Using social media can be a fantastic way to raise the profile of your business and attract new customers as well as maintain the relationships you have built with your existing customers.
Here is a brief overview of a few of the most commonly used social media platforms to help you decide which ones might be most appropriate to communicate with your target audience.
Still the most widely used platform by all age groups (the highest proportion of the UK population have Facebook accounts and actively use it compared to all other types of social media). Facebook has over 1 billion active users worldwide and counting… fast. (Aug’ 15)
You can set up a Facebook page to represent your business or brand off the back of your own personal profile. Individuals can then “like” (become a fan of) this page. If an individual “likes” your page they may see updates you post in their news-feed (home page view which lists updates that businesses, groups or their individual Facebook friends have posted).
Good for: telling the personal or wider story behind your business, Facebook is all about people, pictures and stories.
Not so good for: making sure every fan sees everything you post, Facebook uses a complex algorithm to decide which posts it shows people and which it doesn’t. It means that everyone who “likes” your page will not necessarily be shown what you post in their newsfeed unless Facebook feels they will find it interesting or applicable. This can make it more difficult to build your following without paying Facebook to promote your posts.
Increasingly popular social media platform, with 560 million active users worldwide every single month. (Aug’ 15)
You can set up a Twitter account as an individual or as a business/brand. Individuals can then “follow” this account. If an individual “follows” your Twitter account, your tweets will be included in their news feed. Tweets are displayed in chronological order for users but Twitter now summarises periods of time, displaying the message “while you were away” and then a summary of the most interacted with tweets.
Good for: running commentary, news-style updates, staying up to date with industry changes and up to the second news.
Not so good for: occasional updates, you need to tweet very regularly to stand out from the crowd, volume matters on Twitter as there will be updates on your followers’ news-feeds every few seconds.
Not widely used directly as a platform but integrates well with other Google products such as Google Maps, YouTube and even Google search results. Much like Facebook, you can set up a Google+ business account using a personal profile, individuals and other businesses can then add you to one of their “circles” to see your updates. Although not the most popular social media channel, as you may have guessed, its always a good idea to use Google applications, especially if you have your own website. Another great thing about a Google+ business page is that the information you have listed on that page is pulled through into search results when the business name specifically is searched for.
Good for: improving the Google rankings of your company website or blog by including links to websites in posts. Google favours their own applications so by using Google Plus your website will come nearer the top in search results.
Not so good for: getting your message across to a wide audience of people through this platform directly.
An increasingly popular platform, especially with younger generations; adults aged between 18 – 29 accounts for 1/3 of Instagram users. This social network is designed for use from a smartphone and is based around sharing individual photos. 150 million people actively use Instagram worldwide, 14 million of those are in the UK. (Aug’ 15). Instagram was acquired by Facebook in 2012 and as a result, you can opt for anything posted onto Instagram to automatically be posted to Facebook at the same time. Instagram has also recently introduced business advertisements which work in a similar way to Facebook’s carousel adverts.
You can set up an Instagram account for your business and individuals can “follow” you. If an individual “follows” you they will see your posts in their news feed, your followers are shown every post from the people they follow in the order that they were posted.
Good for: sharing pictures of beautiful things, if you are a business which involves creating or selling anything aesthetically pleasing (food, venues, holidays, clothes, accessories etc…) to a younger demographic Instagram might work well for you.
Not so good for: showing much information about a company or communicating with an audience above 30 years old. Like Twitter, less is more in terms of descriptions and profile information so make sure you include website links.
A large proportion (3/4) of the users of this platform are female. Each individual “pins” images to themed mood boards on their profile. This platform is often used to generate ideas for key life events such as a wedding or new home e.g. Having a “board” labelled “kitchen” and images of various kitchen designs “pinned” to it. You can set up an account on Pinterest for your business and post images relating to products or services you sell. By associating images with categories (e.g. Interior design) and including a hyperlink to the website where users could buy the item or find out more information you create a path for potential customers to follow. If a user likes an image they may “pin” it to one of their boards and ultimately follow the link to buy the product once they’ve made their decision.
Good for: those who sell products or services connected to key life events e.g. furniture, wedding venues, DYI products or clothes & accessories for baby/weddings.
Not so good for: anything else or for communicating with a male audience.
The increasingly popular platform, primarily used for professional networking, a new user joins LinkedIn every second worldwide. An individual user’s profile is essentially the information they would include on their CV. A business page can be set up and users can state that they are a current or past employee of the company. Users can also “follow” the company, like on other platforms, to see posts from the company in their news feed.
Good for: raising the profile of your company within your industry or sector and recruiting new employees.
Not so good for: directly selling products, LinkedIn should be used for sharing industry news and thought leadership.
Wrapping It Up
Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay.
For the majority of websites, social media is the largest source of traffic after search engines like Google and Bing. If you do not use social media yourself, it is important to give potential clients a way of seeing and interacting with your business through their favourite social media channels.
Over half of online adults use more than one social media account so you should consider whether a combination of different accounts is right for you. If you decide to use social media for your business, make sure you have the time and resources to keep the accounts active. We believe it gives a negative impression if your business social media accounts become inactive and show last posts as weeks, months and in some cases even years old (yes we have seen this plenty of times).
It’s also worth checking out your competitor’s social media channels. If they are doing something well, what is it? How can you do something similar or better for your business? What are they saying and how are they saying it? What images are getting likes and what links are driving traffic? Consider all that you’ve got going on versus your top competitors and don’t be afraid to try something new to see how it works.
We’ll see you online!