Which social network is best for my business?
It’s a question we get asked all the time, and had to consider for ourselves. With your potential customers active on so many different channels, should you cover all bases or focus on doing a couple social networks really well?
Regardless of your answer to this question, we recommend you set up an account for your brand name on all major social networks. This is partly just in case you decide to invest in the channel later on, but also to protect your brand from anyone else setting up a fake account in your name or someone else beating you to it. We bet John Lewis wish they’d adopted Twitter sooner!
— John Lewis (@johnlewis) July 23, 2017
Yikes, right? While John takes it all in good spirit and we all have a bit of fun reading his replies to tweets that are misattributed to him rather than @JohnLewisRetail, let’s learn from this retail giant’s mistake and lay claim to social platforms early on.
So what are the major players currently and which platforms should you consider – and why?
Instagram is a particularly fantastic channel for product based companies. If you have ecommerce or an Etsy shop, you can probably make Instagram work for you. From beautiful product photos, to behind the scenes shots and works in progress, this social network is great for visually lead companies. But if you’re more service lead, don’t be put off. Instagram is also a great platform to share your brand story. Check out Luku’s Instagram for an example of this.
Instagram is also a great tool for discovery. If you have beautiful visuals and utilise the descriptions with the right keywords and hashtags you can see a good quality audience grow quickly, organically.
If you’re new to Instagram or working out how it can benefit you, may I highly recommend the podcast series, Hashtag Authentic, which discusses everything from the power of great photography to the network’s algorithm for when and where your posts are shown. They’re honest, insightful and the perfect length for listening to whilst cooking dinner, commuting or working out.
Facebook can be a great channel for certain businesses and industries – community lead and ecommerce businesses do particularly well. B2B focussed? As most Facebook accounts are personal, following work related accounts can be a jarring experience, possibly making Facebook less of a priority for you. It can be a great channel to show your company’s personality, however, as well as behind the scenes content, but you may find lower engagement than LinkedIn could offer you.
If your company is specific to a particular location, Facebook can be a really powerful tool for brand awareness and lead generation. It’s very common for every town and village to have their own Facebook group which residents use to share experiences and recommendations. The pages often have strict rules about when companies can promote themselves, such as only on Mondays. But you’ll often find potential customers enquiring about your services, giving you the opportunity to post a helpful response. You may even find others recommend your services on other posts looking for similar recommendations just off the strength of your promotional posts.
Your company Facebook page can be a great hub of information, and with CTAs directly embedded into your page, such as newsletter and event sign ups, you can also grow your subscriber list and encourage other actions which bring you value. Facebook also allows really targeted advertising, which can be a valuable asset for any company starting to grow an audience.
If you’re B2B you should probably be on LinkedIn. Even if you’re very niche, there will likely be a group dedicated to your industry. Want to find where your potential customers may be hanging out? Click on the profile of a competitor’s employee and view the groups they’re a member of. Do this for several competitors and you’re bound to find some groups of interest. Use these to participate in conversations, sharing knowledge rather than hard selling. Can’t find a group for your niche? Set one up! If you were looking for it chances are others were too, and you could be the thought leader and go-to resource on LinkedIn in your niche. Promote the group to your colleagues and industry contacts to give membership and discussions a boost, then promote it to your subscribers.
LinkedIn is also great for advertising, allowing targeting based on job titles. Really handy when wanting to target the decision maker in a company.
Twitter users will expect accounts they follow to be posting frequently. Posts are short but sweet so things move fast. If you can’t create or curate much content, Twitter may not be right for you, unless your account’s value is too high to unfollow. Take @officedaresfor example – they may only post every couple of months but because each tweet is hilarious I don’t unfollow. They are the exception and not the rule, however. So if you’re debating if Twitter is right for you, here are the main benefits:
- Fantastic for trends and latest news. If you want to jump on trends like covfefe you’ll find it quickest on Twitter
- Really easy for followers to share your content with their audience. Combined with trends this can be a powerful tool for increasing your exposure to new audiences
- Twitter chats: essentially a regular pre-arranged chat using a set hashtag for like minded folk to discuss a topic, and much like LinkedIn groups there is probably a Twitter chat for you.This list is a great place to start if you want to get involved.
- It’s great for networking – hashtags are most at home when used on Twitter, meaning your posts are likely to be found by an audience that don’t already follow you, but it’s also super easy to add users to an existing thread, increasing connections and meeting friends of friends.
If you’re a fashion, home decor, photography, wedding, lifestyle or food-based company, definitely get yourself on Pinterest. These industries dominate this channel and your audience is likely already very active there. If you’re in other niches, Pinterest can still work for you, but it may not be such a walk in the park to curate quality content.
Some top tips:
- Create a few boards with lots of quality pins rather than several boards with less than 20 pins each – don’t spread yourself thin
- Ensure your pin descriptions are useful and use keywords people will search for as this will help potential followers find you
- Pin your own content as well as third party content – your images will send traffic to your site, but don’t be too salesy
- Categorise your boards to help them get found
- Repin from your potential audience. If they’re pinning similar content, chances are they’ll be interested in your brand and this is a great way of getting them to see you
- Pin videos as well as photos
If you’re B2B or targeting an older demographic this is unlikely to be a worthwhile investment of resource for you. If, however, your audience is young B2C consumers, there could be benefits to investing in this channel.
Snapchat could be dismissed as self-indulgent, but used in the right way can be a really great opportunity for brands to drive consumer advocacy. With its core focus on timeliness this can be a great opportunity to drive engagement to promotions and and exclusive content that doesn’t hang around. Make your posts engaging to ensure your audience check back regularly to ensure they don’t miss out – this level or urgency isn’t as strong across other networks.
Snapchat is also great for making your audience your advocates. Good storytelling is key here, and what could be compelling than genuine stories from your customers?
However, it is worth noting that with its competitors adding story functionalities of their own, you don’t need to necessarily invest in an additional channel for your brand to see this benefit. With Instagram algorithm changes, Stories is a popular way to stay visible with your audience. Plus an update in early 2018 didn’t go down too well, coupled with a tweet by Kylie Jenner, we too are left wondering if anyone really opens their Snapchats anymore.
YouTube isn’t just for vloggers and it needn’t be a costly investment. Good cameras now come as standard with mobile phones so minimal equipment is needed, making time your main investment. YouTube videos can be better at conveying your brand’s tone of voice and personality over written content – and you can always embed them in your blog to keep your website fresh.
If you’re keen but camera shy, consider whether you can create relevant video content with a screen recording. This can be particularly powerful for explaining more difficult concepts or providing tutorials.
Some video content formats to consider to get you started:
- Webinar recordings
- Behind the scenes
- Product creation
- Event highlights
- Or see thiscomprehensive list of 40 ideasfor inspiration
Just make sure you don’t alienate those with sight or hearing impairments – subtitles and transcripts are a good start.
There’s probably no point. Invest your time in more popular channels. But do make the most of Google MyBusiness if you have a physical location.
The above are the main channels that most companies can build a following on, but don’t ignore smaller channels that might be more appropriate for your audience. Consider whether Reddit, Flickr, Tumblr, Quora and Houzz are relevant and start by trialling building a profile on one niche network. Plus there are new faces cropping up all the time on the fringes, such as Ello, and most recently Vero. It’s anyone’s guess on what’s going to be the next big thing, but making sure you nab user names early on is the best way to stay focused and ensure you always stay relevant when and if the time comes to shift your attention elsewhere.
Not sure where to start?
If you’re feeling unsure which channel(s) to focus on, get in touch and we can help you prioritise based on your business needs and goals.