Social media can definitely feel like a hassle. The benefits aren’t sure, the time investment can grow exponentially, and the direct connection to your customers may come back to bite you. Bloggers and guides everywhere are telling you why you need to be ridiculously active on every social media site for your business. But is it really necessary, and what sites will actually reap rewards?
Why Even At All?
The purpose behind social media sites for businesses is to create visibility for your business. The more sites that your business is popular on, the more it can be found not only on the social network itself, but on Google searches.
People are on social networking all day and that means social networks give you a chance at being seen. As they say, go where the customers are!
The Network Breakdown
Social networking is only profitable to your business if you actually make connections to your target audience and if you are being seen. Look at some of the most popular sites to run over the features of each of them:
Being the largest social site out there, the chances that your target audience isn’t on Facebook is slim. As of March 2017, over 1.94 billion people are actively using Facebook. Case in point.
Facebook, because of it’s popularity, offers special business pages that have features like Call to Actions, special content like listing services, products or even displaying a food menu, and easy promotions and ads.
Facebook is one of the largest search engines, ranking higher than both Bing and Yahoo. That means the site authority is very strong and your business’s Facebook page will probably reach the top of Google searches. Google also pulls Facebook reviews for their Google My Business listings. The more reviews, the more authority. The more authority, the higher you rank. The higher you rank, the more customers you get.
Of all the social networking sites, Twitter seems the hardest to grasp because the audience it draws is always changing. At one point, it was male businessmen, at another it was teenage girls. Not to mention the fact that most users are outside of the U.S.
In the end, though, Twitter markets itself to breaking news and trending updates. Live tweets are popular because they act as a huge comment board for everything happening around the world. If your business has something to say about it, here is the place to do it.
If your business is rooted in a changing, exciting industry, or one that has lots of news updates, make an account!
Side Note: Most businesses use Twitter the wrong way by posting regular graphics or links like any other social networking site. This will not fly here. Twitter is meant to create and make commentary on newsworthy happenings. Join the live-tweet conversation about the Oscars and #hashtag like a pro if you are in the fashion industry. Retweet the newest foodie addiction if you are a restaurant. Start a conversation, add to one, and please oh please use hashtags.
I’ll make myself clear from the beginning. You aren’t going to get lots of customer connection here unless you are a B2B company. It simply isn’t that popular among the average social site user and doesn’t have a huge active audience. But that isn’t the reason almost every business has an account.
It’s because Google+ is part of Google. Every time someone searches your business, your latest Google+ posts will show up and your search rankings will appreciate it. It also can be a powerful B2B connection resource because every business who wants to rank high on Google will have a Google+ account.
Do not brush this one under the rug because it can have great results for your ranking if you keep the account active!
Being the 2nd most popular social networking site out there (as of May 2017). YouTube is not a force to be reckoned with. But to be honest, not a lot of businesses on a small marketing budget will have the content, the desire, or the time to dedicate itself to a YouTube channel. This network should be reserved for those who can dedicate time, creativity, and persistence. Besides, people create full time jobs for themselves just making videos for their channels.
But if you can do it, your rewards will be unbelievable. Take the Blendtec channel for example. They have almost 1 million subscribers to just watch them blend things. Don’t believe me? This video of an iPad being blended has almost 19 million views. This then not only has created insane traffic for their company, but YouTube is also paying them for ads before their videos.
It may seem impossible to have an active and engaging account, BUT YouTube is owned by Google and you know what that means. Enough said.
Being the viscerally engaging app that it is, Instagram is extremely popular and has about 700 million users as of April 2017. But only photos and videos tends to be a big turn off for most business owners because it seems impossible to take constant photos of you working at a computer or filing taxes.
Most booming businesses on Instagram either are highly visual businesses (National Geographic, Vogue, Mary Kay) or they are personal businesses (fitness trainers, fashion bloggers, travel bloggers). But with a huge crowd, hashtags, and intense community followings, Instagram can be a powerful tool. This is because images help create and capture brand culture. (Read why that is so important here). Thanks to blog.kissmetrics.com, here is a case study about lifestyle content:
“Research found that 60 percent of Nike’s posts in 2014 contained lifestyle content (as opposed to traditional product photos and calls-to-action), while Adidas shared only about 32 percent lifestyle content. Nike saw 8 times more interaction on social media (993 shares per post versus Adidas’s 122).”
Side Note: It’s important to note that Instagram can only be used on mobile phones, whether on the app or on your browser. So if you don’t use a smart phone, don’t create an account.
Time to be serious. LinkedIn is a professional websites that is meant to connect both employees with employers, and businesses with businesses. This is for B2B connections and marketing for professionals. You can share posts just like you would with Facebook or Twitter, but the content is usually in accordance to your industry or business in general.
This place is an amazing arena for networking and the ideology of “you scratch my back, I’ll scratch yours”.
Think Outside the Social Media Box
Although the above social platforms are important and could theoretically all fit your business, it’s important to go where your target audience is. Because chances are your target audience has a preferred social media outlet and it may not be the 6 listed above.
For crafty and active women, check out Pinterest. Are you a news outlet that likes to join in conversations? Join Reddit. If you want to connect to designers, check out Behance or Dribbble. If you are publishing a book, join GoodReads. There are even sites dedicated to beer lovers, healthy living, and the real estate industry. Even though many of these niche sites don’t have the massive audience Facebook does, they all connect to your brand. Find the enthusiasts!
In the end, it’s important to look at your own company’s needs, hopes, time and budget, and target audience. Take the time to do a little more research and dip your toes in social media sites you aren’t sure of. But maybe you’ll have more followers on Tumblr or Flickr than Facebook! And maybe you’ll become insta-famous!