Getting Social: Which platform is right for your business?
Let’s face it, social media has become a must for every business looking to truly connect with their customers and make an impact. 91% of online Canadians have at least one social profile and over 60% of those follow brands, companies or product pages.
With a low cost, powerful analytics and constant access to your target audience, the value social media can bring to a business is staggering - as long as you do it right.
A well-designed strategy and constant attention is key but not every platform is the right fit for every business. So, what one(s) might work best for you? There are a whole host of direct and indirect social media possibilities but consider the main contenders:
With over 2 Billion users globally (as of September 2017) and 76% of Canadians, for most businesses, this one’s a no-brainer. In terms of sheer reach, Facebook is the undisputed king of social media. It‘s also one of the most versatile platforms, embracing a wide variety of content sharing possibilities. Facebook also boasts some pretty powerful analytics and a variety of promotional and advertising options that can help make brand exposure and customer interaction easy and effective with the right attention and strategy behind it.
But, it’s not for everyone…. Facebook is mainly a consumer centric vehicle and business to business companies may find limited opportunities beyond human capital and recruitment efforts. On the other end of the spectrum, Facebook is also starting to fall out of favour with teens, who’s usage is falling as they gravitate toward some of the trendier platforms.
Twitter Although this microblogging phenomenon hasn’t seen much growth over the past couple years, it’s still a powerful force to be reckoned with and a popular outlet for brand/consumer interaction. Hashtags and handle call-outs help companies gain exposure and with the newly released 280 character upgrade, twitter has shown it’s started to evolve and become slightly less restricting. Demographically, Twitter is another young skewing platform with the majority of followers under the age of 30, however the gender breakdown tends to stay fairly even.
But, be prepared… This platform can easily become the most time consuming of the bunch. Social media, in general moves fast, but in the twitterverse, your tweet is already considered old after only two hours, which means solid planning, regular postings and constant monitoring is absolutely vital.
Instagram Since being acquired by Facebook in 2012, Instagram has become the fastest growing social media platform in the world with a Canadian usage rate of 34% and rising. Visual storytelling is the cornerstone of it’s success, making it ideal for product based businesses, experiential services and those willing to get a little creative. Instagram boasts the highest interaction rate of any other platform at 56% and, like twitter, leverages hashtags to bolster exposure. Like others, it’s usage does tend to screw a little younger – between 18-34 – and is used much more heavily by women with about 65% of users.
But, promotion doesn't come easy... Organic promotion can be a little cumbersome. Unless you pay for an ad link, any URLs you might want to include to redirect consumers won’t work unless it’s copied and pasted in a search bar. While hashtags will help gain you increased visibility, creating polished and engaging content is crucial in convincing potential consumers to take that extra step.
THE place to be for professional networking. If your business operates in the B2B space, a strong presence on LinkedIn should be a top priority. Half of all B2B buyers utilize LinkedIn when making purchasing decisions and over 70% prefer to do business with those they are in some way connected to. This platform not only provides valuable professional networking but, also, offers an effective recruiting platform and content that is generally seen as more trustworthy than other social sources.
But maintaining a company page isn’t enough… LinkedIn users tend to be sophisticated professionals who use the platform with purpose. While company pages may be sufficient on other social media platforms, LinkedIn users are far more interested in the individuals behind the brand and place far more value on the content coming from professionals they’re connected to rather than company pages themselves. So, what does this actually mean for your business? In the B2B space, your whole team has to be actively involved, not just your marketing guru’s. LinkedIn can produce lucrative, tangible results but the effort needs to shared among your entire team.
Google+ Google has become the master of integration which is where Google+ shows it’s true power. Operationally, Google+ is quite similar to Facebook but with one big difference - everything google related is connected. Gmail, youtube, maps, drive and more are all integrated and right at your fingertips with Google+. But, the real motivation for being active on this platform is in the SEO boost. Google is the go-to of search engines and businesses with a google+ presence and posts circulated throughout googles communities get an immediate boost in their optimization.
But, despite the impressive integration, overall adoption is limited…. Although Google likes to boast that they have over 100 million active profiles, the truth is only about 7% of those have more than 50 total posts (ever…). Despite the hype, Google+ remains a bit of a limited market for direct interactions. Those that do use it regularly tend to be men (70%) with a post-secondary degree who are tech-savvy and appreciate the potential that Google+ may still have. It’s a platform that may be necessary for SEO purposes but, likely, one that won’t produce the benefits of constant attention that other platforms demand.
Pinterest The quintessential “mom” app. This digital pin board is another highly visual platform that is ideal for female-centric goods and services. Pinterest is unique in that it is a platform built entirely on idea generation. Users are specifically looking for inspiration on a variety of topics which makes it perfectly suited to drive action – in fact, 93% of pinners use the platform to find new brands and plan purchases.
But the market is still fairly limited… Women 18-39 dominate this platform with almost 70% of users. If you’re ideal customer is outside this demographic, this isn’t the platform for you. Having the ability to connect pinners to both good looking products and valuable content, like blog posts, is also essential. Conversion rates on Pinterest can be impressive but only if constant attention is given to continually providing fresh, new, easily searchable content.
Regardless of which platforms you choose to embrace, developing an in-depth plan and following through with well crafted content is the key to success. Authenticity and constant attention is vital so be sure to carefully consider your audience, your market and your own internal capabilities before taking the leap to ensure you’re leveraging your brand as effectively as possible.
Statistical data acquired through a variety of sources including; Statista, Pollara, Hootsuite, and each of the social media platforms highlighted.