Determining the right social media platform/s that a business should maintain a presence on is often tougher than it sounds.
That can be even more difficult for boutique businesses, like dress shops or bakeries, since many are operating on limited budget and bandwidth. There’s a general understanding that boutiques should have some sort of presence on certain social platforms, however the platforms you use also need to be able to provide a measured, long-term return on investment to justify any such effort.
So which platforms should boutique businesses focus on?
I decided not to guesstimate - instead, I spoke to several social media professionals, and boutique business owners in themselves, in order to nail down four specific platforms which have delivered results for them and their clients.
Here’s a look at four social networks to consider, and what each can do for boutique businesses, both in the short and long term.
Audrey Strasenburgh is an SEO Strategist at online logo design company LogoMaker. Prior to working at LogoMaker, Strasenburgh was a social media manager for a Boston-based SEO agency, where the majority of clients were boutique small business owners.
Then and now, she thinks it’s best for most boutique shops to start with Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram profiles.
Why Instagram specifically? Strasenburgh says that Instagram offers both short-term and long-term benefits. Boutiques will gain followers and loyal customers in the short-term, and can use the platform to act as a personalized version of their website, deepening connection with customers in the long run.
Home building company Spruce Homes credits Instagram as a “go-to” for boutique business success. Co-Owner Brad Blair uses both Instagram and Facebook to grow the brand - he emphasizes mixing up content on Instagram, especially through raw, real photo and video updates.
As explained by Blair:
“I find you’re able to make sales faster, use less marketing dollars, and become better known in the community authentically through Instagram. The platform has all the tools - including Stories, posts, and highlights - that can be used to create loyal, raging fans, and you can do fresh things that your competition isn’t.”
Do customers know where to find your boutique business? If the answer is no, changing that to a “yes” should be one of your top priorities.
Yewande Odusanwo is the Founder and Chief Digital Strategist at digital marketing agency Zora Digital - Odusanwo works to create social media strategies for big and boutique businesses. When in doubt, she recommends that her clients utilize the channels that will best resonate with their audiences.
Yelp is one of those platforms, especially for boutique businesses with brick and mortar storefront locations. This is what makes Yelp, considered to be a location-based social platform, perfect for boutiques.
“What Yelp does is that it helps you establish clientele one customer at a time. Customers that like your business will review the company on Yelp. This will enable you to appear in more local searches, and to a more relevant audience, since people searching on Yelp are looking for boutique businesses just like yours.”
Alongside Instagram, Andrew Browne is quick to recommend boutique businesses establish a Pinterest account.
Browne, the owner of Browne Box Creative Solutions, partners with local brands to assist in content planning, creation, and analysis, to boost social performance.
Boutique businesses can get more on Pinterest than just the knowledge that fellow pinners are pinning and repining their aesthetically pleasing photos. According to Browne, Pinterest matters because of its niche realm and reach.
“In the short-term, boutique businesses can learn what content and products the local creative community responds to through the number of repins they receive."
Browne advises boutiques to go a step further than understanding the metrics behind pins - creating boards on Pinterest will better position the business in its long-term stability. Carefully selected, and curated, boards can serve as a source of inspiration for the local creative community, while also attracting niche customers and clients to interact with the boutique business.
Remember when Strasenburgh mentioned earlier that a Facebook Page matters for boutique businesses? Even with ever-limited Page reach, you should still make it a priority to establish one. Facebook may be the grandfather of the social media landscape, but don’t underestimate, or rule out the benefits when it comes to business Pages.
“Having a Facebook Page for your business can help boost SEO and online visibility,” Strasenburgh points out, noting that a boutique business can get to Google’s front page via Facebook.
“A well-optimized Facebook Business Page could end up ranking on the first page of Google, alongside your website. In the long run, Facebook will likely act as a major traffic source to your website - especially so if you decide to run Facebook ad campaigns throughout the year.”
So there you have it, a collection of expert insights into where boutique businesses should be looking to maximize their social media time and money. There is no definitive list, and each business will have its own unique quirks and online communities, but if you're not sure where to start, these platforms can offer significant benefits.