Which social media?
You know your business needs to be on social media, but the question is which one? Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn. There are so many and, as a new business, the choice can be overwhelming. So, how do you choose the right one(s)?
Choosing the right social network(s) is important. Used well, social media can have a big impact on the success of your business, without needing to spend any money. It’s like free advertising – right? Whilst you could be on lots of channels, this is not a good idea unless you have a large team or are willing to spend all your time on social media (which is also not a good idea). It takes an enormous investment of time to be successful on social media. It is much better to do one or two well than three or four badly…
The question is, which one(s)? What is the right network for one business is not going to be the right choice for another. There are a number of factors you need to take into account in deciding which one(s) to use for your business.
First of all, where are your customers to be found? Whilst the aim of the social networks are very similar (to basically allow people with common interests to connect), the audiences tend to be a bit different. If your customers are other businesses, LinkedIn and Twitter are traditionally considered better (but the decision makers could also be on Facebook and/or Instagram). For consumers, Facebook and Instagram do well. YouTube is considered pretty good for reaching both businesses and consumers. If you want to reach journalists, Twitter is the place to hang out. If your customers are younger, then Instagram and Snapchat are the places to find them. Facebook and Twitter users tend to be older. Creative people are more likely to spend time on Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook, those in professional white collar jobs frequent LinkedIn. If you don’t know, ask the kind of people you want to target which social media networks they use.
Then it’s what kind of content you want to create. There is no point being on Instagram if you are a photophobic (that may well be a made up word!). If you love creating images then Pinterest, Instagram and Facebook are perfect. If you like videos then YouTube, Facebook and Instagram (IGTV) are good. If you prefer slideshows or presentations then LinkedIn is the obvious choice. If you are a person of few words then Twitter is best. We have found that it is no good trying to do something you hate – you just won’t do it regularly enough to be effective!
Also take into account which of the social media networks you are most comfortable with. It often makes sense to start with one you use personally…
Once you have decided you need to create your profile. A well-written profile with a great image gives people a reason to follow your feed. We always check out who follows us and if they sound interesting we follow them back. If they have nothing in their profile (which is more common than you think) we assume they are not interesting (harsh I know!).
Then you need to begin to create content. Content that is helpful, not selling. To begin with, you will feel like you are speaking into a void – no-one is listening to you. But persevere. Ask people you know to like/follow you, to like and comment on your posts. The social media networks will assume your content is awesome and show it to others. Like/follow other people and engage with them – they will check you out and may follow back. Join groups and interact in a helpful/non-salesy way – again people will check you out and may follow you. Join “pods” with other businesses where you like and comment on each other’s posts (when you comment on those pregnancy/baby posts it will give your friends who see it something to gossip about!).
Social media takes time (rather than money), but it is time well spent. Give it at least 6 months (of course you can speed it up by paying for ads). Work out which kind of posts work with your audience, ie which ones get the best engagement and post more of these. The number of followers is not as relevant as the engagement you get. The first time you get proper engagement from someone you don’t know is a real business high!
Of course you can find us on social media. We like to think we do Facebook pretty well, Twitter is a bit sporadic and Instagram is definitely work in progress. Come and check us out! If your profile is interesting we may even follow you back!