It’s not possible to ignore social media, whether you’re on it or not the mass are talking and connecting. It’s never wise stick your head in the sand.

You miss out on valuable opportunities to gather feedback, nip complaints in the bud, build relationships, improve search engine optimisation (SEO) and position yourself ahead of business rivals.

To attempt to cover all social media platforms often results in thin content – unless you have an extensive budget… So how do you go about selecting the most effective social media platform for your business?

Facebook

Facebook is a consumer targeting machine, however it’s becoming increasingly difficult to reach people beyond your circle without putting a budget behind it.

It’s a very versatile platform with the ability to share links, images and video.

Despite annihilating the competition and becoming the undisputed big daddy of social media platforms, Facebook does have limitations, especially when you view current and expected trends. People are no longer sharing personal updates and Facebook are understandably worried about this.

During its early days, many users were keen to add as many ‘friends’ as an attempt to appear popular. Many now feel uncomfortable sharing personal details with acquaintances they hardly know. As the demographics have broadened we’ve welcomed parents, colleagues, and bosses onto our ‘friend lists’ making us all become a little more careful over the type of content we post.

There’s also an anxiety surrounding friends being able to publicly comment and react. Will someone say something that could embarrass? or will a post get no likes? This leaves many feeling anxious.

Privacy updates on Facebook have always been an issue. With frequent episodes of widespread panic regularly appearing on the the platform. The way in which Facebook has become more money driven and sophisticated has started to impact users’ enjoyment, irritated by their ‘promoted posts’ and targeted advertising efforts (which can be viewed as somewhat creepy.)

These issues have led to a 21% decline in new posts. It’s an issue not confined to Facebook, Twitter and Instagram have concerns too.

Users announce major milestones, but all the personal insights are being expressed elsewhere.

However, users spend far longer on Facebook than they do on other platforms. Which means, for brand awareness it works amazingly well.

Where you are targeting a younger audience or have lots of enticing imagery, your efforts could be better suited to Pinterest, Instagram or Snapchat.

For business to business (B2B) lead generation, Facebook is less effective than Linkedin.

“44% of B2B marketers have generated leads via LinkedIn, whereas only 39% have generated leads through Facebook and just 30% through Twitter. (ReachForce)

It’s difficult to get your social media updates in front of those who have already liked your page without putting some money behind it, almost impossible to extend it outside your current circles. Boosting your posts are a cost effective means of advertisement. Often with a much better return than traditional advertising. Coca Cola, for example, have seen more success on Facebook than through any other marketing medium.

“27% of Coca-Cola’s incremental sales were generated by Facebook, using only 2% of the gross media budget” – Facebook 

Linkedin

If Linkedin was a colour it would be grey. The social network is undoubtedly the most boring of them all. It feels very business-like and corporate-y. A bit like a business meeting you have to go to but don’t really want to. However, it taps into a fantastic B2B marketing pool, helping acquire leads and opportunities for collaboration. It is still the chosen network for professionals, worldwide.

It does feel more sales pitchy than many of the others and with it being purely business, it’s somewhat drier and less entertaining.

Linkedin has veered away from the professional platform users go to, to network and hunt for jobs. Its users create masses of content, which then works to attract traffic. It makes a healthy one billion dollars a year through sponsored updates, subscriptions and learning revenues. However, marketers like Larry Kim still feel LinkedIn advertising is lagging behind.

Microsoft recently bought the LinkedIn for an eye-watering amount of money, much more than anyone thought it could ever be worth. There has therefore been much speculation as to why. The best guess is that it will fit in with their B2B objectives, in line with Microsoft office software. Linkedin also owns Lynda.com so the platform looks likely to expand their online training courses further.

If you sell B2B services for example freelance work or are a company which sells to other businesses, it’s important to have a presence on LinkedIn. It’s often the second place people go to after your website.

Twitter

Twitter is good for both B2B and consumer driven companies. If you’re a small business and you target consumers, Facebook may well be a better option.

When people have complaints and issues they like to take to Twitter, it’s therefore, important to have some form of monitored presence. Tweets feel more public and damaging. A presence allows you to monitor and deal with issues and complaints as they happen. So although with a consumer based business, Twitter should not be your marketing focus, it should be at least monitored.

Twitter has the second largest audience after Facebook for an open social media platform in the UK. The demographic of people using it are older. You’ll also find countless businesses and opportunities to network.

Twitter is good for expanding reach and gaining access to like-minded individuals. It’s more conversational than Facebook and people feel freer to do so.

People use Twitter as a way of consuming news and information. It’s live and current, you have access to the latest information and can see what’s trending.

It’s easier to create impact whereby organic reach on Facebook is dire since their focus changed to promoted posts.

Where Facebook helps you connect with old friends who you knew in a different era, Twitter allows you to connect with new ones, often with similar interests, ideas and demographics.

You can target through the use of hashtags to access certain niches of people. Making it a great way of sharing blog posts and interacting with your favourite influencers.

Twitter has likely gotten as big as it could ever be, it failed to attract any new users in the last quarter of 2015.

Google +

Google+ is great for connecting people outside of their own friend circles. Meaning you can find others who share interests and therefore connect on deeper levels.

It’s perfect for content sharing, especially blog posts and infographics which works well for SEO efforts too.

Google+ circles are a way of organising what you say and to whom, allowing you to organise people into groups. You can therefore decide whether to post specifically to a group, publicly or just to a specific person. There’s readymade groups of people devoted to causes or interests where you can access the latest information and converse.

It’s almost like a mish-mash between the old style internet forums committed to certain interests and modern day social media.

Instagram

Instagram is a photo and video sharing and uploading social network, owned by Facebook. Using locations and hashtags it’s almost like a visual Twitter, making it easy to connect with like-minded individuals and influencers.

