Most business owners already recognize that social media is a key element of successful marketing in 2015. Yet it’s important to recognize that each social site has its own strengths and weaknesses, and you cannot apply a blanket approach to “social media” as a whole.
An obvious example is YouTube. This is a video sharing site, and even if you wish to convey the same message as you would in text, a video is going to be vastly different than what you might type in 140 characters on Twitter.
Related Article: Creating Posts on Social Media: The Ultimate Guide
Some may see Twitter’s character limit as a limitation; however it is more productive to view the differences in social media platforms as advantages. They give you the chance to diversify your marketing strategy and reach slightly different audiences. Let’s look at some of the strengths of each platform.
Perhaps the leading strength of Facebook is its reach. It is still the most popular social media platform. For example, through its website and mobile apps they reached 1.44 billion users in the first quarter of 2015, and on Monday, August 14th, one in seven people on the entire planet logged on!
In short, everyone uses Facebook and it goes without saying that this should be included in your marketing strategy. Facebook’s other key benefit is its versatility. You can make text posts of any length, link directly to your site with a headline and image, share videos and images, and schedule any of these to appear at a certain time, allowing you to plan ahead.
You are also given access to a wide range of analytical data that provides insight into how users interact with your page and what posts have been the most popular. This is invaluable for refining your strategy and generating more traffic and sales.
Twitter is often considered more of a real-time tool, because unless somebody actively visits your page the only time they will see a Tweet is if they are logged on and see it whiz past. This makes it ideal for tapping in to current trends. Perhaps there’s a large sporting event like the Super Bowl or World Cup taking place, where a big cross-section of your audience might be engaged. You can take advantage of this by using trending hashtags like #SuperBowl.
Perhaps you want to offer people a special SuperBowl discount, or you might simply want to create engagement by weighing in on the event itself. Because of the 140 character limit, Twitter is ideal for informal and fun posts that humanize you and your brand. It is also good for sharing links to your site, or niche related news stories with a little added commentary.
Although you are free to add lengthy captions, Instagram is a photo and image-centric social media platform that is all about catching somebody’s eye. Thus the photo should never be an afterthought; for example, constantly posting your company logo with a message below it is not going to be effective.
What could be effective is posting images of that new product or stock that just arrived. Perhaps you and your team are working hard in the office, so why not demonstrate this in a photo? Maybe you’re travelling to a big meeting or business-related event, so let people know you’re excited with a pre and/or post-event thumbs up.
If you are running a special offer, a bold and eye-catching Instagram post can be more effective than a Tweet.
Pinterest is a bit like Instagram in that imagery is a primary focus. In some ways, however, it is more tailored to businesses who are selling products because there is now a BUY button feature. This means you can share an image of a product with a direct link to that product’s page on your site.
Pinterest use usually falls into a few basic categories:
- This meme or image is funny.
- I like those shoes.
- I would like to do this DIY/Crafting/Art Project myself.
Depending on the type of business you run, you may want to hone in on the “I like these shoes” mentality.
Sharing “Pins” of your products yourself is one thing, but encouraging customers to share images of products they purchased from you can be even more effective, as it demonstrates social proof.
While Google Plus is not as widely used as the likes of Facebook or Twitter, the fact that it is owned by search giant Google means there are a number of related benefits that the other social media sites cannot offer. One of the primary benefits is that if you setup a business page it will give you more visibility in the local and overall search results, and some of the content will rank quicker and higher than your own website. So at the very least the bare bone facts about your business should be included on the page.
Furthermore, if somebody searches a hashtag on Google, like #NewYorkPizza, Google will return a few related Google Plus posts alongside the regular search results. If you recently made a post with the hashtag #NewYorkPizza then you may show up.
Google Plus is also well-integrated with their other services such as YouTube and Gmail.
There’s no doubt that you’ll need to spend extra time and money to carry out effective marketing on YouTube, but there’s no greater feeling than seeing your video go viral and the traffic pour in. From commercials to product reviews & reveals, to video blogs and news coverage of your niche, to customer information and FAQs, the creative possibilities are endless.
As a Google property, well-titled YouTube videos can rank high in the search results, and you can also now associate your website to your channel, allowing you to add a clickable link on your videos.
Any or all of these social media platforms, if used effectively, will help you reach new customers, build trust with existing customers, and give you a channel to project your unique brand image on a regular basis.
Author: Farid Rostami is a successful digital nomad and co-founder of FillUpMyLuggage.com. He currently advises startups such as Dr-Discount and is active in blogging about startups and online marketing. Farid has previously held positions at Microsoft as vtsp and Avanade.