The advent of social media has changed the way businesses interact with the world at large, creating a more open and immediate way for businesses to talk to consumers and vice versa. This increased openness comes with a lot of benefits, but these benefits require effort to reap.
Since not all social media websites are created equal, an important foundation of any business’s social media strategy is answering the question: where does my brand need to be? While some of the answers seem obvious, others can be a complete surprise. The following is by no means an exhaustive list, as different types of businesses have different needs and aims when engaging in social media, but these are places every business should have an official presence in.
Facebook is the premier social networking site, and arguably ubiquitous in today’s world. Simply put: it is everywhere. You see the blue logo on physical advertising and product packaging, and the recognizable “Like” button is on an innumerable amount of webpages.
The page and profile your business sets up on Facebook will be the default place many of your potential customers will interact with your business. Your posts will show up in the feeds of almost everyone that likes or follows the page, and a significant number of users will find other official pages through your Facebook presence. They will if you provide the links, at least.
Utilizing Facebook should be the central focus of any social media strategy, as it is the center of many Internet users’ online lives. Any important announcements or events on other sites should be linked to on your Facebook page. At the same time, your Facebook should be regularly active at all times, whether that activity takes the form of engaging customers to answer questions and leave opinions, tease at future announcements, or remind everyone that a product or service release is drawing near. Anything that positively keeps your brand in the minds of your customers is your aim.
Additionally, Facebook has become one of the largest advertisers on the planet. Using the wealth of data they have on their hundreds of millions of users, Facebook offers companies the chance to craft targeted advertising that is only displayed to people matching whatever criteria you set. This can be a great way of generating knowledge of your brand, and coupled with an active Facebook profile can be a powerful tool for success.
Twitter is the land of many small and frequent updates, and the way you use this social networking site should play to its strength. Many companies use Twitter as a place to engage with customers on a more individual basis. This can take the form of answering questions to providing basic support for products and services. Many users appreciate this individualized approach.
Twitter is also used by many users as a quick stop for news, and your tweets can also be used to fill this demand. Short summarized snippets of posts from Facebook, a blog, or some other source can be provided along with a link, and quick announcements can also be made on the service.
Many companies have at least two official Twitter pages: their main one for announcements and other official business and another one for the basic customer support. In addition, CEO’s and other highly public members of many companies also use Twitter as a way to promote their brand and engage with consumers. Again: many users appreciate an individual touch.
It has been claimed that more videos are watched and shared on Youtube than every other video site combined. Whether this is true or not, Youtube is undeniably the most visited site for watching videos, and its light social features make it a place any business would be mistaken to overlook.
Several of Youtube’s features make it immensely useful to businesses of any size. As a platform for announcements or any form of explanation, Youtube gives businesses a chance to inform their potential customers in an engaging and creative way. The comment section allows to interaction with viewers, with social features like private messaging being available to privately address any questions or concerns a viewer might have.
Additionally, Youtube is designed to make embedding videos on other pages intuitive, and this is particularly true in the case of social networking sites. With a couple of clicks your video can be posted on your Facebook or Twitter, and average users can share your videos to their friends the same way. The video can also be posted on your company’s website or blog easily, giving it maximum exposure with minimal effort.
While Facebook remains the king of social networking, Google’s service is a strong contender which some believe will surpass the current leader in the future. Google+ has several features that make it better than Facebook in the minds of many users, and some of these also benefit businesses in a big way.
Google+ can be used very similarly to Facebook, and businesses use it for many of the same things they use Facebook for. Engaging with users is done in the same way for the same reasons. However, Google+ has one key feature that Facebook lacks.
Google Hangout is a video group chat service that is completely free and easy to use. With it, your business could host a video ‘conference’ and have a group of employees talk to fans and generally get their faces out there. Modern consumers want to bond with businesses, and video hangouts allow that in an unprecedented way.
A Google Hangout can also be broadcast live on Youtube, allowing for thousands to watch a conversation happen live. This adds another dynamic to the service: users from all over the world can ask the group in the video stream questions, which can be answered by any or all of the participants in the hangout.
In addition, Google+ has a service that allows users to review local restaurants. Acting on feedback received through this and engaging with users through this Google+ service can be a great boon for businesses in this industry.
While Google+ is not yet as large as Facebook, it has strengths and a large enough crowd to make it essential to any social media strategy.
This is in no way an exhaustive list. There are a myriad of other social media sites to check out that fulfill a variety of needs in the lives of Internet users. Websites like Tumblr and Instagram provide an easy platform for users to share pictures with one another, while the likes of Foursquare allow users to look it and plan where to eat with their friends.
The world of social media is vast, and businesses should not limit themselves to the main channels discussed at length above. Different kinds of businesses have different needs, and taking the time to delve in and weigh the pros and cons of many social media sites is not a waste of effort.
The main ones like Facebook, however, should be embraced by every business today. While your business may be fine without a Tumblr page, skipping out on Google+ and Twitter is detrimental to success in this day and age.