It’s similar to Pinterest in that it works well with lifestyle, luxury, fashion and higher-end products offering a higher engagement rate in these areas. In general images are more engaging than content and video, so advertising on Instagram works extremely well.

Their users are generally younger. So any brand which targets 19-29 year olds with image friendly products or services typically works well.

Instagram have changed the order of posts, instead of being in chronological order they now use algorithm driven feeds much to the dismay of their users. Many were worried that they’d miss out on their favourite posts and would see their engagement rates drop.

Instagram is owned by Facebook. Facebook tried and failed to buy Snapchat in 2013. In August 2016, Instagram launched ‘Instagram stories’ which is very similar to Snapchat.

Instagram feels that people use the app to just share their best pictures and therefore don’t provide insight into their lives. Instagram stories are very similar to Snapchat in that your images are only visible for 24 hours.

Snapchat

Snapchat is a video and image sharing app. It’s much more private, you have to agree to be friends before they can see what you post. And then you can just post to specific individuals or to your story. So it appeals to our nosy nature.

Whereas the likes of Twitter’s uptake numbers are stagnant, Snapchat has seen considerable growth. Their demographic is mainly  16-30 year-olds but it’s starting to take on the older generation, recently adopting a simpler interface to appeal to them.

Users feel comfortable sharing insights of their lives on Snapchat. Appealing on two levels. It doesn’t haven’t a public feed so it rids users with the anxiety of posting.

It feels more personal and you get a real insight, it also feels private, which is what most find appealing. Sponsored and promoted posts on other platforms have meant users have to sift more through the rubbish to get to the juicy bits.
Since the older generations joined Facebook and users now had their parents, family members, bosses on there they are warier of what they post.

There’s a fantastic opportunity to get creative with Geofilters. These are designs which are overlayed over your Snapchat images or videos. So whether you are launching a new store, hosting an event or sale, it’s a really cost-effective way of getting your brand messages out there, it’s very effective and underused by businesses. To make your own see here and for a detailed account of how to make your own Geofilters see here.

Pinterest

Pinterest is like a scrapbook where you would cut bits out to create ideas for whatever your project. It’s popular amongst creatives. Pinterest users are 10% more likely to complete a purchase than from any other social media platform. Modern trends have shown that more successful online marketing happens when the users feel they are not being sold to. They tend to be more relaxed and open.

It’s true a picture can paint a thousand words and in an instant you can communicate a lot about your brand. But posts need to be engaging and user focussed.

Eye-catching imagery, thoughtful quotes, helpful tutorials and infographics all work well. If you don’t have Photoshop or Illustrator check out Canvas https://www.canva.com/ for a free and simple way to create your own.

Tripadvisor

If you’re in the leisure, hospitality or tourism sectors then there is nowhere more important. Think of the last time you decided to do go or stay somewhere, did you look up reviews on Tripadvisor?
It is really damaging for a business to have an unmonitored TripAdvisor presence. A lot of customers issues can be dealt with quickly and it provides a positive brand association when you do so in a friendly and professional manner. It portrays a lot about your brand and how you operate.

The next big thing…

There’s been a shift toward social media platforms which aren’t advertisement heavy. Ello is a relatively new social network and its main selling point they say that it’ll never have forced advertising on it. Users can share posts, videos and updates.

YikYak is an app for smartphones and is increasing in popularity in the states. The (theory ideology) behind it is so that people can connect with those that are around them. Cleverly allowing people to discover things about their local community or ‘herd.’

Wanelo is certainly one to watch too. It’s already growing in popularity with some large retailers adding app buttons to their sites. It’s almost like a further extension of Pinterest, as items are posted by users, therefore is has that social aspect where items are in order as to how people like them rather than how much they’ve have paid to put them in front of users. There’s the option for retailers to adopt store pages and engage with their communities.

Hyper is tipped by many to be the next big thing, it’s a montage between Instagram and Reddit. Where Facebook has failed by becoming too social with so many connections users no longer feel comfortable sharing.

Users can decide whether to create an account using their own identify or a fictional identity of their choice, but either way they don’t have any personal information attached to their profile.

Everything which users of Facebook have become increasingly uncomfortable with is addresses and changed which could be why it’ll really take off.

Paying to promote

It always has a slightly negative connotation when a company pays to promote their content as we immediately assume that their content couldn’t go anywhere just on its own merits.

The trouble is for the likes of Facebook you’ll struggle to reach even the audience who have liked your page organically.

The algorithms on Facebook go off engagement rates, the more people stop and take notice and engage with your posts, sends a message to Facebook that there must be something interesting about it and therefore places it in front of more people.

On the one hand you can create engaging content but it will always fail to engage if nobody gets to see it. You neither want a presence which appears too adverty either.

The most successful campaigns use a concoction of different strategies. As video becomes more popular it also becomes more saturated losing engagement rates. Marketers need to constantly look at trends and see which advertisement techniques are working and which are becoming over saturated.

The best rule of thumb is to never water down the quality of your content, you are only ever as good as your last post. A few poorly thought out posts and people won’t bother to read your content and with it engagement rates will fall. So not content for the sake of posting something.

Videos

Videos are becoming more and more popular, your Facebook feed will be saturated with them. There are limitations. 85% of Facebook users watch videos without sound. Meaning captions are crucial to their success. Just uploading a video is not enough.

Marketers are spending more and more money on videos, however, engagement rates on videos are falling which could be a trend that everyone is doing them and (users getting sick of them) It’s all about continuously looking at trends and seeing gaps where there’s potential to cost effectively get ahead.
Many publishers are creating animations with captions as opposed to traditional video. Apps like Powtoon and Moovly enable you to make your own video content. For some reason words via a video work better than those sitting on a page. There are Facebook publishing companies who make a living solely from this type of communication.

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