There are hundreds of social media platforms out there. It would be almost impossible to maintain a strong presence across all of them, let alone begin nurturing interest in your products and services from your target audience. But the truth is that if you’re only using Facebook you’re missing a trick – you know there are millions of people active on Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram and Pinterest, surely you need to be communicating with them through these mediums too?
We’d be the first to admit that deciding which social media platforms you should be on isn’t straightforward, but we can certainly shed some light on it and help you narrow your focus.
Which social media platforms should I be using for my business?
The main determinants are:
- Who your audience is and where it spends its time (which platforms they’re on)
- The type of business you have
- What your goals for social media are
- Your strategy for achieving these goals
So… whilst in most cases, your audience is likely to use Facebook in a personal capacity, not every business needs or will benefit from throwing resources into it. A fairly niche B2B company, for example, should set up a Facebook page more as a microsite than to use it as a content production centre, simply because it won’t be an effective way of getting in front of the specific buyers they need at certain businesses.
For business who sell directly to consumers, say to mums aged 30-50, and have interesting or quirky products, Facebook will be a perfect platform to generate awareness, web clicks and sales. Even paying for exposure over Facebook will yield a positive ROI if targeted correctly.
If your business solves a specific want or need, whether it be B2B or B2C, Twitter is the perfect platform to use. Whilst it’s another useful channel to share content and commentary, for most businesses the power lies in finding prospects based on what they tell the world about themselves. Whether it’s in their Twitter bio or in the Tweets they share, there are a number of tools you can use to identify them as potential consumers.
LinkedIn is a seriously powerful social network; undervalued by most companies. From experience, 95+% of B2B companies will see results from a concerted, targeted LinkedIn campaign. Why? Because you can find people in the sectors, companies and job roles your business sells to. You might need a premium account, you’ll need to know how to use the search functions and how to approach people but it’s a must-use platform for B2B companies.
Instagram and Pinterest
These are perhaps the most debated social media platforms out there. Naturally, they have the most obvious application to visually appealing consumer products and if your business produces these then, yes, you should be on both. However, for most businesses, being on one (and making your profile and content really good) is sufficient. If your business happens to be in one of the industries that is particularly egotistical (that’s about the best way to put it); the fitness industry, for example, there are thousands of hashtags that millions of people use.
The functionalities of these platforms and, therefore, the purpose of them in your social strategy is different. Since Facebook’s successful acquisition of Instagram in 2012, the platform has grown into one of the most powerful and influential social networks. The now algorithm-based feed means sharing high-quality content that gains traction is super-important. Pinterest, on the other hand, is a much slower platform and arguably more important as a search engine.
Only worthwhile from an SEO and web traffic perspective. All businesses should have a Google Plus account, optimised profile and occasionally share content out through it. Other than that, the uptake has been too small to make it useful for the vast majority of businesses in actually generating return from your efforts but you can read more on Google+ for business here.
YouTube for business is an interesting one. Businesses with a great story to tell through the medium of a video should harness YouTube, even if it’s just a single video or even a Prezi. For very small businesses and individuals, self-recorded and edited videos can go down a storm and build strong brand affinity amongst viewers. YouTube has the power to become a real community for any brand but it is very time-consuming. There also comes a point where a reasonable size brand is expected to deliver high-quality video – then you’ll need the resources to produce professional-looking material.
Okay, let’s stop messing about, here, which platforms should you set up, keep updated and use proactively?
On the whole, every business should have an optimised Twitter and Facebook account. Even if the Facebook page is more of a static microsite than a content factory, it is incredibly important. Twitter is vital both for content and interaction strategy – B2B and B2C.
For the majority of B2C businesses, an Instagram account will be useful and for B2Bs, LinkedIn is as important as any other platform at your disposal. From a visibility and SEO point of view, having a Google + account is important, just as is it to have your Google places set up – remember, Google owns internet search!
Of course, larger brands, with the capacity, resources or social media management budget can afford to spend more time on a wider range of platforms to cover their bases. It stands to reason visual brands would benefit from thriving Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube and Snapchat accounts.