Top 7 Social Media Services for Small Business [MASHABLE AWARDS]
Pulling from their experiences, we’ve learned that choosing social platforms should be based on what type of content your company produces, where your audience is already active, what your goals are, and how you plan to add value for your business’s followers.
While every social platform isn’t fit for all businesses, there are quite a few standout services that can be utilized throughout many industries. Here are our top picks for social media services for small businesses — many of these may not be surprising, but that’s because the success stories we’ve heard have proven them over and over again.
Which social media services do you recommend for small businesses? Add your thoughts in the comments below.
1. Communications Service: Twitter
When you ask business owners about their social media strategies, Facebook and Twitter are generally among the first words that come up. These two platforms have become the go-to, entry-level platforms for business owners looking to get more social.
For quick, effective communication, though, our vote goes to Twitter. The micro-blogging service enables businesses to quickly and effectively enhance customer service, business development, public relations and even lead generation. Through these types of communication, businesses humanize their brands, making them seem more friendly and approachable.
Not only that, unlike many other social sites, Twitter is easy to set up due to its minimalist approach. While setup and growing a following entails a bit of a learning curve for new users, maintaining a Twitter presence is simple once you’ve got it together. In short, Twitter is a big win for small businesses.
Also noteworthy: Facebook
2. Video-Sharing Service: YouTube
From speeches and tours to tutorials and documentaries, small businesses are using web video in a lot of creative ways — even CEOs are getting involved. Businesses are using a number of services, but our top pick for small businesses is still the video king, YouTube.
In November 2008, YouTube surpassed Yahoo as the second largest search engine in the U.S., only next toGoogle. It has maintained that spot ever since. While business owners may be able to benefit from better aesthetics and revenue models on other video-hosting sites, YouTube offers visibility, familiarity and a massive audience.
3. Twitter Photo-Sharing Service: Twitpic
Photo-sharing on Twitter can be a great way to showcase products and give a behind-the-scenes look at your business. Really, you can’t go wrong with most of the Twitter photo-sharing services out there. The majority are easy to use, only require users to sign in via Twitter oAuth, and showcase photos in a timeline. TwitPic adds the extra value of being recognizable within your Twitter stream.
4. Location-Based Service: Foursquare
Social media adoption rates among small businesses have grown dramatically this year, and location-based services are high on the list of emerging platforms of interest. While there are a handful of quality location-based services out there, including the recently launched Facebook Places, we believe that Foursquare still offers the best small business experience.
In the coming year, SCVNGR may give Foursquare a run for its money because of its innovative approach to the space, but for now, Foursquare wears the crown for being accessible to both the biggest brands and the smallest companies.
5. Blogging Platform: Tumblr
Tumblr makes blogging almost as easy as tweeting, and puts a heavier focus on the social aspects of blogging than most platforms. The interface is easy to use, there are a ton of great themes, and the re-blogging feature makes it easy for users to share content.
6. Social Media Dashboard: TweetDeck
Dealing with multiple social media accounts across various platforms is a total downer, but luckily there are lots of social media management tools to help, and TweetDeck seems to be a top pick among small business owners that we’ve spoken to. It’s free and enables users to connect across Twitter, Facebook,MySpace, LinkedIn, Foursquare and Google Buzz.
The dashboard is clean, customizable and easy to use, allowing users to organize feeds, mentions, messages and searches across multiple columns.
7. Funding Platform: Kickstarter
For startups and small businesses looking for funding, we recommend Kickstarter, a service for crowd sourcing funds for “creative ideas and ambitious endeavors.”
Kickstarter operates on an all-or-nothing model. Project owners choose a goal and a deadline, and if the project isn’t fully funded when time expires, then no money changes hands.
Small businesses can benefit from such a site by starting projects for business goals of all sorts — the most successful projects on Kickstarter are often out-of-the-box undertakings, though, so get creative. One recent project, for example, has a goal of buying equipment to make sheep’s milk soap. The farmer already herds sheep but is looking to raise funds to pay for an expansion of her soap production business. The project has already attracted 16 backers to fulfill the $500 goal, and it still has a few weeks to go.