Feeling overwhelmed by the abundance of social media options? Struggling to figure out which accounts to sign up to? Having a business is stressful enough – who wants to deal with the added pressure? In this article we delve into different social media platforms so you can decide which one might be right for you.
Where to start?
Targeting your audience can be tricky. While social media promises to boost rankings and visibility, an effective online presence is dependent on reaching the right people.
Before diving into the deep end and starting up a new account (most certainly before you even consider your display picture) make sure you ask yourself one vital question: where is my target audience ‘hanging out’?
Social media is a fantastic tool for drawing attention to your brand but if you’re not in the right places, your audience will never see you. Launching your business on a platform that your viewers aren’t active on only wastes time, effort, and in many cases, money.
Think about where your observers are most likely to see your page. Consider elements such as geography, age and demographics and how they could affect your target market. For example, an audience in Russia wouldn’t respond to your business’s Facebook page as well as it would to their equivalent, VK. Similarly, in China, Weibo and RenRen are the channels of choice.
Uncovering nuances like these is vital, with different cohorts dwelling on different social media sites for diverse reasons. That’s why doing your homework and being selective about your online presence is imperative.
Don’t be boring
While picking the most relevant platforms is key to the success of any social media campaign, posting interesting and engaging content is crucial when using any of the sites we’re about to explore. Aim to bolster your business’s credibility with quality updates; your customers are more likely to take you seriously and your rankings on Google will benefit too.
So which social media platforms?
Ready to network and connect with audiences? Here’s a helpful list of platforms, what each of them do and how they can help your business reach out to your customers.
- Suits to all organisations and businesses
- Post once or twice a day (or more often depending on the size of your business)
- Showcase online content relevant to your brand, products or services – including updates, pictures, videos and ads.
Facebook is the largest social media networking site, with over 1.31 billion users. While most brands have a Facebook profile, tactfully using this platform can launch your visibility and online presence.
- Huge potential audience
- Ability to easily track Facebook analytics
- Ability to boost your reach through paid and precise advertising
- Your audience must first ‘like’ your page in order to receive updates – if your following is low, not many people will be exposed to your business
- Most users are on Facebook for social reasons so if you are a B2B business, connecting with customers may be difficult
- People’s feeds are usually quite crowded, so sometimes advertisements or updates go amiss
- Suited to Lifestyle, food, fashion, and luxury brands
- Post once a day or once every couple of days
- Showcase stimulating pictures that are relevant to your business and convey your style
Appealing strongly to millennials (those born approx 1980-2000), Instagram is the fastest growing social media platform that provides a visual and stimulating way to engage with your customers. It allows you to better portray your company’s image and requires little upkeep.
- Visually appealing and fun
- Created for mobile users which means you can catch your audience when they’re on the go
- Hashtags provide a great filtering service that direct users to your brand
- Not much space to elaborate on your posts outside of photos
- No ability for users to click on URLs in image descriptions
- Advertising is limited to larger brands that can afford it
- Suited to those willing to engage with others and share their movements often
- Post multiple times per day
- Showcase discussions with other brands, updates on your business’s achievements and activities as well as retweets to build rapport
A fast-paced, snappy platform, Twitter invites you to express your business’s movements wherever, whenever. Reach out to your audience with consistent and concise updates, and connect with others in your industry.
- Incredibly easy to use with little maintenance required – just update and go!
- Highly interactive, designed for people to connect and exchange tweets
- Clear succinct messaging
- Limited by 140-character word count
- Posts can get buried beneath the countless tweets of other users
- Direct messages can only be sent to one user at a time
— The Mae Trio (@themaetrio) September 7, 2015
- Suited to businesses looking to learn from other brands and share their insights in either small or large communities
- Post a few times a week
- Showcase blogs, insights into your field, interesting information and comments
Designed to cluster your contacts, Google+ is a great way for businesses to connect with other likeminded groups. Each “circle” facilitates a private conversation where people chat and exchange information.
- Your activity on Google+ can boost your SEO
- Being part of multiple online communities on one platform
- More formal and professional than other social media sites
- Many people don’t use the service despite having accounts
- Interface is similar to Facebook’s so companies often replicate posts
- While other businesses are likely to use Google+, most customers stick to other modes to interact with companies
- Suited to businesses with interesting visual stories to share
- Post once a week or every couple of weeks
- Showcase instructional videos, interesting advertisements, explanations, footage from important events
While it’s celebrated for its abundance of cat videos, YouTube can also be handy for businesses. The internet’s central video-sharing hub is used to post and store clips of all kinds including spoken blogs (vlogs), advertisements and visual tutorials.
- Easy-to-use due to its popularity
- Creates content to share on other social media accounts you own
- Uncapped video length
- Intrusive advertisements can distract from your video
- YouTube suggests similar videos to yours which may lead viewers to your competition
- People who don’t like your uploads can jeopardise your brand image with negative comments
- Suited to businesses large and small, thought leaders, job seekers, recruiters and employees
- Post a few times a week
- Showcase blogs, relevant industry research and job openings
With the exclusive aim to connect professionals to one another, LinkedIn is almost like dipping into another social media world where users share and discuss strictly industry relevant information.
- Strictly business focused
- Seen as a “must” for anyone looking to build their career
- Great for networking with people in your field and keeping up to date with news and events
- Many businesses send out copious amounts of messages to advertise themselves, inundating users with spam
- Requires time and patience to establish a solid account
- People tend to spend less time on LinkedIn than they do on other sites
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