Both Facebook and Twitter are two of the most popular platforms for small businesses. Unlike big brands that are already established, have a following and clout, small businesses have to earn each follower one by one. A new eMarketer study shows that small businesses would rather turn to Facebook (86 percent) than Twitter (33 percent), but both can be used to build brand awareness, customer acquisition, customer services and various other functions. It’s a challenge for a small business owner to invest time making social networking profiles on top of writing a business plan, pitching investors and potential customers, working on the strategy and day-to-day operations. A new study came out this week by Roost, a tech company focused on helping small businesses go social, about the best ways for small companies to achieve maximum engagement on social networks. In the study, ten thousand Facebook profiles and Twitter handles from 50 industries were evaluated.
1. Publish photos
The photos that you publish on your Facebook fan page generate 50 percent more impressions for small businesses than any other post type. Facebook is one of the largest photo sharing services in the world. Photos can generate a lot of discussion because you can capture a moment, hundreds of words and emotion in a single picture. Small businesses should take pictures of their offices, of employees, and of the community around them. This way, your fans can get a better sense of who you are as brands and have a deeper connection with your company. You can also post pictures of things that relate to your company. For instance, if you own a restaurant, take pictures of the food, or if you own an online store that sells camping goods, take pictures of those products and people using them.
2. Ask questions
One of the best ways to generate a discussion is to actually start the discussion and leave it open ended. This way, you welcome your community’s voice, without having to dictate. Questions generate almost two times as many comments as any other post type too. You should ask questions that challenge your fans and one’s that relate to the news. Hot news topics can create a lot of buzz and room for discussion. When fans comment on your page, it helps build your brand through their news feed.
3. Share quotes
The great thing about quotes is that they are informative, can prove your point, and also inspire your followers. As a small business, most people haven’t heard of you and probably don’t trust you. They do know and trust established brands that you can quote though! Quotes drive an average of 54 percent more retweets than any other type of tweet. Regular status updates are the second highest driver of engagement. From my experience, I found that quotes are easy to retweet because a lot of people agree with them if they are coming from a public figure.
Of course, there are other ways to create a strong brand on social networks such as publishing links, sharing free resources and promoting your page on other pages, groups and other channels. Building a fan base takes time and since you don’t have the marketing budget like Coca Cola, you’re going to have to work every day to earn each fan. In order to keep people engaged, you need to make sure you have fresh content every single day and that you’re paying attention to fan updates as much as possible. We live in a real-time world right now so the faster you engage with your audience, the more they will want to be part of your community.
Dan Schawbel is the Founder of Millennial Branding, a full-service personal branding firm based in Boston. He speaks on the topic of personal branding to companies like Google, IBM and Time Warner.