What 7 social media websites are the best for SMB online presence?

Choosing the right social media outlet for your small business depends on many factors related, but not limited, to:

  1. Your business,
  2. Your customers and
  3. The existent in-house knowledge of the people in charge of executing your social media promotion campaigns.

This article assumes that you won’t be outsourcing your social media activities to external agencies, since in such case this article should be “old news” to a savvy social media manager. social-media-overwhelm2 The number of social media websites has grown substantially. Some big ones are expanding everyday, others are being born and are growing in popularity and old ones are losing their shine and are cast into oblivion. As such, making the right choice for a social media can be a tedious process. Not all social media populate the right audience for your marketing messages or have the features you are looking for.

It’s okay to be selective, as long as you have a clear social media motive & objective with high Return on Investment (ROI) expectations.

Before we move on to recommending the best social media websites for small businesses, there are some rules of thumb that need to be kept in mind before you even attempt making a choice for a perfect social media match.

1. Know what Social Media are in relation to Marketing

If you are new to social media, or if your knowledge of social media is limited to having a Facebook profile, browsing videos in YouTube or posting some pictures on Instagram, you need to get to know social media a little bit more first. Read articles about them, scroll down the homepage and read the “unexplored sections” of your favourite social media website like [advertisement], [about us], [FAQs, Frequently Asked Questions], [privacy statements] etc. There is business model behind every social media website and this business model relies heavily on people like you using it as a marketing platform, whether paid or free. The good thing about social media is that it allows for free and low-budget marketing. You can achieve a lot through posting excellent content & mastering the art of effective social engagement (attractive call to action messages). You can read more about the relation between social media and marketing in my other article with title: “How Long Will Social Media Marketing Stay Effective“. https://twitter.com/OpenAnswer/status/495607482300235776   Also, try to immerse yourself in the vast literature that has been written on social media behaviour and strategy. It will help you understand a number of important, though seemingly trivial, elements of social media interaction and engagement that are vital for your success. You may be able to answer questions like:

  1. Why do people click on some posts but ignore others?
  2. What is viral sharing and how can I transform it into “viral marketing” of my product page or blog post?
  3. Why are video’s, pictures and emotional headlines more likely to be liked, clicked on and shared than others?
  4. What causes people to not like my company’s Facebook page, dislike my YouTube video or unfollow me on Twitter?
  5.  How can social media success be measured? What tools can I use and what metrics should I set?

2. See how others, competitors, are doing it.

Yes, do it! We were all once beginners and there is a first time for everything. Take the opportunity to check how your competitors specifically are going about their social media exposure or read clear-cut case-studies about social media successes (and failures) for small business within your geography, customer demography or business sector. This is only another way of conducting the oh so vital market research before you draw up the even more vital Social Media Marketing Plan. (You are going to make a plan, aren’t you?)

3. Be social, creative, authentic, engaged, active and communicative.

social-media-signs As the name implies, social media is all about being social, socially active and sociable (= mostly likeable). You or the person(s) in charge of carrying out your social media campaigns should also have some creativity in compelling writing, attractive design or a reasonable mix of both. Some knowledge of HTML code (for embedding images, video’s, tweets etc.), web design, graphic design or image manipulation skills may come in handy. A successful blogger is mostly someone who has a sufficient dose of these skills to lead a small-scale social media campaign.

4. Know how social media performance is monitored and managed.

SocialMediaEngagement Putting all of your creative development and digital assets out there on social media is not enough. Plug yourself into the rich vein of social media analytics tools like Hootsuite, BufferApp, TweetDeck etc or more advanced ones like Sysomos. See whether such tools can deliver answers to questions, such as:

  1. How would you know that what you are doing is right or wrong?
  2. What kind of content seems to bring about more engagement through clicks, likes, shares or favourites?
  3. How would you know that your declining sales or increasing website hits are the result of your social media activity?
  4. How can you distinguish between the performance of your Twitter account, YouTube channel and Facebook company page?
  5. Why has your LinkedIn company page not been followed or liked for whole 3 months?

5. Draw up a water-proof Social Media Plan and follow it up with analysis and review.

Your business plan can contain any elements you deem important to your company’s social media success, but it should definitely include the following main elements:

  1. Your business goals and objectives: identify them and define them.
  2. Your social media objectives in relation to your business goals
  3. Define your parameters and metrics pertaining to these objectives: choose the right tools to manage your online performance.
  4. Identify and define your target group: is it your existing customers, potential customers or social media influencers (Brand PR)?
  5. Keep the competition’s online presence in mind: research & calculate their social media performance in terms of fellowship numbers AND engagement rates.

