What do the different platforms do?
Social media networks are incredible resources for businesses looking to promote their brands online. The platforms themselves are free to use, but also have paid advertising options specifically for brands that want to reach even more new audiences. But just because your business should be on social media, that doesn’t mean you should be on every network. It’s important that you choose and nurture the social platforms that work best for your business, so that you don’t spread yourself too thin.
If you want to create a successful social strategy, you should familiarise yourself with how each network runs, the kinds of audiences you can reach on that network and how your business can best use each platform. We profiled the most popular social media platforms to help you market your business better.
Facebook is the biggest social network on the web, both in terms of name recognition and total number of users. With nearly 1.8 billion active users, Facebook is a great medium for connecting people from all over the world with your business.
And the site is not only the biggest network, but it's also arguably the most versatile one. In the 13 years since it launched, Facebook grew from a simple website where college students could keep in touch into a multifaceted web and mobile social platform where anyone can connect with not just their friends and family, but also celebrities, organisations, businesses and more, thanks to the Pages feature.
Considering that Facebook has a wealth of options for any type of organisation, it's a great starting point for your business, regardless of your industry. You can use Facebook to share photos, videos, important company updates and more. Additionally, the site can be more low-maintenance than other social networks. Whether you post several updates a day or only a few a week won't make much of a difference in what your fans think of you.
With Twitter, you can share short text updates (of 140 characters or fewer), along with videos, images, links, polls and more. You can also easily interact with other users by mentioning their usernames in your posts, so Twitter is a great way to quickly connect with people all around the world. (The platform averages about 320 million active users worldwide).
Because of its wide reach, Twitter is not only a great way to market your business, but also an effective channel for handling customer service. For example, if you maintain an active Twitter presence, customers who are also active on the platform will seek you out to express concerns or share their praise. If you have interesting content, Twitter is also a great tool for quickly spreading the word. Re-tweeting and sharing other users' content is incredibly simple. Hashtags help boost posts, and if a user with a lot of followers re-tweets you, your content has the potential to go viral. But with Twitter, it's important to remember to find balance. Don't simply share your own links or media; instead, make sure you are also sharing a lot of interesting, relevant content from other Twitter users and from around the web, so your audience doesn't think you care only about what your business is doing.
This platform allows users to save and display content by "pinning" digital bulletin boards, which can be organized by category. So, for example, a personal user might have a food board dedicated to pinning recipes, another board dedicated to photography and so on. The platform also has a series of special types of pins called Rich Pins, which brands can use to add special information to their pins, like product details and even location maps. Pinterest is heavily visually oriented. Every post has to be an image or video, and like Facebook, it is also fairly low-maintenance in terms of post frequency. However, keeping your boards organised and search-friendly can be time-consuming. It's also more of a niche network than Facebook or Twitter, so it may not work for everyone. Pinterest's users are primarily women, and popular categories on the site are DIY projects, fashion, exercise, beauty, photography and food. That's not to say that businesses outside of these categories can't succeed on the platform, but it does make Pinterest an especially good marketing tool for businesses in those areas.
Similar to Pinterest, Instagram is a visual social media platform based entirely on photo and video posts. The Facebook-owned network has more than 600 million active users, many of whom post about food, art, travel, fashion and similar subjects. Instagram is distinguished by its unique filters and photo- and video-editing options. This platform, unlike the others, is almost entirely mobile. Although there is a web version, you can't take photos or create new posts on it. Instagram is another platform where more-artistic niches excel, and it may not be the best fit for your business, depending on your industry. If you want to succeed with Instagram, it's important that the person running your account have a good eye for detail and at least basic photography skills, so that the photos and videos posted to your account are high-quality.
And don't be discouraged if your industry is underrepresented on Instagram; if you can find the right hashtags to latch onto and can post intriguing photos, you will most likely make it work.
Snapchat is another visual social media network, but unlike with its competitors, content on Snapchat deletes itself. Users can send videos and photos, available for up to 10 seconds at a time, to one another, or post content to their public Stories, which disappears after 24 hours. Over the past five years, the app has expanded to include chat, messaging, image storage, events and media content. Now, content can easily be saved and uploaded elsewhere. The Discover feature, for instance, compiles popular content from notable publications like BuzzFeed and The Wall Street Journal. With over 150 million users, this app is designed strictly for mobile devices and cannot be accessed on the web.
Because posts are so temporary, there is less pressure to create superpolished content. You can also see how many and which specific users viewed your story. A small business will mostly likely utilize the platform for its Stories, but keep in mind that only users who have added you can view the story content. However, once you have an audience, the story feature allows you to easily create story-driven and interactive content.
YouTube is video-sharing platform with over a billion users, where people can view, upload, rate, share, and comment on content. Users are automatically assigned a channel, in which other users can subscribe to be notified whenever a new video is uploaded. Now owned by Google, the site is a huge hub for news and entertainment. Created over a decade ago, YouTube has gone through numerous changes. For instance, users can now make money from Google AdSense, with the revenue dependent on the number of views on a video.
Many businesses on YouTube have a creative, visual or educational component. The platform is heavily driven by creativity in nature, so it's important to have a tailored video editor producing content. However, your business doesn't need a channel to market on the platform. There's a subculture of vloggers, called YouTubers, who publish frequent videos and often maintain large audiences. Often, businesses partner with YouTubers for product placement, because these users already have engaged audiences.
LinkedIn is a social network specifically designed for career and business professionals to connect. Over 65 million professionals use LinkedIn to cultivate their careers and businesses. Unlike other social networks in which you might become "friends" with anyone and everyone, LinkedIn is about building strategic relationships. How many people you connect with is less important than who you connect with. In fact, LinkedIn stops showing your actual number of connections once you have 500 because it's about quality, not quantity.
