Knowing which social media to use or avoid, can really help make or break your business. This is very much a high level overview of the reasons to use it, and the pros and cons of some current popular platforms. It is important to remember that they are all a means to an end. Be ready to move to other newer platforms when it becomes apparent that your ideal customers are moving there.
Understand and know where your customers are active. Is it Linkedin, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, Google + (unlikely, but works for some niches), Tumblr, Blab, Reddit or something completely different. This is a really important question to research and discover the answer to. It’s not necessary to be active on every social media platform, especially if the people you are trying to reach are not there either.
Are you B2B (business to business), B2C (business to customer), or something else altogether? The better you understand who buys from you, the better you can identify where is the best place to target your marketing strategies.
Linkedin is still a great way to make good business contacts. You may not directly make a sale through it, but it helps you to put a face to a name. It is also good for gathering background information about people you might want to do business with. It also makes sense to build up a good network of contacts too. Often you may want an introduction to a possible business contact. You may have no direct link to them, but with a big enough circle of your own contacts it is highly likely that someone you know, will know them. We recently used this technique to get introduced to the CEO of the company directly, rather than be rebuffed by lower down staff members.
Linkedin groups can also be useful as a way to make good contacts with other people beyond your own network of contacts. Try to find groups that are most relevant to the product you are trying to sell. Make sure they are not too infrequently used, and sometimes also not too busy as well, because then there is so much content passing through that no one pays any use to it. Linkedin has become slightly ‘spammy’ in terms of the amount of content that comes across your news feed, but as a way to ‘reach out’ and contact people then it is still a very useful resource.
For businesses on Facebook it has become harder and harder to reach all of your potential audience, as it has become more expensive to promote your content to the widest possible audience. Really good ads will still get shared because they are funny / quirky / entertaining, but it is very hard to achieve this every time you run a campaign. It maybe useful to maintain a presence on Facebook, but if you are attempting to sell to other businesses you need to think very carefully about whether this is where the key decision makers are. On the other hand if you are selling something relevant and appropriate to Facebook users then it will work for you.
Pinterest’s users are currently mostly women in certain age brackets. If this matches your target market then it is the right place to be. If you are in the business of selling images, are something that lends itself to being photographed then Instragram could be the right place to target your efforts. There are lots of dedicated users of these two platforms. Some top instagram accounts have millions of followers. For fashion, photography, art, food these could be the right places for you to be targeting potential customers. Again and again it keeps coming back to knowing who your market is and the persona of your ideal customer.
Twitter, like so many types of social media, when used wrongly, will be a waste of your time with a poor ROI (return on investment). However when used strategically it can be a fantastic way to open previously closed doors. Targeted, planned use of twitter is a great way to make contact with people who otherwise may never return your phone calls. You may not make a direct sale through twitter, but it will enable you to develop a relationship with someone that can then develop into an actual, face to face conversation.
In some industries they operate on a long, long selling journey, often taking up to 18 months to seal the deal with a client. This is especially true if you are selling large expensive things that only get replaced infrequently, think wind turbines, data centres etc. It is as important to understand where not to spend your time and energy. Very few companies have the luxury of an unlimited budget to spend on marketing, and even if you could, it probably wouldn’t be a good idea. Far better to use your resources as efficiently as possible.
Periscope and blab have recently emerged as the new go-to platforms for people looking to reach a wide audience with their activities. It may be that these are not right for your target audience but it is important that you give it at least 15 minutes to research them and consider if it is a possible opportunity. Time and time again it is the early movers that gain the market share, so better that you at least made the decision proactively about whether it’s the right place for your product and marketing efforts.