Social Media Overview

Popular social platforms have become marketing giants, offering businesses valuable data about their customers and a (mostly) free way to reach them. The jury has spoken: social media for business is no longer optional. If you’re lacking in your engagement, your competitor won’t be. In light of this, we thought we would take the time to give a rundown on the key components of the main social platforms that businesses are currently using and how they can benefit you. To start this week off, we take a macro view at the current social landscape.

FACEBOOK

In the last few years, Facebook has gone from a good organic way of marketing to becoming a pay-to-play platform. Latest statistics show that unless you are paying to market your posts, your organic reach will only find 2-6%. However, they have a respected targeting functionality, so if you do pay, you will get a good response.

Positives:

  • Sharing and liking can spread your post nationally or internationally rapidly.
  • Facebook shows you exactly how well your business post is doing, which is important for tracking progress and finding what needs to be tweaked for next time
  • Unlimited characters – it’s nice to know you’re not limited if you want to speak to those who follow.
  • You can segment exactly who you want to target advertising to by interests, location, gender, age etc. This is good for nailing down your target market and ensuring that your ad spend isn’t wasted on those who don’t care.

Not so positive:

  • Facebook is often seen as more of a personal platform. Not everyone with an account wants to be linked to businesses marketing their wares. As such, it may be harder to create a worthy following
  • Facebook has made it harder and harder for businesses to keep and maintain a following without using paid Facebook advertising. They have successfully monetised the platform by automatically hiding most of your posts from users – unless they specifically select that they want to see all of your updates. This means that you’ll have to invest into promoting your posts to get them seen and build a following.
  • A lot of effort is needed to maintain your Facebook account. It looks dull and boring pretty quickly if there isn’t regular and up-to-date content uploaded, and especially if you’re not paying for your marketing, as you will not gain much engagement on any post

TWITTER

Twitter is a big platform for business. The amount of people we see on the train commuting to work of a morning and evening scrolling through their timeline proves just that. It’s got a slightly more sophisticated market than Facebook (in theory), with 140-character limits to Tweets, there’s no room for waffling. Quick, concise content is what it’s all about.

You can pay for marketing on Twitter, like promoted Tweets, but you can easily increase your following and respectability on the platform yourself. This free eBook is a really simple way to discover what you can do to quickly increase your organic, targeted following.

Positives of Twitter:

  • So far, there isn’t an algorithm to narrow down who sees what post, unlike other social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. As long as the user follows you, your post will show up on their feed
  • Twitter Analytics shows how your stats compare to the month before, and what is working vs. what’s not doing so well. Super useful for honing your Tweeting skills over time
  • Using #hashtags means you can easily reach more users. Check out what’s trending and scroll through the Moments tab to find out what people are talking about, and jump on the bandwagon to push your business out there. For example, the 2nd hashtag trending right now is #TalkLikeAPirateDay. It’s pointless, it’s not helping anyone. But if you click here to see how many people are talking about it, you can see how 140 characters of “ooh arr matey”, to promote your business to a couple thousand people, seems worth the time put in
  • There are over 300 million active users per month. That’s a LOT of potential customers!
  • Pinned Tweets can be changed regularly, promote one specific product, hint at exactly what your business is about, or, frankly, anything you want. It’s a useful tool as anyone clicking on your profile will see it, as it’s always pinned to the top of your timeline
  • Twitter’s targeted paid ads are good and in-depth, allowing you to pick out of gender, age, location, behaviours, and people they follow, amongst others!

Negatives include:

  • Twitter’s policy includes not being able to follow more than 10% more of who is following you (only after following over 2,000 accounts). For example, if you’re following 2,000 people, unless over 1,800 are following you back, you will not be able to follow any more. This stops spam accounts, so is a positive, too!
  • It can become quite consuming. As with anything, you can find yourself a bit obsessed with checking stats and ensuring everything is headed in the right direction. Sometimes you can just get downright distracted – there are some weird and wonderful things on Twitter. Some companies have dedicated social media managers, so it can be a little overwhelming if you’re managing social marketing alongside your “real” job! We find that Hootsuite is a really good way of scheduling our posts. Spend a chunk of time dedicated to creating tweets, and schedule them for key times (commuting times and lunch time work well!). Of course, you will have to create spontaneous tweets to ensure you are keeping up with new things that come out, but the bulk of your social work will already be done. Phew.

LINKEDIN

LinkedIn is the professional social media platform. Remember the outrage when that businessman tried to send a flirty message to a woman? Do not do that here. LinkedIn is oh-so-serious and ought to be kept that way. Keep the embarrassing flirting and chat up lines to Tinder.

  • A recruiter’s dream, LinkedIn is an interactive, online CV. Users post their skills, past jobs, attributes, and more, and can connect with those they know and those they want to know. A simple account is free, but you can pay more for LinkedIn Premium Business Plus, which gives users more freedom and power to enhance their professional network.
  • LinkedIn in some ways has pretty poor UX, and lots of people struggle to understand how to use LinkedIn to properly market their business, and get something back from the platform.

What’s the point of having an account if it just sits there, doing nothing? Here are just some of the things that, by using LinkedIn, can benefit your company:

  • Share posts with connections, about great business, local triumphs, personal achievements etc.
  • Endorse your connection’s skills, and have them endorse yours
  • Build relationships with other businesses and likeminded people who you may learn something from
  • Promote B2B products / services to a niche group of people
  • Find staff with the right skill set and history to work for your company

You can also sponsor content, so if you’ve just released a new case study focused on a particular industry for example, you could pay to have this post shown to other companies from your target industry.

INSTAGRAM

Instagram is a great visual platform, and its recent updates have given businesses a more relaxed marketing platform to gain a positive reputation on.

The image-led platform allows businesses to post pictures of whatever they choose, with editing tools and captions to explain the content even further. Hashtags are used frequently and its perfectly normal to follow businesses and other interesting or inspiring accounts.

Their latest release has been more business-led, proving the popularity of marketing on the platform. With a new contact button, followers can get in touch via your Instagram for business profile. Paired with the added nuisance of Instagram not giving users clickable links, it means one simple button that pings an email off to the account of your choice will allow much more B2B and B2C interaction through the social media platform.

Instagram is a hassle-free way to post fun and aesthetically-pleasing images of your business, your local area, or anything that may attract users to your account. It may not be for everyone – a debt collectors office may not have many fun or visually engaging pics to post – but it’s an easy (and free) way to market your business, with minimum knowledge of the platform needed.

And now, with Instagram Stories, you can be even more casual, fun, and show the friendly and personable side to your business, whilst still subtly promoting produces or services.

SNAPCHAT

Snapchat is one social platform that didn’t seem very business-orientated. However, over the past year or so, businesses have jumped on the bandwagon and it’s been a fairly smooth ride since.

Snapchat is definitely more of a casual brand-awareness platform. You’re not going to get a reply with a filter and sign off on a big job.

In terms of paid marketing, there are Snapchat ads, which are 10-second videos that give the user the option to swipe up and see a more in-depth version, and you can now create your own branded geofilters.

Whilst this was innovative at one time, platforms like Instagram have upped their game and recently brought out an identical feature, called Instagram Stories. This new service copies the time limitations users can place on images of videos in Snapchat. With Instagram slowly encroaching into Snapchat’s territory, we’re interested in how this all pans out and who emerges victorious.

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Salesforce Consulting Partner