Social media marketing is one of the most popular ways to reach, and engage with, your audience online. With over 3.6 billion social media users worldwide and that number growing each year, social media shows no sign of slowing down. This means the need for businesses to engage with social platforms will only become more crucial over time.
We’ll start with the basics – what counts as social media?
Social media is so called because users engage with it in a social context, which can include conversations, commentary, and engagement interactions. While social media and social media marketing has technically been around since the beginning of the internet, over the last 10 years we’ve seen a dramatic increase in both the number of social media sites cropping up and the popularity among users.
Some of the most popular business platforms are Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, Snapchat and TikTok. We’ll go through the features of each in this guide and explain how they could benefit your business.
There are many ways that social media marketing can help your business. By creating genuine and well thought out content you can use social media to help you with the following:
- Building a community with product/service users by generating two-way conversation
- Brand awareness & discovery
- New product launches to an already engaged audience
- Event promotion
- Increased site traffic
- Increased leads and sales
- Establishing expertise in your field
What social media platforms should my business use?
There are a lot of social media platforms, and it’s rare to find a small business that needs to use every single one. Different platforms are more suited to different business types depending on who their customers are. We’ll now take you through the most popular platforms in a little more detail.
Facebook is one of the biggest social media sites, and it remains popular across all age groups. Almost any kind of content can work well – text, images, videos, and links to blogs to name a few.
Pages for brands on Facebook can be highly informative for both new and old customers. Customers can see your business hours and business location on a map, write reviews, and view all your latest content. You can even add in meaningful CTAs to your page that are designed to help you achieve your social media marketing goals such as a ‘call now’ button. Furthermore, they have recently added the ability to integrate your online store and sell directly through Facebook. You can check out a little more about why this new feature may be beneficial in our social media shopping integration blog.
Facebook works well for most business types but particularly for those who can make the most of the page features.
Twitter is a hugely popular site among all age groups. This platform focuses on real time information and generating discussion, with tweets being limited to 280 characters.
The aim for a business on Twitter should be to start a conversation with your existing customers and engage potential new customers. You can create thought-provoking content, polls, and question-based posts that are designed to get more retweets and responses.
Again, for Twitter, most businesses can do well provided they are willing to start a conversation with their customers. If you’re a restaurant who just wants to post pictures of food all day, then it’s not the platform for you. But if you’re a tech company who wants to debate the ins and outs of the latest phone model? Absolutely.
Instagram has some of the highest engagement rates out of all social media platforms. Aesthetically pleasing, high quality photographs and videos are a must to find success on this platform.
For business to be successful on Instagram, it’s important to make the most of all the available features. Create stories and reels as well as regular posts, use relevant hashtags, encourage user-generated content and use highlights to showcase your best stories.
Most hospitality businesses (think hotels, bars, restaurants) will get a lot out of Instagram as they can paint a beautiful picture of the customer experience. It will also work brilliantly for a lot of e-commerce businesses that have products and customer pictures to show off.
B2B businesses – this one is for you! LinkedIn should be the first social media account you create if you’re trying to sell a product or service to other businesses. It’s where professionals go to share industry news and you will find people to be much more receptive to your company news and ideas.
To find success on LinkedIn as a business, you should be aiming to post content that both your industry peers and customers will find useful and thought-provoking.
Any business whose core customers is other businesses can get a lot out of LinkedIn. If this isn’t you, but you’re a business trying to show expertise in your industry then it can also be a great platform. Check out our beginner’s guide here.
Pinterest is different from other platforms as it can be described as a cross between a vision board and a wish list. It’s a place where people go to discover new things which can be useful for brands trying to shape purchasing decisions – if used properly.
Use keywords in your profile, and in the titles and descriptions of your boards and pins to attract the right audience.
Pinterest won’t be the right choice for every business, but for those in certain industries it’s a must-have. If your business sells home décor for example, Pinterest will be a top platform for you.
YouTube is the most popular video sharing platform, users across the world watch around a billion hours of videos per day! If you have great video content that can be of value, then YouTube will be the right fit.
Use keywords in the video title, description, and tags to gain maximum exposure. Where possible, link people back to your business site to drive traffic before people move on to another video.
If you’re a restaurant who wants to show people how to make your signature dish, YouTube will be a top choice for you. YouTube also works really well for businesses who sell more complicated products (generally tech related) as they can do in-depth videos showing off all of the features.
Much like Instagram, Snapchat is a visual platform that showcases photos and videos. However, there is much less requirement for high quality images which makes it easier to create content for. Users can upload stories for all their contacts to see as well as send content to individuals.
Snapchat is exceptionally popular with users under the age of 25. So, if your target market is young Millennials or Gen Z, then Snapchat could be a suitable platform. As the users are younger, Snapchat only works with brands that can be funny and quirky with their content. Snapchat is not the place for serious product discussion.
If your business is a bar with a young target market who can have a bit of fun on social media, then you could well find Snapchat to be a winner for your brand.
Yet another visual platform, TikTok has skyrocketed in popularity over the past year, especially with a younger audience. TikTok allows users to create and share a variety of short videos from 15 seconds to 3 minutes long. These clips tend to showcase dance trends, comedy skits or fun educational content. Most of the videos are created on the app and involve catchy music and quirky cuts.
This new app has already been downloaded over 1.5 billion times worldwide, so it is definitely worth considering creating an account for your company. However, with roughly 60% of users ages between 16-24, it’s only worthwhile if your target market is within this range. TikTok can be used to create your own branded content, but make sure you keep the tone light-hearted and fun. You can also curate and share user generated content to build more interaction with your customers.
This platform seems to work well for companies that sell apparel or beauty products. If you sell shoes, you can show them off by participating in the dance challenges, whereas if you sell makeup you could easily jump on some of the tutorial trends.
To learn more about this social media newcomer, check out our blog on TikTok for marketing.
Remember a simple comment on social media, once screen shotted, will never go away! Protect your brand by always remaining strictly professional when you’re using social media. Social media is there to engage with your customers – not reply with a snarky comment to a negative review!
Social Media for Small Business
Whether you are running a small business or a huge global company, the statistics tell you clearly: your customers are online. Start slow and small, and scale from there. Don’t feel the need to post every day unless you have something amazing to say. As always for small businesses – quality over quantity!
While most social media platforms can be accessed across both desktop and mobile devices, the majority of users tend to use their smartphones. Therefore we’ve created a handy guide for optimising your posts on mobile – check it out here!