Time, is non-renewable resource, we can't get it back. Even more coveted than our time, our ATTENTION. When it comes to Social Media, it can get tricky to discern between what's hype and what's actually worthy of our precious attention -- savvy to the all important question What have you done for me lately? We, small business owners, owe it to ourselves to carefully select our social media campaigns with an eye towards ROI -- not just hype. Ideally, picking the ones that are easiest to use and offer us the most potential benefit for the least amount of time. For a quilting site, the demographics of Facebook and Pinterest play nicely -- LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus - not so much. For a local coffee shop, follow a local celeb who loves you and get them to tweet about it. For cool tech sports toys, make a video, then post to YouTube - Google+ for the biggest splash. Who is your target audience and what tools do they use?


Email Campaigns from Blogs

This offers the greatest ROI -- primarily because you are targeting folks that are already customers, or have already expressed an interest in you. It's a great way to get your face in front of interested prospects on a regular basis. And, you can get these set-up and timed out right from your website (using Drupal, at least!) Most brick-n-mortar stores collect emails addresses to send out coupons and promotions. It works, just that simple. But you still need to generate leads. Generating leads is where the other Social Media sites can be helpful.


Facebook

On Nov 14, 2014, Forbes announced Facebook: Half A Billion People Now Use Messenger. Facebook itself has 1.35 billion monthly active users as of September 30, 2014. It is the number one referrer of traffic to websites. The majority of it's users (53.3%) are

female with about half over 35. Teens are leaving Facebook in droves, in 2014, there's been a loss of around 58% of users who are high school and college age. As Mom and Grandma jump aboard, their kids are bailing. That said, it is the world's largest link referrer -- but how much is business referrals is not broken out statistically.

Basically, the current consensus on using Facebook is look carefully before you leap. Should you elect to work with Facebook, you need to commit to consistency. It's a lot of work - and there are ways to automate some of it. HubSpot offers a Facebook for Business free guide here. Network Solutions (Domain Name Registrar) states in it's excellent post How Can Facebook Help My Business? states:
Businesses should also be aware that a Fan doesn't equal an active customer. ... Facebook Fans don't necessarily interact with the company more or increase their level of spend.
-- Network Solutions

Think about what you enjoy seeing on Facebook - can your posting play to that audience? If it's too direct sales, it may not be received as you intend. Facebook does yield link referrals, but usually to useful (or amusing) news postings. If you are sharing news your friends can use, then it might be worth while to create a business page. Here's a video on How to Create a Facebook Business Page 2014 ... - YouTube or, for those of you that prefer detailed step-by-step instructions How to Create and Manage the Perfect Facebook Page for Your Business

Facebook also has an excellent targeted market advertisement setup. Details on ads that actually work.

Google+

We used to joke that you needed a PhD in Elite Geek to use this site. Even now, 63% of the users of Google+ are male, the majority of them single - with the likes of traditional male brands doing well already e.g. car brands, football clubs, pin-ups, gaming companies and tech blogs. But looking ahead, keep in mind that Google Analytics, Google Business, Google Places -- all integrate with Google+. While Google+ may not yet generate a great deal of referrals, it's quickly become ubiquitous and has lasting power. And there are Google SEO benefits associated with Google+, which I'll go into in a future blog. Suffice it to say, for businesses with a future, ignore at your peril. For more information on how to use Google+ for Business, HubSpot is offering a free Intro Guide.

There's also an interesting Google+ tutorial here, but it's definitely tailored towards geeks. And they like video posts - remember Google also owns YouTube - so lots of multimedia content yields the best results. And this demographic has money to burn - if you can capture their interest successfully..


Twitter

Twitter is amazing for organizing large, simultaneous, coordinated efforts. Think the Egyption revolution of 2011 or the 2009-2010 Iranian election protests. Twitter is the first place I'd go for natural disaster information. And for B2C (Business to Consumer) companies, non-profit, or political campaigns -- Twitter is a great fit. Twitter boasts 284 million active users and approximately 500 million tweets per day -- but doesn't define "active" or quantify how many of those tweets are somehow automated. It refutes reports that 23 million active users are bots in TIME magazine. But as a programmer, I have to tell ya -- that number is probably growing... If you enjoy constant, ubiquitous communication and follow a few users with large followings - you can reply to their postings and get your message out there. But it has to be timely and relevant - otherwise, don't bother. If you've ever thought of the perfect retort an hour after the occasion warranted it, you get what I'm trying to warn you about here. It's for those who thrive on constant interruption - but you can choose to do so short-term - if you have something that's "very this week". Twitter has a page dedicated to Business Success Stories.

To create a following takes time and dedicated effort -- creating an account to post to and allowing your media postings to go there automatically is worth doing to show that you're social media savvy -- but unless you are also building a following, it's like snowing in July in the Northern Hemisphere.

Linked In

LinkedIn is your career site with over 53 million users that enables you to make use of your professional network and help those you've worked with refer one another. It is most often used to find a new job and for coworkers to refer details of job competency keywords. Typically, this site is one recruiters use to find candidates for their open job positions - driven primarily through the use of keywords. But businesses, and key decision makers in some of these businesses use this site as well, so it's a bonanza for B2B type businesses. To utilize LinkedIn to generate leads, you are urged to create and moderate a LinkedIn Group and grow the community by demonstrating thought leadership. It is considered bad form to sell your services directly on LinkedIn - but if you have value-add information, it is permitted to post that and drive traffic to your website that way. Details on the etiquette of using LinkedIn for Business.


Pinterest

Do you like creating collages? Do you want to bookmark all the websites you love in a public way? If so, Pinterest is where that happens. As of September, Pinterest became the 2nd highest referrer of traffic to websites (second only to Facebook). It outstripped the traffic of Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube combined, and it is now capable of driving more referral traffic than Twitter. HOWEVER, and this is a biggie, is your business one that someone who likes to collage might be interested in. The typical Pininterest user is often a teenage girl or her Mom. They like shopping, recipes, pretty jewelry and redecorating. An useful getting started guides can be found here: The 10 Commandments of Using Pinterest for Business

Others

There are others -- so many others. And some of them may one day be of interest to some of my clients, maybe -- but until then, my time and attention are hotly needed elsewhere.