By Brittany Robinett
With so many online mediums being used by today’s consumer, establishing a footprint in this digital landscape has become more important than ever. For a largely tech-savvy generation, social media networks dominate in an Internet-focused society where users have begun demanding easy ways to look up and connect with products and companies that they enjoy. Simply put, having a website doesn’t cut it anymore when it comes to making a business well-known and well-reputed throughout the online community. For this reason, it is becoming imperative that small businesses establish an online presence through social media, and that those businesses familiarize themselves with those media outlets in a way that maximizes their presence.
For a business trying to make a name for itself online, social media provides a way to not only advertise to your customers, but it also provides an opportunity to start a conversation with them. Online networking provides an avenue to interact with customers by posting information about the company and updating the community and followers on its services and products. Rather than simply “putting yourself out there” and hoping that people like what they see, networks like Facebook and Twitter permit you to gauge whether customers actually like what they see by giving you access to feedback, such as “comments” and “likes.” Both of these forums allow user interaction, as users can voice opinions through polls, apps, and even be invited to “events.”
Many small businesses have realized the growing importance of not only building up a business physically, but building up a business digitally. Those same businesses have recognized this trend and created Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram accounts as a means to interact with a consumer-base. Many businesses flock to Facebook, as it holds title as the dominant social networking platform. (In fact, Pew Research Center recently released a study showing that Facebook is used by roughly 57% of American adults and 73% of Americans between the ages of 12 and 17.) Twitter, although lagging behind Facebook, has received growing attention from businesses who appreciate its short-and-sweet communication style.
Unfortunately, many businesses overlook an undervalued social media provider – Google Plus. Sure, several of us remember all of the hype surrounding Google Plus before it went public in 2011, only to see that excitement quickly fade. However, Google Plus has the second largest membership numbers for any social networking site. (Given, it is used less, although by a more industry-focused user base.) Although Google Plus might not be the preferred forum for personal networking, it certainly provides advantages that other media outlets do not.
First and foremost, it improves your business’s chance of coming up in search results. Each time you create a new post, a brand new webpage is created. With each post, there is a greater chance that your page might appear in a Google search. Having a highly-trafficked or highly-followed page on Facebook or Twitter does not make your page more “searchable” on search engines like Google. As explained by Google Webmasters, Google does not have any signals in its web search ranking algorithms that allow it to return “popularity-based” information (such as number of likes or followers) in its search results.
Further, it attaches a “person” to your business. Unlike other sites, Google Plus allows business pages to be attached to creator profiles. Particularly with smaller businesses, customers want to see the “man behind the curtain.” The ability to link your business profile to your personal profile provides that avenue and can give an additional dimension personality to your brand.
Does this mean that services such as Facebook and Twitter should not be used to build up your personal business? Certainly not. There is undoubted value in each of these networks, as each is unique and can be tailored to advertise your business. It is important to consider who your audience and customer base are and decide the best way to target that cohort. These considerations may drive your business to focus on more “popular” media sites, like Facebook and Twitter, or more “focused” media sites, such as Google Plus. Do not, however, discount your options based off of the idea that “one should be enough.” The Internet’s bounds are endless, as should be the possibilities for your company’s growth. When in doubt, you can never go wrong with being present in more than one place, so long as an earnest effort is made to maintain that presence well.
Bexley Law Firm, LLC
About the Author: Brittany Robinett is a rising third year law student at the Georgia State University College of Law.