Thursday 28 February 2013

Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

With an abundance of social media platforms to use, a lot of business owners out there will be wondering where to even start. Each platform offers something completely different to the next, so then how do you know where to invest your time and money?  One of the biggest mistakes that a small business will make in its social media marketing is to try and be everywhere - it simply just won't work. Stretching yourself across a broad range of social media platforms will mean you are spending more time as a whole with fewer results.

So what are your options?

Facebook business pages allow you to connect with your audience by posting to them about what you are doing and also allowing people to engage with your brand by posting to your page. There are a few reasons that make Facebook a great platform to use:
  • Reach - it has 1 billion monthly users so you will struggle to find many people who won't be online.
  • Variety - Facebook offers the chance to use video, photos and text as well as being able to create interactive apps.
  • Tailored towards business - Facebook offers advertising which can be utilized.
Twitter is a great way to post small snippets of information to your followers and a great way to keep your customers up to date. It is heavily geared towards people with knowledge to share over those who are selling physical products. In saying this it does not mean that if you are selling physical product you can't be on twitter. Nike (while on a big scale) is a great example of a twitter profile that creates hype around their products and brand without trying to market them directly.

Pinterest is a cross between twitter, a bookmarking site and a global game of show & tell. Users find interesting photos online and 'pin' them to 'boards' (or save them into categories). It is important to remember that Pinterest is not a platform for shameless self-promotion. Instead it should be used as an ideas/inspiration board or just as a way to have a bit of fun with your brand. Again while most small business won't have the money or time - Peugeot is a company who has done a great job with its Pintrest board.

Instagram is the most recent addition to the social media bandwagon which both individuals and businesses have jumped on. Instagram at its core is a mobile app which is used to edit and share photos and, as they say a picture is worth 1000 words! At this stage Instagram is probably the most pure of the social media platforms, in the sense that there is still no advertising or revenue to be made from it - it is purely social (this may change in the near future with Facebook recently purchasing the app as well as an increased pressure for them to become more profitable after going public). The fact that Instagram is not made for business probably benefits those who use it well - people don't like to think they have been marketed to and Instagram is a way to market your products without it even seeming like you are trying to sell.
Tips on using and when to use Instagram:
  • If you have products, show them in their use - a great way to create a need/want for your product.
  • Show your products as they are being created - this gives customers a bit of a behind the scenes look.
  • Engage with your users where possible - this can be by answering questions or commenting on photos which have been added by customers
While most people will use YouTube to watch videos of Korean men pretending to dance like a horse, there is a lot of value to be found in one of the most popular social platforms. Below are a couple of great uses of YouTube for small business:
  • Building a brand - because video is so easily accessible now (through the use of smart phones and tablets) building your brand around video can be a lot easier than it once was. Videos do not have to be a high quality - a home-shot, monthly update is a great way to help build your brand.
  • Product support and training - There are 22 400 000 videos on YouTube with the phrase "how to" used in their title's - I can only imagine how often the phrase is searched. Video is a great way to teach people how to use your product and as YouTube is the most popular of the social media (along with best suited to video) why wouldn't you use it.

How to choose the right social media
So now the big question - how do I know what will work for me? Below are a few key things to think about when you do take the plunge:

  • Know your target market - know who you are going to try and target with your Social Media campaigns. This gives you vital information into which platform is the best one to invest your time and money into.
  • Know your business - this might seem like a worthless piece of information but you would be surprised how many people get it wrong! If your work is visual - don't tweet about it! If you are an accountant - you probably don't need to be on Pinterest.
  • Trial and error- as with most marketing, no matter how much research you do you won't know the effectiveness until it is tried. Try new and different things with your social media, make sure you adapt what you are posting based on the effectiveness of previous posts. This may be both the time that it is posted as well as the content.