Which social platform is right for you?
When it comes to social media platforms, no two are the same. Each platform requires users to interact with them in subtly different ways, whether it's the fast and furious mini-blog format of Twitter, or the more leisurely gallery-gazing design of Pinterest.
They also have a different tone of voice, from the more professional pages of LinkedIn to the unpredictable YouTube. As a result, each platform has its own 'typical' user, which means you can be more certain you're targeting the right kind of customer.
Barclays Online Business Fortnight
Day 1 - Do you need a business website?
Day 2 - Which social platform is right for you?
Day 3 - Keep out of trouble online
Day 4 - Make the most of free online marketing
Day 5 - Get your finances organised with technology
Day 6 - How to ensure your business looks its best online
Day 7 - How to make a name for your business on social media
Day 8 - How to build an online business network
Day 9 - Is paying for marketing worth the money
Lots more info - How to ensure your business looks its best online
Content supplied by Barclays
Follow your customers
Look for the channels with the highest concentration of your potential customers. A good way to scope out what type of users visit a particular social media site is to type key words into the search field that describe your company's services, products, and any other relevant topics. Take time to study the people on the pages that pop up and see if they match your target customer base. If they're the type of person you expect to be buying your products or services, then it's the right platform for you.
Audience statistics change all the time, but a quick Google search should come up with some broad results to help you make your decisions.
Certain platforms are less formal than others and give you permission to be a bit more playful. If this is right for your business, then don't miss the opportunity to paint a more intimate picture of your business by adding photos, quizzes and competitions, for example. These personal touches can work wonders for building a community around your brand. This is where Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and picture blogs, such as Tumblr can be great.
The most useful channels for business:
Social media guru and Senior Content Strategist at Dennis Publishing, Ian Betteridge gives his pros, cons and top tips for his pick of the most useful social media channels out there.
He says: "There are four channels, which are probably the most important for businesses at present."
- It's really easy to manage and quick to get into – you can load the app onto your smartphone and keep an eye on it when you're out and about, and tools like HootSuite let you monitor your tweets and how they're doing
- You can use Twitter to market your business, support customers, and pretty much everything else.
- It can take time to build up a following – there's a lot of competition out there after all
- The 140 character limit per tweet does mean you're limited on what you can say
Top tip: Be interesting and engaging, and make sure what you post is useful to people.
- Pages can be created for free and have lots of rich features, from pictures to video and more
- Running your business' Facebook page is very similar to running a personal page, so you probably won't need to learn new skills
- To build a really rich Facebook experience and get some worth out of it, you need to commit the time to it
Top tip: Make sure you engage deeply with Facebook, particularly with any comments you get. Don't just post content and forget it.
- This is a brilliant platform for anything that's visual, with a big audience
- They are rolling out dedicated e-commerce features, so if you're selling products, it could help you get quick results
- If your business doesn't really have a visual element, such as a product or a service that is best demonstrated visually, you may find it hard to find relevant images to 'Pin'
- Pinterest doesn't really have a customer support role, so it may not be sufficient if you want to use it to start dialogues with your customers
Top tip: On Pinterest, image is (literally) everything – so make sure the photography or design of everything you post is attractive and unique.
- Google+ is integrated with everything that Google does and pages are free to create, so it has a long-term future
- Over a longer period, Google+ activity is likely to have an impact on the search ranking of your website, so it's wise to establish yourself there now
- At time of writing, it doesn't have a lot of active users (although this is likely to change in the future)
Top tip: Like Facebook, Google+ benefits from deep engagement. Try and be an active part of Google+ communities to get a feel for what works there.
- Great networking potential. There are thousands of groups that you can join to connect with fellow industry professionals and create strategic alliances
- By sharing details on your career history and experience, you can promote your business credentials and pitch yourself as an expert in your field
- With the exception of the LinkedIn Answers section, interactivity is limited when compared to Facebook or Twitter
- For the best 'Premium' service, you have to pay
Top tip: Be strategic. Connect with people who can help you reach your business goals but ensure you can help add value to their business, too.
- With online tutorials you can demonstrate your products in action, bringing great features to life and build a reputation for yourself as an expert
- YouTube lets you embed video content in your website without increasing your site's bandwidth, so it won't slow down your customers' computers when they access your site
- It is a very crowded field, so you will need to make sure you point to your video channel as much as possible from the rest of your social media and web presence
Top tip: Customise your channel, adding your company's branding with all the relevant contact details and weblinks.
So you've made a video that looks great and should really get customers interested in your business – so, how do you get them to watch it? There are a few different video player sites you could use, but a really common one is YouTube, which is free, simple to use and lets you upload 15 minutes of film. But beware, most customers only watch 2.5 minutes so keep it short and snappy!
Head to Barclays on Mumsnet for lots more:
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