Social Media has become one of the most potent marketing tools in today’s world of business. These online platforms have become an integral part of our day to day lives and play an important role in society. A large percentage of people today will log on to at least one social media platform every day – some may actively browse through several different platforms and maintain a presence on all of the popular social media channels.
Budding entrepreneurs can take advantage of the prominence of social media and use it to their advantage. An entrepreneur can use social media in the following ways:
- To solicit donations and funds for new projects and ideas
- To generate interest in their company/product/service
- To gain valuable feedback on their ideas and creations
- To promote their website and products to a wider audience
- To sell their products and services online
- To build links in their industry and connect with suppliers
As you can see, social media opens up a whole host of new avenues and can greatly expand the tools an entrepreneur has at their disposal to make their venture succeed. With the vast number of social media platforms available, an entrepreneur may struggle to devote time and resources to each once, however. Bearing that in mind, we have listed several prominent platforms we feel are worth considering. We have also listed our preferred choice – the social media platform we feel all entrepreneurs should invest in.
Important Social Media platforms to consider
So, which Social Media platforms should you consider investing in as an eager entrepreneur? Unfortunately not all social media platforms are suitable for business – some are simply used for social purposes and would not benefit your new start-up in any way. The following are 5 platforms we feel are hugely useful for an entrepreneur – we have briefly explained their purpose together with how they can help your business:
Practically everyone has heard of Facebook, and a large percentage of the world’s population make use of this platform on a daily basis. Created in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook is considered to be one of the original social media platforms and continues to play a prominent role in the online world. At its most basic, Facebook is a social networking service people can use to stay in touch with friends and family – you can create a profile, upload photos and post statuses about your day to day life. What people are starting to realise, however, is that Facebook is also a fantastic promotional tool for business.
Using Facebook, it is possible to create a dedicated page for your business or organisation. You can attract followers and promote your business to the online world. Furthermore, you can contact other businesses and create links with important people within your industry to gain increased exposure. If that wasn’t enough, customers can now leave reviews and provide star ratings for your business – you can gain tangible feedback and build up a positive reputation for your entrepreneurship. The only downside to Facebook is that it is still (and will always be) primarily a social networking service.
Following closely behind Facebook, Twitter is another immensely popular social media platform. Twitter was created in 2006 and is promoted as both a new platform and a social networking service. The basic premise behind Twitter is that users can post snippets of news or personal chit chat in 160 characters or less – Twitter is designed to be quick, easy to use and free-flowing. In recent years, the use of Twitter has exploded and we now have hundreds of celebrities, sports personalities and even world leaders taking to the platform to share their deepest and darkest thoughts (Donald Trump anyone?).
An entrepreneur could use Twitter in a variety of ways. Firstly, they could use Twitter as a source of news – they could follow businesses and individuals from their industry and stay up to date with current developments and technologies for example. Secondly, they could use Twitter to promote their own business and create relationships with other users.
Some businesses even use Twitter as a method of customer support and a way to speak directly to their targeted demographic. The main downside to Twitter, however, is the fast-paced nature of the platform – unless you have millions of followers, your tweets could easily become lost and remain unread by the general public.
Since its creation in 2010, Instagram has quickly become one of the most popular photo sharing applications. Instagram taps into our desire to share every last detail of our lives with the world – users can post photos to their feed and write a brief description of what you are looking at. Instagram also has an inbuilt filter feature with which you can edit your photos with trendy effects. Many people also make use of “hashtags” which allow their photos to be easily categorised and searched for.
Many businesses now maintain an Instagram account and use it to promote their products – this is the perfect platform for businesses that benefit from visual displays such as fashion designers, car manufacturers and travel agents. Furthermore, a business can use Instagram to develop their culture and ethos and promote their beliefs and goals to the public. Instagram mainly lacks in tools and analysis, however – as this is predominantly an app, it is difficult to monitor the effectiveness of an Instagram account and see if your photos are actually prompting customers to invest in your business.
The concept of Snapchat plays on our fear of missing out. Snapchat allows users to post instant photos to their profile – these photos can only be viewed for a set number of seconds – once they have been viewed, they disappear from your news feed. This quick and instant process is hugely addictive and since its development and release in 2011, Snapchat has become something of a phenomenon.
Snapchat can be used by entrepreneurs to provide snippets of quick-fire information about their business or venture. You could post product pictures, create small videos showcasing day to day business activities or even host live Q&A sessions in relation to products and services. As with Instagram, Snapchat suffers from a lack of quantitative data – it is quite difficult to assess how effective a Snapchat profile is and how many customers you are reaching.
