With such a dizzying array of different social networks out there, choosing one on which to establish a presence for your business can seem like more work than it’s worth. Do you know your hashtags from your pins? Can you explain the differences between retweeting a tweet and sharing a post? Breaking into social media can be tough, especially if you don’t know your News Feeds from your Google Streams. As we explained last week, however, adopting social media is integral to make sure your business isn’t outdated in 2015. This blog article looks at some of the biggest social networks, giving you a brief rundown of each so that you can make an informed decision as to which is right for your organisation.
Set up over 10 years ago now, Facebook remains the largest social network out there, with recent figures suggesting the site has over 1.23 billion users. Facebook is the natural first choice for small and large business alike, and thus is probably the best place to begin building your brand online. It’s free to set up a business page, but we would recommend populating it with posts about your business or pertaining to your industry before publishing it to a ‘live’ audience. This social network also has unprecedented demographic marketing tools, which allow you to profile audiences by a range of factors including gender, age and listed interests. This means that you can target your advertising at the most relevant groups of people, dramatically increasing the likelihood of conversion. It’s also a great way to drive traffic to your site, owing to its embedded link feature and lack of character limitations.
Established in 2006, Twitter has a modest 284 million users, and is best used to help shape a particular brand image online. Owing to the fact that Tweets are limited to 140 characters, any posts must be both concise and engaging to gain traction online. Twitter also pioneered the ‘hashtag’ system, which is basically just a way of categorising tweets so that users can easily find fresh streams of relevant content. Like Facebook it’s free to create a profile, with the site making money through its paid marketing services. Instead of targeting people via location or age etc. you attach your sponsored posts to certain keywords, meaning that your ads only show to people who are actively searching for them. A lot of companies find that Twitter is a great way to maintain online PR; the site won’t necessarily directly generate a lot of leads for your business, but is highly effective in encouraging people to discuss and share your brand online.
With over 300 million active monthly users, Instagram, which was acquired by Facebook in 2012, recently overtook Twitter in terms of global popularity. Its USP is its focus on visual content, which makes it ideal for businesses with physical products to sell. The basic premise of the site is to offer users a place to create and share banks of attractive imagery with groups of like-minded audiences online. The simple app and accompanying photo-editing software Instagram offers is a great way to produce and share professional looking imagery for free. It’s also integrated with popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, facilitating synergy between your various online profiles. Similarly to Facebook, you can also sponsor images to appear to select audience demographics based on their interests online.
LinkedIn is unique in its specific focus on business and commerce; it’s particularly useful for companies looking to establish a professional brand image online. LinkedIn is best viewed not as a marketing tool, but rather as a method of cataloguing your business and strengthening your brand’s credibility online. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn isn’t a space to be formal or colloquial online, but rather should reflect the more reputable side of your company. If you’re going to cultivate a LinkedIn page, it’s important to make sure that your staff all have up-to-date individual profiles, so as to give the impression of a well connected organisation. LinkedIn is styled as a way to connect with professionals online, and thus is an increasingly popular way to locate and recruit new employees. The site similarly offers a paid advertising service that lets you connect with people based on interests, age and even occupation.
Whilst it’s not as widely known or adopted as the other social media sites on this list, studies indicate that setting up and maintaining a convincing Google + page is going to be more important than ever in 2015. Google + incorporates successful aspects of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, and thus should be a strong contender for the basis of your social media presence. It’s a great place to share content relevant to your business and industry, all of which is automatically tagged to appeal to users who are interested in a specific topic. Additionally, as it’s a Google product, it’s one of the easiest ways to validate and add credibility to your online presence. Google has also recently launched its ‘My Business’ service, making it easier for brands to verify themselves online and thus encouraging customers to feel safer when converting.
In the crowded social media landscape, you might be forgiven for not having heard of Pinterest, but its growing popularity with younger demographics means that having a presence on the site now could pay off later. Pinterest is a simple service that allows users to bookmark interesting and unique content they find on the web so that they can return to it later or share it with friends. As a business, Pinterest is a powerful tool to drive traffic to your website, and lets you categorise your products/services in a manner that is easy for new users to get their head around. Like the majority of other social networks, your Pins can be ‘promoted’ to certain audiences using advanced demographic targeting methods.
What you have here is a very brief rundown of the leading social networking sites, designed to help you decide where to start when it comes to social media. The truth is however that several blogs could be written about each service, so we don’t blame you if you’re still put off by the thought of social media marketing. We at CCM pride ourselves on running a range of innovative campaigns across each network, and have a history of creating and maintaining healthy online presences for a variety of companies. If you find that you’re struggling to get ‘Likes’, or feel that your page could do with a new lease of life, please get in touch with one of our team today!