If you asked anybody to name all of the social media sites out there, I bet you’d be waiting a long time before they finished. There are hundreds. And to somebody relatively new to using social media as a marketing tool, it can be incredibly daunting.
Here at Statement, we often manage social accounts on behalf of our clients and we’ve definitely learnt over the years what has and hasn’t been relevant to certain business types. It’s often tempting to sign up to every site out there just because everybody else seems to be. But we’ve found that some websites and social apps just haven’t been relevant for some companies or industries. So here is a round-up of the most popular sites that will hopefully help you to determine which platforms are appropriate to your brand.
Possibly the Godfather of social media. You will definitely have heard of it, you may use it personally and some of you might even have seen the film. Facebook is in the top three of most popular social media sites to be on and you should probably consider signing up for a business page.
Having said that, it all depends on how comfortable people are seeing your company’s posts when browsing their news feed and this will depend on the products and services that you offer. People are primarily signed up to Facebook to stay in touch with friends and family and tend to ‘like’ company pages as an after-thought. This is a social site focused on people and communities.
Companies on Facebook tend to take advantage of the potential for wide coverage because you can post statuses, upload images, upload videos, tag people, host events, and install in-site apps. Whatever your company does, there is probably a feature that you’d be able to take advantage of. The question is, will people want to see your posts in amongst their friends and family news?
If your products are the kind of thing that your end user might want to browse, you can also take advantage of the extensive analytic tools available directly from the admin section of a Facebook page. Users input all sorts of information onto Facebook such as their gender, sexual orientation, films they’ve watched, moods they’re in, and their employment history. These statistics can really be useful in identifying your follower base.
60% of Facebook users sign in every day. People return to Facebook on a regular basis, and with the rise of mobile usage, this number is ever-increasing.
Twitter is another big social ruler. No doubt you’ll have heard of Twitter too, though there’s not a movie about this one just yet!
Twitter users are spread amongst personal users, business-focused users and some use the platform for both. It can be used for short announcements and for conversations so you can enjoy a mix of both self-promotion and networking.
The unique thing about Twitter (although other sites have attempted to mimic this) is it’s hashtags. We’ve featured a separate blog post about effective hashtag usage, so check that out if you want to know more about hashtags. Basically, they’re an efficient way of keeping track of trends. If a topic is talked about a lot on Twitter, it will appear on the side of Twitter as a trend. They can also help you to collate tweets about a particular topic, so you can gather general feelings about a subject.
Another advantage over Facebook is that Twitter does not hide content from people who aren’t signed up, which Facebook sometimes does, so non-Twitter users will always see your Twitter content, for the time being.
Almost half of Twitter users prefer to read and follow, rather than tweet themselves, because its feed is almost like a news reel. Twitter is definitely one we recommend for most businesses, B2B and B2C, even if you just post business announcements to ‘stay on the radar’.
Google+ is an under-rated social site but another we’d recommend for most businesses. Arguably, Google+ helps with search engine optimisation, because you can take advantage of the authorship feature on search results. You can also set up ‘Google locations’ where you can link back to your Google+ page, so if you use the right settings, when people use Google Maps your Google+ page can appear.
Google+ definitely has some unique features that other sites can’t really replicate. And most of these tools can support SEO for your website and company. We think this platform is also suitable for both B2B and B2C companies!
YouTube can be used in two ways. You can either use it as a basic video upload tool, where you upload your video content and embed it into your blogs and share it on Twitter. Or you can use it to integrate yourself into a YouTube community of other similar people and companies. Although, YouTube is integrated with Google+, so you’ll need a Google+ account to post video comments and engage with a community.
‘Vlogging’ is a popular way to start a conversation with other individuals and companies. If you want to use it in this way, it’s more suited to smaller companies where you have a real sense of community in your brand. Talking about the YouTube community is a whole blog post on its own but hopefully this video will give you more of an insight (be warned - it’s a long one!) The video features a conversation between two very successful YouTube vloggers as part of the ‘Becoming YouTube’ series.
