If you own a small business and have a corresponding Facebook page, you've no doubt heard by now that Facebook's new algorithm is your new nightmare. To sum it up: Unless you have tons of cash to toss around and/or endless amounts of time to work around their pesky new system, Facebook could become an obsolete tool for your business. Although these changes are frustrating and would acceptably make any small business owner plunge into full-on panic mode, I suggest instead taking a breather and weighing our other social media options. There are tons of other social networks out there (duh) and if you choose the right one(s), they could hold massive potential for achieving your business goals. Below I list and elaborate on eight of these alternative social network sites - a few oldies, a few goodies, and a couple of newbies - that can do wonders for your algorithm-related sorrows. So log off Facebook, have a cup of tea, and peruse these alternative social media strategies!
Obvious, right? If you're not using twitter for your small business, you're blowing it. I'll bet that nine out of ten of your customer/followers/fans are on twitter and having one more outlet on which to connect with them cannot hurt. To get the full benefit, post multiple times a day and both join and start conversations. Post related content from other brands and business as well. Best for: Everyone. Literally.
If you want your business to be reputable online, having a LinkedIn page is imperative. It's wonderful for finding potential new employees and mentors, and can give your business a lot of SEO street cred. Always make sure your information is up to date and post/be active on the site once or twice a week. Best for: Businesses with special accreditations or accolades and/or businesses looking to hire.
This is the easiest of them all. Customers L.O.V.E visual content and if you do it right, Instagram posts can be powerful selling tools. Be sure to stay away from links - include your web address only in your profile - and be consistent with hashtags in your captions. Nights, weekends and commutes (early morning and rush hour) tend to be the best times to post so plan accordingly and stick to one post per day. Best for: Food, Fashion, Lifestyle and Luxury-focused brands.
Google's answer to Facebook, but much more formal. This platform allows you all the perks of a Facebook business page, but is more hashtag and SEO-centric. Always post back to your own content and try Google Authorship if you blog frequently. Best for: Businesses already actively using the social networks listed above.
5. Foursquare and/or Yelp
Location-based social networks are the future of social media and online communities. These types of platforms allow your customers a place to be heard, appreciated and even earn rewards for being loyal. Post updates on how your business is doing and any changes or additions to your products or services weekly. Best for: "Mom & Pop" shops and any business with a physical retail location.
Even if your business isn't product-focused, Pinterest can still be a useful tool. Instead of links to recipes and DIY projects, post interesting and relevant content such as articles or reviews. Post multiple times per day and try to have each pin fit nicely into a cookie-cutter category. Also keep in mind that Pinterest's visitors are roughly 80% women. Best for: Creative, Design, Fashion, Food or Travel-based businesses.
Although new to the scene, Follr is quickly generating big-name users. HBO, MLS Soccer, Warner Brothers Studios and non-profits like Invisible Children are just a few heavyweights that have signed on to start private social networks of their own. Special features include completely customizable profiles businesses, user-friendly topic discussions, and a slew of privacy tools. Best for: Pretty much anyone looking to create a private online community around their business. A great alternative to Facebook.
Another great alternative to your Facebook business page is Ning. Focused on businesses looking to grow their customer base, Ning.com provides a platform on which to build your own social network. Features include email blast capabilities, sub-groups and seamless sharing to other social media sites. Best for: Small business looking to consolidate followers, community members, etc. to one online space.
Do you have any other social network suggestions for businesses looking to jump ship from Facebook? Let me know in the comments section below, I'd love to hear from you!