There are so many social media channels out there; it’s hard to know which one to focus on. Or should you have a presence on all of them? It would take a lot of time and effort to keep posting and reacting to all of the available social media sites, so choose a few that are relevant to your business and go from there.
They all need different types of content and work in different ways so go for quality, not quantity. Here’s a rundown of the most relevant social media sites for businesses…
This is a fast moving platform where your users have a short attention span and a lot of content in their feed to wade through. Visual and shareable content works best, and repeat or rephrase your posts often to make sure you can hit as many people as possible.
Look out for retweets and replies to make sure you can get a conversation going, as it’s an ideal site to do this and it lets other users know there is an actual person, or people, behind the profile.
You can use hashtags here, but not too many, to link in with any trends or industries that might be appropriate to your business.
The most popular platform, by far, but it is increasingly hard to get exposure for free. Business use is orientated to promotional and paid activity and you’ll struggle to get a lot of interaction and reach without it.
Go for visual, personable content (especially if you are business to business as most people are not on Facebook to think about work!).
Take time to reply to people on Facebook, as you are rated on your response times. Customers can also check in to your site and review your business, so treat your company profile page as an extension of your website in that respect.
Although LinkedIn is getting a bit more informal it is still business focused. It’s a good place to share industry news and updates about your business in a more formal way.
Most LinkedIn activity for businesses is still focused around networking. This is the place to track down contacts that might be of use to your company and engage with them.
It also gives you the ability to publish blog posts directly on LinkedIn, which may get picked up by the site for promotion. This is a great way to get some detailed content up on social media and creates some discussion too – be sure to engage with people that comment.
The jury is still out on Google Plus (or Google+). Personally, I don’t see it as a popular platform. People don’t seem to engage on there and conversations and reactions are few and far between.
However, it is a little miracle worker for your SEO results. If you link up your profile page with your Google Business locations, G+ (see, with three possible ways of referring to it, it’s never going to do well!) posts appear on Google results and this is very helpful for SEO and getting yourself up the search engine rankings. I always recommend having a presence on Google Plus for my clients purely for this reason.
This site is for photos, short videos and visuals only. You can go hashtag crazy on here, but we wary that there is no linking available in your post, so direct users to your profile page. If you have striking visual content it’s a fantastic place to get noticed, but you need to do a bit of work building up followers and liking and comments on other users’ posts to make sure this works.
Obviously, the site to post any videos and tutorials that you have. If you are a business that can make use of how to guides, interviews, case studies, demonstrations, and so on, make sure you post your video on here to get the most out of them. And then make sure to promote it on all your other social media sites too!
Doing this 30 day blogging challenge has made me think about what questions clients and potential clients ask me. And the one question that potential clients always ask is ‘why use social media?’. A lot of businesses may have accounts they’ve set up and don’t use, have tweeted a few times and seen no response, or are not getting direct sales leads through Facebook so don’t know why they should bother.
I always put up a good defence of social media. You can’t always get through to some businesses (sometimes you just can’t change someone’s mind, or actually you know that what they want from marketing can not be achieved through social media networks). However, if you come into social media marketing knowing what sort of things you can achieve, and the amount of effort you need to put in, great things can happen.
What can you achieve using social media?
The aims of using networks like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instragram, Google+, YouTube, etc, differ slightly, but generally businesses can:
As mentioned before, you must strike a balance between the needs of the business and the needs of the user. Your updates must provide something of value to the people you are reaching out to.
You need to have some aims in mind. Are you promoting services or product? Are you interacting with current and potential customers? Increasing brand awareness is just as important as selling. Social media is a marketing channel as much as anything else and they all have different roles to play.
Using social media gives you a unique opportunity to start public conversations with customers, peers, competitors, and anyone else who is listening. It doesn’t have to just be about pushing out sales messages.
So, make sure you have some aims, and that they are realistic.
The amount of effort you need to put in
As in the case of those businesses who throw out a few tweets and expect followers to build up in their thousands… it’s not going to happen. You need to put in the effort to get a relationship going with your followers and provide that valuable content to be of use to them.
Look at what others are posting and tweeting and react to it. Unless you are an incredibly professional business and don’t want to be seen interacting with anyone, users will be more receptive to an account that is having a little bit of fun, showing a personable side and is recognising good content from others. Everyone loves a retweet, a like, a share, or a comment.
Find a personality or tone that suits your business, and make sure you’re watching your feed as well as your profile page.
You need to be on the ball too - social media accounts must be monitored frequently as users expect responses quickly. Posts can easily get out of hand (everyone has seen a complaint letter or two on shared by thousands of others with their angry emojis on Facebook) so you need to react quickly to be seen to be sorting out problems.
So, that’s why you should use social media – get out there and talk to your customers, have a few aims, and hopefully a lot of fun.
Horribly self indulgent today, as in less than two hours we’re travelling to Swansea to see Manic Street Preachers at their last (I think) 20th Anniversary Everything Must Go gig. I am so excited I have been telling random people in exercise classes, on work emails and generally squeeing in happiness every couple of minutes.
I’ll make this vaguely work-related but it’s the weekend so I know you don’t care too much about marketing and social media management at this point anyway. Life is too short to work all the time.
