The story of social media as we know it began in 1997 with a site called Six Degrees. From there, other sites began popping up and, over 20 years later, social media is now a normal part of everyday life. In that time, social media has changed and advanced, some platforms have fallen by the wayside (RIP to my punked out MySpace profile), and businesses are now expected to leverage the power of social media. It’s a fast-paced, rapidly growing world where trends are always coming and going.
So, how can businesses looking to refine their digital marketing strategy get an edge with social media? And what are the best social media platforms for a business to utilize?
Why Use Social Media Marketing?
Don’t make the mistake of dismissing social media as just something kids waste their time scrolling through. In today’s digital landscape, social media is a critical tool in your digital marketing arsenal. After all, over 53% of the worldwide population uses social media and 54% of social media users research products on these platforms. That’s a large demographic that you don’t want to miss out on. And not only can social media help you raise brand awareness, but it can also humanize your business and provide an easy way for customers to ask questions or give feedback.
Bottomline: you need social media.
The Best Social Media Platforms for Business Marketing
Having a social media presence doesn’t mean you need to dominate every platform. Think about the different types of social media platforms for business and which ones your target audience is most likely to engage with. Consider:
We’ve heard that Facebook is no longer as hip as it used to be, but it still remains the most popular social media platform out there. With roughly 2.8 million users, Facebook lets you reach a wide audience. Facebook ads are also an important consideration. These ads help you reach your target audience, bring in more customers, and keep former customers engaged. Since users can message your business and leave reviews, it also provides ample opportunity for interaction with your audience. Keep abreast of communications via Facebook (taking careful care to address negative feedback) to make your audience feel seen. You can even create a Facebook group for fans of your business or make events for, say, a new product release or a fundraising event. Facebook is good for almost any business. If you are not sure what social media platform to start with, it’s fair to assume Facebook is the way to go. It isn’t the most targeted platform, but it does offer a wide reach.
While Instagram and Facebook are connected, Instagram is the younger, somewhat cooler sibling. Of course, on Instagram, visuals are king. And this doesn’t just mean pictures; video content is hugely popular right now. Two downsides of Instagram are that you can’t create and share events the way you can with Facebook and external links can only live in your business’ bio. However, Instagram is great for any business that has a visual presence, such as beauty, fashion, or art companies. Post both regular content and to your business’ story regularly, and remember to work those hashtags in order to expand your audience. And thanks to Instagram’s “Checkout” feature, it’s easy to optimize for ecommerce companies.
Twitter’s defining characteristic is its character limits (currently a max of 280 characters), resulting in short, snappy shares. It is also a great place to lean into hashtags. One thing to keep in mind with Twitter is that there is always A LOT happening there. After all, an average of 6,000 tweets go out every second. That means there is a lot of noise to cut through, and you will need a diligent posting schedule. At the same time, Twitter is very helpful when you want to interact directly with customers and increase brand awareness, and it gives ample opportunity to share a clear brand voice.
As a professional social media platform, LinkedIn is, of course, best to connect with other businesses. So, B2B companies can consider creating a LinkedIn presence to share information that is relevant to the businesses you may work with. LinkedIn (in addition to Facebook) is also a great place to share thought leadership content. And since LinkedIn is a site geared towards professionals, these users tend to have higher incomes compared to other social media users, meaning they are more likely to be able to make big ticket purchases.
TikTok is the newest and coolest kid on the block. TikTok provides video content in a small package; videos are limited to 60 seconds. The demographic here is going to be fairly young and likely won’t have a ton of disposable income which means that, say, a real estate business is unlikely to find a lot of success here. However, a beauty or fashion company or small business might find these quick videos can really highlight their brand. After all, when a product blows up on TikTok, it often sells out FAST. Another thing to consider is partnering with social media influencers on TikTok, who can help you jumpstart brand awareness almost overnight.
It’s all about the videos here and, unlike TikTok, you can post videos of any length. Compared to TikTok, it’s also where people are more likely to go if you want an informative video (i.e. a tutorial of how to use a product) rather than an entertaining video. Video content is booming right now, and YouTube offers almost endless possibilities for taking advantage of that trend. Make sure to follow SEO best practices (i.e. finding a keyword to focus on and putting that keyword in the title and description) when making YouTube videos to help your videos rank better. YouTube is great for tutorials, public announcements, introducing a new product, meet the team videos, behind-the-scenes videos, or channel trailers. Don’t forget about YouTube ads or livestreaming either.
This is where social media users go to find inspiration and dream about the possibilities. For instance, my Pinterest feed is filled with recipes that I look at when I’m hungry but am too lazy to actually cook. Users on Pinterest are largely women, and hot topics include home decor, fashion, food, fitness, and beauty. And with its handy “shop” option, you can easily browse products, prices, and buy with a click. Pinterest is a great choice for B2C brands that sell eye catching products, particularly those in any of the industries mentioned above. Make sure the images you use are high-quality since Pinterest is a mostly visual platform.
Maintaining Your Social Media Presence
Ideally, your business will find a home on more than one social media platform, but if your business is on the smaller side, you can always start with one or two and expand from there. Each of these platforms have their own strengths and weaknesses, so take a deep dive into who your target audience is and where they spend their time before deciding on the best social media platforms for your business. And remember, social media moves at the speed of light and requires consistent posting. So, get creative and have some fun using social media to bolster your business’ marketing intiatives!