Facebook. Google Plus. Instagram. LinkedIn. Pinterest. SnapChat. Twitter. YouTube. These are just some of the social media platforms in today’s marketplace. However, unless you know exactly how each platform fits into your overall business strategy, you’ll find yourself overspending for the value received.
Social media is essential for every business; however, not all social media platforms benefit every business. Our goal is to show you how to use your business needs to choose where to place your social media energy.
Focus on the Target.
“Go where your target audience hangs out,” says WPCurve. “You don’t need to be where the whole world hangs out. You only need to be where your target audience hangs out.” So look beyond size. The size of a social media platform isn’t as important as how easy it is to find your community and keep them engaged.
Finding your target audience for social media activities builds upon the same questions you ask to lay the foundation of your marketing platform. However, there is one significant difference - you’re not focusing directly on sales.
You still need to know:
- Who needs my product or service?
- What do basic demographics tell me about my audience?
- Who has already paid for my product or service?
- What motivated their buying decisions?
- Where are these people hanging out?
- What do my existing customers think?
- What kind of content does my audience share?
However, this information must be correlated to the values of your target group. For example, people fall into archetypes. They resonate with brands that mirror their paradigm. You can see this in the Millward Brown wheel.
If you only have resources to invest in pursuing one archetype, you’ll want to choose social media that resonates with that group.
If you still find yourself struggling to find your audience, ask the following questions:
- What social media channels are my competitors using? That might be a hint it could be a good fit for your business as well.
- Which social media channels do my competitors seem to get the most engagement on? The answers could help you avoid less productive platforms.
Learn to Compete.
Once you understand who your audience is and where they are likely to be found, there’s one more thing to consider: competition.
For example, a large percentage of social media activity may be found on Facebook and YouTube. However, that often works against a small business trying to gain an audience. When these social media giants monetized their delivery of content, it made it easier for money to control who sees what.
In this case, you may find newer social media networks are a better strategy. WPCurve.com tells readers how Frank Body, purveyers of a coffee bean exfoliant, went from 0 to 350,000 Instagram followers in 2013. In 2017, WPCurve concludes this would be difficult because Instagram just doesn’t have the same climate anymore.
Many experts believe that the older a social media platform becomes, the more important it is to evaluate your investment carefully. Some platforms are growing, while others are waning or nearing social demise.
Consider Your Resources.
Will you need to delegate as your business grows? Usually the answer is, “Yes.” This means the scalability of the platform(s) you choose becomes a vital consideration as you make decisions.
For example, podcasting isn’t easy to delegate, especially when it’s centered on a personality. This means you can’t scale it as easily says Dan Norris, author of Content Machine. However, he says written content can be delegated. Find a writer who can capture your brand, and you can scale up the volume.
Weigh the Facts.
Now you’re ready to explore how the different social media options do or don’t complement your needs. You’re ready to narrow your focus to social media options that are going to deliver a reasonable ROI.
Does your business need to grow customer loyalty? Would you like your brand to have a ‘face’ people recognize? Are you exploring ways to interact with your ‘peeps’? Then Facebook is the place to be. It’s size means you aren’t likely to exhaust opportunities to engage with new people.
However, if your primary business need is to grow your business fast, don’t look to Facebook as a new marketplace in which to pitch your product or service. Even if you choose to run ads, the business page you create on Facebook cannot be about sales. It must be about creating community.
In this space, small businesses may find themselves competing against similar businesses with a larger advertising budget. There’s no way to stop your competitor from entering your business’ name under ‘likes and interests.’ This allows your competitor to “target a subset of [your] fans along with other contextually relevant users engaging with” your company, says Andrew McDermott, a Facebook Preferred Marketing Developer with Spruce Media.
“Almost any business can benefit from having a Facebook page,” says Entrepreneur. However, “Social media only works if you stay involved.” Facebook is no exception, especially due to its size.
