What Social Media Platforms Should You Use and Why?
Social media is a powerful marketing tool when used correctly. Used as another form of gaining traffic to the site, it can also be used to have a more personal interaction with clients while also keeping them updated with what's happens. However, there are so many social media platforms out there and not all companies now what they should use. In this article, we will be covering just that; what social media platforms should you use and why.
Businesses commonly just see the term social media as just Facebook and Twitter due to how big they have become. However, they are not the only social media platforms available. There are a variety of others that, depending on your industry, could greatly aid in furthering traffic to your site and interaction with potential clients. An example of a great social media platform is Pinterest, but we will get into that more later.
The social media platforms we will be covering in this article includes:
These platforms are suitable for different industries. Some might not be too suitable for some while they are perfect for others. Useful for interactions with potential, current and past clients; social media has a wide variety of benefits, but has one large drawback; time. Managing social media requires time and a lot of it. If you don’t have someone dedicated to this or hire an agency to do it for you, it can quickly become a time-consuming task that soon gets left behind.
Why Should You Use Social Media?
Social media comes with a great range of benefits when used correctly. It can drive traffic to your website, get people to get in touch, grab the attention of potential clients and cause old clients to come back for repeat business. Social media can greatly aid almost any business and with there being so many different platforms available, there is bound to be something that suits your business.
From the common use of Facebook and Twitter to the use of image sites like Pinterest and Instagram; there is something that best suits your industry. Now-a-days, most people will use their social media to complain or compliment businesses. If you are on social media platforms, they will be able to promote your business or share a complaint. You can then react to this in the best way possible.
Having a personal side to the business that people can see will enable you to reach more potential clients and cause some old clients to come back. These platforms will even give you a way of broadcasting something that is happening such as a refurbishment, job openings or offers.
Utilising these platforms correctly can do so much for businesses, but it is very slow going.
The Negatives of Using Social Media Platforms
Continuing the mention of social media being slow going, it takes time and a lot of it. Social media, like SEO, doesn’t create leads overnight. It requires constant work and updates to improve the follower base and drive people to your website. Before using social media, you should decide if you have the time for it or the budget to hire another organisation or person. If not, it might not be worth investing much into it. However, if you can set aside time every day or week to get updates scheduled; it can create promising leads and drive traffic to your site.
It takes months to be able to get a solid follower base for small business (it is much easier for well-known or large businesses). This means it requires dedication. If you start using social media, you need to keep at it. As soon as you stop, followers will start to disappear. This means that either someone or a team of people will need to oversee the social media. This is what causes most businesses to be put off using social media. They do not have the available time or resources to dedicate someone to it.
The Social Media Platforms
As previously mentioned, there are a variety of social media platforms available, all of which will be great for certain industries. Some of the platforms focus heavily on image use which for some industries wouldn’t be ideal. Graphic industries however will favour these over others. Similarly, social media platforms like LinkedIn are business to business focused which would be great for companies that work closely with other businesses.
Pinterest is a social media platform that greatly focuses on the use of images. People and businesses alike can set up a profile in which they can follow others and share images they have taken or found online. These images are known as ‘pins’. The images that you have ‘pinned’ will appear on your profile and can be seen by others that view it. Pinterest also enables the use of boards which are what the name implies; boards that pinned images can be placed on.
Individual boards can be followed as well. So, if you found another company that had a board that interested you, you can follow it to see future additions. This is a perfect platform if your business does anything to do with graphics. You can dedicate areas of your Pinterest for graphic design while dedicating other areas for specific products. Printing companies for example would do exceptionally well on Pinterest.
Building up a follower base on Pinterest is quite easy. It generally consists of three things; pin interesting images, have multiple boards and follow others. Doing this well gradually build a follower base. Obviously, there will be times were people don’t follow you back; unfollow them and follow others.
When it comes to communicating with visitors, they can leave comments or send messages directly to who they see fit. This means potential customers will be able to leave feedback or ask questions which if replied to, could lead to a potential purchase.
Like Pinterest, Instagram is a picture and video based social media platform. It utilises its own camera function and wide variety of editing options to give its users an easy way to take photos and edit them while on the move. Instagram can use images taken on phones native camera, but due to its aspect ratio, it will require the image to be cropped so it can be used. Most uses of Instagram happen on mobile devices, but there is a website you can use as well.
You login to Instagram using a Facebook account or through an email and password. Either way, you will then be able to search and browse through what Instagram has to offer. Building up a follower base is much harder on Instagram than it is on other platforms. At the beginning, there is no quick or easy way to find people besides searching for someone’s user name. It gets easier over time as Instagram has a section that lists images like what you have been viewing or showing interest in. This will allow you to find other people that would be good to follow.
As shown in the image above, Coffee Bean Shop have got one themselves. They use this to show images of the coffee beans and so much more which is highly appealing for coffee lovers. This will entice people to follow if regular updates are being made. This will keep them in the loop of what Coffee Bean Shop are doing and keep them updates on any offers that are currently running.
