In the fourth part of our new free resources series on Online Marketing, we look at Social Media. Which Social Media networks are the most popular and beneficial to your business, and how best to utilise them.
Social Media – Where to start
It is unlikely that you have never used social networking in this age. Most people have a Facebook (FB) account and with FB reporting to have over 1.3 billion active users in June 2014 it is the largest social network. Other popular networks include YouTube (1 billion users), Twitter (284 million monthly active users) LinkedIn (259 million users), Instagram (200 million users), and Pinterest (70 million users).
According to a recent report by Salesforce, after polling 5000 marketers, they found that 70% planned to boost their social media ad spend in 2015, with 66% saying that social media was core to their business.
Social media sites allow you to create a profile, be it personal or business/company, form networks and heighten your exposure across the internet. It’s easy, instant and costs nothing (paid for options exist for boosting your posts but we will explain this more later).
Starting from the dorm of Harvard student Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook launched in February 2004, quickly changing our social interactions, both personal and business-related. The most popular social media network is easy to navigate and is a quick way to reach existing and potential customers with the click of a button. With FB, a profile is created. This can be a personal profile or a business page. After adding the profiles of people you know to your “friend list” your network can begin to grow. A “newsfeed” is created showing activity related to your profile; such as posts, status updates, photos or “likes” of other posts from profiles in your network. Whoever you befriend on FB will have a post on their newsfeed to say that you are now “friends” and if any of their friends know you, they can add you, and so on. This is how easy it is to expand your profile and get more people to view what your business has to offer.
The aim for many companies on FB is to get as many people to “like” their page, and “like and share” any posts that they might create. Often FB is used to promote the company by offering a competition, and in order to be in with a chance of winning, you must “like and share” the post. This is a really simple way to get more “followers” to a FB page, as again, everyone in your network will have the post appear in their newsfeed. Half of all FB users have more than 200 friends. If you imagine you post something to your page, it will appear in your friend’s newsfeed. Your friend will have his own network, who will also be able to view your post because your friend liked it. If you have 50 people like your business page, and consider how many people can span out from that one link, you can potentially reach a vast number of people, very quickly with minimal effort.
Created in February 2005, YouTube is the second biggest social media network, and hosts all manner of videos created and shared across the globe by its 1 billion users. Video marketing has been tipped to be the future of online content marketing. It is a fresh tactic to create and engage with your customers, in a fun, interesting and informative way. Video creating options are now a lot more affordable than they were previously, making them more accessible to many marketers to utilise in their marketing strategies. With YouTube, you are able to create your own “channel” that your “followers” can subscribe to. This means that every time you add another video to your channel, anyone who is subscribed will get notified. They can watch you’re video, “like” it, comment on it and share it on other social media streams such as Facebook.
Launched in July 2006, Twitter is unique in its model, as it allows only 140 characters to be communicated per message or “Tweet”. A profile is created and network is grown similarly to other social media networks. If someone “follows” you on Twitter, they will see anything that you “Tweet”. It is always a good idea if you are trying to expand your network to “follow” profiles back, and this will develop your links and raise your online profile. Twitter is a useful way to keep your company profile high, with little effort. Hashtags # are used to mark keywords in a post, and is used to categorize tweets. If you Tweet with a hashtag on a public account, anyone who does a search for that hashtag may find your Tweet. It is a completely new way of networking, and a whole new language and culture has been born out of Twitter. Twitter also allows you to upload images and videos.
Launched in 2010, Instagram is yet another social media network, but this time is heavily aimed towards image sharing and more recently videos. It allows users to upload images and add a “filter” or effect on the image, creating a more arty, desirable or professional looking image. This form of social media is most popular with personal profiles, but recently has seen an increase in company profiles, especially product based businesses, such a Ben and Jerry’s Ice cream, or Levis, who have both been involved in Instagram campaigns. Notably with Instagram it is used mostly via mobile devices and is one of the world’s largest mobile ads platforms.
Launched in May 2003, LinkedIn is very much a business-based social networking platform. It is a very good way of creating a network with other businesses, professionals surrounding the business arena. You can create a company or personal profile, allowing you to showcase your talents, qualifications, previous work experience, almost like an online CV. It is not unheard of for people/companies to be “head-hunted” through this channel. You can post any news, blogs, links, news stories that are relevant to your company at that time, raising your profile and at the same time you have access to people, jobs, news, updates that will assist you in your career. People who network with you are also given the opportunity to “endorse” you in your business attributes e.g. if you have said that you have experience in digital marketing and you have a contact that knows this to be true, they can recommend you in this way.
Launched in 2010, Pinterest is a unique and more visual social networking platform. It allows you to “pin” images that you are interested in onto “boards” that you can return to. Others can “follow” your boards. It is a social networking forum that can be more successful and relevant to certain businesses than others. If you have a brand or products to promote, this could be the perfect forum for you.
Recently, after establishing Pinterest for Business, brand-focused tools, it has introduced a new analytics dashboard, in order to more successfully understand how people are interacting with their content.
There are obviously many more social network platforms that are all slightly different in their approach, but all have one main goal, to form networks with local and worldwide communities.
In Part 5 we’ll be talking about Blogging, how best to start and the importance of content quality.