However, Facebook offers one plus worth considering. It remains a strong social media venue, with no signs of fading away.
There are those who believe Google Plus is on its way out. Being a part of the Google package of products isn’t a guarantee of survival. Other Google products have disappeared, and this one may as well.
When Google discontinued Google Plus Hangouts and replaced it with YouTube Live, the fulfillment of this prediction became even more likely. Promises that “investing even a little bit of time and energy into your business page on Google+ can mean improved local search visibility, especially for a small to medium-sized business” may not deliver like they once did.
However, you should at least create a Google Plus for Business profile. It takes little time and may be helpful until such time as Google chooses to retire it. Just don’t invest much here.
There’s so much you can do on Instagram to create engagement. Photo contests are easy to set up. You just create a contest hashtag. The benefits? You get customers to create content for your business. They help you tell your stories.
For example, Virgin America uses Instagram to ‘show’ their customer’s experiences with their airline. That experience might be an unexpected opportunity to spend the flight with CEO Richard Branson or another celebrity. It could be a child pretending to fly a sit-inside model of a branded airplane. It might be customer selfies. There’s a range of photo content that gives the world a glimpse into what a Virgin America flight feels like.
Offering rewards to your followers is also easy to do on Instagram. When they view your pictures, you can offer a discount or a promo code.
As of this writing, it’s a platform where most members value politeness. Unlike YouTube, where off comments and rudeness are common, Instagram attracts an audience where sharing is meant to be fun.
Instagram is a natural fit for events. It shares the element of immediacy with Twitter. However, Twitter’s primarily about the tweet, while Instagram is primarily about the picture. If the saying, “A picture is worth a 1000 words,” comes to mind, that saying falls short of what a picture actually does.
Pictures create questions. Questions create engagement. “What’s going on here?” “Where is this?” “When did this happen?” People have to read the caption. The picture made them do it. A caption doesn't have this power.
This means Instagram can work just as well for B2B companies as B2C, because companies can build in-the-moment events. “Customers want a personal experience with a brand that is engaging and accessible. Instagram allows the brand to do this in real time while giving users a different experience than customers using other platforms,” says Rachel Sprung.
If you only have the resources to be on one social media platform, this is the one you may want to start with. Corbett Drummey says Instagram is the place to invest if repurposing is important to you. As long as your content is high quality, the engagement potential is 30%.
Does your business serve businesses? Then LinkedIn may be the place to start your social media efforts. However, like Facebook, you need to keep advertising separate from social media activities. Your primary focus should be to “show that you're transparent, solicit advice, ask questions and answer questions, letting your expertise impress others,” says Scott Levy. The many discussion groups on LinkedIn offer excellent venues in which to do just that.
If your business is primarily consumer focused, then LinkedIn remains a good place to introduce the world to your company and its employees. However, any efforts spent on marketing products on LinkedIn will render little ROI, if any.
This is Twitter’s live-streaming app. Because it enables anyone with a mobile device to ‘go live’ at any location, it can be a powerful tool for creating high-engagement events. It’s the main competitor to YouTube Live.
Broadcasts only stay up for 24 hours after an event, so it’s important you have enough data storage on your mobile device to save a permanent copy. As long as you do this, you may share videos from previous events to any location where you’d normally upload videos, such as YouTube.
The key considerations with adopting Periscope are the following:
- Expecting to produce higher quality videos is unreasonable. Even if today’s mobile devices have decent resolutions, they aren’t going to produce high-resolution videos for larger screens. Periscope is made for mobile viewing. Also, good audio is difficult because you can’t control where your mobile device picks sound up from. During an event, participants may accept this. However, after-event viewers may find this problematic.
- Editing during the live feed isn’t possible, though the final video saved to your mobile device can be edited.
- Getting the best social results requires a Twitter login, though you can integrate Facebook, Flickr and Vimeo as well.
- Commenting is capped to prevent broadcaster overwhelm, so as your audience grows a “Sorry, the broadcast is too full” message may appear, which limits the level of your engagement with your audience.
