Social Media provides an ocean of possibilities, pitfalls and, in the case of so many local businesses, untapped potential. Whilst it’s been unavoidable for quite some time, it gets harder and harder by the day to keep in line with the ever-changing social goalposts to make sure your business is sitting pretty, right where, & when, you need to be. One key thing to remember, in spite of the growing landscape, is that you shouldn’t waste your time adopting every social platform under the sun simply because it exists. Think about your business needs & what compliments your brand in order to inform an effective social strategy. This blog will break down, in no uncertain terms, the do’s and do not do’s of the UK’s top 10 social platforms.
Facebook is everywhere. Quite literally. 72% of adult internet users use Facebook (Pew Research Center, 2015) and this number is still growing. As a business, it can be nigh on impossible to keep up with the change in page functionality, but keep up with it you must, if you wish to lay the foundations of a successful online presence.
Having a business page on Facebook is considered almost essential nowadays, if only as a platform through which to communicate directly with both existing customers and those that could potentially use your services in future. But it’s not enough just to have a Facebook page, you need to use it frequently, and effectively, in order to garner on-site activity and conversions from your social content. Whilst keeping up with your own Facebook page can sometimes feel like screaming into the wind, (Only 45% of marketers think that their Facebook efforts are effective – Social Media Examiner, 2015), it’s hard to argue that it’s more than necessary. It’s essential.
Facebook can provide a platform for any number of different practices, one of the most notable being advertising. Since releasing it’s own ad platform, the Facebook Audience Network, in 2014, creating and displaying your adverts across, not only Facebook, but Facebook owned properties such as Instagram, has become one of the simplest and most rewarding advertising tools at your disposal.
Despite its accessibility, and depending on the nature of your business, your Facebook page should reflect the core ethos of your business, as a more informal tool used to share information, speak with service users or customers, and allow them to post reviews or comments regarding your services. There is room for some informality on occasion, particularly around seasonal holidays, but it is important that you don’t end up presenting your business as a joke. Keep your business voice accessible, but efficient.
Simply put, Facebook should be at the top of your list, and if it’s not, then reconsider your social media priorities.
Everything you’re doing on Facebook needs to be reflected on Twitter, and even moreso. Twitter is 2nd in a long line of social media giants and needs to be treated as part and parcel of your business’ online presence.
Twitter has come to be considered a customer service hub, where effective communication and responsiveness reign supreme. Whilst Twitter has a significantly lower user base than Facebook (23% of adult internet users – Pew Research Centre, 2015), it is no less important, especially as, in the past two years, content consumption on Twitter has increased by 25%, and Twitter now is responsible for 16% of referrals to longer articles from social media sites.
If your business is not on Twitter then you’re missing out on a huge opportunity that can be gleaned from communicating directly with your customers. As with most social media platforms, not only does Twitter provide you with a soapbox from which to boast about your products or services, but also the ability to see exactly what others are saying about you, and to chime in wherever necessary, even if it’s just to like or retweet a comment that’s been made.
Tonally, you can afford to be slightly less bureaucratic on Twitter, allowing yourself to pepper in humour observations, gifs, memes and everything it takes to be seen as more human. The public take to Twitter primarily to communicate with human beings and so it makes sense for you to be seen as a business that understands human nature and speaks to people as you would outside, in the real world.
If you, like me, and like every millennial that has ever graced the face of the Earth, enjoy such things as taking photos of your food, drinking Chai Tea Lattes and taking gym selfies, then you’ve probably used Instagram at some point in time. If you haven’t, then one thing you need to be aware of is that Instagram is busy. Over 95 million photos and videos are shared on Instagram every day. (Instagram, 2016), with 59% of users visiting the platform on a daily basis, and 35% of users that visit several times a day.
It’s important to identify whether or not your business lends itself well to Instagram before taking the plunge. Imagery is an effective tool in promoting products, but it can be a challenge when it comes to promoting a service, and so it’s important to recognise whether or not you are going to be able to post frequent and relevant content in a way that will work to drive traffic to your website and subsequently create valuable conversions.
