How do you decide which social media platform to use? Why not let your customers lead the way. If you want to know the ‘right place’ on social media, here are three questions to ask yourselves:
- Where are your customers actively using Social Media?
Pick 5 – 10 customers at random and see where they have social media profiles.
2. What do they do on each platform?
Post? Share? Comment? Follow? Like?
3. Are you a welcome guest… or a gatecrasher?
Not all brands have universal appeal and sometimes you’re just in the wrong place.
Know when you’re invited and when you’re barging in.
One of our Digital Marketing Institute Diploma (at nesma) students told us a great story. He is the IT manager for a big campus university in the heart of England. They were having difficulty engaging students attention on Facebook, yet were persevering with their plans to keep students up to date on the platform. One of their quarterly student surveys flagged up a key piece of feedback:
Yes, students were on Facebook and Twitter. But Facebook was where they went to hang out with their friends, organise their social lives and laugh at celebs. They didn’t want the university butting in on their ‘party time’.
They were perfectly happy to hear from them on Twitter, though.
Needless to say, said university doesn’t waste time and energy on Facebook updates to students any more: Twitter now works a dream.
Being in the Right Place…
With a little effort, you can become one your customers trusted sources in time. Respect their preferences and you’ll be the welcome guest.
Don’t turn up empty-handed. Instead show up regularly with useful, relevant, timely (and where appropriate, entertaining) content.
Here is an overview of the ‘main’ social media platforms that most businesses would be looking at in the early stages:
The most commonly used ‘business to business’ social media platform. You can have a personal profile, rather like an online CV, and a company profile page, like a mini website.
Linked In has been going since 2003, is well trusted and established, with over 500 million users worldwide. It is great for connecting with business contacts, colleagues and networking connections and has groups and forums galore.
The paid accounts have added functionality and allow you to connect with people outside your immediate circles, so it can be a great business development tool too. The search function supports Boolean Logic, so you can literally find ‘an needle in a haystack’.
Posts on Linked In are nearly three times more trusted than on other social media platforms.
The new style Linked In company pages enable you to have something akin to a mini-website, great for promoting your brand and for search engine optimisation for your website – Linked In performs extremely well in online search.
There is also a paid advertising feature as well as sponsored InMail. So if you’re target customers are “white collar” workers, from junior management level up, you are likely to find them here.
With over 2 billion accounts worldwide, Facebook has achieved critical mass with users and brands alike. Even if you are not active here, you will want to have a presence, but manage your expectations!
Increasingly Facebook acts as the ‘plumbing’ for a host of other online platforms and tools, including other social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram. You will be given the option to log in via Facebook.
You can have a personal profile or a range of ‘professional’ profiles, depending on your status and requirements and it is still the most effective way to reconnect with old friends online.
It is particularly effective in the retail or ‘business to consumer’ sector, with very sophisticated and cost-effective targeting tools for paid promotions to existing connections and new target groups.
Is your brand “conversational”? If people naturally talk about what you do, Facebook may be your invitation to the party.
For ‘business to business’ it can work well for some service providers, as well as bloggers, coaches and trainers. However, Facebook only presents your status updates to connections (Likes), and only a small % will now see them unless you pay to boost them to reach all your page followers. As well as personal and business pages, you can set up groups and many communities live within Facebook.
Twitter is part news feed, part social media platform with over 300 million users worldwide. It is especially popular with journalists, bloggers and media folks for breaking and sharing news stories and opinions. The character limit favours brevity and clarity, but you can attach images and short videos to tweets. The advertising tools allow you to promote your twitter account to encourage followers or your tweets, to increase engagement.
Whatever your industry, profession, interest or niche, #hashtag search will help you find and connect with your kind of people.
Twitter is informal, so it is a great place to interact, share and promote your ideas and news in real time with few barriers and minimal cost. It is as common for ‘business 2 business’ as ‘business 2 consumer’ brands to be active on twitter and many are opting to use Twitter to support their customer service function.
YouTube is the original online video sharing social media platform and since its launch in 2003 has become, reputedly, the second most widely used search engine after Google, (by whom it was purchased in 2006). It hosts a mind-boggling quantity and variety of video (and film) on any topic you can imagine.
It is extremely popular and closely linked to Google (who own it), so can help to drive traffic to your website if you have useful and/or relevant footage on YouTube. You can have your own branded channel – an entry page branded to represent your company – and populate it with your own and curated videos.
YouTube is busy, but don’t expect more than Likes and Shares. It takes a lot to get comments from your viewers so don’t expect interaction.
YouTube can be a great place to host ‘how to’ and trust building content for those at the early stages in your sales pipeline.
Bought by Facebook in 2012, Instagram is one of the newest platforms but has a growing user base – currently 700 million and rising. It has been a runaway success, benefiting hugely from Facebook’s support and many new developments, including ‘InstaStories’ are designed to compete with newcomers, like SnapChat.
It works really well for tangible or visual brands (and celebrities) and for certain types of business it’s a clear choice, based on sector, target audience and location.
On Instagram, people take and share photos and short videos, typically on a smartphone, which they then upload directly to Instagram with a bit of text. And a lot of #hashtags!
It’s harder for brands to publish into Instagram, as it doesn’t tolerate most social media scheduling software, like Hootsuite, Buffer, MeetEdgar, etc, but this may make it popular with a certain kind of user – it rewards spontaneity.
So what is the ‘Right Place’ for you on Social Media?
If you are happy to be led by your customers, you will save so much time, effort and disappointment spent hanging out with the wrong crowd.
You may need to step outside your comfort zone and start using social media platforms that are new to you. If you’re uncertain, take some time to ‘listen’ – observe your customers and the people they are happy to interact with and see what works for them.
The acid test: can you be true to yourself and still be welcomed in to the conversation?
If you can, then you’re in the Right Place, will build connections effortlessly and will gradually learn about the next of the Three Rs of Social Media Success.
We hope you’ve enjoyed the The Three Rs of Social Media Success.
Why not check out the other blogs in the series:
- The Three ‘Rs’ of Social Media Success
- Know the Right Place for Social Media Success
- How You Will Know the Right Time for Your Customers on Social Media
- Get the Right Message: Get their Attention
- Build Your Social Media Following versus Buyer Reach and Followers
- Are your Goals ‘SMART’ Enough for Social Media Success?
- ‘Mobile First’, Live Streaming & How to Succeed with Social Media Marketing
If you like video, check out our recording of this fascinating topic and learn from these amazing thoughtleaders.
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