No business can avoid it. Social media is a critical piece of any online marketing strategy. But with so many platforms, you cannot have a presence on all of them. You would do nothing more than create content and run from platform to platform, posting new content and responding to all comments and questions. All. Day. Long.
So, you have to make choices. You have to pick two, maybe three (if you have help) and focus on just those.
Why Less is More
If you choose only a couple of social media platforms, you will do them well.
- You will be able to post regularly and often
- you will be able to spend more time on the content you create for your posts
- the better your content, the more engaged your readers/viewers will be
- The more engaged your followers are, the more they will share
- You will be able to monitor conversations and respond/participate
Purpose of Business Presence on Social Media
We live in an age of a consumer-driven economy. Consumers no longer shop just locally; b2b customers have more choices; vertical businesses have new competition popping up every day. It takes more for a business to grow than just opening its doors and advertising.
Relationships between customers/clients and the companies they choose to do business with have become as important as the products or services that businesses offer. And because so much business takes place online, there is far less face-to-face contact. A lot of that relationship building takes place on social media.
The Data is Overwhelming
If you are still not convinced of the importance of a social media presence, check out last years results of a survey of social media use. Here are just a few facts:
- 75% of Internet users are on one or more social media sites
- Facebook and Twitter are still the leaders but Instagram is the fastest-growing
- There are over 400 million career professionals and businesses on LinkedIn
- Except for Pinterest, the use of social media platforms is pretty evenly divided between males and females
- Millennials alone spent over$200 billion in online purchases in 2015
Choosing the Right Platform for Your Business
Finding the 2-3 platforms that will be the best for your business means you will have to look at the following:
- Who is your customer? Whether you are an online retailer selling career clothing, a B2B business selling machine parts or HR consulting, or a vertical marketing budget software to small businesses, you have a typical customer. Create a persona for that customer – a very detailed persona – so you know who you are targeting.
- Where is your customer online? Research will give you this information – just Google it and you will find huge amounts of research already done. It will tell you where your demographic hangs out.
- Where are your competitors online? Your competitors may have already figured out where you should be. If they are on certain platforms and have large followings there, you should be there too.
With this in mind, you need to know the basics about each platform and how to use it.
The Lowdown of the Most Popular Platforms
Facebook continues to be the most popular social media platform, and it is smart. It continues to enhance user options so that individuals and businesses stay. For example, it now has Facebook groups, much like LinkedIn, built around interests, causes, and businesses. More than a billion users are on Facebook at least once a day.
Use Facebook for the following:
- Tell your stories – you have lots of them; how you began; how your customers are using your products/services; what causes you are supporting; what new products and services you have added
- “Tease” readers/viewers with great headlines about posts on your blog so they’ll link over
- Feature your team and your customers with photos and video
- Entertain with humor; hold contests; post quizzes (you know you have taken some of those) These are the things that your viewers will share with their communities
- Participate in all conversations on your wall
The idea is to establish a personal relationship with your target audience – it needs to come to now you as a person, not a business. And it needs to trust you before you can expect any business to come your way. Facebook will help you spread your brand far and wide. When your followers share you with others, they are telling those others that you are genuine and trustworthy. “Word of mouth” still works today – it is just online now.
ModCloth: ModCloth sells clothing to millennials – from career to casual. There are snippets from its Facebook page. It features photos of customers wearing their items – smiling customers – all happy with their purchases. Mostly students with no urgent essay writing issues.
Over a million consumers follow ModCloth on Facebook – pretty darn impressive.
And Facebook isn’t just for what we would consider “exciting” products/services. There are plenty of “boring” niches that have huge followings. The gecko from Geico? He has his own Facebook page. So does Flo from Progressive and the Aflac duck. Charmin toilet paper has a great presence. Check them out.
In an effort to be more competitive with Facebook, Twitter has expanded its features. The 140-character limit is gone – users can post much more lengthy content, and followers just have to click to expand it. Photos and video snippets can also be posted.
Twitter has almost 400 million users now, and it is a great platform for businesses to Tweet out stories, teasers to longer content on their sites, entertaining videos, poignant photos. Again, the goal is to get re-tweets – followers who love what they see and re-tweet to their tribes.
IF you are able to capture a large following on Twitter, your brand can spread exponentially.