Similar to Google+’s authorship feature, YouTube videos will also appear highlighted in search results and will generally result in more engagement.
Instagram is all about the images! It can be a great tool for regularly posting company images. The only problem with Instagram is that it’s a mobile app and you will need a smartphone to manage an account. Once you have an account set up, you can access the online site, although this has less features. For some businesses, it’s hard to have the confidence to safely manage a social platform from a mobile phone, so this one needs careful consideration.
Hubspot posted a great article on some of the most successful brands on Instagram so check it out for some brilliant examples.
LinkedIn is a social media site that is almost exclusively used by business professionals and is also used as a recruitment tool. It’s very much a business-to-business social site and is used for networking with partners and clients. You might even use LinkedIn already and not really have considered it to be a social media website.
You can share industry articles and insights on your LinkedIn page so it’s a good tool for keeping up-to-date with the most recent innovations and news in your sector. It’s not really suitable for most B2C companies so you should only use this site if you’re wanting to network with other businesses and keep connected to people within your trade.
Pinterest is increasing its user-base by the week. According to this study, Pinterest is now more popular than Twitter amongst regular internet users.
Although Pinterest is likely to change with the increase in internet traffic and they will probably add features and tools, its primary benefit for now is the visual aspect of its interface. People post photos, infographics and videos which other people can then ‘pin’ to their own boards for future reference and for others to see. It is very image based and most businesses who use Pinterest are:
- Businesses in fashion
- Businesses in boutique shops and cafes
- Restaurants with a unique sense of style
- Businesses who specialise in unique make-up and beauty products
- Artists / creatives
- Interior designers
This is by no means a comprehensive list! Don’t think that just because you’re not one of the above, you can’t benefit from Pinterest; similarly, don’t think that if you are one of the above you should definitely be on it. It’s about what’s right for reaching your end user, your ideal client or customer.
B2C companies can benefit from Pinterest but Constant Contact is a good example of a B2B company who have made it work by investing a lot of time and effort in Pinterest.
Tumblr is the home of the hipsters! It is a social media tool similar to Pinterest in that it is very visual and users can ‘reblog’ and share easily. Because of its visual appeal, fashion companies were the first to get themselves onto this platform, followed by other B2C companies.
However Tumblr has built a very specific community and tends to be used by those who fit a certain demographic.
Tumblr users are very humour based and businesses on Tumblr may be able to take advantage of this when using it as a marketing tool. If you consider your brand comical and quirky, Tumblr might be a good social media website to be on because humorous content on Tumblr can be popular with engagement. If your brand has quite a corporate feel to it, this may not the platform for you.
If you think Tumblr might be for you, the next step is to figure out what type of content you’d post on because it’s rare for businesses to post ‘statuses’ - it’s almost exclusively images. You need to think about whether you’d have enough image content to post regularly over a period of time.
Vine and Snapchat
These might be cheating in a social media platform review because they are exclusively mobile apps, but some companies have really embraced the tools and you might want to do the same.
Vine is a mobile app similar to Instagram, but you can only post videos and they can only be 6 seconds long. It doesn’t sound like a lot but the restrictions have inspired lots of creativity from businesses! Because of the mobile aspect, it’s tends to be used by a younger, trendy demographic who might be used to using it on a personal basis, but it can work for funny, creative companies with the right brand.
Snapchat is a way for companies to directly interact with customers, in a similar way to direct messaging. This isn’t used well by most companies who try it out if they don’t embrace the nature of it. The nature of Snapchat, if you’re not familiar with it, is that people can send photos to groups of people but they only last a certain amount of time once opened before they self-destruct! Some of the most creative uses of this have included companies that have sent coupons and exclusive offers which delete after a certain period of time.
Social apps are probably only worth looking in to once you’ve become comfortable with web-based social media, but we’ve included them so that you can bear them in mind for your long-term social strategy.
No matter what social sites you want to get your business on, you need to have a detailed plan of what you expect to gain from them and how they might best be used.
That said, social media sites are not exclusively used by certain types of businesses. Experiment and see what works for your business. Be creative and use the tools to your advantage!