Social media enables people and organisations to share information, ideas, personal messages and more via the internet. It is also for any business that wants to gain exposure online, connect with existing or potential customers, build brand awareness, find new leads, generate website traffic, gain an insight into the shopping habits of customers and improve their customer service. However, there are too many social networking sites to ever have a presence on them all, so the aim of this blog post is to help you learn about the most widely used platforms.
The main social media networks
Facebook is the largest of all the social media platforms, with over two billion monthly active users, meaning you are sure to find some of your audience there. Usage is spread pretty evenly between males and females, with users getting more active as their age increases but with younger users increasingly more interested in other platforms. Facebook accommodates text (63,206 characters in regular posts), images and videos and is good for building relationships. Facebook groups enable an audience to be gathered together in one place online and can be helpful in creating conversations, while Facebook business pages can be used for advertising which can be customised to target specific audiences.
Twitter has around 300 million monthly active users who post messages known as tweets. It is useful for communicating breaking news in bite sized chunks of 280 characters or less but links can be added to tweets to signpost readers to further information.
Famous for its use of hashtags (although today these are used on other social media platforms too), Twitter formally adopted these in 2009 and went on to introduce trending topics, by placing the most popular hashtags on its homepage. Anything with a hashtag symbol in front of it becomes a hyperlink, meaning that clicking on a hashtag generates a list of tweets using the same hashtag, making it easier to find information with a theme or specific content.
Research conducted for Twitter by IPSOS MediaCT (IpsosConnectUK), found that 60% of Twitter UK users have a strong interest in TV shows, regularly using the platform to talk about tv, something encouraged by programmers who now display their own hashtags as their programmes are aired, allowing viewers to join in with Twitter conversations.
Instagram is a photo and video sharing social networking service owned by Facebook. It has well over one billion monthly users meaning the chances are, much of your audience spends time on the platform. It is the home of influencers (someone who has the power to affect the purchasing decisions of others because of his or her authority, knowledge, position, or relationship with his or her audience), brands, bloggers, small business owners and also your friends and family. Popular with teens and young adults, use of the app slowly drops off with age but is consistently popular with men and women. Beautiful photography, illustrations and selfie-style videos are the currency here.
Pinterest is another photo and video sharing social media platform. It has over 320 million monthly users, predominantly adult women who use the platform as a social bookmarking tool for saving ideas and finding creative inspiration, from art, fashion, food, interior design and more. Increasingly Pinterest also offers businesses a unique way to market themselves as a visual search engine.
Popular with the under 25’s SnapChat has over 300 million monthly users, who use it to share updates and communicate with friends and family through disappearing images and short video messages. Video driven storytelling that entertains and educates a young audience is the name of the game here.
YouTube is an online video sharing and social media platform owned by Google. Music, films, gaming, sports and fashion can be found on the platform and it can also be used for producing video tutorials, instructional content, product reviews or interviews.
LinkedIn is primarily used for professional networking and career development, allowing job seekers to post their CVs and employers to post jobs. Editorial content can also be published enabling businesses to build their brand and engage leads through conversations.
Clubhouse describes itself as the ‘social audio app’ and ‘a new type of social product based on voice [that] allows people everywhere to talk, tell stories, develop ideas, deepen friendships, and meet interesting new people around the world.’ Millions of rooms or hallways enable users to pop in an out of different chats and you can host your own chats too. Networking and promoting your products is the name of the game here.
Now that you know about the most popular and widely used social media platforms, you are ready to jump into the world of social media.
Firstly set goals for what you hope to achieve through your use of social media marketing. Things you might want to focus on include:
- improving your customer service by providing a platform where customers can reach you with complaints, questions, and concerns
- identifying new leads
- finding new customers who might be interested in your products or services
- learning more about your audience
- increasing traffic to your website and boosting sales.
Choose a platform that matches with the work you do
Secondly, choose a platform that matches the type of content you aim to create. If you are say a solicitor or an accountant it may be that you don’t have much in the way of visual information so Instagram and Pinterest are not going to work for you, whereas LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook will allow you to share useful information, blog posts and link to articles you’ve written. Creative businesses on the other hand, say artists, food businesses, hairdressers, jewellery makers or interior designers could easily make Instagram and Pinterest their social media home. Where are your followers most likely to be and where do organisations similar to yours hang out? Do your research and make sure you are in the same places.
What to post
When posting keeps these points in mind.
- Be professional: don’t fall into the trap of thinking it is only social media – have fun with it but don’t let your standards fall
- Be on brand: branding needs to be consistent everywhere it is used
- Be authentic: communicate with your customers in a natural and genuine style
- Be relevant and consistent: you don’t need to post every day but regular posts will keep you in customers minds
- Be engaged: if your customers like, share or comment on your posts, take the time to acknowledge this and if they ask you a question, make sure you reply
Slow and steady wins the race
If you want to make use of more than one social media platform, consider first using ones you are already familiar with and enjoy using, leaving the others until you are up and running with these. Also, don’t be afraid to focus on one or two platforms and doing these well. Doing them half heartedly will drive your customers away. And if a social media platform isn’t working for you, don’t be scared to stop using it. Remember social media should enhance your business but it isn’t compulsory and you don’t have to do it all at once, so build your social media presence slowly and have fun with it.
- Adobe: The top seven social media sites you need to care about in 2020
- Buffer: 21 top social media sites to consider for your brand in 2022
- Digital Marketing Institute: Which social media platforms should you use for your business
- Hootsuite: All the social media apps you should know in 2021
- Influencer Marketing Hub: What is an influencer
- Lifewire: History of hashtags and use in social media
- Sprout Social: How long should social posts be?
- Twitter: Why Twitter owns tv conversations
- Data Reportal: Digital 2021 – Global Overview Report
- Hootsuite: Digital 2021 report (April update)
- SocialMedia Today: The history of social media
- Statista: Most popular social networks worldwide as of January 2022, ranked by number of active users
© Toni Louise Abram at Izzy Wizzy. All Rights Reserved.