by Nancy Hassel, American Pet Professionals
As a business owner, trying to stay up to date on all the various social media platforms can be a daunting task. Some entrepreneurs try to maintain a presence on all of them. Other entrepreneurs do not want anything to do with any of the social media platforms and/or hire someone to do the work for them.
In fact, social media is a topic we talk about frequently with our members, often because figuring out where to spend your time to: find your target audience; connect with others; and promote your business on; is a continually moving target.
How to Decide if a Social Media Platform is Right for You
The most important factor in deciding if a social media platform is right for your business is whether your target audience is using it. The reality of pet ownership is that there are at least five generations who own pets and make decisions about the products and services that they use. All these generations, from Generation Z through the Silent Generation, have different shopping habits and very different social media usage.
Typically, new social media platforms are embraced by teens and young adults, aka Generation Z and Millennials, before Generation X, Boomers, and the Silent Generation join them. However, Generation Z is now reaching adulthood, and many of them are becoming pet owners in college and upon graduation. This means it is increasingly worthwhile to utilize the platforms that younger pet owners are using, especially as they have grown up with social media as a regular part of their life and a key way of finding out about new products and services.
Two Must-Try Social Platforms for Pet Businesses
The year 2020 left millions of people with a lot of time on their hands and fewer options of things to watch on television. With the production of most shows delayed or shut down entirely, Tik Tok exploded in popularity. It was the second most downloaded app in 2020, and the most popular app in the Apple App Store. And while Generation Z was the early adopters of this video platform, people of all ages also flocked to it for entertainment and to learn about new products, hobbies, and life-hacks.
Tik Tok is full of dog lovers, and the average user spends 52 minutes a day on the platform. This means that there is plenty of opportunity for pet brands to get creative and share videos that appeal to pet owners. Tik Tok has proven to be influential in the way people shop, with the hashtag #tiktokmademebuyit trending across the app.
You can create videos from 7 seconds* to 3 minutes, (not everyone has the 3 minutes yet), on the app, and while you might think what is 7 seconds going to do for my brand? You would be surprised, how a 7 second clip keeps people coming back for more, especially if it is fun, funny, engaging, educational and has a cute pet involved. Videos can go viral very quickly on TikTok – and some accounts have gone from no followers to a couple million followers within months.
*7 second videos seem to be a sweet spot at the moment on Tik Tok, but of course that could change.
Clubhouse is an app that I heard about and was hesitant when I first heard of it in early fall 2020, and just thought it was for podcasters in the beginning. The more business people I saw talking about the more my ears perked up. I jumped on December 31, 2020 and have been active every since. Earlier this year I wrote a blog called, Is Clubhouse Worth it For Pet Professionals. Now, a few months further into my Clubhouse use, I continue to meet new pet professionals and make authentic contacts each week. A room we host weekly, is Friday Night Fireside Chat in our public club Pet Professional Entrepreneurs, now in our 20thweek – the connections made there in the pet industry have been really amazing.
Clubhouse has experienced tremendous growth in a short amount of time. According to the website, The Business of Apps, Clubhouse grew from .6 million users in December 2020 to 2 million users in January 2021, to 6 million users in February 2021. That growth is even more impressive when you remember that you need an invitation to join. And as of early May, they have rolled a beta mode for Android users – the app is a little different looking on Android, but you can now go to the Play Store and download the app. You may be on a waitlist once you do to get in.
New Functionality Added to Existing Social Media Platforms
Twitter Fleets add the ability to share stories to Twitter instead of tweeting to the main Twitter feed. The name Fleets refers to fleeting thoughts, a tie into the fact that Fleets are only available for 24 hours. Fleets give small businesses a new way to reach potential customers outside of the ongoing conversation on Twitter that is so heavy on current events, celebrities, and politics. You can repurpose much of the same content that you use for stories on Instagram and Facebook. Fleets appear across the top of your regular Twitter feed.
As of this blog post, Twitter spaces is still in Beta mode, with only certain users able to create a Space. Essentially, Spaces is like Clubhouse in that users can have live audio conversations in a group setting. Like Fleets, Spaces hosted by your contacts appear along the top of your regular Twitter newsfeed, so that you can join them without getting caught up in the regular Twitter feed.
Instagram Reels gives Instagram users the ability to create 15 or 30 second videos to share with followers. This gives Instagram a very similar Tik Tok feel within a single app. Instagram users now have multiple ways to connect with their followers, including through their regular feed, through stories, Instagram Live, IGTV and now through reels.
The Clubhouse tie in to Instagram, is that since there is no DM’ing feature on Clubhouse, but you can link your IG account, you will connect with a lot more people from Clubhouse on IG. Even though they are completely separate platforms. You’ll often hear on Clubhouse, DM me on Instagram – and of course following up with the people that DM you is oh so important!
Social Media Platforms on Our Radar
WhatsApp is not new, but it was the most downloaded app in 2020. While the regular version of the app is used for individuals to message each other, WhatsApp has a separate app for small businesses. You can include your business description, hours, a catalog of products and services, and other key information about your business. This app is most useful for businesses who are looking for another way to reach out to their customers for marketing and customer service purposes.
Houseparty is another app that experienced tremendous growth in 2020 as people sought out new ways to spend time together in a period of physical distancing. This app allows users to host parties, play games together, and share their screens. There is potential for businesses to utilize it to host parties with a small group of customers. Depending on your specific niche within the pet industry, and whether your customers are users, you may consider hosting parties where you showcase certain products or share best practices in pet care.
I didn’t talk about Facebook as I think that is pretty obvious, or LinkedIn – LI is one of my favorite platforms for pet businesses, that will be for a future article.
Not all social media platforms are right for each business or your specific niche. And I know social media can be overwhelming, so I encourage you to watch for platforms that are trending, create a login, and test it out to see if your target audience is using it and if it is a right fit for your brand.
So which platform is your favorite for your pet business?