Social media is a legitimate business marketing channel. But which platforms are right for your business?
To answer the question you're going to need:
- a good grasp of main platforms and how they work
- an overview of who uses each one
- what kind of returns (in awareness, brand strength and sales) you might expect
- and, crucially, how much resource you'll have to commit to run effective social marketing
Each channel is uniqueEach has its own user-base (though naturally there is some crossover). There's no 'one size fits all'. Read on for a brief overview of key platforms and what they are good for.
Facebook is the biggest platform and does offer businesses a chance to build a presence with customers and prospects. But, be warned! You will almost certainly need to spend money to reach your targets. In short, you pay promote posts or to run more sophisticated ad campaigns. The organic—or free—reach of business pages on Facebook is very poor. In simple terms, it is increasingly difficult to get posts from business pages to appear naturally in users' timelines. Facebook wants you to pay for the privilege.
The good news is that Facebook's ad service is very effective for all sorts of objectives including building awareness, getting website traffic and for collecting strong leads.
Facebook can also be used for all sorts of customer interactions such as getting product feedback, dealing with complaints complaints or running Facebook-only special promotions.
From the outset Twitter's appeal was the brevity of the messages (max. 140 characters). Many argue that by forcing users to communicate ideas in short form, an exciting new quickfire platform was born. Brands and businesses were able to communicate directly with their customers or prospects and build valuable communities which could effectively amplify key messages.
More than a decade after its launch, the shine seems to have come off. Other platforms have arrived and Twitter seems a little bit lost, somehow. In an effort to change things up, Twitter doubled the available characters in messages, and while this has some benefits, some observers feels the move is a bit desperate.
Twitter remains a useful medium for managing complaints, seeking feedback, doing research and connecting with influential accounts. The site also has sells ad space.
Perceived by many as a vast jobs site (and it is indeed a good place to seek new opportunities) there is actually far more going on under Linkedin's bonnet.
Great for showcasing your expertise and for staying abreast of what other professionals are up to. Linkedin also scores if you're researching suppliers, manufacturers, or other experts in your field. Linkedin is good at connecting people based on what it knows about its members, their education, work history and interests. Businesspeople can give or get recommendations which can help build credibility.
Of all the common networks Linkedin requires the most thought and time.
The relative utility of social media changes depending on which platform is popular this month or next month. Instagram seems to be having its 'moment in the sun'. Observers claim Instagram posts get far more engagement than Facebook, for instance. So what's good about this photo-sharing site? Because content is visual it can be very appealing to people and therefore strengthen the psychological connection to a brand. If you've got a sexy-looking product then Instagram is for you. You can't add clickable links to posts but you can have one in your profile and anecdotally Instagram does drive traffic. Popular with Millennials (those born between 1980 the mid-1990s.
Pinterest is a sort of 'pin board’ where businesses can collect images reflecting their brand or values and interests. Categorising images is helpful to consumers who may find and follow your business. Pinterest is perhaps unique insofar as it manages to pull off the balancing act of being professional and personal at the same time. So you can see how it can help build loyalty with a discerning crowd.
Pinterest is considered a woman’s realm. More women are considered to use Pinterest than men. If you have a fashion website or blog, utilise that fact.
Snapchat was and still is a photo-messaging service afor kids but there's more to it than that. Content is fun, basic and fast. Yes, the user base is young—mostly 13-24—but that might be exactly your market. Snapchats Geofilters add an overlay to a photo and can be made by users inc. brands. Snapcodes are a bit like the Follow button and brands need a good one.
And there's moreEach month new networks launch hoping to capture the zeitgeist. Many don't. Those that do a very likely to have a dedicated niche following. No-one thought of Instagram until Instagram did.
Should I post the same thing on each network?
Sometimes. Each network has a unique audience and a distinct vibe and etiquette. You can sometimes repurpose content for several networks, if it feels right for that community. Make sure you resize visual content so it's optimised for each platform.
How much time to spend on social media?
There's no simple answer. But the more you put in, the more you get out. With the right mindset, tools and commitment one can do a lot of useful work in a relatively short time. Here at BuzzedUp we have some very smart partners working on behalf of clients. We use a unique dashboard of applications that has been tweaked and refined over time so it's very efficient. It allows us to get through a vast amount of social media marketing on behalf of clients.