At the start of any marketing campaign comes the inevitable debacle: which social media platforms should we use? Everyone has an opinion. The truth is, certain social networks are more successful than others depending on a mix of a company’s tone-of-voice, culture, audience, and product or service. Half the battle lies in figuring out which platform(s) make the most sense for your business.
Facebook Pages, LinkedIn Company Pages, Pinterest Boards…there are so many ways to promote content. Taking the first step is the most difficult. You’ll have to follow through with your choices on a permanent basis in order to remain credible and successful on these social networking platforms. Which networks make the most sense for your marketing campaign? Let’s review today’s top social media platforms:
Top Social Media Platforms In Today’s Spotlight
Facebook is still the #1 social network in the world in terms of active users [source], making it an unmistakable destination for your marketing campaign.
Want to promote a company, brand, product or service without mixing it with your personal Facebook profile? That’s what Facebook Pages are all about: they behave much like a profile with their own “wall” of updates and offer a branded URL, such as “facebook.com/yourcompany,” which are popularly advertised on TV commercials and print promotions.
Unlike Twitter, Facebook Pages are more open and transparent, where your followers (or the general public) can see comments, questions and activity posted by other people. Images and videos posted to your wall are displayed in large thumbnail format, giving them decent visibility. Comments are semi collapsed by default, typically showing the most trending comments first. Their user interactivity level can be customized.
LinkedIn ‘Company Pages’
Continually known as the “Facebook for professionals,” LinkedIn shows no sign of decline. Its “Company Pages” feature allows businesses and brands to create an isolated page, separate from a profile, that can be used identically to a Facebook Page.
With a Company Page, you’ll be able to share links and snippets to articles on your site, which can get activity in the from of “Likes” and comments from followers. With LinkedIn’s audience composed of professionals ranging from entrepreneurs, active workforce employees, executives and decision-makers, you’re already in the right “crowd” for sharing great industry information, news and updates.
Create a page for your small business division, enterprise division, or even get your HR department to create a page for recruiting! The possibilities for LinkedIn Company Pages are broad, and it’s a social network that your corporation simply can’t afford to miss out on.
Twitter is a way to get a brief, 140-character message out to the world. Tweets (that is, the name of the messages sent out on Twitter) can get high visibility if they’re sent out at the right time to your followers.
Most popularly used and recognized as a way to get directly in touch with a brand or important figure (celebrity or otherwise), Twitter revolves around you and the messages you send, rather than the questions and comments coming back to you from others. Visitors can comment on your Tweets, but the comments section is collapsed by default.
Twitter accounts are very cut-and-dry with basic customization, aside from a cover photo that you can insert. Twitter has traditionally been used for everything ranging from customer retention to even customer service and breaking news reports.
Google entered the social game late when they created Google+. It can, in essence, do everything that a Facebook Page can. Open dialogue, activity, pictures and video can all be seen on your company’s page by others. A Google+ page looks more similar to Pinterest than Facebook, and has a URL structure of “plus.google.com/+YourName.”
Google+ has been struggling with its user base, which has traditionally been proven as ‘inactive’ — in fact, it has a 98% decline in engagement year over year [source]. It’s best to take Google+ with a grain of salt at this point; industry experts believe it to already be ‘dead,’ making it a poor choice for your long-term strategy.
This social site for image sharing continues to be an asset to the more “visual” industries out there. On Pinterest, a user has their own “board” where they can bookmark a web page. Pinterest will then locate all images on that page, and allow the user to select one that properly represents that page. Others can then share this linked image.
Unlike any other social service, the prime focus on Pinterest is the image you post: make sure it meets high quality standards. If you’re advertising a web page or blog post on Pinterest, be sure to create a custom image for it that compels clicks: for instance, many “do it yourself” articles feature a long vertical image showing the main “before and after” pictures of the project they’re advertising. This creates interest, drawing in relevant visitors that will assuredly read the full article to get all details.
Pinterest has been a gold mine for certain industries including home decor, fashion, food and art where “visual” draws clicks, and ultimately, sales.
Continually seen as one of the top business review sites on the internet (certainly from a search engine placement standpoint): Yelp reviews can frequently by seen receiving top-of-Google rankings for local business searches.
It has a robust community of “Yelpers” who dedicate their time providing positive, neutral or negative feedback about their local businesses. Yelp is of utmost importance for any brick-and-mortar business owner: respond to all kinds of feedback, both in thanks of praise, and practice careful damage control for unhappy comments.
Yelpers are brutally honest, but typically fair with their reviews. Yelp is prominently a social network that concerns small business owners rather than enterprise businesses, although a review can be left for any brick-and-mortar establishment in existence.
With 36 million users and almost 170 million monthly uniques [source], Reddit has a unique site structure that looks like a mix between an old school bookmarking service and a message board. Composed of “Subreddits” (or sub-categories of niche topics individually moderated and contributed to by the community, denoted by a /r/ in the URL following the Subreddit name), Reddit is the ultimate hangout for niche groups of all kinds: there’s a Subreddit for everything imaginable.
The best way to get the attention of Redditors (Reddit users) is not through a corporate Reddit account you’ve created, but a personal account that doesn’t appear to be associated with your brand: posting links to your site is discouraged, unless it’s to a product that’s revolutionary, or an article that’s destined to go viral.
Brands and companies typically do “IAMAs”, or “I Am A” posts where a representative of a company will introduce themselves and invite the community to ask them any question they’d like. These can wind up highly successful if done properly, or horribly damaging if your interview can be seen as a double-standard either in the present or future (yes, the community will remember you years from now).
As the years went by, we saw numerous occasions where all social networks adapted the same usability tactics. Hashtags now work on almost all of these accounts, and are a method that can be used to create a new break-away promotion, or simply tie your post together with all other similar ones on the network.
All social networks have their own search engine algorithms, many of which utilize ‘auto-suggest’ keywords in their drop-down search boxes. Use this data to your advantage by titling your content properly, and taking note of what appears to be trending, according to the results you see.
Create, But Contribute Continually!
Some companies create a social account, link to it, and have it lose steam with months of no updates. It’s a fatal flaw for any business. Business social networking accounts get fans, and those fans have “liked” those business pages because they want updates. If you don’t give updates, you’ll get nothing out of these accounts, and the general population will assume you’re either not performing well, or are just plain lazy.
Make every tweet, post and pin count. Before hitting “Submit,” ask yourself if each one is relevant to your business, your customers, and the way it will portray you in the public eye. Triple check your content before it goes live — you might have some last minute modifications.
Successful social networking is an acquired skill that comes with trial and error mixed with a little bit of ingenuity. Understanding your audience (your valued customers) while using their vernacular is important. It shouldn’t be all about you and your sales, but about fun, share-ability and brand interaction. Have fun with it!