Pinterest is not as widely used as any of the above social media platforms, but it certainly fills a niche and can serve as an effective marketing tool. Created in 2011, Pinterest is a social media platform that serves as an information repository – users can upload info relating to practically any subject and embellish this info using images, video and audio. Many people view Pinterest as a place where designers, inventors and hobbyists can share their ideas and pick up useful information on projects they wish to complete.
An entrepreneur can use Pinterest to both promote their own ideas and to find inspiration for their business venture. They could search through the various boards on Pinterest and look at what ideas other individuals and businesses have created. Furthermore, they could create their own pins and promote their ideas to the public to gain valuable feedback and criticism. Whilst Pinterest is certainly useful, we feel that it is still a niche platform and would not provide the exposure that other platforms could.
The Winner – LinkedIn
Whilst we advise looking into all of the above social media platforms, there is still one platform we feel is a must-have for entrepreneurs. LinkedIn is a fantastic social media platform that has a real use for entrepreneurs and can provide tangible results. LinkedIn was originally created in 2002 and officially launched in 2003 – this platform is promoted as a social networking service primarily aimed at business and employment. With over 500 million registered users, LinkedIn has remained popular and is available through both a web browser and dedicated mobile app.
What can you do on LinkedIn?
Users can create a personal profile on LinkedIn that contains a plethora of information on various subjects. You can include personal details such as hobbies and interests, but also professional information. It is possible to include your employment history and skillset – in effect create an online CV for potential employers to look at.
Aside from creating your own profile, it is also possible to create business networks, interact with other users and stay up to date with current news within your industry. In recent years, LinkedIn has also implemented a business service and employment market of sorts – users can post and search for employment opportunities in the same way you could on popular job directories such as Indeed and CV-Library.
Why is it beneficial for entrepreneurs?
So, why is LinkedIn such a good platform for entrepreneurs and those looking to excel in business? As mentioned above, LinkedIn was initially created for business and employment – its primary function is to allow entrepreneurs to engage with others in their industry and to facilitate meaningful communication. Using LinkedIn, an entrepreneur can promote themselves and their ideas and forge useful connections with individuals and organisations that can help them.
Using LinkedIn you can do the following:
- Create a company profile to promote their ideas, products and services
- Create a personal profile to promote themselves to potential employees/investors
- Reach out to the public to gain feedback on their ideas and business plan
- Reach out to potential investors and source funds for their venture
- Communicate with other entrepreneurs to gain knowledge and ideas
- Build a network of professionals to communicate with
- Stay up to date with current industry news and developments
- Search for potential employees for your business venture
- Create job listings and farm out work to freelancers
As you can see, the list of opportunities is fantastic and if used properly, LinkedIn can greatly improve your prospects as an entrepreneur. You can communicate with other like-minded individuals, promote your business and ideas, gain valuable feedback and even solicit funds and employment. As LinkedIn is primarily aimed at business, you also benefit from a captive audience – you know that other LinkedIn users have created their profiles for a reason; not just to share their personal life as they would on other Social Media platforms.
Due to its specific nature and the fact that it is aimed primarily at a professional audience, many people have shunned the use of LinkedIn. This should not discourage entrepreneurs at all – this social networking platform has a huge user base and, as new features are added, it continues to be the number one choice for businesses and individuals seeking to improve their professional prospects.
How can an entrepreneur improve their prospects on LinkedIn?
Now that you understand why LinkedIn is such a potent tool for entrepreneurs, it is beneficial to understand how you can make the most of this platform. Your first aim should be to create a detailed profile and company page (if you are launching a new business). Include as much information as possible and fill out every section – leave nothing untouched. The more info you can display, the more potential customers, investors and stakeholders can learn.
Secondly, you should build a network of useful contacts and businesses that could help your venture. Search LinkedIn for these people and create LinkedIn networks to group them into logical categories such as “customers”, “suppliers”, etc. Thirdly and finally, try to update your profile and make new posts regularly to generate interest and exposure in your ideas and business. Many users simply create a LinkedIn profile and forget about it – this is neither useful nor productive.
We hope you have found this article useful – social media is a truly powerful tool for business, and platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram all have their uses. As an entrepreneur, we advise investing time in social media, especially LinkedIn; you can improve your prospects and expose your ideas and plan to a far greater audience