Social Networks for your Business: A Quick Introduction
Most of the world’s internet users are part of at least one social network, and many of us have multiple profiles. As a result, social networks are an important part of any digital marketing strategy. It’s easy to spend several hours browsing any one of these sites, and large companies have whole teams devoted to social networking. As a small business, there are three keys to success:
- Choose your social networks carefully
- Post regularly
- Keep your messages professional
As these sites are all free to join, it’s advisable to sign up to each one to ensure that you have the use of your company’s name. However, it’s a good idea to choose one or two sites to focus your efforts on, at least to start with. An automated tool, such as HootSuite, allows you to push the same message out on multiple channels. However, the core of a social network is interaction; if you’re successful, you’ll get reactions and comments from customers that you’ll need to reply to.
With over a billion people using Facebook, it’s an obvious choice for businesses. You’ll need a personal account to create a page or group for your business. Customers, colleagues and competitors can then sign up to get notifications of what you post. If your target demographic uses Facebook a lot, then this can be a great way to create an inner circle, as well as sharing offers as part of your digital marketing strategy.
Created by internet giant Google, fills a similar niche and is rapidly gathering users.
The essence of Twitter is short, immediate communications. Tweets need to be under 140 characters, and they’ll typically be lost in a storm of other tweets hours or minutes later. Tweets may be picked up and shared by other Twitter users, but it’s common for this not to happen. If you have short deals anyway, such as a daily special offer or a loyal and tech-savvy clientèle, Twitter may work well for you.
Unlike the sites described above, LinkedIn is intended for people to use as professionals. It’s an online networking tool, allowing you to connect with colleagues and clients, who can then rate and recommend you. It has a more professional tone, and is heavily used by recruiters looking to place people in niche roles. It’s ideal for B2B companies looking to connect with new customers as you can send messages directly to almost anyone in an organisation.
There are hundreds of social networks, many providing connections in a niche interest group or a single language. If you’re looking for a site to host and share images or videos, there are an enormous number, many of which have a social element.
Pinterest can be a great choice for businesses in design and visual industries, as an attractive image can be picked up and shared around the world, drawing customers in, in a way that a planned digital marketing campaign may struggle to match.
YouTube, which receives over a billion views per month, is king of online video sharing while MySpace remains popular with musicians. Even knitters have their own social network, Ravelry, with over 3 million users, so there truly is a social networking site for everyone!