It has recently become possible to link your Instagram account to a business Facebook profile, allowing you to add contact buttons, address details and calls to action to your posts and profile, meaning that business accessibility on Instagram has significantly improved.
Whatever business you’re running, your content is always going to be the most important driving factor in garnering a concrete following, and visual content is all about composition. For example, on Instagram, photos showing faces get 38% more Likes than photos that don’t (Georgia Institute of Technology, 2014). It’s imperative that you don’t stumble into a pitfall of producing substandard visual content as it could actively drive potential customers away from your business.
LinkedIn is a fantastic tool for businesses to be able to network with individuals as well as other organisations to present information and show that they’re ahead of the game, as well as promoting their own services to those who might be interested. It’s unlike any other social media platform in that it’s corporate extension provides a dryer, more professional soapbox from which to promote B2B services and share nuggets of insider business information.
Whilst there is some flexibility to the content that you can get away with posting across Facebook, Twitter & Instagram, LinkedIn isn’t a platform to get chatty with the girl you met at 2009’s New Years Eve party at Brian’s London flat. From a business perspective, it should be used only as a networking tool. It’s a key way of promoting ongoing news and industry insights, as well as ongoing blogging and video content, but don’t read too much into it. You can afford to step back from LinkedIn every once in a while, as regularity isn’t imperative, if only as you can’t expect that too many new business leads are going to come through the platform.
YouTube has over a billion users, almost one-third of all people on the Internet, (YouTube, 2016) and that statistic is monumental. YouTube being owned by Google is a contributing factor in its success (but this isn’t always the case, see #8) and it’s rise to the internet pantheon can’t have gone unnoticed. As a social media platform, YouTube certainly is different. It has it’s ups and downs, and is no stranger to controversy, but as the bank of video content held within grows exponentially, so too do the benefits of using video content to promote your business.
Corporate video production is nothing new, but in recent years, online promotion of businesses through YouTube has reached new heights, with more and more industries buying into high end video solutions to reach the masses, and why not? High impression rates and regular user counts mean that YouTube is the perfect platform to present your content in a fairly raw way. The platform also allows you to pay to post video advertisements on other content in a number of different ways so that you can expand the reach of your message and to drive additional conversions. You can learn more about how you can make money through YouTube in my previous blog series here, and here.
The key to success on YouTube is knowing your audience, as well as having the patience to put in the time and effort to build that audience in the first place. Commenting on the work of others, as well as subscribing to users channels you feel might be interested in the content you’re creating is a good start. It’s also going to be hugely beneficial to promote your own YouTube channel wherever you can. Embed videos in your own site, on email newsletters, promote your channel through Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and all the other tools at your disposal. There are no quick fixes in any aspect of marketing, and creating video content for YouTube publishing is an absolute testament to that fact. Whilst your in it for the long haul, YouTube can be one of the most worthwhile and measurable social media platforms around.
Pinterest is a mixed bag, and whilst I’m not one to usually sing from the rooftops about the corporate benefits of having a Pinterest account, I understand why it is a valuable tool to use, if your business lends itself well enough to something akin to ‘the Pin’. As many as 81% of Pinterest’s users are women, (Omnicore, 2017) and thus, if your demographic leans firmly towards the female of the species then Pinterest may well be your ideal platform. Users are able to not only showcase their own images that they feel may be appreciated by others within a specific topic, but also to ‘pin’ images that fall in line with their own aesthetic to boards of their own making. Think ‘mood boards’, but on a digital scale.
As far as business applications go, Pinterest is fairly limited in scope, unless you produce something visually captivating that’s going to provoke enough response from your Pinterest followers for them to want to pin the same images to their own page. This works well for businesses that create bespoke, handmade products or are able to be presented through high quality imagery, such as paint colours, DIY techniques (as you can provide written content alongside each pin), food and more. Pinterest is primarily of value to users that update their content frequently, and have access to a constant stream of new information to be presented through the platform. Whilst it might not be of benefit to everyone to start using it, Pinterest can have value so long as your business fits within a specific niche.