The site boasts members from just about every industry and country imaginable. In fact, many Fortune 500 executives are on LinkedIn. The site has some advertising, but it’s not as invasive as other networking sites. Working much like the "Six Degrees of Separation" concept, you start by connecting with those you know and who know you, and through them build a larger network for the purpose of gaining resources, finding freelance work or clients, and building alliances and partnerships.
LinkedIn is ideal for building connections for freelance work, a customer base, potential partners, or simply to keep your job prospects open.
Do you know the difference between SEO and SMM ?
Acronyms. The technology community loves them because they shorten long descriptive names. The problem is many business owners have little understanding of these acronyms. While there are “official” definitions (SEO, SEM, SMO, SMM), the lines are getting blurred between which technique falls under each label. I will try to simplify these acronyms and show the primary differences.
SEO deals with your company’s PRIMARY website’s ranking on a search engine result page (SERP) and how the indexed result is displayed. SEO techniques try to improve a websites search engine rankings and gain that website more visibility and traffic.
SEO techniques can include optimizing how the website is built, what keywords are used in the Title Tags, Meta Tags, and Meta Descriptions, how often your website is updated, and how fast your website loads on a desktop and mobile device.
SEM is usually closely associated with SEO. SEM is loosely defined as using paid search engine traffic to gain visibility. Paid results usually appear on the top and right side of the “organic” search results. There are many systems for SEM, but the largest platforms are Google AdWords, Yahoo! Search Marketing and Microsoft adCenter. Building a SEM campaign for your business can be complex due to the vast amount of features and tools developed by ad platform creators. Marketers must consider all keywords associated with the business, geographic location, click through rates (CTR), costs per click (CPC), advertisement copy and many other factors.
SMO is a relatively new term due to the advent of Social Media Marketing. SMO entails developing profiles on social networks for your business so members of that network can view and share your profile with others. The goal is to attract more members to your online community and provide them with valuable, relevant information. SMO can also include the process of optimizing social business listings such as Yelp, Insider Pages and Google My Business. Ensuring that these listings are accurate can help with organic search engine rankings.
The final acronym we will tackle in this post is SMM. Social Media Marketing is about promoting a business via social media channels and includes conversing with clients on their chosen social networks. It can also include “Paid Social Search” or social paid advertising. Paid social search is much like SEM but adds behavioural targeting to the equation. A majority of this advertising is based on a PPC model, meaning advertisers only pay when a user clicks on the advertisement. The two largest platforms for advertising currently are Facebook and LinkedIn. Both allow demographic and geographic targeting, but each caters to a different community profile. LinkedIn is more business (B2B) oriented, where Facebook is typically more social and targeted to the B2C audience.
Advanced Targeting Options
Because social networks gather such a larger amount of user information, social media advertising is able to target your audience in a wider variety of ways than other online platforms. Stretching beyond general demographic and geographic data, social media advertising has opened the door to deeper interest, behavioral and connection-based targeting methods.
These advanced targeting options increase your ad’s relevance to your users and provide a level of personalization that is not achievable on other advertising channels. Here are four such advanced targeting options:
Reach specific audiences by looking at their self-reported interests, activities, skills, pages/users they have engaged with, etc. Interest targeting is often related to keyword targeting, so some platforms will allow you to enter both. Interests can be as general as an industry (e.g. automotive industry) or as specific as a product (e.g. convertibles). Offered by: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn (under “Skill”), Pinterest.
With behavioral targeting, you can reach people based on purchase behaviors or intents and/or device usage. With connection targeting, you can reach people who have a specific kind of connection to your page, app, group, or event. Both types of targeting take past behavior into account to help you determine intent. Offered by: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn.
Reach audiences by uploading a list of email addresses, phone numbers, users IDs, or usernames. Facebook calls its custom targeting Custom Audiences, while Twitter calls its own Tailored Audiences. They’re largely based on the same concept: if you have a known group of people you’d like to target, you can simply upload them and target them directly (provided that the social network can match the data you’re uploading with real profiles). Offered by: Facebook, Twitter.
Reach new people who are similar to an audience you care about. Lookalike targeting helps businesses extend their custom audiences to reach new, similar users. For those businesses looking to acquire new customers through social media advertising, lookalike targeting can be a fantastic acquisition tool. Offered by: Facebook, LinkedIn.
Improved Conversion Tracking
With all the new options for targeting users, tracking the performance of your social media advertising campaign is even more important for justifying your spend and requesting a budget. While you can still pay-per-click to your website or choose other metrics to measure the success of your ad, most social networks now offer website conversion tracking.
Social media ads that drive the user to take some measurable action, like buying your product or registering for an event, can actually report on how effective the ad was in driving those conversions — as long as you configure it properly. Conversion tracking requires that you add a snippet of code to the page on your website where the conversion will take place, so it does require a bit of technical ability and extra effort, but you’ll then be able to attribute any conversions on that page to the ads you’re running.
Conversion tracking helps your business be smarter about your ad spend and strategy. If your ad is receiving a lot of clicks (which you are paying for) but no conversions, it’s a wasted investment. This information will allow you to better optimize your ad copy and targeting.
With total activity on smartphones and tablets accounting for 60% of digital media time spent in the UK., there’s no denying that reaching users while on mobile devices is the next big wave in advertising — and social media advertising is the best native option. Mobile users are already checking Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Pinterest multiple times a day, so advertising to them while they’re within those apps is the best way to reach them without being disruptive.
As the interactive marketing industry evolves and continues to grow, it will be crucial to continue to refine these labels. As always I welcome your thoughts on these categories and perhaps insight on some that are lurking around the corner.