Understanding the nuances of each social media network can help you optimize your efforts and get the most bang for your buck. Some platforms are huge and shouldn’t be overlooked (we see you - Facebook) while others are used by smaller, more specific demographics. Some platforms are growing while others are shrinking. This post will give you a quick overview of the current most popular social media platforms.
CREATE BUYER PERSONAS FIRST
Each platform attracts a different demographic and offers unique marketing opportunities. Before deciding on what platforms you will use, you must think about your target market. The best way to understand your target market is to create detailed buyer personas, fictional representations of your ideal customer based on historical sales data, surveys and educated guesses. Try to be as detailed as possible when creating your buyer personas. Once your buyer personas have been completed, take a look at the social media networks available to see which ones match up well with your personas.
Best PRACTICES for Using Social Media for Your Business
As we mentioned in a recent post on getting started on social media, it is best to be clear and concise with your message. Readability really matters so use images, white space and bolding. Videos are also a great way to improve the quality of your posts. Thankfully, creating quality video is becoming easier and easier to do.
It is really important that you engage with others on social media to gain trust, build brand awareness and position yourself as a thought leader. It is also possible to have multiple different accounts which serve different purposes on the same platform. For example, one account could be YourName and another could be YourNameCustomerService. Customer care services can be well handled on social media. Studies have shown that every dollar spent on social customer care would cost 6 times that amount on call centre customer care.
After you’ve created your social media profiles, start spreading the word. Remember you should aim for consistency across all of your social media channels. Use the same/similar imagery, logos and names across every social media platform you use. Your website should have links to all of your social media pages. You should also include your social media accounts on your business’ printed material and email signature.
Most platforms have analytics tools that will allow you to measure how well your posting is doing, how many people it reaches and what kind of engagement it inspires. There are many different social media platforms and it can be hard to know which ones will be the best for your business. Here’s an overview of the current most popular social media platforms for business:
You have to start here. If you only have the time and bandwidth for one social media platform then Facebook has to be your choice. There are currently 2 billion users.
What is it: Facebook is the largest social media platform in the world. It is driven by user posts which can be short or lengthy and include images and videos.
Users: Everybody or at least almost everybody. Facebook’s current demographics cut across all genders, ages and incomes. A recent study indicates that 67% of Americans use Facebook as a primary source of news.
How to use it: Facebook allows you to have personal pages and business pages. Personal pages are better for organic search and you are allowed to have up to 5,000 friends. Businesses are required to have a business page and can have unlimited followers. Create a business account rather than a personal account so you can get access to analytics and paid advertising. Use your business to promote your products, special events, locations, customer reviews and hours of business. You can add videos, images and polls to make your site more interactive. Your posts should always try to attract responses, comments and shares. You can maximize your Facebook presence by running ad campaigns and boosting your posts. The best time to post on Facebook is 1 to 4 pm on weekdays or 12-1 pm on weekends.
Drawbacks: There are security concerns and older users are driving younger users from the site. Facebook has lost a lot of users but it still huge.
What is it: YouTube is a video platform and is the second largest search engine in the world. There are 5 billions videos watched per day and an estimated 300 hours of video uploaded per minute.
Users: YouTube’s highest demographic is in the 18 to 49 age group and are relatively consistent across income. Men are more likely than women to use YouTube. A full 60% of Americans in that age group said they prefer video to television.
How to use it: Set up a YouTube channel for your business and encourage friends, customers and suppliers to subscribe. Post videos about your products and services. Remember to be helpful. YouTube is a fantastic way to prove how-to videos and it can also serve a customer service role.
Drawbacks: It is video and people are timid when it comes to creating video. Even though your primary postings will be videos, remember to include relevant keywords in your descriptions and when tagging your videos to help draw subscribers and potential customers to your YouTube channel.
What is it: Owned by Facebook, Instagram is photo and video platform. It is also the fastest growing social media platform.
Users: Users tend to skew younger (18 to 34), well-educated and female. A full 80% of users follow at least one brand and engagement with brands is 10 times greater than Facebook.
