Most businesses have two major challenges: limited cash flow and very limited manpower. The internet has created a world where new social media channels are popping up all the time.
How does a business devote their limited time and resources to the social media outlets that will be most beneficial?
It requires some homework upfront.It is commonly suggested that to increase your brand presence, you need to be active on all forms of social media.
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While that may be true, unless your company has a dedicated social media coordinator, finding the time to maintain every platform out there can be extremely time consuming.
If your company is just starting out on the Web and need to pick a few social media networks to rule over, here is our guide to choosing the best platform(s) for your business, and how to make the most out of them.
Social media networks are incredible resources for businesses looking to promote their brands online. The platforms themselves are free to use, but also have paid advertising options specifically for brands that want to reach even more new audiences.
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But just because your business should be on social media, that doesn’t mean you should be on every network. It’s important that you choose and nurture the social platforms that work best for your business, so that you don’t spread yourself too thin.
If you want to create a successful social strategy, you should familiarize yourself with how each network runs, the kinds of audiences you can reach on that network and how your business can best use each platform.
When it comes to choosing which social media platforms you’ll utilize, select those that offer the best potential for reaching your ideal audience and broadcast the type of media you’ve decided is best suited for your company.
From Snapchat to Instagram, here’s a brief overview of the most significant platforms as they pertain to your business needs.
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We all know that social media is crucial to creating a successful business nowadays, but are all social media platforms worth the same amount of your time and money?
Of course not.
What are your objectives?
When people search for your brand what do you want people to see? What goals do you want social media to accomplish for your business?
Answering these questions will help you narrow down your list of possible social networks since you’ll focus on the networks that will help you accomplish your objectives.
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For example, if you want to spread the word and introduce your business and its content to a wider audience, then Twitter is an excellent platform to use.
If you want to connect with other professionals, then focus on your LinkedIn profile. If you were selling a physical product, such as your artwork or baked goods, visual platforms like Instagram and Pinterest deserve your attention.
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If you’re stuck on which platform will answer the questions listed above, compile a list of industry leaders and influencers to see which platforms they’re using.
BuzzSumo is an excellent tool that can help you find these individuals by conducting a simple search inquiry.
Where is your audience?
After defining your objectives, you also want to find out which social networks are being used by your audience.
Just as with your target audience in general, you want to review the demographics and psycho-graphics that makeup your specific audience. This will assist you in determining where they spend most of their time when online.
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Overall, the most popular social networks, based on the amount of users, are; Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google+, Tumblr, and Instagram.
However, Snapchat is the most popular among teens. So, there’s a good chance that your audience is somewhat active on those sites.
Just keep in mind though that just because there are million users on a social site doesn’t mean that they’re active. So be wary of fake accounts and keep an eye out for activity.
And, don’t rule out niche networks that are specific to your industry or business.
Consider your resources
Growing your presence on social media takes a fair amount of time and money. However, different channels can cost you more than others.
For example, creating and sharing videos on platforms like YouTube or Vine requires more of an investment than sending out a tweet.
If you want to be active on Twitter, you have to tweet multiple times throughout the day – which requires either more time or investing in a scheduling tool like Buffer.
Selecting your ideal social network
While there are several factors to consider when selecting a social network, it’s recommended that you at least join the big four of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google +.
Regardless of your audience and industry, these are crucial when implementing a social media strategy.
After signing up for these four accounts, you can then select a channel or two that are more niche or demographic related.
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A clothing retailer with a big millennial audience, for example, should focus on platforms like Instagram and Snapchat.
Even if you only use a couple of platforms, I suggest that you still register your brand name across board just to avoid confusion and prevent any future hassles.
Making your presence known
Once you have registered your brand and created your accounts, it’s time to make your presence known.
And, that can be accomplished by:
• Optimize your profiles by including either a professional logo as your profile image, completely filling out your description, a link to your blog or website.
• Add social buttons on your blog or website and a link in your email signatures.
• Follow and interact with influencers in your industry.
• Create and share quality content that people will share. Follow the 80/20 rule which means that 80% of your social content is sharing someone else’s content.
• Post throughout the day. Buffer has created a frequency guide which has found that your should tweet 14 times throughout the day and just twice on Facebook. Again, scheduling tools like Hootsuite and Sprout Social can help you manage scheduling multiple accounts.
• Stay consistent across all platforms. This includes having the same color scheme, logo, and voice on each of your accounts.
• Stay true to yourself and your business plan.
• Start to have your business become an influencer.
Testing out your social media presence
Lastly, remember to test and assess how your social media presence efforts are going. Each site can provide analytics that offer reports on how that presence is doing.
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This will also help you to determine where your audience is located and to what degree they are engaged with what you are doing on those platforms.
Remember that you will most likely have to make tweaks along the way to where you interact with your audience and the type of content you provide.
This is by far the biggest social media channel, with an estimate of 1.11 billion people using the site each month, 665 million active users each day, and generates up to 645 million local business page views per week, Facebook has proved that its popularity amongst users is here to stay.
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Facebook can be thought of as the “social” home for your business on the Internet. It’s a place people can go to leave a message, browse through business products and photos, or chat with you online.
