Finding the Right Social Media Platform Is like Finding The Right Car
When you buy a car, you don’t just choose the make; you have an idea of what model you want to test drive. You don’t just go to the dealership and say, “I want a new Honda.” You know that if you do that, you’ll be sold the car the dealer needs to get rid of. So instead, you do a little research, look at cars and decide on a few models you might be interested in. In other words, you get prepared for your trip to the dealership.
For businesses, social media works similarly. You don’t just go in and decide that you’re going to market on any social media platform. There are specific social media types for different businesses and one of the most common management dilemmas is figuring out which platforms to use and where to begin with social media marketing.
To help clear up the confusion in this area, let me introduce a few ideas that can help you decide where to put your time and your money for the best business results. However, I do want to point out that there is NO one-size-fits-all solution that will fit every type of business, and you shouldn’t take what we say as “Gospel” as these are broad generalizations.
First Decide on an Ultimate Goal
There are many different things that a business can do with social media – and all of these tasks create great benefits. However you have to know what your goal is, otherwise how do you know where you’re going or what you need to do to reach it. Decide on whether you want to improve customer service, create awareness, increase sales, get customer business intelligence or simply create customer interaction.
Businesses often have a misconception when it comes to their audience. They may believe that a large audience equals action, but this isn’t necessarily so. You need to have an emotional connection between you and your customer.
For instance, if I were promoting my services as a blogger, and you happen to have landed on this post, the chances of my creating a strong emotional connection through this one blog are probably very minimal. However, if I use certain social media platforms to create that connection with my audience, and have them interact with my blogs and my website, then you would probably be more interested in contacting my services.
That’s what social media does – it opens the doors up for connections and creates stronger relational links. You still have to do the hard work of your website in your blog to create customers from that audience, but your social media platforms open that door.
The Importance of Content
Content here is stimulant which leads to awareness on the web – and it’s content that can lead to engagement, trust and loyalty. So you need to create, curate and distribute content for social media to succeed. However, the different platforms require different types of content – some very simple and some more complex. This is the issue that businesses should consider.
1. The Best Social Media Platform May or May Not be Facebook
Undeniably, the default social media platform for most businesses seems to be Facebook, and while the social platform is undeniably important, we do want to step it up against other platforms when we relate to the context of our ultimate goal, which is building up an actionable audience.
2. Twitter Is It
Twitter is not as easy as it looks, precisely because you are only limited 240 characters, which means it can be quite difficult to create something meaningful in that space. However, Twitter has been known to create huge relevant audiences. There is just one problem; you can’t target groups of followers with messages, and this makes you feel like you’re just putting messages than a bottle and throwing them out into the ocean. Twitter works well at making a good initial connection, but it needs to be linked to another platform like a blog or a podcast.
3. InstaGram Works for the Young Folks
Millennials love Instagram because it’s easy-to-use. Just snap a picture and post it. 85% of social media users use their platform at work more than any other social media platform. Instagram is unique among platforms as it offers opportunities to connect with people with relatively little effort. However, like Twitter, content is somewhat ephemeral, and it can feel like you’re not reaching out to anyone.
4. Pinterest Has Got the Pins
This is another social media platform that requires little work and offers high impact. Primarily, you curate content here thereby creating your audience. You don’t really have to create your own content here. And if you do the right thing with your curation tasks, you’ll build a very loyal audience. In fact, statistics show that Pinterest drives more traffic to a website than any other platform.
5. Google Plus Works Just As Well
This is probably the most mysterious of the social media platforms, but nonetheless, it is just as vital. Despite not being considered a mainstream social media platform, it does offer great SEO benefits and it is unparalleled in its ability to create great communities.
6. Reddit is Right
Reddit hosts a large number of content centric communities and it is sort of a combination of Google+, Forums, and blogging. People get really passionate on Reddit and go to great lengths to offer information. You’ll find Reddit communities for almost any topic, however, you can’t really offer any type of commercial display here as you risk getting kicked out.
7. LinkedIn Has Grown
8. Snapchat, not Easy but Lots of Fun
While this is a platform on which you just post photos, it can be a bit difficult to use for a business. You have to create compelling pictures to get new followers, and that takes some art work which might not be that cheap. Then once you have the followers, you have to keep them and that might be a bit more difficult. Plus Snapchat requires a bit of goofiness and that doesn’t always sit well with corporate managers.
You can write a blog and get it viewed a couple of thousand times…but write a Slideshare and you can get it viewed hundreds of thousands of times. Slideshare has great potential to reach an entire new audience but it’s also difficult because there is an art in telling a visual story with slides. You have to have art and a story; it also needs to read at a certain length. It is also highly indexed by Google and owned by LinkedIn.
Generally, under the right circumstances, you can build passionate and actionable audience on any of the social media platforms; but it all begins with “relevant and interesting content”. This content needs to come in the form of a podcast, video series or a blog; and when done correctly, it is this content that provides an opportunity for massive exposure compared to a simple tweet or Facebook post.