Which Social Media Platform is Right for Your Business?
by Joanne Dolezal
Seth Godin states that he doesn’t have a Twitter account because he wants to focus on having a great blog and concentrate on replying to all his comments and emails, moreover he feels that this commitment would be much less if he had to split his time up with Twitter too.
An interesting decision for sure, but the point to take away is that you can’t spread your efforts across too many platforms. Too many times I see business owners on about ten different platforms, not doing any particularly well. A much better strategy is to choose the right platforms for you and focus more of your energy on that, but which platform?
Here is an overview of the ‘main’ platforms that most businesses would be looking at in the early stages:
The most commonly used business 2 business social media platform. You can have a personal profile, rather like an online CV and a company profile page, like a mini website. LinkedIn has been going since 2003 and is well trusted and established, with over 300 million users worldwide. It is great for connecting with business contacts, and keeping in their mind with lots of features allowing you to ‘keep in touch’. The paid accounts have added functionality and allow you to connect with people outside your immediate circles, so can be a business development tool too. The new company pages enable you to have something akin to a mini-website on LinkedIn, great for promoting your brand and for search engine optimisation for your website – LinkedIn performs extremely well in online search. There is also a paid advertising feature. If you have certain people that you want to connect with, i.e. HR managers, decision makers and so on, LinkedIn is for you because you can easily search for them and get introductions.
Twitter is part news feed, part social media platform and is especially popular with journalists, bloggers and media folks for breaking and sharing news stories and opinions. It has over 255 million users worldwide and its 140 character limit favours brevity and clarity. Recent additions include the ability to attach images and short videos to tweets as well as advertising either your twitter account to encourage followers or your tweets, to increase engagement. Because it is more informal, it is a great place to interact, share and promote your ideas and news in real time with few barriers and minimal cost. It is as common for business 2 business as business 2 consumer brands to be active on twitter and many are opting to use Twitter to support their customer service function. For more on Twitter check out our beginners corner or our guide to growing your following.
YouTube is an online video sharing social media platform and since its launch in 2003 has become, reputedly, the second most widely used search engine after Google, (by whom it was purchased in 2006). It hosts a mind-boggling quantity and variety of video (and film) on any topic you can imagine, but due to its popularity and links to Google, can help to drive traffic to your website if you have useful and/or relevant footage on YouTube. You can have your own branded channel – an entry page branded to represent your company – and populate it with your own and others videos. It can be a great place to host ‘how to’ and trust building content for those at the early stages in your sales pipeline.
Google + was launched by Google fairly recently (in 2011) and sits somewhere between Facebook and Linked In. You can have a personal profile and multiple company profile pages where you can share news and updates with your connections, organised into Circles. This allows you to select where you want to put connections (groups) and also who you want to share updates with. Another feature is Google Hangouts, online meetings on the Google platform, which can be made open to as many attendees as you like. There are no paid advertising features as yet, but it is likely that these will be introduced in time. It has the added bonus that because it is Google, it will help Google rankings for your website and online content, particularly if you are blogging or creating and sharing content to YouTube.
With over 1.3 billion users worldwide, Facebook has achieved critical mass with users and brands alike. Even if you are not active here, you will want to have a presence and increasingly Facebook acts as the ‘plumbing’ for a host of other online platforms and tools, including other social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram. You will be given the option to login via Facebook. You can have a personal profile or a range of ‘professional’ profiles, depending on your status and requirements and it is still the most effective way to reconnect with old contacts online. For businesses it is particularly effective in the retail or business 2 consumer sector, with very sophisticated and cost-effective targeting tools for paid promotions to existing connections and new target groups. For business 2 business it works well for service providers as well as bloggers, coaches and trainers but because of recent changes in the way Facebook presents your status updates to connections, only a small % will now see them for free. As well as personal and business pages, you can set up groups and many communities live within Facebook.
Pinterest & Instagram
Bought by Facebook in 2012, Pinterest is one of the newest platforms but has a respectable following and works well for tangible or visual brands. Like Instagram, another visual platform, it is harder to find the best application except on a case by case basis, but for certain types of business it’s a clear choice, based on sector, target audience and location. Both platforms are relatively young, launched in 2010, but Instagram already has over 100 million active users. On Pinterest, you ‘pin’ image files to ‘boards’ that you create and name, which can be shared with your followers. On Instagram, people take and share photos typically on a smartphone which they upload directly to Instagram with a bit of text. It’s harder for brands to publish to Instagram, making it popular with a certain kind of user, but this will likely change as they look to monetise the platform.
Better to be selective and let your clients lead the way. Where are they actively using Social Media? Where are they looking, following, liking? They may not look like they’re doing a great deal, but may regularly check in to keep tabs on competitors, clients, industry bodies, etc. You can become one of their trusted sources in time, if you show up regularly too, with useful, relevant, timely (and where appropriate, entertaining) content.
What might that content look like? Well, it could be status updates about your company, services or products. You may share the slide deck from a recent presentation. It could be a useful tip or tactic to help other people run their business. You might share images, video or words in a wide variety of lengths, styles and on a range of topics. Each ‘post’ as they’re known, should be appropriate for the platform you are sharing it on, or it may just look out of place.
ACTION: Are you trying to do too much? Decide on maybe one or two platforms to really focus on, and perhaps even only one to really become an expert on. Once you can build your following on one platform you become an influencer. Remember having sparse followers across all platforms has a negative effect on your social proofing.
Dolezal Consulting regularly helps clients to improve their usage of Social Media. Either working with absolute beginners who need accounts set up and branded properly, then training on how to use them effectively and appropriately for their niche or helping to move proficient Social Media users into the ‘big league’, Joanne has coached and advised dozens of business owners in the past 5 years.
If you’re reviewing your own Social Media usage why not get in touch: