Businesses—both small and large—are increasingly using social media to advertise their products and services. While a vast majority of the U.S. adult population (70 percent to be exact) uses Facebook, your social media marketing strategy is not, or at least should not be as simple as creating a Facebook page for your company and call it a day. Instead, you should carefully think about the characteristics of the most popular social media platforms available and see if your company’s needs can be met on a specific social media platform.
But first… you will need to do a little research before choosing a platform. Find out which social media sites your target audience is currently gathering. This is an important step that many marketers and business owners neglect. If the majority of your target audience is more likely to use Pinterest and Google+, you will want to focus your marketing efforts on these platforms first before all others. If your audience is more active on Facebook and YouTube, there’s no question, your focus should be on those two platforms.
Here are a few tips to consider when you are trying to decide on which platform to use:
Facebook: Having said that, There are certain businesses that primarily use Facebook to integrate themselves with social media. Be careful, though—it will be a complete waste of time having a Facebook page if you are not going to monitor it carefully and stay active in your “fan” engagements. That means promptly detecting if there is a problem (i.e., negative content about your company) and constantly posting relevant photos, videos and posts that interest your fans.
Overall, Facebook is a great online marketing tool to use if your business is trying to gain a fan base or build a solid reputation amongst potential customers—especially customers aged 18-29 years old and Social Media Platformwomen. Comment threads are easy to follow, pages can be well branded it is very easy to use, and the sheer The amount of time people spend on Facebook makes it a business ‘hub’ for many entrepreneurs and intrapreneurs. The downside of Facebook is that it is increasingly difficult to get “Reach” or visibility of your posts in your Fans’ newsfeeds. It takes a concerted, consistent effort to drive results. Having a solid social media marketing campaign should be a part of your game plan. In some cases, it is better to not have a page at all then to only post sporadically.
Instagram: Instagram is one of the most rapidly growing social media platforms today. Owned by Facebook, Instagram acts similarly to Twitter in that it gives the user the opportunity to relay short, quick messages to others. What makes it slightly different from Twitter is that its content is largely visually based, while that of Twitter is written (but can include visuals). But what really separates Instagram from other platforms is that it allows businesses to connect with followers on a more personal level through promotional codes, event updates and unique pictures that you can only see in person if you make the effort to follow-up with a certain company and come back for more.
Finally, Instagram is used by 37 percent of 18-29 year olds. If your target audience is in this group and sharing photos is an important aspect of your brand building efforts, Instagram should be highly considered.
Twitter: As previously mentioned, Twitter is definitely more focused on written content than other social media platforms like Instagram, although it has gotten better at integrating photos into its posts. With a 140 character limit, posts must be concise. Twitter is ideal for broadcasting quick information, facts, thoughts, and updates as well as news. If used properly, Twitter can provide just as much of a personal connection between customers and businesses as Instagram. If your business is trying to build up excitement for an upcoming event or product release while relaying a clear call-to-action through web links, Twitter is definitely right for you.
Contrary to many other social media networks, there is little gender disparity on Twitter; however, similarly to Facebook and Instagram, the highest percentage of any age demographic is 31% among 18-29 year olds. Twitter is a must have social account that business owners should at minimum create an account for in their company name for brand reputation purposes. Many people have trouble understanding how to use Twitter and how to correctly use hashtags; however, once the initial learning curve is over, it is a great platform to not only share content, but procure content and research competitors and trends.
LinkedIn: While the above platforms should primarily be used to attract more customers, LinkedIn should be used to connect with more people within your industry (although it can be used effectively so people find your business). After all, LinkedIn is seen as the Facebook of the professional world. So, what should you be doing to increase your intra-industry connections? One way to use LinkedIn to your advantage is to use keywords and links in appropriate locations on your LinkedIn profile to boost your SEO.
Additionally, when marketing on LinkedIn, it is okay to use written and visual content. For example, update your profile with relevant articles or infographics that explain the logistics of a certain aspect of your business. Overall, if you are trying to connect with people within or outside of your industry or people outside your industry who may be able to help you, LinkedIn is the right social media platform for you. It is important to note that men are more likely than women to use LinkedIn and usage is highest among those aged 30-49 years old and 50-64 year old. Every professional should have an up-to-date personal profile with testimonials and a company page created for their business.
Pinterest: One of the key facts about Pinterest that separates it from other social media platforms and that many people know about it that, when compared to men, women are 4 times as likely to use Pinterest. Of all other social media networks, Pinterest is also the most visual-oriented. Businesses that want their ideas, products or services to go viral should definitely look into Pinterest. With an easy-to-find and use “Pin It” button on all content on your company Pinterest profile, consumers can pin your content to their boards and even share it on other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. For this reason, it is important for your Pinterest profile to have share buttons for other social media networks.
Google Plus: With nearly 400 million users to date, Google Plus is rising on many people’s social media platform rankings. In truth, the network is Google’s attempt to create a platform that is equally as popular and influential as Facebook. There are a few features that distinguish Google Plus from Facebook, however. From claiming Authorship to utilizing the Google Plus ‘Stream’ and targeting your posts to specific audiences (even those outside your ‘circle’), if you learn the rules and features of the Google Plus platform, you can really improve your business’ visibility and bring in more business. Many believe the layout of Google Plus is slightly more visually engaging than other social media platforms – and we know how important that is.
All in all, it is important to really examine what your business is trying to accomplish in the short and long-term prior to selecting and, ultimately, closely monitoring a social media network. While leveraging connections, fans and followers online can be quite advantageous, it is important that you keep your social media accounts active in order to gain the attention of your followers. Otherwise, they will lose interest and find somewhere else to hangout – like your competitor’s page. Having a social media profile that lays dormant for months or years on end is, frankly, a waste of time and resources.
The key is to align your company goals with where your true target audience spends time on social networks. Then, given your realistic set of resources and time, to set up a social media campaign that can be consistently executed, properly managed and well received by your fans and followers. Any company that does not know where to begin should consult a social media marketing firm to first craft a social media strategy and a content plan. This will help save countless resources and time. Best of luck and choose wisely!
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