As a business-owner, you have a hundred things clamoring for your attention. But you also need to be on social media, to listen and talk to your customers and to influencers in your industry. Focusing on one or two channels will probably be more useful to you than creating profiles on many that you can’t keep up with.
The biggest factor that determines what social media you should focus on depends, of course, on where your customers are. But here are some other factors that might help you make the decision.
If you’re a B2C business, you probably can’t afford to ignore Facebook. Facebook has a huge user base, and it’s where everyone hangs out — teenagers, office workers, stay-at-home parents, freelancers, grandparents. So you should seriously consider having an active Facebook page if:
- You’re a B2C business.
- Your business or product is exciting, something that people feel emotional about, or something people want to share.
- You want to showcase a fun, vibrant, or funny brand personality.
- You want to get your customers/audience’s feedback and opinions.
Using Facebook for marketing? Here are some tips to make your posts more effective.
You should be on Twitter if:
- You want to listen: Given Twitter’s open platform, it’s a great way to eavesdrop on conversations on virtually anything. If you want to know what people are saying about a competitor or an industry or an event, try a Twitter search.
- You want to work on your customer service: Find out what people are saying about you and respond. Thank them for compliments, address their concerns, treat each tweet mentioning you like a customer service request.
- You want to find influencers.
- You’re targeting early adopters.
- You host or attend events often.
- Your business is related to tech, marketing, journalism, or startups — many people associated with these areas are on Twitter.
But only get on Twitter if you can tweet regularly – ideally, spend at least a few minutes a day. The number of followers you get on Twitter roughly correlates to your number of tweets, so even more than in other social media, if you’re not going to be active, don’t even bother.
In my experience, the people most active on LinkedIn are people who’re actively looking for jobs and sales or marketing people. So, you should have an active presence on LinkedIn if:
- You’re a B2B business, especially in the technology or marketing space. (From what I’ve seen, many companies in these industries have an active presence on LinkedIn, and you’re going to lose out if you don’t keep up.)
- You’re marketing to job-seekers or to freelance professionals.
- You have a kind of staid and dignified brand personality.
- One big difference with LinkedIn right now is that brands just don’t get to use many of LinkedIn’s best features – such as following other brands or people, and participating in discussions. So if you want to build your personal brand rather than a business brand – say, if you are a consultant or trainer – LinkedIn is probably a good bet.
YouTube isn’t just a social media site, it’s the second biggest search engine after Google. You should be on YouTube if:
- You are targeting younger people, who tend to watch videos online.
- Your products or service have interesting processes that people might be interested in watching – e.g., you bake cupcakes or plan weddings.
- Your product is complex or involved, so you can create video tutorials that help your customers. Many software products fit this description.
- You provide experiences that are difficult to describe in words – e.g., you’re a speaker, a comic, or an adventure travel business.
- Your business is related to video: e.g., you’re a videographer or video production business.
But how do you create videos? Use these free tools.
I’m not a big fan of Google Plus. I find it awkward to use, and there aren’t many active users there — except for some marketing and tech people. However, we still have a page up — because this is Google, and you can’t quite afford to ignore it.
So get on Google Plus if:
- You’re worried about SEO: Google shows Google Plus results in search if you’re logged in.
- You host — or want to — video events: Google Hangouts is a great tool for that.
Now we come to my favorite form of social media. It’s different from the others in that it’s not one platform: you can use one of many blogging platforms, some of the most popular being WordPress, Blogger, Typepad, and Tumblr.
But I like blogs best because:
- A blog is your own space. It’s not hosted on another platform and you can follow your own rules, whether of design, formatting, or commenting. You can use whatever form of content you want – video, audio, photos, text, or any combination of these.
- A blog works for you no matter what kind of business you are or what your brand personality is. Whether you want to be quirky or dignified, warm or snarky, a blog is the easiest medium to showcase your expertise and personality.
- Blog posts last better than most other social media posts: your older posts will continue to get you visits long after your tweets and Facebook posts have faded into oblivion.
The flip side, of course, is that blogs are more difficult to build and manage. But if you have the time to spend, this is one social media channel you shouldn’t ignore.
Here are some blogging tips to help you get going.
I’ve only included the most popular social media here: of course, there are tons of others that you could be looking at. But if you’re like most businesses, you need to be present on at least one of the above.
However, keep in mind that all of the above are rules of thumb. If your customers don’t fit this pattern, don’t waste time using a medium that they don’t care for.
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