A question that many people have may have when choosing to be on social media for their business is exactly which platforms or networks to be on. Not all social media platforms are made equal and not all the networks are going to be the best fit for you and your business.
This blog is going to hopefully give you some basic insights into the different platforms, how they work, who’s on them and what sort of business might be best suited.
First of all to ease us in gently and break the ice, here’s a little graphic from Invictus Studio that I think really helps visualise and explain how some of the different social media networks work.
Who is your business for?
Before you even begin to get into the different platforms you need to have a some solid answers to these questions about your business.
Are you a business that primarily works with other businesses? (B2B – Business to Business)
Are you customer or client facing? Will your customer be able to buy direct from you? (B2C – Business to Consumer)
The answer to this question will have more of an impact on the social networks you choose to use than your realise. For example LinkedIn is the place to be for sharing industry news, commenting on business related articles and curating or creating blogs with other business providers but if you’re trying to ‘sell’ a service or product it’s not going to be the best place to spend a large amount of your time.
Consider your ideal client or customer…
The next key is to think about your ideal customer or client and where they are most likely to be spending their time online on social networks.
It’s true that most people will be on Facebook at some point every day (that statistic above is shockingly true!) but they are also very likely to dip into some of the other social media platforms too and with the age demographic not really being a barrier to any of the networks any more (except Snapchat and TikTok that’s still mostly under 21s on these platforms)
It’s better to think more carefully about your ideal clients as real people; so for example if you’re a photographer specialising in Family Photography and wanting to focus on getting Parents with newborn babies through to your studio then you need to consider where they will be most active on social media. If you were thinking Facebook and Instagram then you’re 100% right but they may also (the Mums especially) be pinning some ideas for images she wants on Pinterest so not having a profile on Pinterest means you’d be missing out on reaching that ideal client.
On the other hand if you’re a photographer who specialises in branding shoots for business or corporate headshots; Pinterest isn’t going to yield much in the way of real leads but LinkedIn would be great for sharing your expertise in this area and establishing yourself as a professional that businesses will want to turn to.
What do you want social media to do for you?
Ultimately you have to have a strategic plan in place for what you want social media to achieve as part of your overall business goals.
If you’re wanting to generate real leads where people will actually sign up, buy from you or hire your services then platforms like Facebook and Instagram that offer targeted paid advertising with the option to define things like demographics, interests and other key information are going to be key in your strategy. The paid advertisements can work alongside your organic normal posting and help get your business seen in front of the right people.
If you’re a start-up and wanting to raise awareness of your brand or business then organic posting may be all that is needed at the beginning stages in order to build up your following and get people interested in what you do.
It may be that you want your social media activity to be based on building a community or tribe of like-minded individuals this could be coming together for a cause, charity or perhaps people connected to certain techniques or aspects of your business for example some of the most active groups I am on Facebook are to do with Parenting and Education that are connected to toy and children’s clothing retailers! A great way for them to grow their business without always having to do the hard sell!
Don’t spread yourself too thin…
It’s better to choose to do 2 or at the most 3 platforms really well if you’re going to be running the social media activity yourself. Any more and you’ll risk not producing enough great content to really make the platform worth being on at all. Plus you want to make sure you have time to dedicate to engaging with your audience and reaching out to influencers.
If you think you need to be on more platforms or can’t formulate a strategy yourself on a certain platform then it may be that you need the help of a social media manager to either create a strategy for you or help manage your channels on a day to day basis.
Otherwise I’d recommend scheduling your content using an app such as Hootsuite or Buffer so that you have time to concentrate on other aspects of your business.
The Platforms in a nutshell…
Every business needs a Facebook presence; it doesn’t have to necessarily be one of the platforms you engage with on a daily basis but I can guarantee a customer or client will head to Facebook (probably via a Google search) to look for you or someone like you if they’re in search of your business.
