You absolutely should grab your brand name on every social media channel you can think of, but you absolutely shouldn’t try to keep up with and post regularly on all of them. Trying to stay current on too many social media channels can waste valuable time and ultimately cost you sales. So what’s the smart way to advertise online? Which social media networks can you safely ignore – and which do you need to check? Here’s a run down of the most popular social networks to help you decide whether to follow, like or ignore them.
With over 2 billion monthly users, it’s easy to believe that everyone and their grandmother is on Facebook. The site offers both paid for advertising slots and free-to-create pages and groups. Despite how much it’s grown and changed in the last decade, Facebook remains a truly social network where people generally post personal thoughts, pictures of their cat and chat to their friends. It’s a great choice for consumer-facing products and services, particularly lifestyle services, anything parent related and small, local businesses, as a competition or reward scheme can get you lots of word-of-mouth recommendations in the sectors you target. As you can build your page, boost it with paid for advertising and slowly amass followers without uploading a huge amount of content, it’s often worth having a page even if you don’t expect much return. It’s a hard market to crack for B2B or similar services, so if you’re in that sector your efforts are likely to be better spent elsewhere.
A truly diverse social network, you’ll find everyone from your neighbour to the President of the United States on Twitter. The platform is, in some ways, a great leveller as you can tweet at anyone. Trying to harness it for business purposes can be likened to trying to drink from a fire hose, and it’s not clear that Twitter is the smartest way to advertise online for anyone. It’s easy to misspeak or write something which is misinterpreted and as the conversation moves rapidly you may wake up to find that you’ve been pilloried overnight. While we love Twitter, it’s easy to become overwhelmed by it and it can be hard to make a splash in such a large, turbulent pond. Attracting the attention of the people you want to talk to can be hard, as can reaching your target market. While some brands do an amazing job on Twitter with hundreds of thousands of followers, there’s no shame in dialing it back and simply posting when you’ve got an offer to promote or a new product. That said, if you’re on Twitter, you need to be responsive, particularly to customer complaints, so once you start using it, commit to checking it daily.
Taking the ‘social’ out of ‘social network’, LinkedIn is aimed squarely at the business community and used almost exclusively for work related purposes. This makes it an ideal platform for anyone in the B2B sector or who offers products that others buy as part of their role at work, rather than for fun. Advertising on LinkedIn, building your reputation and following on the site and creating a buzz there may well be the smart way to advertise online for many companies. Users tend to be white collar workers, including managers and senior executives, but as the site grows diversity is increasing.
Pinterest, Instagram and other photo sharing sites
Although these sites are great fun, they are typically only useful for lifestyle brands which sell glossy products and are willing to invest in a good photographer. If you’re selling gourmet cupcakes, make up or anything else that looks great in a photo, get on there. If your products and services are more mundane, it’s not a priority.
YouTube, Vimeo and other video sharing sites
Unlike the aspirational photo sharing sites, video sharing sites host a wide range of clips from classic kid’s TV to recent football games, bee keeping how-to guides to propaganda. Their searchable nature means that you don’t necessarily need to build a loyal following but can instead focus on creating content you can use in multiple places. Product reviews and how-to guides for totally mundane items, such as suitcases or gardening tools can attract tens of thousands of views. If you spot a gap in the market, create your video, encourage viewers to shop with you and it may boost your sales. YouTube is owned by Google, and while the search giant hasn’t released details of their ranking system, it seems pretty clear that it’s prioritized over competitors in their rankings. If you pick one, YouTube should probably be it – but if you’ve created a video, there’s little reason not to post it all over.
Specialist social networking sites
These are gold dust so if your industry has one, get on it and make an effort to offer useful content. Building a following on Acadmia.edu, Geni.com or GoodReads.com is of little use – unless you happen to be in a field relating to academia, genealogy or literature, in which case you’ll be thrilled to tap into the legions of interested fans. Each of those sites mentioned has over 10 million users, and there are many other niche sites which have lower numbers of users yet still more than your business could ever reasonably supply. In the noisy ocean of the internet, the quiet pond that is a niche social network may, in fact, be the smart way to advertise online.