If you have a business, social media can be so exciting that you end up joining every social media platform out there. After all, it’s free advertising for your business, so the more the merrier, right?
While every social media platform can give you a chance to connect with your customers and gives you the opportunity to promote your business, social media is not one-size-fits all. Depending on your industry and your target customers, one platform might not work for you at all while another helps you land just the customers you want.
It makes sense to focus only on those sites that have the best chance of bringing in business, because while social media accounts are free they do cost you in terms of energy and time. When you join Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or other sites you want to make sure that the effort and hours you pour into your marketing brings in more customers to your door or website.
So which sites are right for you? Let’s consider the possibilities:
Facebook is the most popular social media platform, with well over one billion users around the world. It is also a very powerful tool for business, since it allows you to target customers by their likes or their personal details.
You can use photos, video, comments, and advertising tools to build a brand identity while getting to know customers. You can even direct customers to a selling page.
Most businesses consider Facebook invaluable simply because there are so many users across all demographics.
One warning, however: teenagers are bowing out of Facebook in favor of sites such as Snapchat and Instagram, in part because everyone (including adults, teachers, and parents) is on Facebook.
If you’re considering Facebook….
- Go ahead – businesses in every industry and field have success with Facebook
- Use plenty of pictures, since posts with pictures and video enjoy better engagement
- Understand that connection is the name of the game with Facebook, so ask questions, set up polls and build relationships rather than going for the strong sell
Twitter is a microblogging site that lets you post short tweets of 140 characters. This site has become so popular that it is the go-to news source for many people.
Since Twitter is essentially a real-time conversation about what is happening right now, this platform may be the best fit for you if your business is news-related (or in the news a lot) or depends on time-sensitive information or updates. Finance, sports, marketing, news, and entertainment fields tend to be a good fit for Twitter.
If you’re considering Twitter….
- Use photos or videos, since they enhance engagement
- Post daily (or a few times a day) and with timely or newsy items
- Post more heavily in the morning and evening, when most people are checking during their work commute
Pinterest is a photo-based social media platform that allows users to share content (especially photos and videos) by virtually “pinning” them. Pinterest is already heavily targeted towards purchasing – many users are on this platform specifically to get inspiration of what to buy or to create “wish lists” of things they want to buy.
Pinterest is also heavily geared towards women who have money to spend. More than 80% of Pinterest users are women, and more than a third of those users have household incomes of at least $100 000.
If your business is at all targeted towards women, you will want to be on Pinterest.
This is especially the case if your business has visual appeal (for example, you are selling something that you can photograph effectively) or if your target audience is in the upper income brackets.
DIY, fashion, children’s products, photography, design, travel, decorating, wedding, and jewelry and accessory businesses all do well on Pinterest.
If you’re considering Pinterest….
- Make your photographs beautiful
- Understand that the name of the game with Pinterest is to get other users to re-pin your content
- Include some information as well as photos or videos in your pins
LinkedIn is a professional social media platform for networking and business. This platform tends to be skewed towards users who are at least in their 30s and have higher incomes. Unlike many other of the platforms listed here, there is no “fun” component to LinkedIn and the focus is less on sharing content and more on networking.
LinkedIn users do not tend to update daily, so this site is best for businesses that are not based on timely information or news. This platform is a good choice if you have a very small business or are a contractor, since you can use LinkedIn to find clients.
It is also a good idea for anyone who is looking for new employees or a new position. If you are a service provider (rather than a seller of products), LinkedIn may be a better choice since it does not have a strong visual component. Businesses to Business (B2B) companies can also do well on LinkedIn.
If you’re considering LinkedIn….
- Keep it professional and save the quirky or edgy comments and photos for other platforms
- Keep your profile relevant but do not worry about daily updates
Google+ allows users to share information from YouTube, video conferences (via Google Hangouts) and Circles. Users of Google+ are often in the engineering or technology fields and are more likely to be men than women.
If this is your target audience, Google+ can be a good match for your social media platform goals. Google+ is also a platform that’s all about each specific user so if you are marketing to individuals (rather than entire demographics), Google+ can be a good way to connect individually.
If you’re considering Google+….
- Understand that +1s will have the most impact on your business, so encourage people to +1 your content as much as possible
- Thank people for +1s and add a social share button on all your content and web pages to make it easy for your viewers to share content
Instagram is a social media platform that is based on photography. You can add photos and short videos to the site along with hashtags and comments. If you are trying to reach the 18-29 year old demographic, take note: Instagram is one of the more popular platforms for this group.
Since Instagram is all about photos, it’s the best fit for businesses with a young target audience and broad visual appeal. If you own a restaurant, fashion or clothes-related business, food business, technology venture or are an artist, architect, entertainer, or designer, Instagram may be a good choice for you.
If you’re considering Instagram….
- Make sure your photos are outstanding
- Take a look at what’s trending when deciding what to post
- Run photo contests or highlight user-generated content
Have you found your social media strategy?
You don’t have to limit yourself to just one or two social media platforms, but targeting only a few allows you to be a hit on a few platforms rather than make a lesser impact on platforms where your customers may not even be visiting. Choose wisely and create the best content you can to really build social connections and networks.