Social media has, without question, become an integral part of American society and how we communicate on both a personal and professional level. And, since we spend so much of our time engaged in social media, it has become a powerful advertising medium for businesses.
Businesses that are new to social media advertising can easily become overwhelmed with the vast number of options available across multiple social networks. Each social channel has unique qualities and specific features that require an understanding and strategy for reaching the right audience and connecting with followers. It is important for a business owner looking to unlock the power of social media marketing and advertising to understand the benefits of each network and which ones will be most effective for their marketing strategy.
Social Network Size
Size can be a significant determining factor in determining which social media outlet is best. Common sense will lead you to assume that the more users a social media outlet has, the more those users are likely to be exposed to advertising. However, size should not be the sole deciding factor. Instead, you should be asking yourself, “How many of this social network’s users are interested in what I’m selling?”
Therefore, it’s not the size of the network, but the size of your target audience that matters most. Also, business owners often use outdated statistics when making marketing decisions with social media. Statistics such as the size of the network can be misleading and inaccurate as these numbers fluctuate often.
Social Media Dependence
Another key question to ask yourself when choosing social networks for adverting is, “Do your buyers have a dependence on a particular social network?” It is not uncommon for certain groups to have an attachment level to a particular social network. For example, business owners or professionals looking to network often turn first to LinkedIn before looking to Twitter or Facebook. Another example, users might be more apt to visit Facebook or Instagram multiple times in a day, but only use Pinterest when they are planning a party, redecorating, etc. So, while there might be a massive number of users on each network, understanding the goal of your social marketing strategy can help pinpoint the ideal social channel for your audience.
Below is a quick overview of the seven most popular social media networks used today. Choose several for your business and know that you should develop a unique strategy for each.
Facebook is hands-down the most popular social media site. With nearly two billion users, it is ideal for companies that wish to build their brand. Its demographics are also more evenly spread than those on other social media sites. Facebook is the perfect site for those businesses that are interested in increasing their brand awareness. It should be noted that Facebook’s demographics seem to be in the midst of a change from primarily teenagers to adults. It is no longer the best place to reach the teen crowd. Also, businesses that decided to have a presence on Facebook will have to face a lot of competition. However, Facebook offers a powerful group of targeting tools that let’s you create hyper-focused advertising that reaches your ideal audience. Facebook also offers both business pages and personal profiles, both managed from the same user login and interface which can help save time if managing multiple pages.
Twitter is the perfect social media platform for businesses that are interested in attracting a younger, tech-savvy audience. People who use Twitter tend to thrive on absorbing lots of information in a short period of time (hence the 142 character limit to each post). Twitter users are generally more up-to-date on the latest products and love to share with followers. Also, by harnessing the true power of #Hashtags, twitter enables businesses to easily connect with a much larger following in a short amount of time. If you offer relevant and updated products and services that speak to a responsive, tech-savvy audience than Twitter is an excellent place to advertise promotions, offers, contests, or exclusive discounts.
If a picture is worth a thousand words, than Instagram might just be one of the most powerful platforms available to you. It is one of the fastest-growing social media sites year after year. A majority of Instagram users fall between the ages of 19-29. If that is your business’ target market, this a great place to be. Instagram is ideal for visual-friendly businesses such as restaurants, clothiers, retailers, and designers as well. A key to being successful on Instagram is making the business look fantastic. Also, keep in mind Instagram is unique to all other social networks we mention here because it is the only true mobile-only app. All other networks have a “desktop version” that still offers the same suite of functionality and features. However, Instagram does not, so keep in mind it requires the use of your smartphone or tablet to unlock all the great features of the social network.
Google+ has a large user base. And, with integration into individual’s Gmail, Google Calendar and other commonly used Google Apps, it is much more integrated into our daily routine than many other social networks which require us to take that extra step of actually opening up those apps or going to their web pages to interact. Google+ is very different. Building a solid following on Google+ can help boost your overall authority and enable you to connect with many other like-minded businesses. They also heavily utilize hash tagging which helps users search and categorize content. It is ideal for businesses that are looking to impact their SEO. Google+ is the perfect site for tech and engineering companies as well as well as marketers. Similar to Facebook, you can also manage both your personal profile as well as manage any number of business pages from one easy to use interface.
LinkedIn is still the preeminent social networking site for businesses and professionals. Since it is easy to share interests, offer advice, ask and answer questions, and use expertise to impress and assist others, it is perfect for businesses and organizations that are service-oriented. LinkedIn is a smart place to advertise for B2B and B2C companies. One of the most powerful features of LinkedIn are LinkedIn Groups created by its users around certain topics, specialties, or areas of interest. For example we belong to several creative groups where other creative businesses often ask questions about challenges they are facing and we provide useful insight based on our experience if applicable. Contributing to online groups and forums is very powerful for building authority and to also show that you are willing to help without asking for something in return.
Pinterest is comprised mainly of female users looking to share content. Visuals are a major part of Pinterest. Users will “repin” other interesting topics, visuals, webpages etc with their followers on Pinterest. Businesses that have images as a major feature or use them as a selling point do well on Pinterest. Also, businesses that create infographics can use Pinterest to get them shared more quickly. The most common types of businesses you might see on Pinterest are restaurants, chefs, wedding planners, interior decorators, DIY craft and hobby shops, or travel agents.
Businesses that can create videos that effectively feature a product or service will find YouTube tremendously helpful. YouTube is a great medium for business that can demonstrate a skill, highlight a product or service or introduce new or unusual products. YouTube is also the 2nd largest search engine in the world. Therefore, getting your video content onto YouTube and optimizing it well for search can help generate even more traffic to your videos and back to your website.
When weighing these options you should also look more carefully at the advertising options available to you within each platform. Creating the pages and building a social following is important but if you are looking to simply use the social network as an advertising platform, explore the options available to you. Facebook, for example, has extremely versatile and affordable advertising options, same as Twitter and LinkedIn. Instagram also recently rolled out an ad platform enabling you to create ads, with integrated photo slideshows, etc which would be great for marketing anything highly visual. Learn about these options, they can often help you build a following or circumvent the need to build a following at all. If you are using social media to simply drive traffic back to a product, landing page, or your website in general, you may not need to invest the time building a network and instead can invest in advertising through these networks to push your targeted audience back to your website.
It can be difficult for a business to decide which social media network best suits their needs. Keep in mind, none of the social networks mentioned above can hurt your businesses by participating. I guess that is part of the beauty of social media. It’s awfully forgiving, but it’s also very fleeting. Any mishaps or stutter steps you make will usually go unnoticed. It takes time to build a solid following and learning the ropes of each network. It also takes dedication every day to make sure your following is listening to what you have to say and continues to grow. If you want my advice, take the time to build a real following. Don’t pay for likes, or use these platforms to push ads onto strangers. The results will be far less rewarding than if you take the time to build a solid following for your businesses.
If you are interested in learning more about how social media can help your business grow or looking to develop a better overall marketing strategy, schedule a marketing assessment call with us. We’d love to help.