Small Business Social Media Series | The Most Popular Networks

Small Business Social Media Series | The Most Popular Networks

It seems as if you’re not looking every day, you can’t keep up with all the changes in small business social media.  And who has time to do that and run a business?

Here’s a quick update on the largest social networks and the most recent trends. We acknowledge that the field is changing so fast that this is just a Small business social media: changes at the topsnapshot.

Changes at the top

Had we written this post a year ago, it would have been different as there has been a shuffle at the top.  For a long time (relative to the social media world), the “big four” social media networks were Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+.

And, in absolute numbers, that may still be true. But the writing is clearly on the wall: Google+ is on its way out and two newcomers are here, Instagram and Pinterest.

Small business social media: table of social media network users

The table shows approximate worldwide user count as of this writing.  In terms of trends, it is important to realize that Instagram was founded in 2010 and Pinterest in 2011.

Differences between networks

If small business social media is new to you, resist the temptation to look at raw numbers as you consider a strategy for your business.  Among other things, networks differ in the demographics they reach, the flexibility the posts themselves have, the types of content they focus on, and the reach they offer for your message.

Small business social media: Facebook logoFor example, Facebook tends to find more favor with businesses in the B2C space, while LinkedIn is more focused on B2B.  Instagram and Pinterest are very visually oriented and work well for businesses whose offerings show well in pictures.

A decent overview of social media networks is well beyond the scope of this post, but here are some good resources for further background.

LEARN MORE: Understanding social media

LEARN MORE: Social Media Definitions: The Ultimate Glossary of Terms You Should Know

Notable trends

Outside of the fall from grace of Google+ and the explosive growth of Instagram and Pinterest, several other trends are of note.

As social networks look for additional ways to monetize their operations, organic reach is dropping fast.  (Organic reach is how many people see your Small business social media: trend graphicposts, without you paying to promote them).

Once you could get fair exposure for free.  Today organic reach on Facebook is less than 5% and it’s dropping fast on LinkedIn too.  We find that Twitter still has good organic reach.

Most social networks offer advertising opportunities.  Instagram officially launched theirs on October 1, 2015, adding another great way to reach prospects.

Here are some trends other experts predict will be coming to the small business social media scene:

LEARN MORE: 25 Social Media Facts For The End of 2015

Things to look for

Small business social media: picture of a swamiHere’s where we get to put on our “Social Media Swami” hat. We can be sure that small business social media will change, but we cannot be sure how.  Here are some things we’re fairly sure of:

  • less and less organic reach—as social networks struggle to compete and look for profit, organic reach will continue to fall driving users with critical messaging to resort to paid placement
  • continuing focus on media—today posts with media attached are 2.5x more likely to earn interaction; as users demand quality content, we believe this will grow further to the point where any effective post will have to have media attached
  • better integration with search engines—prior to this year, social media posts got short shrift from search engines; this year Google took the lead adding more and more social media content to search results, we expect this trend to continue
  • big factor in SEO—even with reduced organic reach coming, we fully expect social media activity to continue to be an important search ranking factor; we fully believe that, in some cases, the SEO benefit of social media will make participation worthwhile, even if reach approaches zero

What do you see coming in small business social media?  How does your business take advantage of social media in its marketing?  We’d love to hear from you!