Millennials are a funny bunch, but you can almost guarantee that if you’re lucky enough to know one, they use Snapchat on a regular basis. 52% of Snapchat users are under the age of 25 (Statista, 2016), and there is almost no easier way to market to young people nowadays than through the platform that has gone from relative obscurity to social media giant in a matter of years.
As a business, Snapchat can either be a costly process, or a free and worthwhile social resource, provided you know what you’re doing. If you’re not in a position to purchase Geofilters, or a paid spot on the Discover platform, then you’re going to be working off of the strength of your content alone to build your initial user base. It is important to account for your target audience when using Snapchat, and most likely your content is going to need to take an informal tone in order to adapt to the platform. There is certainly room for humour, as referring to popular culture, memes and more could have significant impact on your engagement figures.
Snapchat is ideal for opening up your business to the wider world, making your day to day experiences more accessible. Engaging behind the scenes content, promotions, product launches, events etc all lend themselves perfectly to your ongoing Snapchat story.
You can read more about the applications of Snapchat for business in one of my previous (and spectacularly well written) blogs here.
Nobody really knows why people think Google+ sucks so much, they just kind of…do. As a platform, it was initially set up to connect users with Google accounts to one another, and to promote the sharing of information through other Google services such as GSuite, as well as ongoing blog content and industry updates, which, on the face of it, sounds like a really valuable idea, but one which never really took off. The cold hard facts suggest that having a Google+ account can actually help your business in incremental ways, even if you don’t update your content very regularly.
Google+ content is immediately indexed, meaning that sharing third-party blog content on your profile could help your business to rank for some additional keywords, and as strange as it sounds, content that you post to Google+ is also prioritised over information posted on ther social media platforms. If your concern is having the information you post rank highly in SERPs then Google+ could hold the answer.
One thing to bear in mind, however, is that the above won’t actually hold any water unless you have a solid number of connections within your Google+ Circle and that’s where things could begin to fall down, unless you actively know a large number of people who regularly use Google+ as a social network.
There is a core user base (somewhere) within Google+ that may or may not possess some kind of weight for your business, but the key takeaway is that if you’re unsure whether or not you need an account, then chances are you probably won’t benefit from it.
Tumblr has undergone somewhat of an evolution in the last few years, increasing its user numbers exponentially to become a social media megastar. It is still one of the leading microblog networks on the web, with over 15% of all internet users having used Tumblr in some form or another. But, whilst this could suggest a guaranteed audience, the network may not have any significant business applications short of creating branded pages & content.
Sponsored content, much like many of the other social media networks, can help to push brand messages to users that fall within your chosen demographic, but as Tumblr is largely used by the younger generation, you need to account for a narrower age bracket when creating said content.
The key to Tumblr is creating a snowball effect. Much like Twitter, users can both ‘like’ and ‘reblog’ your content so that it is visible within on their own follower’s dashboard, and so it is important to make content that inspires engagement. Shares and likes are going to be your primary currency.
The tone of Tumblr is also thoroughly personal, as the platform is often used by individuals sharing insights into their own lives through written and visual content. For added prosperity, a good gif or meme will never go amiss on Tumblr as it’s a place for personality and humanity to shine.
It is important to identify which of the above is going to help drive your business message, rather than wasting time shouting into the wind, but now that we have been through the basics I invite you to go forth, be social, build your audience and promote your brand.
If you’re still daunted by the prospect of adding regular social media activity to your day-to-day, then give us a call. Our Digital Marketers (myself included) can help create a comprehensive social media strategy that is tailored to your business or even step up to the plate to create regular, high-quality social media content for your brand. It’s just one of the many things that we excel at.