These days, social media is no longer an optional extra when it comes to marketing your business. Social media platforms enable you to reach a much wider audience, better engage with existing clients, and even land new clients. It affords businesses real-time communication opportunities, within minutes (rather than hours or days). And, social media enables you to engage in meaningful, two-way conversation with your target markets, employees, and other stakeholders.
Often, the biggest hurdle associated with using social media to promote a business is which social media platform (or platforms) to use. You need to choose the platform that is best suited to your needs, as well as those of your business, and the platform that the largest proportion of your target market is using. So, today, we’ll run through the main social media platforms, providing hints and tips on which will work best for your business.
As the reigning social media champion, Facebook has more than 800 million daily active users globally and 13.2 million Australian users. Facebook has been downloaded on three out of every four smartphone devices, and more than 50% of users check Facebook every day. It should come as no surprise then that Facebook is often the most popular (and first) choice for small businesses.
The biggest user demographic for Facebook is women, aged between 18 and 30 years old. So, if your business is targeting women, particularly young mothers, then Facebook might be the social media platform for you.
If you opt for Facebook, you can create a dedicated business page, through which you can advertise your business, products, and services in a number of different ways. Facebook allows you to share status updates, promote events, run competitions, and even post opinion polls. When it comes to Facebook, users often ‘like’ business pages for special deals and inside info, so make sure that you cater to this need.
However, with Facebook regularly changing the goal posts when it comes to status updates, this social media network can be a little frustrating at times. In order to reach your entire audience, you will need to ‘boost’ or ‘promote’ your status updates. Promoting a post is not overly expensive (starting from only a few dollars), and you can target very specific audience demographics, right down to the interests of Facebook users.
The nature of Twitter (where users are limited to short, sharp bursts of information, limited to 140 characters at a time) makes it quite a different beast to the other social media platforms: news often breaks on Twitter, and users tend to view it as a way to find content quickly. However, Twitter is becoming a more visual platform, particularly with upgrades to make photos and videos easier to embed into its updates.
The best way to engage with potential and existing clients to Twitter is to participate in chats that are related to your industry, products, or services, and to follow similar brands and industry experts. You can also offer special deals via your Twitter channel. If you decide that Twitter is not for you, then you should (at the very least) monitor Twitter for activity related to your industry and your competitors.
With the focus firmly on images, Pinterest enables users to create online pinboards. Users can then scour the web for things that they like, or are interested in, and save them to their personal pinboards. Globally, Pinterest has enjoyed rapid growth, recording an 88% growth spurt last year. In terms of demographics, Pinterest is four times more like to be used by women, and both the 18 to 30, and the 30 to 45 year old age brackets are quite active.
Pinterest is a particularly beneficial social media platform for businesses that sell physical products, providing a visually appealing means by which to showcase them. And, even better, Pinterest users are twice as likely to spend twice as much as users referred via Facebook or Twitter.
To make the most of Pinterest, make sure that you have plenty of compelling, beautiful images on your website, that are easily pinnable, and that link back to your website and online shopping cart.
LinkedIn has been around since 2003, serving the niche market of the corporate world. LinkedIn’s usage rates continue grow steadily year-on-year, with a 32% rise last year. LinkedIn is used more often by men (but also quite regularly by women), and the 30 to 49, and 50 to 65 year old age brackets are the most popular.
LinkedIn should play a part in the social media strategy of businesses that target the corporate world and high-level business executives, or offer B2B services. And, with LinkedIn’s relatively new self-publishing platform, this social media platform offers a range of ways to engage with potential and existing clients.
While Google+ has a much smaller audience share than the aforementioned social networks (at just 65,000 active monthly users in Australia), it does offer some strong advantages for businesses. Google+ is more than just a social media platform. It is actually an identity authentication platform, which can help a business rank well in the search engine results. In addition, by creating a local business profile on Google+, your business can appear on Google Maps.
If you decide to use Google+, then make sure that you use ‘Circles’ to separate your connections into leads, existing clients and industry influencers. That way, you can target your actions to meet the needs of each of your audience’s perfectly.
If you’re still not 100% sure which social media platform will work best for your business, ask yourself the following:
What social media platform does your target market use most regularly?
What sort of products or services are you selling?
What sort of content do you intend to distribute via social media?
Will you use multiple social media platforms, or just focus on one?
What is your budget (in terms of cash and man hours) for social media?