Are you new to social media or thinking about joining a new channel? In the midst of likes, tweets, pins and pluses, it can be overwhelming to digest what’s popular versus what’s right for your business. The most important thing to remember is it’s better to actively participate in a few social media channels rather than be everywhere all at once. While there are new channels popping up every day, we’ve chosen to focus on seven of the most popular channels to review. Take a look and see which one might be valuable to your own business needs (the infographic by Huffington Post, below, is also a great visual starter).
Facebook “is a social utility that connects people with friends [family] and others who work, study and live around them.”
Facebook is arguably the largest and most successful social media channel. This site alone has created a new field of marketing and is constantly evolving in an effort to remain relevant. Facebook is the most recognizable and used platform, with 67% of online adult users. It offers businesses a chance to highly target potential customers based on content in user’s profiles with Facebook ads.
Good for: every business and organization; anyone can create a page without having to worry about selling Facebook’s relevancy to your customers.
Pinterest is “a content sharing service allowing members to ‘pin’ images, videos and other objects to their pinboards.”
This channel, while still considered a content driven medium, is highly visual. People come to this space to escape and enjoy their time looking for recipes, beauty and style tips, home improvement projects, and health/fitness inspiration. Followers can pin from within the site AND create pins from content or images they find over the Internet. According to a recent survey by RichRelevance, Pinterest drives the largest online orders than any other social media channel. When 80% of Pinterest users are women, businesses should be paying attention to this channel.
Good for: retail, fashion, beauty, home improvement, restaurants, gyms, realtors, interior designers, photography, travel, and artists/designers. Women primarily dominate Pinterest, but they also bring a higher conversion rate for sales. If your brand has a good visual message, Pinterest can be great for you.
Twitter “is a real-time information network that connects you to the latest stories, ideas, opinions and news about what you find interesting.”
Similar to Facebook, Twitter is used primarily to provide quick 140 character updates, articles and pictures to its followers. Twitter is widely used to cover sporting and conference events but can also provide minute-to-minute news feeds. While Twitter is less visual than Facebook or Pinterest, the platform does still allow for customizable profiles. Twitter is arguably one of the most accessible social media channels. Followers can directly interact with celebrities, businesses, authors, and even politicians. Additionally, with the advent of hashtags, anyone can easily see what topics are ‘trending’ or popular, daily. What can be challenging is adhering to the 140-character message limit. It does, however, lead followers to take direct action (e.g. clicking a link to read the full article or see a picture associated with an article).
Good for: every business and organization. Twitter can provide essential information (e.g. school or road closings, direct interaction with brands and easy to measure metrics, with hashtags and retweets). Twitter is also a great resource for competitor analysis and industry trends.
Instagram “is a fast, beautiful and fun way to share your photos with friends and family. Snap a picture, choose a filter to transform its look and feel, and then post to Instagram. It’s photo sharing, reinvented.”
Instagram has given the sharing experience back to the users. It is a simple, yet brilliant, marketing tool for users to capture pictures, uniquely. Instantaneously, users can transform ordinary mobile photos into, modestly, professional grade photos. Picture sharing campaigns/contests have started with companies like Southwest Airlines and Corona and have sparked other brands to follow suit. Like Twitter, Instagram allows users to not only post pictures to their feed but also to other social media channels as well (e.g. Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr). Additionally, similar to Twitter, users can follow brands, businesses, celebrities, and magazines and directly interact with them. The most interesting thing about Instagram is while users are able to view the site online it is primarily a mobile application. Pictures are taken with mobile devices and users can only follow or view their followers via the application.
Good for: primarily businesses, organizations and non-profits. With the creation of a clever hashtag, photo-sharing contests can be created and measured similarly to Twitter’s trending metrics.
“Our mission is simple: connect the world’s professionals to make them more productive and successful. When you join LinkedIn, you get access to people, jobs, news, updates, and insights that help you be great at what you do. LinkedIn is the world’s largest professional network with 225 million members in over 200 countries and territories around the globe.”
LinkedIn is a highly effective marketing tool businesses and nonprofits use to recruit job seekers. Unlike other social media channels, LinkedIn is a more formal and professional channel. Users post their résumé, relevant industry experience and connect with other well-respected professionals. LinkedIn is a great platform to build company and brand awareness and gives job seekers the chance to learn about a company’s environment before applying for a position. Like Facebook and Twitter, LinkedIn is a pioneer in the recruitment field. It allows recruiters and job seekers to directly interact with each other, for a more successful onboarding process.
LinkedIn groups also gives users the opportunity to have in-depth discussions about a particular topic in an industry they’re interested in. Groups also provide the opportunity for users to showcase their own expertise and provide thought leadership.
Good for: Everyone. LinkedIn is a great platform to keep your “online résumé” as well as interact with experts in specific industries and businesses looking for employees.
Google+ “aims to make sharing on the web more like sharing in real life. Check out Circles, Events and Hangouts, just a few of the things we’ve been working on.”
Google+ was created as a way to offer competition with Facebook and for Google to combine its strength of search, metrics, communication, email, and news to one platform. While Google+ is still growing, Google does reward those with profiles with higher SEO results. Most online users have a Gmail account and are therefore likely signed in at all times. This is huge for businesses to consider when trying to reach potential customers where they are: online.
Good for: While Google+ isn’t for everyone, it does offer the powerful perks of Google’s network: behavioral retargeting, Google search/display ads, search, and high SEO results.
YouTube “allows billions of people to discover, watch and share originally-created videos. YouTube provides a forum for people to connect, inform, and inspire others across the globe and acts as a distribution platform for original content creators and advertisers large and small.”
While YouTube may not be in the same category as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, or Google+, it still is important to recognize as a social media channel. YouTube is the place where videos, people and brands go viral—don’t worry it’s a good thing. Videos are an important tool in your overall content marketing and branding strategy. It allows followers and potential customers the chance to see exactly what your organization is doing. Having videos embedded on your website or creating a YouTube channel also increases your SEO results, as Google loves video. YouTube allows users to subscribe to their favorite channels and receive updates of when new videos have been posted.
Good for: building brand awareness and showcasing recent projects or successes.
In summary, while there are even more social media sites not mentioned, having a thorough plan of action before entering the social media sphere is critical. It is better to be actively present on one or two channels rather than spreading yourself thin across all. Users go to social media channels as a way to escape, but also to be kept informed of what’s trending. Don’t take advantage of your potential customer’s time by pushing marketing tactics and sales, but rather let them come to you—because they WANT to. Take a deep breath, map out your strategy and let the social media race begin!