Social Media for business – which to choose

If you’ve read my previous post and decided social media really is worthwhile, how do you decide which social media networks to use? Everyone knows the big names like Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. But there’s a plethora of others that range from millions of users to more obscure niche networks (though with a no-less-passionate group of users). RunKeeper – the app I use on my phone to track my running goals – is also a social network where runners around the world can compare and compete and encourage each other.

So WHICH Social Network should you choose?

 
Having established in my last post that Social Media is a good thing for business, how do you go about choosing where to engage.
 
Obviously the biggest networks offer the widest audience. You need to find the biggest overlap between those audiences and the people who are going to be interested in what your business offers.

 

  • Do you have beautiful products to showcase? Go for visual media like Pinterest and YouTube.
  • Do you specialise in holding events or seminars? Try Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Are you aiming for a wide market of general food fanatics, or a more niche market of vegans? Twitter, Instagram and Google+ can all grow your community.

 

Here’s a quick rundown of the 7 most common ones:

 

familiar icons for the major social networks

  • Facebook – the biggest number of users and the most active, this is almost a must (see this post for what I generally think of “must do” activities…). You’ll need a business Page, as opposed to a personal profile, to attract “Likes” and to share your business with the world. Reaching an audience without spending some money is becoming harder (thanks to Facebook’s changing algorithm about what appears in people’s ‘newsfeed’), but it is still one of the lowest-cost marketing methods around.
  • Twitter – considered a ‘real-time’ social network, where you catch people’s attention while they are online and get instant responses. But Twitter can also be used as a search engine for those who are looking for news and services. Tweets are restricted to 140 characters, hence Twitter is sometimes referred to as “micro-blogging”. These days you can attach photos, videos and links to enrich your tweets.
  • LinkedIn – the “professional” network, LinkedIn is more about business connections than friends and family. You can provide your personal profile listing your experience and skills, as well as linking to a Company Page where you might share your products, services, latest blog posts, etc. Connect with people you know as join Groups to network within LinkedIn.
  • Pinterest – a purely visual network (but not necessarily photos), Pinterest lets users “pin” images from anywhere on the internet to their own collections (called “boards”).  There is less of an issue with copyright, because the pins link back to their source, hence any image pinned from your website or blog will be traceable. Pinterest allows business accounts to create their own boards to display their wares and related images; some can even show pricing.
  • Instagram – another visual network, allowing photo sharing and short (15-second) videos. Posts can include hashtags and searchable locations, and enables easy sharing to some of the other social networks (it is owned these days by Facebook).
  • YouTube – is #1 for video sharing. It’s also the #2 search engine in the world, especially now it’s owned by Google. With video becoming more widely used and shared, there are all sorts of businesses finding surprising ways to market themselves and there products through this medium.
  • Google+ – is great for following others in your industry as well as gaining an interested audience. It operates with the concept of  ‘circles’, allowing you to categorise people or businesses together, and there’s no need to connect both ways. Unlike Facebook, where everything you post is shared to all your friends, Google+ circles allows you to create a circle of interest and only share content within that circle (eg. your Zumba-mad friends can have a Zumba circle). Google+ is growing very slowly in Australia, but rapidly in the US. I expect to see it take off in the next year or two as Google begins to place more importance on Google+ ‘authorship’ and ranking.

 

Infographic showing monthly user visits on top social networks
How many people used the top social networks in 2013? Full infographic available at http://www.go-gulf.com/blog/social-networking-user/

A few other noteworthy mentions include:

 

  • Foursquare – great for the tourism and hospitality industries, and likely used more in Australia by visitors from overseas where it has a higher profile.
  • Vine – for creating and sharing super-short videos
  • Snapchat – more ‘secure’ non-permanent photo-sharing
  • Pheed – includes the added ability to sell your content.

 

There are more and more social networks being developed every year. This article covers 6 new niche ones that include service-related, local neighbourhood connections, and sports fans.

 

There’s no rule that says one type of social media is better than another; the important thing is to choose the one that’s going to best connect with your target market. < - Click to Tweet that

 

HOW MANY social media networks should I use?

 

Taking my “everything in moderation” approach, you don’t need to jump on them all. For a small business, I offer these two bits of advice:

 

  • 1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

If you only focus on one marketing channel and they change the rules – as happens regularly on networks like Facebook – you might find your business dropping off unless you keep ahead of the changes, or start putting some money into advertising.

 

  • 2. Don’t spread yourself too thin.
    Don’t make the mistake of signing up to every social channel you can think of. They all require your time and attention, so only pick the two or three that you enjoy the most and where you’re most likely to find and engage with your potential customers.

 

In other words, start with a minimum of two, and try to limit yourself to a maximum of four.

 

It’s easy to setup yourself, but contact me if you need some guidance and ideas on getting started.

 

 

Author: RobynRHD

I'm a small business web design specialist with interests in social media and other online marketing methods. As my blog intro states: "Steering small businesses in the right direction with what I hope is practical, realistic advice and useful tips, amidst the constantly changing noise and hype. I'd like to help you sort out what you really need and how to go about it." I'm a proud Aussie, living in Sydney, and an avid fan of Column 8 in the Sydney Morning Herald.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *