Invest in the Right Social Home
by Bill Nolan
If your business social media page is not performing quite as expected, and you’re paying for more followers than interacting with them, one basic problem may be that you’re knocking on the wrong social media doors. There really isn’t a one size fits all platform. Some have a broader audience, and others are more refined. All have their pros and cons. Each network contains its own niche groups. As you should already know, do the research before jumping in on the huge investment of a snappy network because your best friends daughter knows all about it and thinks it’s cool.
Time to find your home? At this point we’ll also assume you’ve researched who your audience is, correct? The only question now becomes… where are they? Let’s start with some of the more popular urban neighborhoods and then dive into a couple rural niche places just to get you started.
This is your anything goes, free-for-all community that can really benefit most businesses. Regardless of whether your company is service or product based, you will find a large group of friends here. Slightly self-consumed, but this community likes a good story. And Facebook is arguably the best at providing features and support for photos, animations, videos, groups and easy-to-use, targeted paid advertising, posts and event promotion… better than any of the other platforms at this time. The simple fact is that “everyone” lives out their lives on Facebook. Take advantage. This could be one of the most powerful tools available in your marketing arsenal. The major hurdle you will encounter is filtering through the sheer volume of activity to find the most welcoming neighborhood for your business. Anything goes here. And whether they know it or not, most Facebook users are creeping around looking for a new story.
Essentially this is the New York City of social media networks. It never sleeps and it’s extremely fast paced. Over 300 million active users will take your newsfeed to a ludicrous overdrive in the blink of an eye. It’s not for the faint of heart. Nor is it for the wordy ones. Thank goodness Twitter offers a “lists” feature to help categorize followers and those you follow in order to target your messages. “Lists” also give you the ability to select specific topics you may have missed during the couple seconds you blinked your eyes. Bottom line here, you need to methodic, attentive and interactive on the fly to make this one work. Tweet frequently throughout the day, and take the time to explore different communities. There’s a party for everyone’s style going on at all times. And yes, there are billboard advertising opportunities in the Twitter community. I am just debating the value of more time spent interacting versus their cost. Let me get back to you on that one!
Instagram & Pinterest
These two networks are specialized for your visually inspired friends. They are the places to be if you’re selling just about any picture perfect product including yourself. Clothes, candles, food, furniture and so on… these people are interested. That doesn’t mean businesses providing services aren’t welcome. Just for example, let’s say you are a painter, designer or home remodeler, use these platforms to show off unique projects accomplished or in progress. New video features now make the possibilities endless. Instagram takes this one step further with their photo and video filters. But keep in mind, for all social neighborhoods, there are plenty of apps out there to help you take the best picture and video clips and filter them too. If you can take the time to produce eye catching images and video of your work then you’ll feel right at home here. Instagram and Pinterest are just entering the paid advertising arena. Their ad options are limited and a bit clunky, but worth looking into. As you will find with Google+, the business account is worth the same weight as the personal account. Now that is priceless.
NO, it’s not a ghost town. This community is just a bit more refined and less self-centered as Facebook can be. Time and time again I’ve seen engagement on G+ that exceeds anything on the other networks… real conversations. The members tend to ignore those who post selfies, self-consumed content and those who keep talking about themselves. This platform offers a mix of all the features that are individually provided by the other networks, kinda like Facebook. This makes it suitable for so many businesses. It does take a little more effort to gain connections, but once you do they understand the value of interacting and sharing. They actually get it! G+ is filled with ‘old timers’ of all ages that have been around awhile and endured the platforms numerous changes over the years. They may be somewhat leery of fly-by-night outsiders, but worth working for. Your best bet is to explore the numerous communities within G+ to find out where your people are. Keep in mind, G+ does not require paid advertising to promote your business. Business pages act just like and have just as much clout as personal pages. And the “G” does stand for Google which equals major benefits to your SEO ranking. This community may be a bit more uppity, but it does have huge influence.
Business, business and more business, LinkedIn is primarily inhabited by professionals and they want to keep it that way. So, if you’re not on your best behavior here, you can expect to be shown the door quickly. When you login it’s like entering a job interview all over again. “Personal” status updates, which are the norm for sites like Facebook, are not appropriate or welcomed here. Keep it strictly business, mostly B2B, and you will fit right in. The best way to utilize LinkedIn is to focus on selling your well-branded self first and then your products and services. This community wants to know who you are as a business person, and what you can bring to the table. Bragging, to a certain extent, is allowed as long as you don’t go overboard. You will also want to get involved in the LinkedIn groups. This will help you become recognized as an influencer. The number of connections and endorsements that you amass may warrant a closer look at the services your company page provides. You will need to be very active on this platform to push your business page. We are hearing a lot about new developments and construction going on in this community… well worth its investment as a second home, but questionable whether its worth paying the additional advertising dollars just yet on a billboard here.
If the Bermuda Triangle was a social media network it would be Snapchat. Everything disappears here. This one’s a little tricky and may be a difficult network for those who sell general services and products geared towards anyone over 21. Its recent show of longevity and growth makes it worth mentioning. This platform also has millions of users. Please keep in mind the large majority are younger children and teens. They are primarily on Snapchat for their own personal and private entertainment. This may be why sports teams, celebrities, and some of the larger well-known fad companies are the only ones making a run of it. Most of the average businesses are finding do not disturb signs and shuttered windows when they try to connect. The community has the attention span of a gnat. We just need to be honest here. It is what it is. And once viewed… your post is gone! For Snapchat really creative, out-of-the-box thinking and campaign planning is needed… unlike any other community. Oh Snap!
Hello, is Ello what you’re looking for? Honestly, I’m not sure. This community set lofty goals and pushed for a prestigious user base from the beginning allowing by invitation only access, not unlike Pinterest which is very successful today. As Pinterest took time to develop, so has Ello… a long, long time. At best, and the reason I mention Ello, this community continues to maintain itself, but new growth is questionable. I do want to mention that Ello was built on and for the more creative ones. It is filled with design, photography, illustration and more art posts and portfolios. For that reason alone it is worth a quick tour. Ello also touts itself as the first anti-Facebook, anti-advertising social network. And that really interests me. Is it working? Again, honestly I couldn’t say. The next time I am looking for a culturally cool community… I might take a trip to Behance instead.
Sure, there’s a social community for every business and within its neighborhoods there are plenty of billboard spaces for additional paid advertising opportunities. As you would do before any investment, just do your research. Moving your laxatives shop onto Snapchat may not be in your favor. Feel free to use the above social outline as a reference guide when deciding which social neighborhoods are right for your business. And do not hesitate to get yourself a real estate agent, I mean social media manager, to help get you on your way.