The first thing you need to know about social media for business is that it only works if you work it! To market your business on social media requires effort, attention to detail and a willingness to engage with the world … if you can bring those three characteristics, you stand a great chance of finding new markets, new audiences, good partnerships and loyal and enthusiastic supporters.
How to please all the people all the time … The way to win at social media marketing is to:
- Choose your social media networks or platforms with care.
- Treat your chosen platforms with respect.
- Learn to respond as you would to a friend.
These three factors make the difference. Businesses that get them right become social media stars, businesses that get them wrong are publicly derided for their failure to engage. The choice about which reputation your business earns is entirely in your hands. Because social media can be a time drain, the expert choice of the right places to best use your time can be crucial. Here’s our up to date review of the key features of each of five of the largest and most prominent social media sites to help you choose which platform is best for your business.
Which social media platform is right for you?
Our list is alphabetical, and Facebook is first, but almost any way you list social media, Facebook would still come first. Simply put, the size and scale of Facebook makes it a business magnet. Most people who are on social media are on Facebook – that means they will probably look for businesses, goods and services there.
Facebook allows you scope to present yourself as you choose – it’s flexible about presentation and encourages long term relationship building. It’s less immediate than some other platforms and can be thought of as being like a social media billboard or poster site which people go past regularly so they register your presence. Good Facebook users drive engagement by putting up photos showing the human side of their organisation and by offering deals or sharing opportunities.
Google + (Places)
New kid on the block (relatively speaking) Google + (Places) is growing at a rate of over 900,000 new users every day. Pegged as a ‘Facebook rival’, smaller brands and those with a niche appeal may find this platform brings them great results.
Google + (Places) allows a business to differentiate followers in a way Facebook doesn’t. For those who have a range of offerings, or who are specialist, this key feature can be a winner. For example, a business that provides continuing professional development, can offer a course or workshop only to those followers who qualify, or a jeans brand can separate out boot cut from skinny leg customers and give each group a different promotion or head-up as to new products. Offers video conferencing and other engagement features as standard.
The great white shark of the social media networking world, LinkedIn all about business, it never sleeps and it’s always hungry. What is it hungry for? New contacts, updated information about business skills and experiences, opportunities in the business world.
For business to business (BSB) networking, this platform is essential. It develops connections in the world of business and through its ‘connections of connections’ function, brings new opportunities. 75% of the LinkedIn community is over 35, which is a factor that makes it significant for some businesses, less so for others. It’s not particularly visual but for service providers and problem solvers, it’s a great place to showcase experience through blogs, articles and participating in discussion groups.
‘Like text messaging for business’ is how one social media guru describes Twitter. It’s instant and natural and for spontaneous fast-moving organisations, especially those hoping to be in the public eye, it can be the social media platform that springboards them into public awareness.
Unlike other networks, Twitter is ‘right now, right here’ networking. The limitation of 140 characters per tweet requires discipline and can be a limitation for some businesses but for others it can drive consumer engagement into mass profitability. It does also mean real-time management of your Twitter channel and a degree of bravery about one-on-one engagement with your audience.
Last but not least, YouTube. It is an obvious choice for visually focused businesses however all business should recognize the power of a well made and engaging video.
YouTube has worldwide scope, it’s watched in countries where language barriers could prevent other forms of communication, so it’s powerfully effective in creating awareness and everybody desires to ‘go viral’ with their YouTube vidoes. It allows even the smallest business to develop astute video that can be shared on other platforms. However, for non-visual businesses it can be tricky to market themselves on YouTube successfully and most businesses find they need to use other social media networks to create business or drive sales.
Making social media work for you
Choosing two or three social media networks and working with them to create a clear brand identity can bring your business powerful results in a cost-effective fashion. Knowing which networks are best for your organisation ensures you use your time well, and that you can measure the results of your activity.