Every anniversary release of a Manics’ album frightens me a little. 10 years since The Holy Bible? Ok, feeling quite old but liveable… 20 years since Everything Must Go? Oh my god. This is the big one. Everything Must Go was the seminal Manics’ album for me. When I was first getting into indie and music generally (let’s not count my Jason Donovan and Cliff Richard obsessions), Richey Edwards was already missing so the anticipation of the Manics’ comeback was a big topic in the music press.
I started to get curious, and luckily got to hear the Manics’ From Despair To Where on a free cassette from Select magazine. It spiraled from there. A bootleg tape of the Reading Festival gig in 1994, the Gold Against The Soul CD… and suddenly A Design For Life hit and I was obsessed. And I never looked back.
It’s not just the energy, the intelligence, the guitar riffs and my unabated crush on James Dean Bradfield (I still love him and I don’t care what you say), but the community of seriously lovely, fiercely passionate Manics fans. I had so many lovely penpals, and our letters were filled with glitter, leopard print, stickers and quotes.
And it was these references that made you look into authors and poets, read a few more books, learn to understand the world and your place in it. And occasionally get angry too. Whenever I think I’ve lost my fire and become complacent, it’s usually around the time I realise that I haven’t listened to the Manic Street Preachers in a while. There’s a lot of injustice in the world, even at a tiny tiny level – I had to say goodbye to my son’s lollipop man yesterday, who’s contract has been terminated through council cuts, even though he offered to stay on voluntarily and was visibly devastated by the change – you might not feel you can do much, but you can always do something, even if it is just talking.
All of this fuelled my love of words and communication, which still hasn’t stopped 20 years on. Which is why I love Manic Street Preachers with all of my heart, and I’m off to pack my eyeliner, feather boa and glitter for what is going to be an amazing gig.
During the course of my week, I am constantly finding content for social media clients. Keeping up a steady stream of posts and updates is hard work, and you can’t always look to your website to provide this. Well, you can, but it would start to look a bit samey after a while.
When I talk to new clients about organising their social media, and what to put on it, there are a few areas we focus on. If all you do is tweet about your sales, offers and new stock, people are going to get fed up pretty quickly.
So, you need to strike the balance between:
There are the needs of your business (promotion) and the needs of your users (content) to consider, so your social media updates must provide a mix of both.
How do you find the content?
Hopefully, for your business this is pretty easy. You should keep followers regularly updated, so consider newsworthy items like:
This is also where blogs come in really handy, giving you a regular feed of focused, keyword-relevant content to use for your accounts.
You could also set up a Google news alert or two for keywords related to your business, and keep an eye on them for good material to post. Posting a few news items a day or week (even if it’s just the title, a link and perhaps a reference to the original source) can give lots of opportunities for retweets and shares.
Images also work so well on many different social media channels, especially Facebook and Twitter, so don’t forget to try and find pictures for some of your posts.
Remember to always keep in mind the tone and personality of your business. Funny Friday tweets may or may not work for you! You can have a little bit of fun with social media, as long as it suits your business to do so. I did spend half an hour a few weeks ago trading Star Wars themed puns with a hosepipe company, and it’s lovely if you get the opportunity to do this as it starts a conversation, shows a lighter more personable side and also keeps you (as in you, the person having to come up with the updates day in day out) interested and involved.
So, that’s how I find social media content for my clients – how do you do it? I’d love to know your ideas!
I love words. I have always loved reading and writing, and my work gives me so many opportunities to communicate with people. It makes me very happy. I don’t know if it’s just me, but there is a thrill, and a sense of accomplishment, when I get the phrasing right, when it all flows, and when I successfully encapsulate (encapsulate is such a good word!) what my client wants into a blog, or social media post, or a marketing message.
Tones of voice are so important too. It’s lovely to have different clients where you can adjust how you sound to suit their business. Sometimes you have to be very professional and knowledgeable, sometimes personable and almost chatty, but you can never be yourself.
I’m taking up the 30 day blogging challenge. It’s been so hard for me to write my own blogs, as I feel uncomfortable shouting about what I do. But with a little thought and encouragement from some awesome friends (more of them on a later blog), I’m going to frantically type some stuff down, every day, to say more about what I do.
I came out of university with a fascinating but pretty much vocationally useless media and cultural studies degree. I always tell people that it was just three years watching daytime TV in our pajamas as ‘research’ but it was a lot more than that. Sometimes we went out to the cinema too.
Marketing seemed a natural choice as a career. It’s all about communication through different channels, so I could take what I learnt in my degree about messages, semiotics and how people think (and act) culturally, and apply it. I took a marketing diploma a little later into my career to cement my knowledge and give it a bit more structure. I also learnt which big words to use to seem more knowledgeable and structured to other people. It works.
Now I’m working with my own clients, helping them choose the words that help them communicate with people who need, want or would benefit from their service and product. It’s never, for me, about selling things to people who don’t need them. It’s always been about finding the right market, where they are, and what messages they respond to.
Over the next 30 days I’m going to talk a little about what my clients ask and think about, a little about what motivates me and a bit more about how wonderful words are generally. To keep it all together, I’m going to use my (until now, completely useless) quote collection*. These quotes are always going to be very loosely connected to the subject matter, but they are going to be good ones.
*I had a notebook full of quotes when I was younger, covered in a collage of band photos. Now there’s Pinterest. The kids are missing out.
Freelance Marketing Consultant, especially that Social Media stuff.