The second in a series of articles about social media for business
Coming up later: How to build a social media community for your business |How to create a social media campaign for your business | Common social media mistakes businesses make | A guide to Facebook Ads for businesses
We’ve already discussed the pros and cons of using social media for your business. We weighed up the benefits of using a free marketing platform to attract inbound traffic, collect customer data and foster loyalty and brand equity, against the time you need to invest in making it work, the risk of miscommunication or negative feedback, and the pitfalls of using the wrong social media platform for your business
Now you’ve decided whether using social media is the right decision for your business, let’s help you decide which of the huge range of social media platforms available can help you achieve your marketing goals.
This article can help you make an informed decision no matter the size or type of your business, or even if you want to start your own blog or freelancing venture.
Finding your audience
Kissmetrics.com suggests 4 questions you need to ask yourself first:
- Where is my audience?
Which social media platforms are your target audience using? There’s no point in focusing your efforts on an amazing YouTube channel if your customers mainly just use Facebook.
- Where is my audience active?
Twitter has nearly 700,000,000 sign-ups, but “only a portion of those are active each month,” Kissmetrics are keen to point out. You need to choose platforms where your target audience are regularly interacting in order to get value from your social media marketing.
- Where is my audience searching?
People use social media for asking questions as well as socialising. “Every minute, people are conducting millions of queries on Google, Twitter, and Facebook. If you are active on these social media platforms, then you have a chance at appearing in social media search results,” argue Kissmetric.
- Which niche social media sites are right for me?
There are many niche social media sites out there for certain industries, and if you can pinpoint yours, you’ve found your audience.
Intechnic.com explain how you actually go about finding your audience. “There have been countless studies and articles published on the demographics of social media users, and most are easily unearthed through a quick Google search,” they explain… “Another tactic you might take is to look to your direct competitors—which social media platforms do they favour?”
The big three
Big mouth marketing suggest that you should join these 3 most-popular social media platforms, regardless of your audience or business model. Here’s why:
Facebook have a very active user base. In 2015 they reported over 1.44 billion active users, which makes it almost an essential tool in any social media marketing strategy, argues Big Mouth Marketing. What’s more, Facebook Audience Insights allows you to learn more about your audience and target your posts accordingly based on their demographics, behaviours and search queries.
Google+/ Google My Business
To find your audience, or rather, to let your audience find you, you need your business to be searchable on Google. A Google+ page with information such as your location, reviews, contact details, photographs, opening times and more makes this possible.
“Your business doesn’t actually need to be on LinkedIn,” argues Big Mouth Marketing. “You do.” If you’re the face of your business you can use this professional social platform to market your own authority and network with potential partners and clients.
Of course, depending on your business type, and what you want to gain from your social media strategy, you may want to consider reaching out to your audience elsewhere. Here’s a brief guide to some of the other most popular platforms.
74% of twitter users use it as a daily news source, so it’s perfect if you’re a “business that produces a lot of industry related news or often releases new products and offers,” say Visibility Magazine. However, the platform is generally not suitable for professional businesses such as “lawyers, solicitors, dentists, and other businesses that offer a high-end professional service” and it can be difficult to make an impact if you offer B2B services.
It’s possible to make emotional, inspirational or beautiful videos go viral, however if you’re not producing video content able to stand out amongst the “300 hours of content uploaded every minute,” it may not be worth the effort. This platform is ideal for highly visual businesses like fashion, food and fitness, or emotive ones like charities.
Like YouTube, Instagram is one of the most visual social media platforms, but beautiful images are much easier to produce than videos. Your audience are also able to customise their newsfeed to their interests – for instance, users with an interest in healthy eating and yoga will have a very different experience than those who follow accounts that share images of gaming or humour. This makes your audience easy to find using the right hashtags. Bare in mind that 90% of users are under 35, however.
“With more than 200 million blogs publishing 80 million posts per day, Tumblr is one of the most widely used social platforms in the world,” say sproutsocial.com. However, it can still be a very niche marketing platform, as nearly half of its users are between 16 and 24, but it can be difficult to use the platform’s mixture of images, GIF’s, videos, quotes and audio clips to get a strong, consistent message across.
We haven’t included all of the possible social media platforms out there – that would be impossible – but if you have a request for information on anything we haven’t included, let us know in the comments below.