Social media drives nearly everything we do. Which means nowadays small businesses seek to drive traffic to their websites, not just their storefronts.
We spoke with Liz Jostes, co-founder of Eli Rose Social Media, a consulting firm that helps small businesses increase their social media reach to benefit their bottom line. Jostes pointed out several social media trends she believes will affect small businesses in the upcoming year.
Here are three trends you can keep an eye on as you cover small business.
Look for more live video
Jostes said one notable trend right now is the demand for small businesses to integrate live video as a way to reach consumers.
“If you look around the social media landscape right now, it’s video, video, video, everywhere you look,” Jostes said.
As the need for live-streaming increases, small businesses can decide how they want to use video and where it might work best. Jostes said a large push exists right now for Facebook’s newest feature, Facebook Live, where businesses can not only broadcast live to their followers, but also recycle that video for later uses.
Snapchat, for example, which appeals to the younger audience 13-17 years old, lasts for only 10 seconds and will stay on the interface for 24 hours. In contrast, with Facebook Live, the video will stay on a company’s Facebook timeline just like any other post and users can share and reuse the video over and over again.
Instagram also recently announced plans to lengthen its user videos to 60 seconds from its previously allowed 15 seconds to accommodate this growing trend.
Talk to small businesses in your area. What social platforms do they employ to reach customers? Have they found any video-related platforms particularly useful? How do these business owners track analytics on these platforms to determine which social audiences are potentially part of their customer base?
An increase of how-to social media help for small businesses
In the social media world, textbooks are outdated. For small businesses needing a little tutoring in integrating social media into their daily routine, many online resources have crept up. One example is consulting company Eli Rose, which teaches businesses the basics of social media, marketing strategy and SEO.
“We offer training for other people if they want to keep things in house,” Jostes said. “Other people don’t want to learn it and don’t have time to learn it and that’s where we come in.”
But Jostes says plenty of how-to websites exist for small businesses lacking a budget for social media consulting.
Some websites can even inform journalists wanting insight into how businesses are using social media.
Social Media Examiner, for example, provides journalists the latest case studies and research involving small businesses.
The site also produces an annual Social Media Marketing Industry Report, where journalists can uncover story ideas on things such as how much time marketers are spending on small business social media activities.
Small businesses flocking to one (or two) major platforms
Jostes said too many small businesses focus on using a variety of platforms, rather than using one or two platforms really well–Twitter and Facebook or just Twitter and Snapchat, for example, based on their audiences. But she expects that pattern to change.
“You can’t do the bare minimum on a platform and expect that to work,” Jostes said. “Pick one or two platforms that do really, really well, as opposed to those who do a bare minimum across.”
Jostes says some small businesses are utilizing surveys to determine which platforms best help them reach and engage potential customers.
“Ask people where they spend their time,” Jostes said. “Go right to the source.”
For more story ideas, look into how businesses in your area are using social media. Are they targeting multiple social media platforms? How does their use of social media compare to national trends? Do they believe social media has helped these entrepreneurs attract an audience to shop with them?