Dave and Carrie Kerpen get social media.

They also get that for small businesses, harnessing the power of social media can be daunting.

In 2007, the couple founded Likeable Media, a word-of-mouth marketing agency, and then in 2012, founded the Facebook marketing firm dedicated to small businesses, Likeable Local.  

“We are passionate about word-of-mouth marketing,” said Carrie Kerpen. “And social media is the fastest way to accelerate positive word-of-mouth and address negative word-of-mouth.”

Dave and Carrie--who find themselves knee-deep in social media on a daily basis--sat down Thursday with Executive Editor Laura Lorber for an Inc. Live Chat and shared their social media tips for businesses and their predictions on what the social media landscape will look like in 2014. 

Crucial tip: It’s not about you.

The greatest piece of advice the couple gave about using social media for business? Make it about your customers. 

“Before you focus on trying to use social media to go out and get new customers, think about how you can focus on delivering a better experience for your current customers,” said Dave. “Then use that experience and those relationships that you have with your current customers to generate new customers through referrals.”

Dave and Carrie both stressed the importance of business owners using social media as an extension of his or her business. They hammered home the point that you shouldn’t be on social media simply to be on social media, but rather that you should figure out how your customers are using social media and then leverage that knowledge to help your company succeed. 

“It’s about connecting with your customers online and getting them to spread the word,” said Carrie. “Worry less about what you need to do and worry much more about what your customers want and what their social behavior is like online. That will help you craft a strategy.”

The duo said that staying focused on your customers will make you the most successful on social media--which also means not worrying about being on every social media platform out there. 

“Think about one or two social networks that your customers are on, instead of having to be on the latest  social network that comes out,” said Dave. “Just because it is in the news doesn’t necessarily mean that all small business owners need to join that network.”

Here's what you need to know for 2014. 

Due to this ever-changing nature of social media and the couple’s expertise, Dave and Carrie weighed in on what they think what types of social media they think will be popular in 2014. 

Carrie said that she thinks businesses will be much more focused on results from social media pushes as the landscape continues to expand. 

“I think you are going to see brands taking a step back and saying 'wait a minute, what is going to get us the best result here?’” said Carrie. “It will be about understanding the new networks and how they can best get results for you.”

So which networks will be leading the charge? According to Dave, platforms focused on erasable media (think Snapchat) and visuals-based platforms (think Instagram and Pinterest) will continue to rise over the next year as teens continue to move away from Facebook. But he doesn’t see the social media giant fading away anytime soon as they have a very specific market cornered, he said. 

“If you’re marketing to mom, you’re still on Facebook,” said Dave. 

He added that he thinks Linked In will continue to be a valuable tool for marketers--particularly those of the B2B persuasion. When posed a question from from a live chat viewer, the couple talked about another network that they think will play a big role in the future of social--Google+.

“Google+ is really important because of search purposes. Google holds the keys to search, so if you want to be found on Google you need to get active on Google +,” said Dave. 

Carrie reiterated the importance of the search capabilities of the platform and identified the “beautiful user interface” as another selling point of Google+. 

“Don’t fall asleep on Google+,” added Carrie. 


Watch a playback of the live chat.