I’m going to assume you understand what social media is, but there is a big difference between using it personally and using social media for business. A lot of new business owners jump straight onto the networks they use themselves, this might not be the best solution. Whilst these sites have access to millions of users in the UK, you need to choose the networks that align with your business type and demographics.
Be sure to use original content, it’s bad form and often illegal to use images and videos you don’t have rights to. The amount you should spend on creating social media content depends on your business and branding. Some small, niche producers can get away with using shots from camera phones, larger brands will use professional production crews.
Every business has its own unique branding so there isn’t a simple standard to follow. You should test each platform and test the type of content you use to see which is best received by your fans. For example, you are likely to find that content that works well on Snapchat might not work as well on LinkedIn.
Here’s a breakdown of each network, listed by popularity in the UK. Each platform has its own focus, demographic and business opportunities. Figures are correct for 2017.
Predominately used for socially sharing personal moments with friends and family. Don’t expect to receive high interaction figures for organic posts (not paid), to reach a large audience you need to use Facebook Ads. Video works well on Facebook but be sure to upload the videos directly, they will have priority over video from other sites, which means more views.
If you post too much sales content, your audience will quickly disengage. Think of Facebook as a platform for building your brand, exciting and enticing new and existing customers. Special offers, interesting insights, product launches and plenty of imagery will work well.
- Excellent for posting branding content
- Most active demographic: 35 – 55 females. Businesses appealing to this demographic will receive higher interaction rates.
- Not suitable for: B2B
- Facebook ads can work well for some business types
The biggest video sharing site in the world. There is a big trend towards online video which doesn’t appear to be slowing. 8 out of 10 people ages 18-49 use YouTube at least once a month, the most active audience being Males (62%) aged 25-44, spending 40 mins on average on each session.
The scope for business on YouTube is vast. The appeal of the network is as varied as the content uploaded to it. YouTube is suitable for building an engaged audience and driving traffic to your website/ecommerce solution.
Themes for building an engaged Audience:
- Instructional videos
- Product reveals
- Workplace tours
Drive traffic to your website:
You can create adverts specifically for using on YouTube. The ads are managed via a Google AdWords account. This is a useful place to start: https://www.youtube.com/yt/advertise/en-GB/.
A ‘microblogging’ site, Twitter allows you to share posts or ‘tweets’ of only 140 letters or characters. This limitation leads to some creative use of language and distillation of meaning. You can also share videos, images and links.
Unlike a blog post on a website, the ‘lifetime’ of a tweet is very short. Consider Twitter as a way of having an immediate conversation with your audience. The immediacy of the platform makes it perfect for posting snapshots of your daily business, updates, news, links to content and direct conversations with your customers.
The best way to get your content viewed on Twitter is to use hashtags – basically a descriptive subject preceded with a ‘#’, for example: #marketing, #business or #startup. Users who are interested in that subject will follow these hashtags and are more likely to see your posts. It’s a simple and free way of finding a larger audience for your tweets. Beware of using too many hashtags, 1 – 3 is fine.
Twitter ads are available but they have consistently produced poor results. Better to focus on using the right hashtags and posting interesting tweets.
Ideal for B2B, twitter lets you reach out to individuals that might be hard to reach by other means. This does not mean you should bombard them with sales messages, that’s a quick way to get blocked, but you can start conversations which might lead to sales.
Easy to use and set up on a smart phone, Twitter should be considered standard social media for business.
Instagram – 14,000,000 – www.instagram.com
Owned by Facebook, Instagram is all about sharing pretty pictures and videos. Instagram is favoured by younger users, the average user being female, aged between 18-29.
The trick here is to focus on making your pictures and videos looking as good as possible. The better the image looks, the higher engagement you should expect. Keep an eye on filter trends but don’t sacrifice your brand style to look like the latest format. Hashtags are essential, you can use more than you do on Twitter but don’t overstuff.
User interaction is more passive than some of the other networks, you won’t be chatting to many users but you should be receiving ‘likes’ and comments on your posts if they’re working well. You can link to your website from your profile and ads, but not from images, videos or comments. Instagram is excellent as a branding platform, not so good for generating organic website traffic.
Instagram ads can work well, but your business really should be appealing to Millennials to get a good return on investment. The ads are managed via Facebook Ads.
An excellent choice for D2C, 48% of brands already use Instagram. You can have some success as a B2B but if you’re limited on time, it might not be the most effective.
Setting up your Google+ account is essential as it is will directly affect your listing in organic Google searches. Regardless of your industry or demographic, you should have an up to date Google+ account. Despite Google denying a correlation, studies have shown that getting more ‘+1’s on Google+ will positively affect your Page ranking.
As a social media for business network, it has largely failed, especially compared to the others. My advice would be to not spend time building an audience on Google+, but keep the account current. Some smaller businesses have had some success, notably photographers, but the very low interaction rate means you will have a more productive time on other platforms.
The UK makes up 5% of the total users on Google+
Similar to Instagram, Pinterest is all about pretty pictures and using hashtags. Users can collect the content they link onto themed ‘boards’ to refer to later. The advantage is that you can deep link (directly to product pages) from your posts. Perfect for attracting interested users to your website/ecommerce solution. The content needs to look excellent, poor photography does not do well here.
Hashtags are very important in Pinterest, it’s how most of the content is found. You should also spend time on the descriptions, offering plenty of enticing and useful information.
The user base is 81% female and is one of the strongest platforms for that demographic.
Infographics – images and charts depicting instructions or information on how to perform tasks can be very successful. Subjects such as how to wear scarves, hair styling and correct product usage can attract high engagement.
Use an informal tone, this is not the platform for ‘business speak’.
71% of Snapchat’s users are aged 18-34, making this social media network a firm favourite with Millennials. It is predominately a consumer network, if your business is B2B, you are unlikely to see positive returns.
Posts on Snapchat expire so you should approach your content with that in mind. Immediacy is key, as with Twitter, so it’s a good platform to share behind the scenes moments, giving your fans a chance to see how things work and add some personality to your brand.
Ideal for brand awareness, especially for the younger demographics. Successful campaigns include product reveals, account takeovers (where ‘influencers’ take over your posts for a given length of time), product demos and VIP access.
You can use both image and video. The standard of photography is expected to be lower, most of the content is ‘snapped’ using smartphones.
Snapchat release smart filters that superimpose funny ears, eyes, tongues and other effects, don’t be afraid to join in the fun. The tone on this network is very personal and informal.
One of the most influential social media for business networks, if you are looking for social media for business, this is it. As with the other networks, avoid too much sales focused content, engagement will drop.
Content focused on insights, developments, advice and offers can all work well. The language format is different too, don’t be afraid to use a more formal business tone.
You should include external links when relevant and use images and videos as much as possible. Your goal should be to build a good reputation and interest in your products rather than directly trying to sell. Interesting insights works very well, especially if you can share something different or controversial.
Avoid doing the LinkedIn equivalent of cold calling – messaging users with sales pitches. It is much more effective to build interest by demonstrating your industry knowledge through business page and personal account posts.
Whilst using social media, remember to conduct yourself appropriately. Many companies have received bad PR for social media mishaps. Apart from Snapchat, content can be shared and read for a long time. Customer service is very important. Remain on-brand and never be offensive.
Try to post daily of possible, of you remain engaged, so will your audience.
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