Let’s not kid ourselves: Social media is neither “easy” nor “free” for most small-business owners. Sure, these online networks can be powerful, cost-effective tools, but social success requires time and honest engagement, not to mention a willingness to stay current on new sites and features.
We wouldn’t blame you for wondering where, exactly, this time and effort will come from. Business owners with lots of openings on their daily calendar are a rare breed. So, how do you bridge the gap between opportunity and resources?
Recent research for the Pew Internet & American Life Project offers one answer. It’s more of a reminder, really: Facebook is still king.
According to Pew’s poll, a whopping 71 percent of American adults who go online use the site. The runner-up, LinkedIn, attracts 22 percent of internet users. People still can’t get enough of Facebook: 63 percent of those who use the site check it every day, and 40 percent do so more than once a day. Among people who use only one mainstream social-networking site, 84 percent say that site is Facebook.
The moral of this story: If you’re strapped for social media time, prioritize Facebook.
Keep in mind, however, that although Facebook may be the best pick for seeking the widest possible audience, it’s not the only game in town. More and more people have accounts on other sites. The Pew poll shows that 42 percent of American adults now use more than one social network.
Other sites may offer a more targeted audience, too. If your customers are primarily women, for example, consider Pinterest: They’re four times more likely to use the site than males, according to Pew. LinkedIn skews toward college graduates and higher household incomes. Twitter and Instagram are favorites among city dwellers, younger people, and non-whites.
Pew notes that its polling only covers five of the largest social networks. Its sister endeavor, the Pew Research Journalism Project, considers a wider group of sites — including Reddit, Tumblr, and YouTube — but focuses on news consumption rather than general habits.
The evolutionary nature of the social media landscape can be part of the challenge for small-business owners. There’s no guarantee, for instance, that Facebook will continue to dominate. Getting the better of that challenge requires the right mix of commitment, strategy, and knowing who and where your audience is.
Meanwhile, if time is your biggest concern, remember that people are still flocking to Facebook.