Have a primarily female audience? Use visual imagery as a major marketing tool? Then Pinterest may be an excellent fit for your business. Of course, every image needs to be backed with a web page that delivers on whatever your pictures promise. You also need a profile page that reveals the person or company personna in a way that’s going to resonate with your target audience.
Pinterest isn’t a video platform, so any images need to entice your niche to come to you. It’s also a place where large blocks of text are taboo. You’re limited to 3 to 15 characters for your username. Your board names can’t exceed 100 characters, and your descriptions can’t exceed 500 characters. While that’s longer than Twitter, it’s still not much to work with.
Big brands have been turning to Snapchat to engage with younger audiences. It’s proven to be a great way to spread the burden of content creation to their audience. However, there’s one caveat. Snaps only last for one to 10 seconds. Then they disappear forever.
For this reason Christina DesMarais warns that Snapchat won’t work very well if you don’t already have an audience. It’s not a good fit for startups. Facebook or YouTube offer stronger ROI portfolios. However if your primary audience is Millenial, you might want to add Snapchat to your social media strategy. The platform is a great way to keep customers as you attract them.
Since the day Twitter appeared in the social media space, naysayers have been predicting doom for this platform. Somehow it's outlived all the gloomy prognosticating. The ongoing survival of this social media platform highlights how important archetypes can be to informing your decision-making process. There are people who will never ‘get’ Twitter.
You aren’t as likely to attract the dreamers and mothering types with Twitter. These are your natural talkers. However, people who have no fear of being assertive or resonate with the wise archetype often resonate with getting to the point quickly.
Twitter can be an effective tool—if you are committed to responding quickly whenever you send out a tweet. Otherwise, you will disappoint your followers. When they’re on Twitter, they’re living in the moment. Once they’re gone, you’ve missed your opportunity. You can’t expect your followers to spend much time scrolling down their Twitter feed. Thus Twitter isn’t a fit for everyone.
Should you be on YouTube? Yes. You can’t afford not to be. Yet, it’s important to find the fit that works for you.
Some people squirm in front of a camera, and it shows. If you can’t relax on camera, your approach to video needs to be different from that of someone who’s at home with splashing their face onto screens everywhere.
There are so many ways to produce video. Some of these strategies let you get the job done quickly and to enjoy yourself at the same time.
Consider the Talking Head. All viewers see is head,shoulders and a background. You can start with a built-in camera and flattering lighting. (Imagine a talking head video on a health topic that makes the speaker look gaunt and ghostly. It just doesn’t deliver a cohesive message.)
With apps like YouTube Live, Periscope, Skype and Oovoo, you can add a guest and conduct a Video Interview.
Prepare a PowerPoint or Keynote Presentation and turn it into a video. Just record audio to match the slides and export to MP4 format. It’s the perfect solution for those who don’t like the way they look on camera.
Webinars and Webcasts offer another opportunity to capture video. Depending on the service you choose to work with, you can use the event to engage with an immediate audience and then use the video to attract new interests. A mix of slides is common, and many events never show live feeds.
YouTube Live is both free and powerful. Start with the equipment you have. All that’s essential is a camcorder and microphone. Then if you feel a more professional look is essential to your branding, upgrade as your budget allows. For example, if you purchase a mixer and app that allows you to switch between cameras, you can add more camera angles to your videos and add higher-resolution cameras.
It’s better to begin with the one social media platform that complements your business needs the best. Get to know it well. Become proficient at engaging with your target audience and producing the type of content they’re seeking, then consider whether there are additional platforms that complement your brand. Add more platforms as your energy and resources allow.
Just remember this: social media requires an ongoing, consistent commitment to new content and customer engagement. Both are essential to maintaining any momentum you establish.
Start with sustainable goals. It’s the best way to leverage the power of social media for business.
Contact us today for more information and with your questions.