Social Media is nothing new, but different social media networks, how they operate and who’s using them is in constant flux. What’s popular today may not be tomorrow, and who you’re talking to may change quickly. Every network isn’t for every business, and it’s important to use your resources wisely; it would be a mistake to start using a new network only to realize your audience isn’t there and the page or profile isn’t worth your time to maintain. Here’s a high level overview, for beginners, of some of the top social media networks to help you get started on your social media journey.
Facebook is arguably still the social media leader. The network focuses on sharing content of all varieties with your friends or fans. You can share a general post, a link to a page, upload images or video, engage users with interactive content and more. Something to keep in mind is the highest percentage of users are between their mid-twenties and late thirties, so make sure you think about age targeting if use ad campaigns.
Facebook tends to have more success with B2C products over B2B, as B2C advertising tends to lean more towards providing entertainment, what the platform is used most for, and B2B generally focuses more on providing informative content.
Though Twitter has yet to catch up to Facebook in terms of its sheer number of active users, there are many other factors that make Twitter a key player in the social media space. Profiles on Twitter are generally public, which isn’t the case for Facebook profiles. Learning more about a user, based on what they have shared, is easier organically through Twitter. You’re also more likely to reach your audience organically using Twitter, as long as the users are active and you share regularly. Your organic reach isn’t limited through an ever changing algorithm, the way Facebook content is. Your post has the best chance of being seen on Twitter if you use the right keywords or hashtags, have enough followers, or are retweeted by the right people.
Timing is key as well. It has been said the average lifespan of tweet is about twenty minutes—meaning in order to hit the audience you want you need to tweet regularly. Users will unfollow an inactive profile fairly quickly, so posting the right content multiple times per day, without spamming, is the best way to be successful.
YouTube is the video streaming, storage, and sharing powerhouse of social media. Though Facebook, Twitter, and other platforms now offer you the option of uploading your videos natively to their platforms, there are still limitations, making the need for YouTube as constant as ever.
If you are targeting an audience with traditional television media and a strong campaign, exploring YouTube video advertisements may be a good fit for your business. Maintaining a strong channel full of tutorials, special events recaps, entertaining videos and more is important for your business. Don’t forget, you can embed these videos on your own site.
LinkedIn is the largest public social media network for professionals. The network has moved beyond being a glorified place to house your resume and experience. It’s now become a way to keep in touch with business contacts, research and attract potential talent, learn more about sales prospects and stay on top of news relevant to your industry or specific companies. Since LinkedIn tends to focus on business, historically B2B businesses have had an advantage over B2C business in this space, which is the opposite of networks like Facebook. People looking at LinkedIn are generally already in a professional mindset, which means they are more willing to look at business solutions here.
Maintaining a profile or company page on LinkedIn can be less time consuming than other networks, especially Twitter. Where anything you post to any network should be engaging, company news such as product releases or the acquisition of important new talent is perfect to be housed here where it will be the most relevant. It also is a good place to showcase, limitedly, your employee culture, sharing photos of companywide events or specific employee achievements.
Pinterest is still a very targeted market in the social media world, appealing mainly to female B2C consumers. Pintrest is a slightly different take on Social Media bookmarking sites (think Digg, del.icio.us, as well as my personal favorite StumbleUpon). The site focuses on setting up boards, which are there to help you organize and keep track of specific links, topics, images and so on by “pinning” these topics to an organizational board. You can upload your own content to these boards or find content already shared by other users across the site to pin to your boards. Just like most social media networks, you can connect with and follow your friends and brands, but also topics and public boards other people have created.
The boards may not need to be meticulously maintained, but curating enough content to have your board seem full is important if you think this is the right network for your audience. Launching into this platform may be the most time consuming part of your Pinterest journey.
Where YouTube is the powerhouse for videos in the social media world, Instagram is the powerhouse in social image sharing (though now you can share videos there as well). Users can share Instagram images across networks, and with fellow users, with just a click on their mobile device. That is one thing about this platform, you can only upload photos using your mobile devices at this time, with limited workarounds. The audience tends to be younger users, due to the mobile only upload setup.
Something to keep in mind when opening an Instagram account is: how visual is your business? Do you sell something tangible, a visually enticing experience, or something that can be explained using mainly images and a short summary? If not, your audience may not be receptive to your message on this platform.
No matter what platforms you decide to use, understanding the basics and figuring out your resources is key to getting started. Chances are your audience is out there already using social media, now is the time to go out and find them before your competitors do. If your CMS isn’t already helping you in this effort—it should be. We wish you luck as you begin your social media journey.