The 7 best social media websites for small business.

social-media-logos-100339762-orig I will let you do you own research on the specific feature of each of the social media websites I selected and move on to recommending them in order of preference or fitness to most small businesses’ marketing objectives. I would aim for the big 5: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ & YouTubeincluding photo and interest sharing platforms, Instagram & Pinterest in one category and some “new-comers”. The reasoning behind my selection is derived from their authority, functionality, market leadership, technological advancement, clear advertising models, being international (multilingual), ease of use and off course big number of members (= more exposure). If your business is a B2C small business, the best social media platforms I recommend in order of relevance & importance are:

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. Google+
  4. LinkedIn
  5. YouTube (becomes a top-3 if you can make engaging video, relevant to your business)
  6. Instagram or Pinterest (moves up to number two or three if it is a product, or a service, deriving value & marketability from design or packaging = fancy photo’s. Like cloths or shoes or beauty services or accessories)
  7. Ryze

If a B2B small business, the best social media I recommend  in order of relevance & importance are:

  1. LinkedIn
  2. Google+
  3. Twitter
  4. Facebook
  5. YouTube (becomes a top-3 if you can make engaging video, relevant to your business)
  6. Instagram or Pinterest (become more important if it is a product, not a service, deriving value & marketability from design or packaging = fancy photo’s. Like office stationery, ornaments or furniture)
  7. Quora
angry-boss-firing-woman

How can a manager control his temper?

Which one is more effective: talking or barking?

angry-boss-firing-woman

When it comes to controlling emotions (temper) it is always easier said than done. But it can be trained and it all starts with creating self-awareness about our emotions. Having such awareness specifically denotes the importance of having a high degree of social & emotional intelligence in the discipline of management (the managing of others, whether employees, business relations or random members of our social circles).

how_to_control_your_temper_

We all know the cliché that is not so much a cliché actually but closer to a fact:

you can’t control something you do not know well

&

you cannot manage others if you can’t even manage yourself.

I try to remind myself that emotions can always choose the rational path of calm words (smart & effective communication) instead of deeds and automatic reactions (impulsive communication). But our emotional reactions are naturally faster than our rational considerations. That’s a bio-physiological fact we can’t do much about, but can only tame gradually through training and lots of practice.

Talking

If you think about it, you can always TALK about your emotions; how angry, disappointed, misunderstood, tensed, worried or impatient you are about a certain employee’s attitude or performance, instead of BARKING OUT these emotions.

But the problem of emotions control often arises when:

  1. We think that our true thought/position in a certain situation can only be fully communicated, understood & respected by others when it is accompanied by emotion.
  2. We think that others will only take us seriously when they see our emotions (which can be true by the way depending on your audience and their level of social intelligence)
  3. Talking is viewed as a sign of weakness (culturally or group-collectively) and barking as a form of strength (also, culturally or group-collectively).
  4. We are not the talking type that releases regularly and timely but the type that bottles up impressions about others until they evolve into powerful untameable emotions that erupt at once like a volcano in the most poorly-timed & destructive manner!

Coaching

Controlling emotions does not necessarily imply suppressing them, but rather channelling them to reach effective communication. That’s why a face-to-face setting is usually preferred in solving conflicts, with as less external factors as possible influencing the calm & effectiveness of communication.

Communication is best served when conducted in a rational manner based on words and voiced thoughts that describe our emotions clearly & constructively, instead of uncontrolled eruptions that describe our words and thoughts poorly & destructively.

quote-Robert-Quillen-discussion-is-an-exchange-of-knowledge-an-29277

Which one is better a discussion or an argument?

Let’s compare both and find out for ourselves.

discussion at work-openanswer

A discussion is a communication style of which the outcome is not predefined, while having “mutual understanding” as a pre-determined final goal before entering into it. A discussion is supposed to lead to the best solution of a given problem, a clarification of a misunderstanding or the best valuation of an idea, to mention some random examples.

Such “understanding” is to be reached & accepted by all engaged parties at the end of a discussion, based on healthy communication, proper exchange of ideas, information or opinions and genuine agreement (as opposed to artificial one for the sake of muting “high volumes”). It’s a collective, non-selfish & constructive process by nature (even if no outcome is reached yet).

Quote Michael P. Watson

An argument, on the other hand, is characterised by the “will to win” clearly visible through the show of interruptive emotions. An argument is less effective than a discussion in most cases but can be necessary depending on the counterpart’s openness to having a calm discussion. Having an argument is mostly the result of us being unable to suppress whatever emotion that we have at a given moment of discussing a topic, whether anger, impatience, anxiety, disappointment or sadness etc.