Facebook is one of the two largest social media platforms available (the other being Twitter). It has a variety of features with more being added over time and offers a wide range of capabilities. Great for personal use and for businesses, Facebook allows for profiles and pages to be created with easy access and management. Businesses should always be made as a page rather than a profile. This makes it easier for people who come across you to easily follow what is going on whereas a business profile will require people to add the business as a friend.
Facebook allows for instant messaging and for quick and easy way to upload content. This means that businesses will be able to keep in close contact with their clients when they message in. If a client has an issue or requires assistance, they will likely message in. Businesses can use this to their advantage to provide a great customer service. If someone is replied to promptly and a solution is provided, they could go off and pass this on to someone else.
The difference between Facebook and the other social media platforms is that it allows for text posts rather than focusing heavily on imagery. Posts can be written and published without imagery if needed. This doesn’t mean that you cannot upload images. Facebook allows for images and videos to be uploaded and viewed online. Facebook does monitor the content however. Therefore, if you upload something that is inappropriate, they will remove it and quite possible ban, remove or suspend your account.
Creating and expanding a follower base
For Facebook, there are different ways to put your business out there. One is through waiting, uploading content and wait for people to find your business. This will then lead to people sharing what you post or getting in contact. Using this method will cost nothing, but will be a very slow process. Facebook doesn’t operate like other platforms where people will be able to find recommended pages. Instead people will have to search for the page to be able to find it.
The other way is through paying for ads. Facebook as its own ad system available to be used. Like PPC (Pay Per Click), a business can set up and initiate ads that will appear in the section for suggested pages when someone is on Facebook. Facebook ads work slightly differently though. They offer the chance for businesses to target specific interests or events. An example is for when someone has given birth; the ads will tailor around that so when that person goes onto Facebook, the ads they see will be around that subject. Another example is us. We would want to target new businesses or small to medium sized businesses that are using Facebook. Therefore, we would tailor the ads around that fact.
Twitter is a great platform to use for both businesses and individuals. It has a large user base, like Facebook, which is great for businesses looking to build a follower base and get their brand known. When using Twitter, you create a profile which has a profile picture, banner image and a small bio. Unlike Facebook, you can only create a profile. There are no business pages, instead you use a profile that is tailored around your business that people will follow to keep up to date.
Direct messaging, profile monitoring and tweet scheduling and so much more is available. This makes it a very easy to use platform and is suitable for all businesses. Like what we said with Facebook, you can keep contact with your potential clients. You can answer questions, give advice and resolve issues. Twitter can also be used with conjunction with a website called TweetDeck. This website will enable you to schedule posts in advance. This means you can organise posts to go up weeks in advance to ensure there is a constant feed of new posts to your page.
Images, GIFs, videos or just simple pieces of text can be uploaded to Twitter. However, there is a limit to how much you can write. The cap on the amount of characters that can be used in any given tweet is 140 (unlike Facebooks 63,206 characters announced back in November 2012). This cap causes people to use slang or letters that sound like the word (e.g. ‘u’ is used for ‘you’). Businesses have to keep tweets short and sweet or use external sources that are linked to in order to get the full story.
Creating and expanding a follower base
With Twitter, Ads aren’t necessary to build up a follower base. Using the same tactic as Instagram and Pinterest, you will need to follow people that would be interested in your industry. This would then cause them to follow back. Doing this over time will allow for followers to gradually be gained. In the same way, if you follow someone and a week or month later, they haven’t followed back, unfollow them. This ensures that the followers count is as close as possible to the number of people you follow.
You do however have to be careful with the number of people you follow to avoid being viewed as a bot. If you go through hundreds of people following and unfollowing people, Twitter can block your access momentarily or suspend your account. This process needs to be done overtime and carefully.
The other platforms we have mentioned have been ideal for both personal and business use and are ideal for businesses whose clients are the public. LinkedIn still allows for personal and business accounts, but is focused on business to business communication. Users of LinkedIn will commonly be people looking for jobs or businesses that focus on providing services to other businesses. This makes it a much more professional platform and would need to be used with formality in mind.
From Facebook's very large 63,206 character limit to Twitters small 140 character limit; LinkedIn is in the middle. It boasts a 600 character limit for updates which allows for relatively lengthy posts without the worry of something being cut off. Often enough this won’t be completely used. This larger limit however does give its users the chance to write more when needed. LinkedIn does also come with a feature that allows you to easily post to Twitter. This does however mean that only the first 140 characters of your update will be uploaded to Twitter.
Building a follower base on LinkedIn is like other platforms, but also provide another means of building a follower base. You can search for businesses and follow them manually if you so choose to. However, there is also the method of following people through groups. When looking at profiles, there is a section for recommended groups which will also detail the number of people in that group. You can use this to find and follow others to try and build up followers.
As we have stated, social media is an exceptional tool when used well. It also takes time for social media to have an effect. This is what can quickly put businesses off using it. However, if time is dedicated to managing a social media account on a single or multiple platforms; it can greatly aid in branching out the businesses reach and improve brand recognition.
Social media should be used where possible and no matter what industry you are in, there is a social media platform that best suits you. Even if it is a single platform at first, you can always expand further down the line.
If you need social media set up and/or managed; why not get in contact with us today? We will provide advice and guidance on what social media platforms would best suit you.