If you are thinking about using social media for your business, you will probably know that there are many platforms to choose from. In fact there are so many, it can be difficult trying to work out which will be the best for you.
We're going to have a look at the five most popular platforms and how they are used. In the order that they are ranked, (in the top 500 websites), by Alexa Internet Inc.*, the top five social networking platforms and their current rank number are:
As of June 2015 Facebook had 1.49 billion users** (active accounts). Many of these are purely social but as a business tool Facebook makes it easy for you to reach and engage with customers. It is suitable for B2B or B2C business and allows you to create your own URL so that people can easily find you. The scheduling tool that is available with a business page means that you can schedule your posts and promotions in advance. Using the page insights is a very simple way of discovering what type of posts are most popular with your 'fans', the times of day people are looking at or interacting with your page and much more.
As of June 2015 Twitter had 304 million active accounts**. Like Facebook, many of these are social but businesses, B2B and B2C, are getting in on the act in a big way. Once you have set up your profile and checked that your picture, header image and bio fit with your brand, you are ready to go and share your business with the Twitter world. Twitter is a quick-fire type platform with constant activity and over 500million tweets per day, so with only 140 characters to get your message across you need to be engaging but to the point. A content strategy is a must if you are using Twitter for business as you will need to be a regular and consistent tweeter in order to build your followers. Interaction is important here too. Been seen to be active by re-tweeting other relevant posts and thanking those who follow and re-tweet your content.
LinkedIn has always been known as the professional networking site, a place to find and keep in touch with colleagues and potential clients. It is very much geared toward the B2B type market and has 97 million active user accounts**. Business pages are available via Linkedin but many people use their profile to market themselves, their skills and their business. LinkedIn is another platform that allows you to create your own URL which is easier to share with people rather than an endless string of meaningless numbers. Your LinkedIn profile is important and you should be aiming for 'all-star' completion status, which means completing virtually every section. It is an advert not only for your business but for you. People don't usually connect where a profile is mostly empty and contains only basic information - and no picture! LinkedIn groups are a great way of finding new business associates and getting involved in discussions that relate to your own area of knowledge.
Instagram is a photo and video sharing platform that interacts with many other social media platforms including Facebook and Twitter, making it ideal for B2C business. As of September 2015, Instagram had 400 million active users**. A highly visible platform, it allows you to be creative with pictures by using filters to enhance your images. The video tool also has filters and other editing features that will allow you to maximise the benefit of your 15 second time limit. Like other social media platforms you can build a following, share, like and use hashtags relevant for your business, making it easy for people to find you.
This is another visual social media platform, again ideal for B2C business and has 100 million active accounts as of September 2015**. On this platform, posting is known as pinning and you can create your own pin boards and share or re-pin you images to other users' boards. A pin board is usually a collection of images with the same theme. It is worth remembering that some of the most successful pins also contain some content, so think along the 80/20 ratio - 80% image, 20% words. Whatever you choose to share on Pinterest, remember the aim is to attract new customers and provide benefit to existing customers so make sure the content is relevant to your business.
In choosing your social media platform(s), much will depend on your type of business, where you find your customers and how you plan to target them. The one key element of all social media platforms has to be consistency - if you're going to do it, do it regularly and do it well.
*Alexa Internet Inc.(alexa.com) provides traffic data, global rankings and other information on 30 million websites**, in their own words - "Founded in 1996, Alexa has a rich history of providing deep analytical insights to benchmark, compare and optimize businesses on the web."