How important is social media? How long should you spend engaging with your audience? How much effort should be made increasing your fans and followers? Social media is still very much mystery for many business owners, and while most people now have set up company profile pages on the main networks, few know how to effectively manage them. Today we’ll share some insights we have gained from helping SMEs develop their social media presence.
Social media has grown in importance significantly over the last few years, so if you set up a Facebook page and Twitter account in 2014 and abandoned it, now is the time to dig out those passwords and put them to action. So, where do you start?
Social media in 2017 is far more diverse than you may think. While the big 5 social sites, made up of Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest are the first to spring to mind, other relatively new sites are rapidly growing in importance. Sites such as Google+, Tumblr, Instagram, Reddit, Flickr, Meetup and ClassMates are all growing in popularity, and all support slightly different market segments and demographics. Also, these sites do not cover the growing use of instant messaging apps such as Snapchat and WhatsApp, which can be used, with a little creativity, to reach a larger audience. If your product is targeted at the younger end of the market, you need to be on these platforms.
FACEBOOK IS KING
Although new sites are popping up all the time, Facebook is still the leader of the pack. Everybody uses Facebook – kids, their parents, politicians and company directors. Facebook has lost some of its appeal to the younger crowd, but it is still important. What’s more, Facebook provides a user-friendly advertising platform so you can reach your market – not all social media platforms offer this feature.
Facebook is still all about sharing great content. The best strategy is to create an engaging piece of content, share it on Facebook, and then boost that post to reach your target audience. If you can encourage shares and likes, it will organically reach a much wider audience, and “go viral”. So long as you post several times a week, with at least one boosted post each week, you will grow your audience.
YOUTUBE – WHERE CORPORATES GO VIRAL
We have a habit for forgetting that YouTube is a social media platform. It has become such as successful product, that people go there to watch content, while forgetting that all the content is produced and uploaded by a community of users.
YouTube is a great way to develop your brand online. You do need to invest in creating some high quality video content, but when done right, you will find that this is very quickly shared beyond YouTube, across other social media platforms and the huge network of blogs and forums. This is why making branded videos is important – many viewers will only see your video embedded on a third party site, and therefore not see any links or other text messages you may add to the video description. Video marketing is still growing in importance and many brands have managed to create corporate videos that appeal to a large audience.
TWITTER FOR NEWS
Twitter has been struggling, but it is refocusing its efforts on becoming a news channel, with an emphasis on user generated news items that are tagged so that they become visible to all interested parties. Twitter does require a more aggressive form of networking than Facebook, but if you can build a larger audience and use it to publish relevant news stories – relevant to both your business and your followers – you can start to grow a larger audience that can eventually be sold to.
LINKEDIN FOR BUSINESS
LinkedIn is still very much the place for business. The best way to use it is to connect with potential buyers, suppliers and customers in your industry. Provide some short news items, a few in-depth reports, and mention other leaders in your field – it’s all about patting some people on the back to build a stronger network that you can eventually use to promote your services. Post weekly and use the time to make new connections by commenting on industry news stories.
Pinterest continues to be a great platform for anybody selling items as well as home improvement and fitness. It is dominated by women, and best used to share creative ideas and new fashion trends. As well as listing your products on Pinterest under your brand name, also add them to collaborative groups, and tag other users who may be interested.
INSTAGRAM & SNAPCHAT
Although rather different, we’ll put these together simply because they use image based communication. Both are best used as a fun way to connect with fans. They are often more of a one-way channel, where people follow and view, so focus on brand building.
The main difference between the two is that Instagram is open to the public, so what is posted can be viewed anytime, whereas Snapchat posts can only be seen by your connections.
Snapchat is a great way to scale “personal” messages to customers to help encourage them to return seasonal campaigns can work very well on these platforms. If you want to appeal to the younger crowd, you need to be on these platforms – this market is more likely to view a snap chat message than open a marketing email.
MIX ORGANIC AND PAID POSTS
Whichever platform you use, mix up organic and paid posts. Do not leave everything to fate, and do not only push sales messages with paid promotions. Social media must maintain an element of personal communication for it to work.
People engage more with posts that trigger emotions. Happiness, laughter, shock, sadness – posts that make people feel these emotions will be shared more, so try to pull on those customer heart strings a little. It is best to stick with positive emotions though, unless you are running a campaign to raise awareness for a charity, a humanitarian appeal or similar.
For inspiration on how to use emotion to get people to interact, watch the campaigns videos on Red Nose Day on 27th March – people are deliberately moved to tears as they are then more likely to make an immediate donation.
We hope this helps you understand social media a little more. If you would like some hands-on assistance with your social media campaigns, speak to our social media consultant today. We also offer social media training if you would prefer to learn how to manage your accounts yourself.