With so many social media platforms out there, it is easy to become overwhelmed. People rave about the importance of being on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and more. How do you know where to begin?
Here is a practical guide to the most widely used social platforms to help you avoid wasting your time with networks that aren’t likely to offer much value to your specific business.
Facebook has over 1.55 billion monthly visitors worldwide, making it easy for marketers to reach a lot of people. With the most varied demographics of any other social media platform, it is a universal good choice for most businesses.
Number of active users in the UK: 21.7 million
Skill level required: Setting up and posting to a Facebook business page is pretty easy and intuitive. There is lots of help documentation available on the site, as well as an abundance of guides and tips available with a quick Google search.
Time investment: Set aside at least 15 minutes a day to post and check comments and messages on your page. Maintaining a frequent, regular posting schedule yields the best results on Facebook.
Taking the time once a month or so to look at page reports to see what times and types of content get the best engagement will really help you to get the best results.
If you intend to use Facebook ads you will require some marketing expertise (or a bit of research) if you’re going to be successful. You need to understand targeting and how to write compelling ad copy. If you don’t do this correctly, you run the risk of blowing your budget without getting results.
You can choose to boost (advertise) your posts, which can be a very low cost way to increase your audience. You can set your budget for as little as £1 a day and use the ads to increase page likes, engagement, and site visits.
Dip your toe in the water by investing a few pounds in promoting a particular post, or commit a larger budget to drive people from Facebook to your website through their powerful advertising platform.
Ideal for: All businesses. Don’t be fooled into thinking that Facebook won’t work for your B2B business – the decision makers who work at those companies are people too, and the chance are that they browse Facebook just as much as retail consumers.
Twitter offers marketers the opportunity to reach and interact with their audience in real-time. The established 140 character limit has now disappeared which is bound to make dramatic changes in the platform. Time will tell if this leads to greater success or a reduction in the amount of interest on the site.
Number of active users in the UK: 14.8 million
Skill level required: It’s easy to set up a profile and post updates, but learning to use an app such as Hootsuite or Tweetbot will help you to identify potential customers, grow your audience and greatly improve your engagement.
Time investment: Twitter is fast paced and busy! While you can get by with tweeting once or twice a day, if customers use this platform to send you a message they expect a reply almost instantly. Add an app to your phone or office computer to get alerts when someone has mentioned you so that you can respond promptly.
If you have a few hundred dollars to throw into your marketing campaign, you can give Twitter ads a try. While you can get away with less, you won’t really see the conversions you want unless you are willing to put some money into it.
Ideal for: Internet-savvy business owners with a younger audience.
LinkedIn is a professional networking site. It provides people with the opportunity to network with peers and prospects. People also use LinkedIn to recruit employees.
Number of active users in the UK: 15 million
Skill level required: Setting up a personal profile, a company page and products or services pages can be a daunting task for many business owners however it doesn’t require any specialist skills. Take your time, filling out as much information as possible and paying attention to the guidance offered by the site as you progress.
Time investment: Plan to spend 30 minutes to an hour on LinkedIn each week to share updates, search for potential customers, and interact in relevant industry groups in order to grow your network and influence.
While a free profile is great for the majority of people, LinkedIn also has various paid plans that provide features such as direct messaging to people who you aren’t connected to and advanced functionality for finding potential customers.
LinkedIn ads tend to be more expensive than the ads on other social networks. You can expect to pay anywhere from $2 to $5 for a single click so it is essential that you have your targeting criteria well thought out to get the best results.
Ideal for: B2B companies, or businesses where networking with peers and professionals is an important part of success.
YouTube is one of the most exciting social media sites out there. While most sites rely heavily on text, YouTube is all about videos. It is also one of the largest, and most frequently used sites.
Number of active users in the UK: 1 billion worldwide, UK figures unknown.
Skill level required: The great thing is that you don’t need to be a videographer to create a compelling video. Anyone with a smartphone and an idea can create a video that goes viral on YouTube. You can also share slideshows, animated infographics or tutorials.
If you want YouTube to work hard as a marketing channel for your business however, you also need to do some keyword research in order to get your videos out in front of the right people. You should get comfortable with advanced features of the platform to create compelling content.
Time investment: Creating, posting and promoting videos on YouTube takes a serious time commitment- anything from a few hours to a few days per video.
Of course, creating the perfect video is only part of it. You also need to get that video in front of others, which is a bit more difficult. A good place to start by using Fan Finder paid campaigns to build up a following for your YouTube Channel. You need to unleash your creative side for your Fan Finder ad to attract new subscribers, so it does take some work.
Ideal for: Businesses with advice to share, who have a strong educational component or who have tangible products that they can showcase.
Essentially a photo sharing site, businesses are tapping into the platform’s popularity to build their brands. If Pinterest and Twitter had a baby it would look a lot like Instagram.
Owned by Facebook, and now offering advertising options, expect this platform to grow in popularity as a way to reach UK consumers.
Number of active users in the UK: 14 million
Skill level required: If you are comfortable with all things photos and filters, you will get along with Instagram just fine. That said, you do need to know your way around the platform to efficiently use features such as hashtags and trending topics to best build your audience.
Time investment: Posting once or twice a week is enough to tide you over. Frequency will largely depend on how important this network is to your overall online marketing strategy, and how much visual content you have to share.
Instagram advertising is currently only available for large brands, but there are still plenty of no-cost ways to promote your business on the platform.
Ideal for: Lifestyle and hospitality businesses, and retail brands looking to establish their personality.
Built as a “visual bookmarking” service, Pinterest allows people to add (pin) links to boards, which act as folders to categorize content. All pins contain an image, a brief description and a link to the source. Almost 70% of users are female, and 30% have a high annual income. (Over $100k per year.)
Number of active users in the UK: Over 10 million people in the UK view Pinterest pins and boards each month
Skill level required: Creating a profile, boards and pinning images is extremely easy!
Time investment: Pinterest is one of the few “passive” social networks where engagement is less important than attracting clicks to your website. Upload fresh, new images once a week or so or as new stock arrives.
You can choose to promote your pins with paid ads, but marketers tend to see limited success compared to ad campaigns on other platforms.
Ideal for: Retailers of physical goods, fitness businesses, restaurants, travel companies and brands with a primarily female audience.
Social media networks give companies of all sizes the chance to reach out to customers and build their brands. Each network is different, so companies must tweak their marketing strategies based on the network they are using.