Choosing the Best Social Media

It seems as if a new social platform pops up every week, and as a small business owner, it can feel overwhelming. So how can you establish yourself on social media when users are bouncing from one network to the other, and the next hot network may have no reliable messaging for your business?

2928f4a4-d27e-4072-a8dd-fa3764841502_wssource_widescreen_hero

 

First, take a deep breath. Second, there are a lot of social platforms and many audiences, but not every one may be right for you. Before diving head-first into the social sphere, you should know what each is used for and whether it’s useful for you. This is especially true if you’re spending your valuable time managing these accounts yourself.

Here is a breakdown of the seven major social media sites and how they can be beneficial to small businesses.

1. Twitter

Twitter is a great platform for projecting what your company is doing and accessing a large audience. Branding a business requires a lot of time and money, but creating a consistent voice with your tweets is an easy way to get started.

If you already have a blog, which almost every small businesses should, syncing it with Twitter lets you seamlessly publish any major company news to both simultaneously. There are dozens of in-house apps on every blogging platform that make this easy to do.

But Twitter is not just a megaphone for your company, it’s also a great way to engage with thousands of customers. Use social tools, such asTweetDeck or HootSuite, to effectively receive feedback from your followers in an organized manner.

2. Facebook

Facebook and Twitter are useful for similar reasons. Both allow you to connect with your audience, start a conversation and update with company news. Why should a business juggle both accounts?

Facebook’s advantage is that the conversation is gathered all in one place. Customers want the opportunity to feel a part of the company they care about, and Facebook allows them to do just that.

Keep in mind that Facebook is much more visual than Twitter, so it’s best to include more than short bursts of text. Post colorful photos, insightful videos or something interesting that’s relevant to your company, valuable for customers and beautiful on your Facebook Timeline.

3. Pinterest

Because the platform is still fairly new, most brands still aren’t sure what to make of Pinterest. But as traffic and engagement are spiking, early adopters have a great opportunity to make their mark on the site before a lot of major brands hop on.

We’ve already seen some pretty creative initiatives from major brands, but even if you don’t have room in your budget for a contest, there are still great ways to benefit.

Pinterest is a social discovery network, but it’s not a platform for self-promotion. Rather than broadcasting what the company is doing, small business owners can crowdsource and create highly visual pinboards for inspiration. Collecting images, logos and websites with good design and clever copywriting will inspire your brand and team, but also show followers that you have an eye for good taste.

4. Foursquare

Location-based social media services might not be best for every brand. First of all, it requires a person to physically check in somewhere that represents your brand, for example a store or an event. If your company is virtual, there’s really no need (unless you’re having an event).

Foursquare is great for restaurants, retail stores and venues, because it allows customers to post reviews and leave tips. Because these tips are from regular customers, newcomers will feel that they’re receiving authentic information that you simply can’t provide as the owner.

Because Foursquare is partnered with Scoutmob and American Express, brands can use these apps to reward customers with discounts for checking in to an establishment. It’s a small bit of courtesy that helps bring happy customers back.

5. YouTube

Don’t let the cat videos fool you, YouTube is a valuable resource for small businesses. Today, technology has made it easy for anyone to create a video without spending a ton on production. Even a smartphone is capable of creating something worthwhile for your audience.

A mountain of content is uploaded every day to YouTube, which can seem intimidating when you’re trying to be heard. The bright side is that you also have access to that content. If you want to know how to do something, there are millions of tutorials on YouTube to help you learn.

But as a leader of your business, you also have something to give the millions of viewers and uploaders. And with the right strategy and engaging content, you can reach a large audience easily.

That being said, don’t expect your videos to go viral every time (or even at all). Instead, focus on creating content that’s thorough and insightful. Some ways to utilize YouTube for marketing include tutorials, interviews with relevant professionals or video blogging about a new product or event.

6. LinkedIn

We all know that LinkedIn is a great resource for finding a job, but there are a lot of great ways that brands can utilize the network for marketing and networking.

The advantage of Linkedin is that you can filter companies through size, industry and geography. By fully completing your company page, it will show up in the search results of potential customers.

While Facebook and Twitter are great resources for feedback from customers, LinkedIn is where you can partake in conversations with like-minded professionals. In addition to networking offline, small business owners should consider joining groups and participating in Q&A forums that are useful to your industry.

7. Google+

Many small businesses join Google+ for SEO purposes and syndication with other Google applications, like AdSense or Gmail.

It’s also a great platform to expand content distribution—many business owners claim it’s easy to gather an audience.

The audience for Google+ is highly engaged, meaning that like Facebook and Twitter, it’s a great tool for conversation. What Google+ has that the others don’t is the Hangout feature. Here businesses can talk about products or ideas face-to-face with consumers, through videochat.

Taken from: http://www.openforum.com/articles/choosing-the-best-social-media/

Essential social media advice for B2B companies

Here are some things the B2B world can learn from B2C social media best practices:

Devise a clear strategy before you dive in (and update yours if you’re already in the water). 

It’s not enough for a business to just “be there” when it comes to social media, and that applies to consumer brands and B2B companies. There have to be good reasons for you to engage in the media you’re using.

Ask yourself these questions, and perhaps even poll your customers or members to get clear answers:

• Is my intended audience already on Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn? This question will become especially relevant when you’re deciding which social media channels your company should use. Chances are your customer base is using LinkedIn, so that should be a no-brainer. It gets a little trickier with Facebook, Twitter, and Google+. It’s even trickier to determine whether your customer base will want to find you in emerging social media sites such as Pinterest and Instagram.

• How is my audience using different social media channels? This takes the previous question a step further. Your customer base may be using Facebook and Twitter to connect with friends and family, but are they also using it for networking or professional reasons? If your customers are on Facebook, but most are not using it to connect with companies for business purposes, that social media avenue may not be a priority. That’s not to say you shouldn’t be there; it’s only to say that you should prioritize the spaces your customers are using for professional reasons.

• What are my benchmarks for success in social media? We establish our benchmarks by taking a look first at how like-minded organizations are succeeding in social media. If we’re trailblazing, our goals will be less number-based and more anecdotally focused. We’ll want to listen first and make adjustments as we go. Eventually, our benchmark may be that our Facebook page is the first point of contact for the majority of our consumers—whether they’re inquiring about products or reaching out for customer-service purposes.

• Do we have the ability to effectively measure our success in the social space?If you don’t have the metrics to tell you how you’re performing against the benchmarks you’ve set for success, it will be difficult to justify increased spending on social media. You should measure more than just “likes” and “follows” month over month; you should be measuring engagement.

Don’t sound so corporate. 

It’s easy to tell social media managers to develop a distinctive voice in social media, but it’s tough to make it happen—especially when you’re writing for B2B. Inherently, these companies are less likely to have an overarching voice to rely on.

If you’re managing the social media presence for, say, Frosted Flakes, you have a built-in voice: Everything’s “grrrrrreat!” There are also layers of legal approval that you have to maneuver before a post goes up, so it’s likely that any semblance of voice could be lost in that process.

Don’t let it discourage you. If your company doesn’t have an agreed-upon voice, make it your own. Be conversational, but most of all be brief.

I’ve seen so many B2B organizations that feel every post needs to be a paragraph long. In my experience working with B2C brands, I consistently see that the more concise posts consistently garner higher engagement rates.

It sounds basic, but always respond to anyone who posts on your wall. We make this a point with our B2C brands, and B2Bs should be doing the same—even if it’s just to say “thanks for posting.”

Taken from: http://www.prdaily.com/Main/Articles/Essential_social_media_advice_for_B2B_companies_10819.aspx