Just under two years ago, 86 percent of business owners reported to a survey that social media was important to the marketing and sales of their companies. That number grew to 92 through 2014, and will probably increase again as 2015 unfolds. There are more than 1.35 billion people using Facebook, 284 million active monthly Twitter users, approximately 300 million active monthly users on both Google Plus and Instagram.
That’s a lot of consumers for a business to get its products and services in front of and many of those users are on more than one social site. What makes it so challenging is knowing not only how to use each social platform, but which ones to use for your business. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your company has to have a presence on all of them because that shotgun approach is bound to miss the bullseye.
What you ought to do is get to know a little bit about each social network and its users, in order to focus your efforts on the right sites to get the most out of your marketing. To do that, you need to get a good understanding of how social works and how it can work to help promote your company to generate more interest and increase sales.
Understanding Inbound and Social Media Marketing
Social media has evolved immensely since its inception, coming a long way from the days of MySpace and others like it. These Web 2.0 properties, as they were known when ballooning in the first decade of the new millennium, spread among consumers like proverbial wild fire and their popularity shows no signs of slowing down. Though there are user shifts among the various networks, there’s still much value in social media.
You should have a good idea who potential or existing customers are and the type of content they’ll be interested in. Then, to narrow the social media playing field, you’ll need to decide in which networks they are most likely to congregate. —Inc.com
The reason companies, from the top of the Fortune 500 list, to small businesses, are using social for their inbound marketing, is because of their inherent connectivity. First and foremost, this includes being able to reach hundreds, if not thousands, of consumers on your own terms. It can be social sharing, blogging, or even search engine marketing (read buy ads); but, of those three, only two you actually control. What’s more, you also aren’t lumped-in side-by-side with your competition and can be as active as you want, not as active as your wallet allows.
Best Social Media Sites for Business
The best social media sites for your business depends on your industry and the demographics who comprise your target audience. To know which are right for your company, you have to first take a look at what you’re selling and then the match it with the right mediums to market your products and services. Here’s a few considerations about which social media platforms will best work for your business:
- Facebook. Although there are more than 1.35 billion people on Facebook, the network is losing it’s youngest users, which means those on the network are typically older than millennials. Facebook allows you to create a business space, and to build a local audience to connect with through family, friends, and acquaintances. Think of it as a grassroots venue that can be leveraged to build a larger and larger following. The good news is, of all social sites, Facebook is the most frequently used, which directly translates into higher engagement.
- Twitter. With only 140 characters to send a message, Twitter is a microblog used mostly by information junkies, equally split among young men and women. Twitter works best for companies that will directly communicate with users and for businesses that deal with or can tie into timely issues and topic-based news items. To make Twitter work at its best, you’ll have to learn the lingo and incorporate operators, like hashtags.
- Google Plus. This network is one that’s the subject of much outside speculation. Though it provides a great platform on which to share a robust amount of information, its future is still unclear. That being said, it works great for businesses that are image-centric or information-centric. It displays images clearly, allows you to write and format blog articles, and share infographics. It also uses operators and allows businesses to create their own dedicated page, complete with inclusion on Google Maps.
- Instagram. This image and 15-second video sharing site also incorporates hashtags. It allows you to search and find consumers with interests which are aligned with your business’ goods and services. Instagram is popular among a diverse amount of ethnicity groups and urbanites.
- YouTube. If your business is able to create and produce quality video content, on a regular basis, then YouTube is a great marketing platform to engage. Your business should set incremental goals to grow its audience, particularly subscribers, because your channel can actually earn money on its own. Unless you’re in the production industry, you’ll have to make an initial investment to get the most out of marketing on YouTube.
- LinkedIn. This site is synonymous with networking and, it’s great for companies that are business-centric, such as business and life coaches, resume writers, and commercial lenders. Like Google+, LinkedIn allows you to write blog posts that are tailored to your target audience. This platform is idea for B2B, but won’t be useful to some industries, like retailers.
- Pinterest. This site, as many people know, is dominated by women, as men only makeup about 13 percent of its user base. The majority of its female users are professional, have advanced degrees, and are very into crafts, recipes, and many other DIY projects. Like Instagram, this is a highly visual network.
- Yelp. This can be a great resource if you encourage patrons to leave reviews. Yelp also has some largely unknown benefits for businesses, which include being able to remove competitors’ ads on your company page, publish enhanced slide shows, and upload profile videos.
As you can see, there are some social sites which fit nicely into your marketing and others that aren’t a good match at all. When you begin to market through social, do it right. Fill out your profiles completely, stay active, interact, and do so consistently.