It’s no secret that most successful businesses are on social media. Using social media is a great way to market products and services, share stories and connect with audiences. But not all social channels are equal.
Here’s a tip: To participate in social media, most businesses don’t need to adopt a presence across all the channels available. Knowing which ones to use are the key to maximizing return on investment.
Before getting started on social media as a business, do quick a survey to note which channels your audiences use. Adopt the ones that seem to have the most engagement among your customers, investors, reporters and other influencers. Then check out the list below for cliff notes on the advantages and disadvantages of each channel below.
Not just for consumers, Facebook can be a very powerful tool for businesses who serve B2C or B2B clients. In addition to having the ability to boost posts for very specific audiences, businesses can provide store hours and directions, can use the provided inbox for private customer communications, and can even tag merchandise that directly connects to a digital shopping cart. The analytics are also top-notch. With the largest following of all the channels, Facebook is considered the OG of social media by many.
Unless you boost posts regularly, it can be tough to gain followers on Facebook. Set aside some digital advertising dollars to get it off the ground.
What started as Facebook’s kid sister has grown into a power-house channel for all types of businesses. An entirely visual medium, Instagram relies on photo and video posts, as well as the heavy use of hashtags. This is a great option for companies with products or services that can be curated in styled photography or demonstrated in short video clips. Like Facebook, you may need to invest in boosted posts to ramp up new business pages.
This channel can be tough for businesses that offer non-visual services or niche offerings. It also requires endless creativity to break through the clutter. And an artistic eye is required to prevent turning off users. Additionally, individual posts can’t be populated with clickable links, so you’ll have to point users to a single URL in your profile where you can consolidate and archive links.
This high-energy channel is designed for fast, clear and concise updates — specifically 280 characters or less. This is one of the many reasons why reporters love Twitter (hint, hint). It’s also one of the most personable channels since businesses often have public, direct conversations with other users. To encourage engagement, thank new followers, tag relevant users in posts and respond to those who tag you. Use of hashtags is a must to expand your following and reach, and don’t be afraid to push frequent posts. Posts can also be boosted for increased exposure.
Twitter moves fast and you must produce and share lots of content to keep your profile engaging. The short character count can be a challenge for some businesses.
Think of LinkedIn as Facebook’s Ivy-League cousin. Professionals rely on it and it’s a great way to promote nearly any business, network, share industry resources and source talent. Users frequently follow business pages and share company posts within their networks — behavior that can expose your company to new customers and establish it as an expert.
While individuals can join industry groups, companies cannot. With this in mind, you’ll want to peg strategic employees as subject-matter experts to infiltrate industry groups and help position your company as a leader. This can be a challenge for B2B-focused businesses. Additionally, promoting job openings can be cost-prohibitive for some companies.
- Google+ and Business Pages
Publishing content to Google+ can up your SEO and rankings in search engines and may drive some engagement. Businesses should definitely publish hours, locations, services and other important information to all listing pages, which helps customers find them.
Google+ has a relatively low engagement, so don’t expect a lot of clicks or shares among your audiences. It can also be tricky to set up and manage business pages, as the interface is a bit confusing at times.
In summary, my advice is for businesses to be active on social media, but be choosy about which channels to invest time and resources in. Once you’re live on the most strategic platforms for your business, learn how to increase your social following here.