Paradoxically enough, having an argument at such times can be a healthy release of pent-up negativity; one that needs to be out of the way, first, for a calm discussion to take place.

work-argument-openanswer

I find arguments to be generally ineffective & counter-productive than discussions because their goal is either:

  1. Predefined: when we argue for the sake of arguing (releasing negative energy because we WANT to), OR
  2. Non-defined at all, when we argue because that’s all we can do now (releasing negative energy because we CAN’T discuss calmly)

Quote by Joseph Joubert

Therefore, enforcing an arguing style of communication is a counter-productive, selfish & unfair form of communication aimed at convincing the other party of one’s points of views, legitimizing the use of irrational communication (shouts, fictitious outrage, refusal of agreement, interruptions, unmeant disagreements, lack of self-reflection, manipulation of facts etc.).

An argument is at its best when it means “a reason given in proof or rebuttal”, only as part of a debate or a discussion and not as a way of communication.

Top_Ten_Digital_Marketing_Trends_for_2012

What important “marketing trends” do you foresee in the near future?

  1. Marketing budgets and expenditure will gradually shift in growth towards more Digital Marketing & less Traditional Marketing.shift-toward-digital-BIA-Kelsey

  2. Digital Marketing will grow in importance corresponding to our growingly digitalized lives & will soon be the centre all marketing orbits around.Local-Media-Shift-Toward-Digital

  3. Smart-phone-friendly responsive web design & web development will become an established quality-norm, in relation to marketing.Smart-phone-friendly responsive web design web development

  4. Ad re-targeting using browsing history, internet behaviour & predictive search techniques will grow.Banner-Ad-Retargeting

  5. TV advertisements will still be important in combination with online TV video-sharing for quick brand awareness & exposure.TV-ads

  6. Content Marketing will become more important, whether text-based, image-cantered, interactive or dynamic.content-marketing-model-for-2013

  7. Social Media Marketing will become a more diverse new form of “traditional marketing”.Traditional-Marketing-vs-Social-Media-Marketing-Smaller

  8. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) will continue to evolve around social media marketing & the so-called “quality content”.WP-Social-Media-Link

  9. Connectivity to internet through more devices, appliances, public machines & public services will cause simplification & amplification of marketing messages.microcontent

  10. Text-based content will be the norm in online marketing & visual Marketing will continue to compete with traditional text-based content (mainly blogs) using visual content like pictures, videos, inforgraphics, webcasts, podcasts, slides etc.popular content-types

 

social-media-search (1)

How long will “Social Media Marketing” stay effective?

Social Media Marketing will remain effective as long as people/members on social media don’t lose their social engagement appetite on social networking sites (like Facebook), professional networking sites (like LinkedIn) and/or social sharing websites (like YouTube, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Digg, Reddit etc.).

I LikeThe sheer idea of people losing interest in such websites will cause advertisers to look for different territories to find target audiences, thereby influencing the development of the social media industry itself and its advertisement-based models, when investment money stops pouring in as it used to the last 15+ years

My own depiction of the dependency-relationship Social Media and Marketing have, is as follows:

  1. Social Media Companies need Investors
  2. Investors need Return on their Investment (ROI)
  3. Investor’s ROI needs Social Media Success
  4. Social Media Success for Investors needs Advertisement Money
  5. Advertisement Money needs High Marketing ROI Guarantees
  6. High Marketing ROI Guarantees need High On-site Engagement Statistics
  7. High On-site Engagement Stats need Big Members Bases & Advertisement Model Development
  8. Big Members Bases Growing & Advertisement Model Development need Investment to Achieve Fast Development & Exposure
  9. Investment to Achieve Fast Development & Exposure need the Marketing industry to promote Social Media massively
  10. The Marketing Industry builds a natural “livelihood alliance” with Social Media, and the circle is round again.

social-media-networks

This basically means that as long as member-bases, overall engagement rates and on-site browsing rates do not show alarming decline or become threatened by a new more popular entrant or a next-better-thing, like Skype or Whatsapp (social media Apps), typical social media websites will continue to thrive at exponential and hard to keep rates.

WhatsApp_Facebook_iOS

And if such “threats” appear to be eminent, the affluent giants (like Facebook & Twitter) will “annex” them through acquisition, exactly like Facebook did with it’s $19 billion acquisition of Whatsapp.

