“My business needs to improve its social media marketing, how do I decide which platform is right for us?”
The growth of social media has been an absolutely fascinating development that provides everyone from the President to a witty 6 year old an opportunity to voice his or her opinion. It is no surprise then that social media has become an essential form of communication for businesses around the world. Countless articles have been written on the benefits of social media marketing, and why social media is an absolute must for branding. In 2016 the question has shifted from “Is social media necessary?” to “Which form of social media is right for my company?”
The most important factor in determining your social media channel is to establish a clear goal of what you want to accomplish. Are you trying to gain more visitors for your website? Show off the culture of the company for potential new clients and employees? Grow your brand? Establish yourself as a thought leader in your field? There is no wrong goal, and often brands are looking for a little bit of everything.
The second item needed is the target audience of your goal. This allows you to determine which platform is best suited for your needs.. When it comes to social media, you must go where your customer is.
Now that you have established what you are hoping to get from social media marketing, you can begin to examine the different forms available to you. We will be focusing on the four most popular platforms: Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
Snapchat is the new kid on the block among businesses and is rapidly making an impact because they have 150 million daily users, as reported in June of this year. Snapchat appeals to a younger generation, in particular those ages 13 to 24. In short, Snapchat allows users to share pictures or videos with their friends list, but with a twist: the picture or video disappears after 10 seconds.
Businesses can use Snapchat to post videos or images and engage with their audience. The “Snapchat Stories” feature is an excellent way to post an ongoing set of pictures and videos available for your friends list to view within 24 hours. If you are looking to capitalize on a specific event, Snapchat’s on-demand geofilters are an excellent way to promote the event and increase user engagement with your brand. This past spring ZoCo worked on the event design for Startup Week Columbus and in doing so we created a custom geofilter for the event!
If your target audience trends toward an older demographic and you do not have specific events to help build your engagement, Snapchat may be a difficult channel from which to build your following.
If you have a product or service that is visually appealing, Instagram is a good fit for you. As the name suggests, Instagram allows the user to instantly share pictures and videos publicly or privately. One of Instagram’s key features is the easy to use filters that can be overset onto a post. For a quick guide to some of the filters and what exactly they can do check out this article on using Instagram filters like a pro. For the more discerning photographer, Instagram also allows custom editing. Like Snapchat, Instagram appeals to a younger demographic, with 55% of all Instagram users being between the ages of 18 to 29.
Another fantastic feature of Instagram is hashtags. When a user includes a hashtag in the caption, the post can gain additional viewing from any person searching for that hashtag. For example, #shoes has over 50 million posts on Instagram, which includes posts from large brands such as Adidas to individual sneaker heads.
Instagram is currently owned by Facebook which means they are constantly looking to add new and exciting features such as “Stories”, which is now a direct competitor to Snapchat’s daily stories.
As of September 2015, Instagram had 400 million monthly active users, so if you are looking to promote your business in a visually engaging way, Instagram is your answer.
Twitter, founded in 2006, is a service that allows users to send and read 140-character messages called tweets. Twitter has over 300 million users. The key to this service is establishing yourself as a thought leader who provides opinions, thoughts, or content that your target audience actively wants to engage with. Over 350,000 tweets are sent per minute which means content can easily be overlooked. The upside to this means content can also be frequently reused, as many may not have seen your tweet the first time around. Tomasz Tunguz, a Venture Capitalist at Redpoint, conducted research on how much engagement his tweets helped garner his blog when re-posting content. He found that each time he reposted content, it received 75% of the previous number of retweets.
Over the past few years, Twitter has been adding new features that no other social media platform had yet approached. In 2015, Twitter acquired Periscope, which provides a live video streaming option. They followed this up in 2016 by live streaming events such as the NFL’s Thursday Night Football and the 2016 U.S. presidential debates.
Twitter also uses hashtags the same way that Instagram does. This builds your brand’s following when people searching for information and content can easily find what they are looking for. Twitter also allows users to post images and links, both of which increase engagement as Twitter becomes increasingly visual. Our very own Lacey Picazo has quickly established herself as a thought leader on twitter with over 4,000 followers!
Twitter is a great place for content, whether it be videos, articles, or just random thoughts, the phrase “Content is King” certainly applies here. If your business is primarily product based you will need to craft content that shows individuals why your product is unique. Simply showing your product off will more than likely not drive the engagement you are looking for. Also, while 35% of Twitter users are 18 to 29, 20% of users are 30 to 45. So if your target audience trends a little older this may be the platform for you.
Facebook has become an incredibly common tool for small businesses. In December of 2015, it was reported that 50 million businesses were now using Facebook Pages. Chances are your business probably already has a Facebook page. Facebook provides a great opportunity to interact with people all over the world. With their 1.71 billion active users, Facebook has the broadest audience of any social media channel with over 50% of users being between the ages of 13 and 34 , as well as over 30% of users between the ages of 35 and 54.
This is because they continue to evolve over time and have consistently found ways to incorporate the newest trends and features. For example, they bought Instagram for $1 billion in 2012, and unsuccessfully attempted to buy Snapchat for $3 billion in 2013. Recently, they have launched Facebook Live to compete with Periscope, Twitter’s live streaming service, and added “Stories” on Instagram in an attempt to compete with Snapchat.
When thinking about how Facebook has evolved, it becomes apparent that they will continue to be a major player for many years to come. For this reason, it is important for nearly every business to craft a plan that is sustainable with a specific goal. Facebook is constantly changing it’s News Feed algorithm in an attempt to predict what users want to see.This means that if you are not adapting your strategy over time, you may no longer be reaching your target audience. For a breakdown of all adjustments Facebook has made to the News Feed algorithm, check out this article from Wallaroo Media.
There are a variety of ways to build your following on Facebook. Whether by boosted posts, Facebook posts, Facebook Live, or your everyday marketing strategy, have a consistent and clear goal that you are trying to accomplish. Below you will find a few successful strategies used in the past.
- Q&A session on Facebook Live to educate your followers on new trends, products, or events.
- Various sales promoted via boosted Facebook posts that drive engagement to your website.
- Sharing your blog posts (such as this one!) to establish your company as a thought leader in your industry.
- Posting of photos of your team and work environment to show off the culture of your company.
“Ok that makes more sense, but what do I do now?”
Unfortunately, there is no single solution for what works on a social media platform, and not every platform is right for every business. While we have only covered the basics of 4 platforms in this post, there are many more popping up and disappearing everyday. The internet is confusing enough as it is, so why not make things easier on yourself when it comes to social media? Establish a goal for your social media platform of choice, identify the target audience, and reach them on their preferred platform.
For a quick high-level comparison of some of these platforms and more, check out this infographic from Leverage New Age Media.
The ZoCo team is always up to something crazy and fun so make sure you give us a follow to see our social media strategy in action!
If you would like to share your successes and failures with social media, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would love to hear how others are approaching social media, so hit me up!