So you know that you need to use social media to promote your business online, but you’re a bit bewildered by the number of platforms out there? It’s hard to know where to start when you’re beginning.
There’s an urge for people to try and cover every platform they can find, to make sure that they’re doing the best they can do to market their business, but this isn’t the right strategy. Unless you have a dedicated team of social media managers to spend enough time on each platform, it’s not a good idea to spread yourself really thinly. Instead, it’s better to focus on a few key platforms – the ones that are best suited to your business. If you only have time to spend on two platforms, make them Facebook and Twitter – the essential social networks for just about any business.
Best for: Connecting with customers, sharing content, traffic referrals, sales
The world’s most widely used social media platform is likely to be used by a vast array of your potential customers, which means you can’t afford to not be on it. Build a fun, engaging page filled with informative and relevant content and watch your fans grow.
Best for: Connecting with customers, building brand awareness, sharing content, traffic referrals
Twitter’s active and engaged user base of millions of people presents a giant untapped market for your business, and a great opportunity to make connections and build your brand name through sharing of content in a niche relevant to what your business sells. Focus on sharing informative, relevant, newsworthy content about your business and your industry.
Best for: Improving your site’s SEO
Google+ may not have the user base of Twitter or Facebook, but it’s a multi-faceted platform that allows you to promote your business in a whole range of ways, from sharing photo albums to doing video hangouts with customers. The best thing about it is how it can help improve your website’s search engine optimisation in a number of ways.
Best for: Business connections, posting jobs and posting information about your products
Every business should have a LinkedIn profile. It’s not a network that you would necessarily need to spend much time on, but it’s important to have a profile where you list your products, and to encourage employees to have profiles where they list your business as their current workplace.
Best for: video sharing
If your business can be promoted through video (be honest about this – if you own a funeral parlour or are a plumber, then video promotion is probably not the best marketing option), and you have the resources to make good-quality videos (shooting shaky clips with your BlackBerry doesn’t count), then you need to be on YouTube and start your own channel to push your video content. If you aren’t producing your own videos, don’t bother with YouTube.
Best for: visual sharing
Pinterest is a network where people create visual pinboards of stuff that inspires them. Almost everything on Pinterest is about lifestyle and design – the most popular content is related to weddings, fashion, beauty, travel, food and photography – so if your business fits into these categories then it would be worth getting onto Pinterest. There’s not much point in having a Pinterest account if your products aren’t “pinnable”.
Best for: photo sharing
Instagram is a mobile-only photo sharing app that’s available on some smartphones. Many brands, from fashion houses to cars, use Instagram successfully to promote their business, because their products or services are photogenic. If what you sell is worth a photo, and you’re fairly good at snapping shots on your phone, then Instagram could be right for you. If, on the other hand, you’re selling insurance or printers, then Instagram is not going to do anything for your business.
Best for: micro blogging about a niche
Tumblr is a micro blogging platform that allows you to create simple blogs that could be made up only of photos or quotes. You may already have a company blog, but Tumblr is a great alternative if you’re wanting to share some fun, inspiring or visually stimulating content – either about your brand and your products, or about the industry your business is in. For example, if you’re a photographer, you could share your own photos along with those that have inspired you, or if you own an adventure travel company, you could post photos of adventure activities around the world. Having a Tumblr isn’t likely to generate a massive amount of referrals to your site, unless your Tumblr becomes incredibly popular (which is fairly unlikely) – so keep this in mind when deciding whether or not to launch onto the platform.