14.02.19-Facebook-WhatsApp


 

Birth of an alliance

Marketing through social media arose from the basic foundation which marketing has always thrived on, which is reaching target audiences with tailored marketing messages to achieve maximum exposure and high guarantee of marketing ROI (whether sales related or brand awareness related).

social media cartoon

Social Media created the ultimate “reality version” of what was viewed as a “fairy tale world” to the mighty marketing industry, where (potential) customer are no longer fragmented & difficult to reach or to define, but rather gathered, connected & organized happily & voluntarilyin one place (like Facebook, a specific Facebook group or a country-category) to receive the marketing initiatives of businesses and organizations, while members (again, voluntarily) share & contribute their own “user-generated content“, either providing insights for research analysts, facilitating profile-targeting advertising techniques OR spreading the word among their virtual social network members (who are often members of real-life social networks too).

Social-Media-Content-600x399


 

Viral Magic

The very nature of social media, allows for a strange effect never before experienced in the world of marketing, which is the so-called viral-spread of information, or Viral Marketing

viral-social-social-phoenix-az1

Viral Marketing means that if every five people who liked (not by smiling at it but by clicking on it) your Facebook updates or Twitter tweet shared this with all of their Facebook friends” or “Twitter followers”, and their friends did the same in a continuous domino-effect of sharing, the number of people who would read your text or click on the link initially posted by you 10 minutes ago, may suddenly be in thousands, in a “split of a second” (or at the click of a mouse).

And all of this is still done happily and voluntarily by the social media crowd. Plus, there is little to no annoyance any more from unwanted SPAM emails jamming your e-mail box or advertisement flyers and folders stuffed in your real home-mail box! How so happily and voluntarily?

Social-Media-Marketing Like

Well,

  • Happily, because membership is mostly free & it allows for convenient social interaction with dear ones or new others.
  • Voluntarily, because registration, content posting and content sharing are facilitated & encouraged by design AND protection of privacy is left to the control of the members themselves (to an acceptable but controversial extent), through the indispensable “privacy settings” option.

Both the marketing industry & the social media players will make sure such a massive marketing platform (better to say an ever expanding marketing universe) will not lose its shine that soon!

It’s a strong & hard to break alliance!

Quailty assurance

What is the different between “quality control” & “quality assurance”?

Quality Assurance is a managerial concept aimed at assuring high quality of processes, permeating the whole (or essential parts) of business conduct, while involving all professionals in the process.

Quality Control is a corrective concept aimed at evaluating a product (or service provision) in its final result, carried out by some specialized professionals.

Quality-Assurance-vs-Quality-Control

Example:

Editing of text in writing and validation of software in software engineering are forms of Quality Assurance. Proofreading of texts in writing and testing of final software are forms of Quality Control.

Eid-ul-Fitr-Sweets-2014-1

Which industries are most booming during “Ramadan” and “Eid Al-Fitr” in the Middle East?

Ramadan and EID

  1. Food:  it’s booming shortly before Ramadan & during and after Ramadan, celebrating Eid, performing “Zakat Al Fitr” (the equivalent of Thanksgiving in the US) and the end of fasting by buying all kinds of delicious foods and sweets enough to cater for collective social gatherings designed around “enjoyment of food” and often characterized by excess (thus excessive purchase) to convey generosity and avoid “shortcoming”. Ramadan food
  2. Cloths & apparel: Only towards the end of Ramadan: mostly the very last few days, because of a general “last-minute mentality” & to enjoy possible retail discounts.
  3. The advertisement industry: through a thriving TV industry tailored around advertisement, with all kinds of religious & entertaining programs including hosted shows by big brands and more frequent commercial-break interruptions. Advertisement during Ramadan in Middle east-OpenAnswer
  4. Transportation and airways: Ramadan & Eid are social events encouraging social togetherness by nature. You could also argue that people during day-time in Ramadan reduce their transportation time as a result of preferring to stay home and avoid heat and compensate for this greatly by having a longer (transportation-heavy) social night life.
  5. Electronics: especially smart-phones and smartphone gadgets. Sales of smart-phone may show rise only towards the end of Ramadan, as a way of “changing old with new”, following the very (religiously taught) tradition of Eid that underlies the habit of the massive buying of new cloths. Or as a result of traditional buying gifts to dear ones. Smartphone-usage-Middle East-openanswer
  6. Electrical appliances: these are said to be booming too shortly before & during Ramadan, especially refrigerators to provide cooling for saved-up-for-later food, by those who need a new better one and air conditioners to provide comfort in times of abstain from eating food and drinking water (cooling effect) in mostly warm regions.