2015 Small Business Social Media Trends [Research]

How The Inc 500 Use Social Media In 2015

Kids at computer-2015 Small Business Social Media Trends-193% of the Inc 500 use at least one social media platform or tool based on research by University of Massachusetts Dartmouth.

As the fastest-growing private companies in the US, the Inc 500 collectively demonstrate how businesses leverage evolving marketing tools and trends cost-effectively to drive profitable revenues. By definition, these businesses are trendsetters who continue to improve their reach by pushing the limits of new methods.

The top 3 social media platforms used by the Inc 500 are:

  • 94% of the Inc 500 use LinkedIn.
  • 80% of the Inc 500 use Facebook.
  • 79% of the Inc 500 use Twitter.

Unlike past years, there’s a significant difference between LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter usage and other social media networks.2015 Small Business Social Media Trends-UMass Dartmouth-Chart

As a point of reference, here’s 2014 Inc 500 and Social Media research.

Download your free social media marketing checklist NOW!

 

2015 Small Business Social Media Trends

Let’s examine the top performing social media platforms on UMass Dartmouth’s research to determine whether it makes sense for your business to use them. (As another point of reference, here’s how the US engages on social media in 2015, according to Pew Internet.)Kids at computer-2015 Small Business Social Media Trends-1

LinkedIn

LinkedIn shows that you count as a business as well as a professional. Being present on LinkedIn with a complete profile including strong photographs and recommendations gives you legitimacy.

What are the social media implications of LinkedIn for your business?

  • At its core, LinkedIn is about professional connections. Every business regardless of size needs to be visible to other businesses including your suppliers, distributors, customers, potential employees and influencers.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Craft strong, complete LinkedIn profiles for your key employees. Even better, help every employee be present on LinkedIn with a professional photograph (no kids or spouses please) and strong keyword-rich descriptions that attract the business you want.
  • Join relevant LinkedIn Groups. This enables you to position yourself and your business as well as to gather information from peers.
  • Use LinkedIn Publishing to support your thought leadership. Publish content through LinkedIn’s platform to establish your business.
  • Leverage the power of SlideShare. While a B2B social media platform in its own right, SlideShare is often overlooked. Post thought leadership and public presentations on SlideShare to expand your business reach.

Facebook

Facebook remains the top social media platform in the US. It has retained its position globally as well.

When using Facebook to achieve business objectives, remember that most participants are active to find out about their family and friends, not your business. (BTW, here are 5 key Facebook trends for 2015.)

What are the social media implications of Facebook for your business?

  • Facebook’s reach is difficult to match elsewhere on digital media. This means most businesses, regardless of focus need to consider using Facebook, although it’s more effective for B2C and not-for-profit organizations.
  • Facebook requires skill to use effectively and consistently especially in light of its ever-changing algorithms. This means time and resources.
  • Most businesses need to support their Facebook presence with advertising to stay top of mind.
  • You must continually provide new content and interact.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Have a presence on Facebook to be visible. Given its size, it’s important to be findable on Facebook. At a minimum, stake out your turf as a placeholder. (Note: Copyblogger made a strategic decision to remove their Facebook page.)
  • Be an active member of Facebook community. For a business, this means continually distribute useful content and interact with others.
  • Support your Facebook presence with advertising. Ensure that you’re targeting your key audience. Leverage the power of Facebook’s analytical tools and advertising. (Check out Jon Loomer’s blog to stay on top of the latest changes.)

Twitter

Twitter is social media’s water cooler where you can find out the latest news and gossip. Of course, that information comes filled with a lot of noise.

What are the social media implications of Twitter for your business?

  • Twitter can help broaden your message’s reach, especially if you’re active in one or more Twitter chats.
  • The downside of Twitter for a business is gaining sufficient traction to attract a following, combined with the extremely short life of a tweet.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Use Twitter to engage with the thought leaders in your category. Follow them and learn their hot buttons. Also retweet their content.
  • Expand your reach through the use of relevant hashtags. Take the time to determine what other influencers are using. Monitor what’s happening at conferences and events, even if you’re not present.
  • Add images to boost your reach. As with other forms of content, people are attracted to images. Don’t forget that they reduce your character count.

Blogging

While the decline in blogging reported by the Inc 500 research initially surprised me, it does makes sense. While a blog can be a low cost, easy-to-update website that acts like as social media home base, it requires work and resources and it may not yield adequate benefits. Even worse, blogging is no longer the cool social media platform.

What are the social media implications of blogging for your business?