Facebook is ideal for B2C businesses but can also work in some B2B cases and with all types of businesses having pages it’s not uncommon to find retailers, fashion, travel, photography all having strong pages as well as housing, automotive, health and wellness all now using the platform to grow their businesses.
I think Twitter is great for both B2B and B2C but for two different reasons.
I’d say for some businesses who want to encourage customers to buy from them then Twitter isn’t going to be the best place but it’s always somewhere a customer will come to in order to make a complaint. Having a damage control procedure in place is vital to responding to customer queries like this and then being able to follow it up with great content to instil trust and loyalty in your brand after damage control has been carried out.
Twitter works best as quick moving think pieces so isn’t the best for trying to peddle your wares as it were. It’s great for conversations and bringing peoples’ attention to a blog or article you’re sharing.
I really like Twitter for talking about the industry I’m in, it’s great for finding out all the latest news on Social Media for example so is the perfect place for other businesses to find others in their area or those to do business with. Unlike Facebook not everyone has a Twitter account and the majority of users are aged between 18-45 and are both men and women.
Instagram is no longer just a place to share the most beautiful images and examples of photography; it’s also home to a whole host of businesses looking to promote, educate, inspire and inform. I’d say most businesses will be able to do well on Instagram if they’re B2C based and they will thrive if there’s a visual element to the business.
There’s still hope for others though with the use of quote and text based graphic posts alongside photoshopped and stock images, content doesn’t always have to be produced by the business either by making use of user generated content and reposting it’s easier than ever to share great content on Instagram. You also need a compelling story and caption to go alongside the image so getting the balance between the two is vital.
Instagram has the power of Stories meaning you can share all the bits of your business that aren’t quite good enough for the squares in a story and boost your way up the algorithm.
Instagram is owned by Facebook so shares many features (such as the ability to create an ad to run across the two simultaneously) and the opportunity to push the same content from IG direct to FB, although I don’t recommend you do this as part of your regular content strategy if you want to grow on each platform. It’s better to create separate content if you can or differentiate the two at least.
Pinterest isn’t just an online scrapbook; it’s a marketers dream. Your ideal client will be using it as online scrapbook of course; a bride is pinning dream wedding dresses, venues and table centre pieces, a travel enthusiast may be using it to collate ideas for their next trip or first time buyers may be using it to get ideas for how they’re going to model their first home together. Any of these businesses could be behind that pin and once it’s pinned to one board it’s very likely to be seen by someone else and they’ll pin it too, they’ll probably come on to your website if you’ve created a rich pin where it links to information related to the pin on your website.
Pinterest works brilliantly for anything visual, inspirational or informative so think health and beauty, fitness, recipes, baking, home and interiors, fashion, education, travel, landscaping, event planning and the list goes on!
Pinterest have also recently introduced the ability to pay for advertising on the platform this is still in its early stages but I suspect it will become as popular as ads on Facebook and Instagram.
As Pinterest is such a new market for many small businesses I’m offering workshops in getting to grips with it and understanding all its features. At the moment these are held in South West London and Surrey but could be done remotely via Zoom if you’d prefer.
If you’re a B2B then you need to be on LinkedIn, it’s the key place where you’ll be able to make connections with other individuals in your industry and reach out to potential clients.
Networking and engaging with others is just as vital on LinkedIn as it is on other platforms, sharing your own content or links to relevant articles will help get your profile seen. Businesses will often have company pages that post content but it’s by linking individual personal profiles to a business who then share and promote their work where LinkedIn comes in to it’s own.
I’d recommend setting up a LinkedIn page and optimising it to look professional and provide links to contact details even if you’re not planning on using it for anything other than just a presence on the platform. Keeping your brand or business looking consistent across the social media platforms is important as they are all effectively working as shop windows for you.
Can’t decide what platforms are the best for your business?
It can be tricky trying to decide which platforms to focus your time and energy on despite the information I’ve given you so if you’d like to work with me to find out more then please do get in touch so I can help.