time, they must choose social media platforms strategically.
Facebook is a preferred platform for small businesses with 10 employees or less. 91% of these businesses invest in Facebook, compared with 65% of those with 10 employees or fewer.
YouTube is also more attractive to small businesses with 50 employees or more. 69% of these businesses use YouTube, which is near twice the 34% of smaller companies with 10 employees or less.
Smaller businesses that have larger teams can manage multiple social media accounts more effectively.
Knights suggests that smaller teams prioritize activity on only a handful of platforms at a given time.
Knights stated that small businesses should begin with the most relevant platforms. Do not try to spread yourself across every platform just to be there. You should create meaningful and quality content on all the platforms you are on.
Two platforms are ideal for small businesses that want to maximize their social media reach and provide high-quality content.
Jacob Landis-Eigsti is the owner of Jacob LE Video Production in Denver. With some help from contractors, he manages his social media accounts.
Landis-Eigsti stated that she manages Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for her business. I use a content calendar to be able to keep up with them all. I create content that is easily shared across multiple platforms.
Landis-Eigsti customizes his content for his clients and prospects, repurposing content across platforms.
Landis-Eigsti stated, “I’ll make a YouTube video of 7 minutes, then take 1-minute clips to share on Facebook, and Instagram, and transform the video transcript into an article that I can share via Pinterest and LinkedIn.”
Landis-Eigsti creates content on his own by repurposing longer pieces of content.
Although small teams can maintain accounts on multiple social networks, they must plan their content strategically.
While most small businesses maintain their social media accounts, some will decrease investment in 2019.
Small businesses still have a lot of options for promoting their brands through social media. However, social media investments are all about the perceived return on investment. About one-third of small businesses plan to invest less at least once in social media platforms in 2019.
Because they don’t see a return on their investment, small businesses may choose to reduce their social media investment.
Experts believe that small businesses who plan to reduce their social media users are doing so because they don’t make the most of their time on other platforms.
“If companies want to reduce their spending on social networks, they probably don’t know how to use these tools to reach their audiences,” stated Tim Hemingway vice president of marketing at Disruptive Advertising.
Hemingway believes that small businesses should engage with their target audience through social media, rather than promoting a product.
Hemingway stated that “The first thing to do is to take a step back to understand who is willing to interact with you on social media.” It’s easier to tailor your message once you know who your audience is.
Once they know who their audience is and what they are looking for, small businesses can engage them on social media.
Jacob Landis-Eigsti will reduce his investment in Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter by approximately 50%, as these platforms don’t provide the return on investment that he desires.
Landis-Eigsti stated that a tweet, Instagram, or Facebook post can only last for a short time. “I don’t believe social media drives enough traffic to my site. It takes time to create content. I believe email marketing and blogging yield a greater return on investment.
Small businesses have the freedom to decide where they want to invest their time and resources through social media. Businesses can easily adjust their strategies if they aren’t generating ROI.
Small businesses choose social media platforms based on their unique business needs
Facebook is still the most popular social media platform for small businesses. However, the size of a company and its industry as well as the age of the business owner will determine whether they use Instagram or YouTube.
Small businesses are most likely to increase their social media use in 2019. The age of the owner plays a role in which platforms a company will use. Younger owners tend to prefer visual platforms like Instagram.
Influencers are a great option for small businesses that struggle to create content on social media, especially Instagram. Small businesses can build trust and credibility with influencers at a low cost.
Larger companies can invest more in social media platforms. However, smaller companies should be more focused on posting on two platforms than on one platform.
In 2019, most small businesses won’t reduce their social media investment. Small businesses can adjust their investments in social media according to their own needs.
Small businesses that want to increase their reach in 2019 will find social media a great option.