Example: Dollar Shave Club
This company, offering a subscription-based razor delivery plan (and other things too) has decided that humor is essential to making a “boring” product fun.
If you check out their Twitter account, you will see a wide variety – jokes, short videos, customer profiles and more. It’s just fun to go there, and there is plenty for followers to re-tweet – spreading that brand!
To use Twitter well, you need to get a bit creative, and use the same variety. You can be serious at times, of course, but you also need to find ways to inspire, entertain, and tell stories about your business and customers.
Solving a problem through a Twitter post is also a good way to engage. Dollar Shave Club does this a lot with tweets such as, “how to never cut yourself shaving again.”
LinkedIn is focused on two groups: Career professionals who are looking to network in their niches, and businesses that are looking to make connections with other businesses that could become customers/clients.
You should be on LinkedIn if you:
- Want to form new relationships with related businesses and individuals in those businesses.
- Are able to actively participate in the many groups that are formed around specific industries
- Can share valuable stuff with individuals and businesses that show your expertise in your niche
- Are always looking for good job candidates
Here is what you can do:
- Post long content that shows your expertise – this becomes part of your company profile page.
- Post short snippets based upon your customer base, and add media
- Participate in discussions in any groups that will spread awareness of your brand
- Post presentations (e.g. slides) that you have made to other organizations
- Make your content searchable with use of good keywords – LinkedIn has a great search feature for potential customers/clients to find you
- Keep extending your follower base by requesting new “connections” whenever you come across those that could be of benefit
- Develop reciprocal arrangements with related niches to refer one another
Mashable is a company that focuses on productivity, sales, and work/life balance. They understand their audience and choose to use short content to engage their followers.
Just be certain that your company profile is complete, up to date and that you are adding new content all the time. That’s how you get found!
Pinterest is the place for visuals. And it is also the place if your customers are female. For some reason, male consumers just don’t like this platform as much – they thinks it is too “crafty.” But there is amazing marketing potential, if you can use visuals for your products/services.
Pinterest is more sales-oriented than other social media platforms. Facebook and Twitter want to establish relationships. Businesses can use Pinterest to showcase products or services, and to tell their stories as well.
Followers will find you by search keywords, so be certain that the most relevant and current keywords/phrases are in your Pinterest posts.
Create the best images you possibly can with creative and keyword-friendly titles.
Example: Toms Shoes
Toms is a shoe retailer (although they have branched out into other products too) that has a huge focus on its charitable causes. These causes are promoted on its site and on every social media platform (they are now big enough to have the staff to do this). Rom donating a pair of shoes for every pair bought, to supporting clean drinking water efforts and eye health, Tom’s appeals to a huge audience who want to be a part of these social causes. It is a full blend of products and its charitable work.
Another primarily visual platform, this platform is growing exponentially. Businesses post photos and videos that focus not so much on sales but on entertainment, inspiration and stories. The goal is conversation, shares, and brand spreading, not to showcase products/services.
Instagram helps a business show its personal side – this is critical, given all of the noise out there.
Find ways to connect with your target audience and fill your posts with hashtags – that how you will be found on Instagram!
Example: Foundr Magazine
This is an Australian company that has an online magazine for startups. Nathan Chan is the founder and owner, and he determined to make a huge splash on Instagram posting sometimes 3-4 times a day. He grew to from zero to 110 thousand followers in 5 months, and his company is worth millions today (it launched in 2013). Here are some sample posts on Instagram – many are inspirational quotes (he posts at least one a day); other are contests and other motivators for people to join in and share.
Over a billion users. Yes, that’s right. Video is huge with potential customers and clients who would rather view than read content. Anytime that you can make a video that will replace text, do it.
Viewers do search for videos related to specific products and services on the YouTube site itself, so your keywords must be right. And your video can easily show up in organic searches, if, again, those keywords are current and relevant.
For products and services, YouTube can be anything from a “how to” video demonstrating how to apply a deck stain, to a story about the company, such as the hysterical video that Dollar Shave Club produced.
And you can also promote your own YouTube videos on your site, in your blog, and on every other social media channel you are using.
When you first take a look at all of the opportunities that social media brings, you will probably be excited about them all. Step back and take a breath. You can’t do them all unless you can hire the staff for that. So, find the most popular two with your customer demographic and focus on just those for now. That will keep you plenty busy if you are doing it right. You can always scale up later.