February 2015: Small Business Success

Develop the right social media mix

Columnist, Jennifer McCluskey

Columnist, Jennifer McCluskey

It can be difficult to decide which social media outlet you should use to get the message out to your customers. You may feel overwhelmed by the different options, especially if you are not someone who regularly uses social media. This brief overview may help you pick which ones are most likely to reach your target audience. Trying out a new social media platform could be a good way to expand your marketing during a slow winter season.


While Facebook is still the most popular social media outlet, it has been noticed that young people may be starting to shift toward other sites. Facebook tends to draw more women than men, and also is becoming more popular with people 50 and older. It continues to be one of the first social media outlets most businesses consider, and can reach a wide range of target client demographics.


YouTube now reaches a wide variety of audiences and is very popular. Its videos are a great way for business owners to introduce themselves to their customers and also inform them about certain aspects of their business. According to an article on

ymarketingmatters.com by Yasmin Bendror, YouTube is the second-ranked search engine behind google — above Bing and Yahoo — so having a presence there will help your website rankings.


Twitter is best for businesses that can provide non-visual, regular, short updates about their products or services. Twitter can help businesses with a large customer base, such as restaurants, move quickly to meet customer needs or share promotions. Twitter is not a good way to reach older adults. According to an April 2014 Pew Research Center Study by Aaron Smith, only 3 percent of American seniors use Twitter. Twitter is especially useful for businesses involved in communication and businesses who sell to other businesses.


LinkedIn seems to be most useful for networking and keeping your business top-of-mind with other business owners. A BusinessInsider.com report also states that LinkedIn is actually more popular than Twitter among U.S. adults. LinkedIn’s users are generally between 30 and 49 and are more likely to be well educated. LinkedIn can assist businesses whose primary clients are other businesses.


Pinterest is a social media site that focusing on visual communication. It is particularly useful for businesses that have a visual product, crafting focus, or are involved in the wedding industry, sell food items or DIY products. Many Pinterest users are women in the 25 to 35 age bracket. According to an article by Neil Patel on quicksprout.com, moms are 61 percent more likely to visit Pinterest than the average American, making Pinterest a great resource for businesses selling products for families.

Tumblr, Instagram, and Snapchat

Business owners who regularly post visual content and who are looking to reach a young demographic should take a look at these three platforms. While users can post text on Tumblr, visual content usually gets shared most often. Graphic files can also be shared on Tumblr in addition to static photographs. Instagram also focuses on visual posts. It primarily attracts an audience of women younger than 35. Some examples of popular Instagram hashtags include themes of fashion, travel, style and food. Snapchat is a newer social media tool that will let you send images and videos to a user’s smartphone that will self-delete after a set period of time (which makes it great for limited-time coupons). Snapchat’s users are primarily college students.


Google+ is Google’s version of Facebook. It has been slow to gain traction, but seems to improve with increased users. It helps users connect with communities of people who share interests, so if there is a strong Google+ community for your business type, this might be a social media platform for you. Having a Google+ page could also significantly help boost your SEO rankings, so any business that depends heavily on Internet traffic should consider it.

Finally, there are other tools like Hootsuite and Social Media Suite that help you coordinate all the posts to these different social media outlets.

Jennifer McCluskey is a certified business advisor with the New York State Small Business Development Center at SUNY Canton. Contact her at mccluskeyj@canton.edu. Her column appears bi-monthly in NNY Business.