A brief introduction…
Unless you’ve been on a mission to Mars you will have heard of the term ‘Social Media’ and probably already use one or more of the plethora of social media platforms or networks.
In a nutshell, a social media platform allows it’s users to post and share content as well as interact with each other and each other’s content.
The business value of social media platforms is the way in which it facilitates referrals i.e. one person recommends a product or service to a group of friends and colleagues, as well as provide a new publicly available customer service channel.
For most businesses, especially small business, social media networks are used as a traffic generation channel for a website.
The key social media networks are:
Twitter – is classed as the go-to-place for breaking or current news and trends, as well as a method of communication between friends, colleagues and peers.
Facebook – formerly [thefacebook] was launched in 2004, by Mark Zuckerberg with his college roommates and fellow Harvard University students. The founders had initially limited the website’s membership to Harvard students, but later expanded it to colleges in the Boston area, the Ivy League, and Stanford University. It gradually added support for students at various other universities and later to high-school students. As of June 2017 the social network reported 2.01 billion users (an increase of 17% on last year), including 1.32 billion daily active users and 1.15 billion mobile daily active users on average.
Google+ is Google’s own social media network that plays an important role in search results as well.
Pinterest – is a visual social media platform whereby users create themed boards of images that they pin photos on from websites and other Pinterest users’ boards. The source of the image can be attached to the ‘pin’ providing a useful backlink to your website.
Instagram is an online mobile photo-sharing, video-sharing and social networking service that enables its users to take pictures and videos, and share them on a variety of social networking platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr. It is a strong visual platform and one that is growing with 700 million active monthly users (that’s double the number of Twitter monthly users).
Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking website which is now owned by Yahoo! Inc. The service allows users to post multimedia and other content to a short-form blog. Users can follow other users’ blogs, as well as make their blogs private. Much of the website’s features are accessed from the “dashboard” interface, where the option to post content and posts of followed blogs appear. As of September 19, 2016, Tumblr hosts over 314.6 million blogs
LinkedIn is a business-oriented social networking service founded in 2002, which by 2006 had grown it’s member to 20 million. As of April 2017, LinkedIn reports more than 500 million acquired users in more than 200 countries and territories.
Snpachat is the newest kid on the block. Find out more in our Snapchat article.
As you can see already these social networks attract huge volumes of regular users, providing rich seams of potential customers for you.
What social media platforms should I use?
Here is a helpful diagram published by Search Engine Land on what each platform is used for or relates to. Don’t worry if you haven’t heard of all these networks, there are too many to count.
Our advice is usually to start off with the main ones and if appropriate one of the visual social networks, ideally Instagram as well.
The tables in the images below were created by Buffer (Nov 2014) and show some interesting trends. The objective therefore is to compare your target audience, customer base or purchase influencer with the relevant demographics.
For example if you were deciding on a visual social network to use and your product or service is aimed at women over 30 with a higher income, you might consider Pinterest rather than Instagram.
16 Tips for using Social Media
1. Tell people about new stuff
Do use social media to tell people about new products, services, pages and blog articles available on your website.
2. Have a Plan
Do have a plan/strategy and do use it regularly. There’s no point in half-hearted quarterly updates – better to focus on just one social media platform and do it well.
3. Don’t rant
Don’t use social media to rant about an off-topic subject or politics (use a personal account for that) and never use it to moan about a customer. It looks unprofessional and who want to be your client if you’re going to talk negatively about them in public!
4. Link back to your own website
Always link back to your website and not to another social media platform. Your website is your foundation and conversion utility. For example don’t tweet something that links to Facebook – if you want a gallery of photos, create a page on your website and use a gallery plugin – unless of course you’re just looking for Facebook engagement?
5. Link me, link me.
When including links, social media updates should be surrounded by text that intrigues, explains and directs users to click. It shouldn’t be an afterthought.
6. Use social sharing buttons
If you’re committed to producing regular well-written content on your blog, do include social media sharing buttons – engaged readers will turn into mini-marketeers for you, and help spread your message.
7. Use a social media management tool
Use a management tool to send out your social media updates – that way you can plan times during the week (even if its just 15 minutes) to dedicate to writing good quality and engaging copy, rather than a rushed blah of nonsense. You can also make sure you have scheduled enough updates to be effective and start to recognise the most effective times to send out.
8. Make social media part of your content habit
Make social media and updating your website a habit – Jonathan Wood at Motivated & Competent has written a good article on his blog about starting good habits.
9. Give yourself room for retweets
Calculate your maximum twitter message size so that other users can retweet you without having to edit or truncate the message. this should include your link or minimised link as well.
10. Best time to tweet
Work out the most effective times for your tweets to be sent out. Don’t be afraid to send a slightly altered tweet out at a different time during the same week.
11. Thank others
Do write a personal thank you for retweets and follows – it’s very good manners and if appropriate maybe get them to look at a specific part of your website that may be relevant to them. Don’t however bombard a new follower with heavy sales orientated direct messages – that’s not cool, and you’ll probably find a rapid un-follow ensues!
12. Keep your profile updated
Make sure your Twitter profile has profile images/graphics and you have added your URL back to your website. So many businesses launch but forget to update this with their new website address!
13. Make it relevant
Facebook content should be relevant, in context, interesting and more often than not include a link back to your website. These aspects are important because Facebook’s ‘edge rank’ doesn’t show your updates to all of your followers all of the time if it doesn’t think your content is relevant or good enough. So one liners and rambling essays are more than likely destined for Facebook obscurity.
14. Keep Facebook details up-to-date
Keep your profile up-to-date and make sure you your website address has been added!
Monitor & Review
15. Track your referrers
Use Google Analytics to track your top social media referrers. Do the results point to a clear leader that represents your audience demographics or indicate you need to put a little more effort into it? Which social media platforms give you the best interaction and conversion rates?
16. Monitor your effectiveness
Use a social media management tool to help monitor your effectiveness: interaction with your audience, follower trends and what type of linked content gets the most likes or RT’s. Is it blog articles or plain old product links?
Are you actually using any social media? If not, have a go.
Are you monitoring your effectiveness? If not, start now.