Social media networks are fantastic resources for businesses of all sizes looking to promote their brands online. The platforms themselves are free to use, and they also have paid advertising options specifically for brands that want to reach even more new audiences. But just because your business should be on social media, that doesn't mean your business should be on every network. It's important that you choose and nurture the social platforms that work best for your business so that you don't spread yourself too thin.
If you want to create a successful social strategy, you need to familiarize yourself with how each network runs, the kinds of audiences you can reach and how your business can best use each platform. We profiled the top social media platforms so you can learn more about them and market your business better.
This is by far the biggest social media channel, with an estimate of 1.11 billion people using the site each month, 665 million active users each day, and generates up to 645 million local business page views per week, Facebook has proved that its popularity amongst users is here to stay. Facebook can be thought of as the “social” home for your business on the Internet. It’s a place people can go to leave a message, browse through business products and photos, or chat with you online.
With so many targeted potential customers, creating a business page is a must, but remember that it needs to be updated on a daily basis with not only promotional information, but engaging and interesting content as well. Know that this platform does need a considerable amount of human and financial resources (advertising), and, if done right, the benefits to your business will definately be seen.
Twitter is another social network where you can post mostly anything. With Twitter, you can share short (140 or fewer characters) text updates, along with videos, images, links, polls and more. You can also easily interact with other users by mentioning their usernames in your posts, so Twitter is a great way to quickly connect with people all around the world. (The platform has more than 320 million active users worldwide and is one of the top 10 websites in the United States.) Because of its wide reach, Twitter is not only a great way to market your business but also an effective channel for handling customer service. For example, if you maintain an active Twitter presence, customers who are also active on the platform will seek you out to express concerns or share their praise.
If you have interesting content, Twitter is also a great tool for quickly spreading the word. Retweeting and sharing other users' content is incredibly simple, hashtags help boost posts, and if a user with a lot of followers retweets you, your content has the potential to go viral. But with Twitter, it's important to remember to find balance — don't simply share your own links or media; make sure you are also sharing a lot of interesting, relevant content from other Twitter users and from around the Web so your audience doesn't think you only care about what your business is doing.
Instagram is a visual social media platform based entirely on photo and video posts. The network, which Facebook owns, has more than 400 million active users, many of whom post about food, art, travel, fashion and similar subjects. Instagram is distinguished by its unique filters and photo and video editing options. This platform, unlike the others, is almost entirely mobile (there is a Web version, but you can't take photos or create new posts on it, and other functions are limited as well).
Instagram is another platform where more artistic niches excel, so again, it may not be the best fit for your business, depending on your industry. If you want to succeed with Instagram, it's important that the person running your account has a good eye for detail and has at least basic photography skills, so that the photos and videos posted to your account are high-quality. And don't be discouraged if your industry is underrepresented on Instagram; if you can find the right hashtags to latch onto and can post intriguing photos, you will most likely make it work.
Google+ has 359 million active users a month – far from the ghost town it is popularly believed to be. Many see Google+ as a combination of Twitter and Facebook, but its new features makes it a marketing paradise. The Hangouts, +1s and hashtags , if used properly, can result in a fantastic page popularity. Like Twitter and Facebook, this page needs to be updated; you need to be interactive with not only your own users, but other business pages as well.
Remember: Google+ is Google, which means great search engine results for your business! If you have a Google+ Page and someone searches for your business (despite if they follow you or not), your Google+ Page and its most recent posts will be displayed on the right side of their personal search results. These search ranking benefits makes Google+ an important social media site to consider for your business.
This platform consists of digital bulletin boards where users can save and display content they like in the form of pins. Users create and organize their boards by category. So, for example, as a personal user, one might have a board dedicated to food, where they pin recipes; another board dedicated to photography they find interesting; and so on. Pinterest is very visually oriented (every post has to be an image or video), and like Facebook, it is also fairly low-maintenance in terms of post frequency. However, keeping your boards organized and search-friendly can be time-consuming.
Pinterest is also more of a niche network than Facebook or Twitter, so it may not work for everyone. Pinterest's users are primarily women, and popular categories on the site are DIY projects, fashion, exercise, beauty, photography and food. That's not to say that businesses outside of these categories can't succeed on the platform, but it does make it a great marketing tool for businesses that do work in those areas. If you can find ways to connect your content to Pinterest's audience, then go for it. The platform also has a series of special types of pins called Rich Pins, which brands can use to add special information to their pins, like product details and even location maps.
Linkedin is the largest social media network for business people and professionals but most small business owners still don’t have it on their marketing radar. Business owners are now realizing the value of this site and the opportunities to build relationships and sales leads. There are over 230 million LinkedIn users and 2.7 million business pages already on LinkedIn. Note that LinkedIn is more serious in nature compared to Facebook and Twitter. Approach this social media channel more seriously and assume that the users will want serious, professional and informative information.
One of the most powerful features of Linkedin is “Linkedin Groups” which provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to start and participate in a discussion within a Group. You can share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish yourself as industry experts. Groups can have a hundred to thousands of members, so the exposure is significant.
This social media channel is the most popular video oriented site and has an estimate of over 1 billion unique visitors every month, with over 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute. A huge factor to note with YouTube is that (1) it’s the second largest search engine after Google (not Yahoo or Bing!). So, having content here that is optimized to be found by someone looking for your product, service, or niche can have enormous benefits; and (2) YouTube is owned by Google! When it comes to boosting your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ranking, videos are over 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results as part of the blended results that Google now shows.
But the YouTube market is competitive. It really is a social media channel to choose if you have value videos that invite engagement, sharing and that users will enjoy. If your business can visually show how their services, products and employees are different from all the rest out there, this social media channel is a winner. Note the costs and human resources involved in producing good, valuable videos before signing your business up.
Tumblr is arguably the most difficult social media platform to use as a business, but it's also one of the most interesting networks. Tumblr allows several different post formats — including text posts, chat posts, quote posts, audio posts, photo posts and video posts — so you're not limited as to what kind of content you can share. As with Twitter, reblogging (reposting other users' content) is very quick and easy, so if a user with a lot of followers shares your content, it's possible to go viral fairly quickly. However, what sets Tumblr apart more than anything is its audience, which is less like a pool of users and more like one big tight-knit community full of smaller subcommunities.
Tumblr currently hosts more than 200 million blogs, and the majority of these blogs are run by young people (half of Tumblr's visitor base is under age 25). But this means that businesses that don't cater to young people's interests or aren't relatable to young people in some way are not poised for success on the network. The good news is, there's a subcommunity or fandom for almost every niche and interest you can think of, so a successful marketing campaign is possible if you use Tumblr correctly.
This is only for a business that hav a brick and motar location – a restaurant, hair salon, spa – are good examples. Major updates have breathed new life into this social media channel, but there is still a debate whether Foursquare has a future or not, which makes it a tricky platform to invest in. There are 40 million users and 1.3 million businesses on Foursquare and local businesses canstill leverage this network to build their customer base with new prospects and reward their most loyal customers.
People use Foursquare to check into locations they’ve visited by using the app on their mobile phones. Once they’ve checked into a location, it can be shared with their Foursquare friends, Facebook friends and Twitter followers. This is where businesses on Foursquare benefit from being on the platform because users’ friends see where they’re checking in to eat, shop, have fun and more, which could possibly influence them to do the same based on the recommendations of their trusted connections.Interaction and real-time content is great when people write reviews, recommend and talk about your business, but know that you must join the conversation, interact, post images and reward customers in order to be successful on this platform.
Which social media platform do you use for your business?