That is the million dollar question I get asked ALL the time.
In order to help you decide, I have compiled a list of the most popular and effective social media channels at your disposal today. I will be following up with an in-depth detailed blog about each social media channel in the coming weeks.
Sorry it’s a little long, but I hope this will help you…
A few tips:
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Tip #1: Look into each social media channel and determine which will work best for your business. Consider the following important factors with each: The product or service you are offering and the available human and financial resources at your disposal. Social media may be free, but think about the value of your time!
Tip #2: Don’t sign up for EVERY social media channel because they are new or popular kid on the block. Determine which is MOST relevant to your business. Rather be excellent with one or two channels than mediocre at five or six.
Tip #3: Before deciding which social media channel to be active on, work out a clear and implementable plan. Many people lose their business focus while becoming social. It has a negative effective on the business due to the time lost trying to come to terms with social media. A plan really helps you to stay focused.
Tip #4: Don’t get frustrated. Stick with it. Social media takes time and an investment of your time over a sustained period in order to achieve results.
Here is a list of the most popular and effective social media channels:
This is by far the biggest social media channel, with an estimate of 1.11 billion people using the site each month, 665 million active users each day, and generates up to 645 million local business page views per week, Facebook has proved that its popularity amongst users is here to stay. Facebook can be thought of as the “social” home for your business on the Internet. It’s a place people can go to leave a message, browse through business products and photos, or chat with you online. With so many TARGETED potential customers, creating a business page is a must, but remember that it needs to be updated on a daily basis with not only promotional information, but engaging and interesting content as well. Know that this platform does need a considerable amount of human and financial resources (advertising), and, if done right, the benefits to your business will definately be seen.
Twitter is full of people with things to say, and you can listen! This social media channel has an estimated 215 million active users. Twitter is meant not so much for friends and family but for people you actually want to communicate with. You may think the 140 character count (or the amount of words you can tweet) is limited, but when used correctly, you can reap the rewards. Twitter has proved its worth in recent years as a platform for breaking news. Use the great hashtag feature to keep up with and be part of the latest trends and news worthy events. Twitter is also a great way to connect with your customers. If you have an unsatisfied customer you will hear them on Twitter, and this is your chance to excel at customer service. If you have succeeded in gaining some popularity with your twitter account you will know how viral twitter can be.
Google+ has 359 million active users a month – far from the ghost town it is popularly believed to be. Many see Google+ as a combination of Twitter and Facebook, but its new features makes it a marketing paradise. The Hangouts, +1s and hashtags , if used properly, can result in a fantastic page popularity. Like Twitter and Facebook, this page needs to be updated; you need to be interactive with not only your own users, but other business pages as well. Remember: Google+ is Google, which means great search engine results for your business! If you have a Google+ Page and someone searches for your business (despite if they follow you or not), your Google+ Page and its most recent posts will be displayed on the right side of their personal search results. These search ranking benefits makes Google+ an important social media site to consider for your business.
This is a tricky social media channel and you should only take it on if you have great images to share concerning your business. Your business can reap the benefits of introducing your products to an estimated 70 million (10 million in the US alone) users on Pinterest, with fabulous backlinks to your website. Businesses that produce quality visual content on Pinterest have a distinct advantage. Because of the highly visual nature of the site, quality images have a greater chance of becoming “viral” – that is, shared and re-shared and re-shared further – to thousands of people. An image pinned by a highly-followed Pinterest member has the potential to reach millions of viewers.
If your business is image heavy – say, a photography studio, retail shop or an ecommerce site – then Pinterest for business makes sense. But what if your business doesn’t make or sell pretty things? Don’t overlook the appeal of a good “how-to checklist” or a step-by-step guide. When paired with an interesting image, these pins can garner attention, too. Once someone pins the image, the web address associated with that pin can serve to draw in new customers.
Remember: The majority of users on Pinterest are women (80%) between the ages of 25-45. Is this the right target audience for your business?
If you’re not already aware, Instagram is a photo-sharing program. What makes Instagram different from other photo-sharing programs is that it’s a free app which can be downloaded onto iPhones and some Samsung and Android devices. It enables users to apply a variety of filters to pictures with a simple press of a button. Do not sign your business up if you are not going to use your smart phone. Though you can manage your Instagram account via your PC, you can’t upload images to Instagram without a third party tool from your PC. Instagram is great for products, pictures of staff and developments within your business, and using this social media channel can add the ‘we’re just human’ factor to your business. Statistics show that there are between 130 and 150 million users, but you need to understand the demographic of these users and determine if this is the right target audience for your business: The majority of users (70%) are female between the ages of 18-35.
Linkedin is the largest social media network for business people and professionals but most small business owners still don’t have it on their marketing radar. Business owners are now realizing the value of this site and the opportunities to build relationships and sales leads. There are over 230 million LinkedIn users and 2.7 million business pages already on LinkedIn. Note that LinkedIn is more serious in nature compared to Facebook and Twitter. Approach this social media channel more seriously and assume that the users will want serious, professional and informative information. One of the most powerful features of Linkedin is “Linkedin Groups” which provide a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to start and participate in a discussion within a Group. You can share content, find answers, post and view jobs, make business contacts, and establish yourself as industry experts. Groups can have a hundred to thousands of members, so the exposure is significant.
This social media channel is the most popular video oriented site and has an estimate of over 1 billion unique visitors every month, with over 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute. A huge factor to note with YouTube is that (1) it’s the second largest search engine after Google (not Yahoo or Bing!). So, having content here that is optimized to be found by someone looking for your product, service, or niche can have enormous benefits; and (2) YouTube is owned by Google! When it comes to boosting your SEO (Search Engine Optimization) ranking, videos are over 50 times more likely to appear on the first page of search results as part of the blended results that Google now shows.
But the YouTube market is competitive. It really is a social media channel to choose if you have value videos that invite engagement, sharing and that users will enjoy. If your business can visually show how their services, products and employees are different from all the rest out there, this social media channel is a winner. Note the costs and human resources involved in producing good, valuable videos before signing your business up.
This is only for a business that hav a brick and motar location – a restaurant, hair salon, spa – are good examples. Major updates have breathed new life into this social media channel, but there is still a debate whether Foursquare has a future or not, which makes it a tricky platform to invest in. There are 40 million users and 1.3 million businesses on Foursquare and local businesses canstill leverage this network to build their customer base with new prospects and reward their most loyal customers. People use Foursquare to check into locations they’ve visited by using the app on their mobile phones. Once they’ve checked into a location, it can be shared with their Foursquare friends, Facebook friends and Twitter followers. This is where businesses on Foursquare benefit from being on the platform because users’ friends see where they’re checking in to eat, shop, have fun and more, which could possibly influence them to do the same based on the recommendations of their trusted connections.Interaction and real-time content is great when people write reviews, recommend and talk about your business, but know that you must join the conversation, interact, post images and reward customers in order to be successful on this platform.
Social Bookmarking, Local Search and Review Sites
There are also social bookmarking sites (Stumble Upon and Digg), as well as Local Search and Review Sites (Google Places, Yahoo Local, City Search and Yelp) that are important for business. I will cover these in a seperate blog.
Remember that being on too many social media channels can affect your productivity and your results. Knowing which platforms to focus on can really help your business.