  • Blogging requires resources and time to provide useful, quality content that builds an audience. Your blog content faces stiffer competition than in the past due to the expansion of content marketing.
  • Blogging creates a social media home base, a place where you have control over your brand and your content. Unfortunately, for most businesses, this requires time to build.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • A blog supplies an owned media entity. Give your business a place to publish useful content.
  • A blog supports search optimization. By its nature, blogging helps your business’s search optimization strategies.
  • A blog provides a publishing platform for a variety of content formats. Curate your own content that you’ve posted on other social media sites on your blog including photographs, video and audio.
  • A blog acts as a gateway to the rest of your offering and content. Use your blog to explain your products and services. Where appropriate, link to your product.

Download The Definitive 2015 Blog Checklist

 

YouTube

Many businesses regardless of size undervalue the power of YouTube, not only as a video platform but also as the second largest search engine after Google.

Further as we’ve said elsewhere, 2015 is the year of video both for social media and for content marketing. It’s no longer just YouTube. There’s been a diversification of video options such as Vines, Instagram Video and Facebook.

What are the social media implications of YouTube for your business?

Don’t assume that YouTube is only for music and cat videos.

Businesses feel that their videos must look professional and the reality is that video can be hard to do. You can start out small with a short talking head or voice over a presentation. Jay Baer does a 3 minute talking head video by speaking into his smartphone.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Create videos that show your target audience how to use your products. Use videos as an educational format.
  • Put your product into context via show and tell. Take advantage of the search power of YouTube.
  • Show the human side of your business. This is particularly important for businesses where employees don’t feel comfortable writing. Let them talk to you and record the information.
  • Provide entertainment. While this doesn’t apply to every business, have fun. It built Blendtec, a B2B blender company, which created the “Will It Blend Videos.”
  • Post your video content on your owned media. Extend the reach of your videos by embedding them on your website, blog and emailings.

Pinterest

Pinterest tends to be underutilized by B2B organizations because it’s considered a female haven for clothing, home décor, cooking and DIY interests. While this is true, it’s not the whole store. If the Marines can make Pinterest work, chances are you can too.2015 Small Business Social Media Trends

Furthermore Pinterest was the fastest growing social media platform globally in 2014 according to Global Web Index. (Here’s a full analysis of the data.)

2014 Top Global Social Media Platforms-Global Web Index-1-1-1

What are the social media implications of Pinterest for your business?

  • Figure out how businesses similar to yours are using Pinterest. At a minimum, use Pinterest to curate your content and presentations. Pinterest was the #2 source of social media traffic for Buzzfeed (after Facebook).
  • Use Pinterest for the aspirational sales. Use Pinterest images to appeal to the “I want this” impulse buy.

Actionable Social Media Tips:

  • Take a page from Target. Give your target audience a choice. Show product shots as well as contextually relevant images.
  • Make your content pinworthy for your audience. Include at least one image or visual that shines on Pinterest.
  • Batch your Pinterest images. Don’t make every image a one-off effort. Include them with other visual content.
  • Keep product pages alive that you or your audience has pinned. Redirect older merchandise pages to new, relevant product.

Download your free social media marketing checklist NOW!

 

5 Actionable tips to maximize 2015 small business social media trends

While social media can seem overwhelming and time consuming for a small business, here are 5 actionable tips to help you improve your social media results.

  1. Think holistically about your content. Social media and content marketing go hand-in-hand. Don’t just create each article or post as a one-off activity. Plan different presentations and information by platform at the same time.
  2. Go visual. Where possible, get photographs and videos of your employees and your customers. Show, don’t tell your prospects about your offering. (Heed help? Check these visual content tips out.)
  3. Make an appointment to engage on social media. Instead of spending hours on social media checking out things that attract your interest, set specific times for scheduling and sharing content as well as checking in and engaging.
  4. Get your entire team involved. Expand your company reach by getting everyone into the act. Set social media guidelines and train your employees so that you can enhance your reach. Remember people pay attention to people they know.
  5. Take advantage of other people’s audiences. Engage in other people’s conversations. Contribute articles to other blogs and media entities. Mention other people in your social media interactions.
  6. BONUS: Include a call-to-action. Don’t assume that your audience will do anything unless you ask them. Be explicit. (BTW, here’s help with measurable social media results.)

Download your free social media marketing checklist NOW!

 

As the leading edge of American industry, the Inc 500 are pushing the limits of social media.

Should your firm do so too?

For most firms the answer is yes.

If you’re not using social media now, start small and test as you go. Keep doing more of what works and less of what doesn’t.

At a minimum, be available via LinkedIn and monitor what’s being said about your products, brand and company as well as your employees and competitors.

What are your recommendations for small business social media in 2015 and why?

Kids at computer-Small Business Social Media-Square

Happy Marketing,
Heidi Cohen


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3 Responses to 2015 Small Business Social Media Trends [Research]

  1. SMM Company India says:

    this blog is based on some real facts about SMM. You provided me good information regarding social media marketing

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