How to use it: You must have a Facebook business page before you can get an Instagram business page. The Instagram business page allows you to include a phone number and address in your bio. You can also have a Shop button. Promote your business through daily images of products and how people can best use them. You can show your customers a behind-the-scenes glimpse of the folks in your company. Include promo codes for discounts and use hashtags (#). Make sure to mention or thank your followers in an attempt to increase to engagement. Take advantage of Instagram Stories to promote events or shine attention on short-term promotions. The best time to post is from Monday to Thursday except from 3 to 4 pm. The best time to post video is from 9 pm to 8 am.
Drawbacks: The platform is primarily linked to a mobile app, so it’s not great to use on a computer. Stories disappear after 24 hours.
What is it: Twitter is a by-the-minute news platform. Users are allowed to make posts up to 280 characters. Images and videos can also be used. Users create 500 million tweets per day. Twitter owns Periscope live video.
Users: Most frequent users are young people (18 to 34) who tend to be wealthier than average.
How to use it: This is an excellent way to figure out what is trending in your industry. Twitter is also excellent for organic networking. Write short tweets to remind your customers about your business and products. Follow specific hashtags related to your industry, and leverage popular hashtags to draw attention to your own business. Connect with both influencers and your local community. Build brand loyalty by tweeting helpful advice or links to helpful content that drives traffic to your website. Also include a link to your website in your Twitter bio. The best times to tweet are between 12 to 3 pm and at 5 pm.
Drawbacks: Unlike other platforms quantity is important. Tweeting once per week isn’t going to help you much.
What is it: LinkedIn started as a social recruitment platform and now is predominately a B2B platform.
Users: LinkedIn has 65 million business professionals from around the world, 50% of whom are decision makers for their companies.
How to use it: Create a user profile for yourself and a company page for your business. LinkedIn is a fantastic platform to establish yourself as a thought leader. Market your business by posting regular updates and articles on topics related to your industry. All of your outreach should include a link that drives traffic back to your website. LinkedIn is also a great way to connect with potential clients or join groups. Don’t be a spammer ever but especially on LinkedIn. The best time to post on LinkedIn are from Tuesday to Thursday from 7:30 to 8:30 am, lunch time, and 5 to 6 pm.
Drawbacks: It has a fairly narrow demographic.
What is it: Pinterest is a 200 million member social media platform based on thematic bulletin boards. It allows users to visually share, and discover new interests by 'pinning' images or videos to their own or others' boards (usually with a common theme) and browsing what other users have pinned.
Users: Users are predominantly women. 61% of users have said they have discovered a new brand on Pinterest. 40% of new users are men. A full 93% of all users say that they use Pinterest when planning a purchase.
How to use it: Pinterest is a platform where users look for inspiration. Create a business account rather than a personal account as then you can get access to analytics and paid advertising. Create a bulletin boards of images related to your company or product. You can use infographics, case studies, graphs and trends. Include great visuals and at least some short text. You can also pay to get “promoted pins.” The most optimum time to make new pins is between 8 and 11 pm on Saturdays and there is some indication that pins made at 3 pm on Fridays also get good traction.
Drawbacks: It is an easily copied platform. There are already some platforms touting themselves as “Pinterest for men” or “Pinterest for architects” which might syphon off some of the demographic.
What is it: It is a multimedia messaging app on which users can share photos, videos, texts and drawings as well as voice messages. There are 150 million daily users. Unlike other platforms, posts disappear after a few seconds. Another popular feature is their drawing tool. Users can also draw on photos before those photos are sent.
Users: The demographic is young with most users in the 12 to 24 year age range. They are considered to be early adopters of new products.
How to use it: Users can use lenses to add special effects or sounds to their photos. You can create Snapchat stories which is a compilation of photos, images or video. Snapchat stories disappear after 24 hours. Create Snapchat stories to announce new products or demo existing products.
Drawbacks: It has recently lost some ground to Instagram stories.
Think about your buyer personas and what platform would appeal to them. It is important to be present on the same platforms your customers use. If you only have the bandwidth for one platform, start with Facebook but it is better to be present and active on a few different platforms.