With so many targeted potential customers, creating a business page is a must, but remember that it needs to be updated on a daily basis with not only promotional information, but engaging and interesting content as well.
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Know that this platform does need a considerable amount of human and financial resources (advertising), and, if done right, the benefits to your business will definitely be seen.
Twitter is full of people with things to say, and you can listen! This social media channel has an estimated 215 million active users.
Twitter is meant not so much for friends and family but for people you actually want to communicate with. You may think the 140 character count (or the amount of words you can tweet) is limited, but when used correctly, you can reap the rewards.
Twitter has proved its worth in recent years as a platform for breaking news. Use the great hashtag feature to keep up with and be part of the latest trends and news worthy events.
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Twitter is also a great way to connect with your customers. If you have an unsatisfied customer you will hear them on Twitter, and this is your chance to excel at customer service.
If you have succeeded in gaining some popularity with your twitter account you will know how viral twitter can be.
Google+ has 359 million active users a month – far from the ghost town it is popularly believed to be.
Many see Google+ as a combination of Twitter and Facebook, but its new features makes it a marketing paradise.
The Hangouts, +1s and hashtags , if used properly, can result in a fantastic page popularity. Like Twitter and Facebook, this page needs to be updated; you need to be interactive with not only your own users, but other business pages as well.
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Remember: Google+ is Google, which means great search engine results for your business!
If you have a Google+ Page and someone searches for your business (despite if they follow you or not), your Google+ Page and its most recent posts will be displayed on the right side of their personal search results.
These search ranking benefits makes Google+ an important social media site to consider for your business.
This is a tricky social media channel and you should only take it on if you have great images to share concerning your business.
Your business can reap the benefits of introducing your products to an estimated 70 million (10 million in the US alone) users on Pinterest, with fabulous backlinks to your website.
Businesses that produce quality visual content on Pinterest have a distinct advantage.
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Because of the highly visual nature of the site, quality images have a greater chance of becoming “viral” – that is, shared and re-shared and re-shared further – to thousands of people.
An image pinned by a highly-followed Pinterest member has the potential to reach millions of viewers.
If your business is image heavy – say, a photography studio, retail shop or an ecommerce site – then Pinterest for business makes sense.
Don’t overlook the appeal of a good “how-to checklist” or a step-by-step guide. When paired with an interesting image, these pins can garner attention, too.
Once someone pins the image, the web address associated with that pin can serve to draw in new customers.
Remember: The majority of users on Pinterest are women (80%) between the ages of 25-45. Is this the right target audience for your business?
If you’re not already aware, Instagram is a photo-sharing program. What makes Instagram different from other photo-sharing programs is that it’s a free app which can be downloaded onto iPhones and some Samsung and Android devices.
It enables users to apply a variety of filters to pictures with a simple press of a button. Do not sign your business up if you are not going to use your smart phone.
Though you can manage your Instagram account via your PC, you can’t upload images to Instagram without a third party tool from your PC.
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Instagram is great for products, pictures of staff and developments within your business, and using this social media channel can add the ‘we’re just human’ factor to your business.
Statistics show that there are between 130 and 150 million users, but you need to understand the demographic of these users and determine if this is the right target audience for your business: The majority of users (70%) are female between the ages of 18-35.
Linkedin is the largest social media network for business people and professionals but most small business owners still don’t have it on their marketing radar.
Business owners are now realizing the value of this site and the opportunities to build relationships and sales leads. There are over 230 million LinkedIn users and 2.7 million business pages already on LinkedIn.
Note that LinkedIn is more serious in nature compared to Facebook and Twitter. Approach this social media channel more seriously and assume that the users will want serious, professional and informative information.
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One of the most powerful features of Linkedin is “Linkedin Groups” which provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to start and participate in a discussion within a Group.
You can share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish yourself as industry experts. Groups can have a hundred to thousands of members, so the exposure is significant.
This social media channel is the most popular video oriented site and has an estimate of over 1 billion unique visitors every month, with over 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute.
A huge factor to note with YouTube is that:
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It’s the second largest search engine after Google (not Yahoo or Bing!). So, having content here that is optimized to be found by someone looking for your product, service, or niche can have enormous benefits.
YouTube is owned by Google! When it comes to boosting your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ranking, videos are over 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results as part of the blended results that Google now shows.
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But the YouTube market is competitive. It really is a social media channel to choose if you have value videos that invite engagement, sharing and that users will enjoy.
If your business can visually show how their services, products and employees are different from all the rest out there, this social media channel is a winner.
Social media has changed dramatically since its inception. What started as a way for individuals to connect and communicate is now a powerful tool that every business should be taking advantage of to cultivate their audience, engage their users and increase revenue.
While social media has grown into an incredible opportunity for business owners, it has also grown more complicated. There are now more options than ever.
Do you need an Instagram profile? Should you get in on Snapchat and Periscope before they get too big? Should you have Facebook and Twitter, or just choose one?
How do you know where to direct your time and resources for optimum ROI?
Just think of social media as a fluid process that will evolve over time. Just stick with it and be patient.
While it will take some time to develop your presence and following, you will know when it has made an impression.