By Greta Cuyler
We all know that it is important for a company to have a social media presence. Gone are the days of a simple listing in the phone book. Now, it’s “what’s your Facebook page? Twitter handle? Instagram?” You know that being on social media is crucial, but what does that really mean? Creating company profiles is pretty simple, but do you need to be on all channels or just some? What’s the advantage of Pinterest versus LinkedIn? What does Facebook offer that Snapchat lacks?
Before you start “doing social media,” know the audience you are trying to reach, what social networks your target markets use and what type of content works best on each network. Choose the right social networks for your business or you could ultimately end up wasting time, effort and money.
Don’t worry if you don’t have all the answers, we’re here. Here’s a quick overview of some of the benefits and drawbacks of the most popular networks:
- Facebook: This is by far the biggest social network and probably the easiest to use, although the user demographics have been skewing 40+ during the past several years as Millennials jump to Instagram and Snapchat. People use Facebook for entertainment, so businesses should post light industry news, photos and video to garner page views, engagements and shares. Facebook algorithms favor photos and videos over text. Facebook minimizes the visibility of business pages to encourage targeted advertising to reach more viewers and changes its algorithms often and without warning. Hashtags (#) before words and phrases help organize the network’s content into topics. For example, you can type in #nurses and see a chronological list of everyone who has used that hashtag in their posts. The recently unveiled Facebook Live feature allows users to post live videos, sharing their experience in real time and getting instant user feedback.
- Twitter: On this channel, users share news as it happens, in 140 characters or less. Businesses can share quick updates, photos and industry news. It’s a great place to connect with other businesses and it’s a platform that people use to send and receive information instantaneously. Given the massive volume of information on Twitter, hashtags are crucial and useful. Looking for news and posts about the iPhone7? Simply type #iphone7 into the search box and all of the posts with the requested hashtag will appear. However, given the volume on this channel, it will take a time commitment for a business to post at least three tweets a day in order to be visible. However, businesses can advertise on Twitter for increased visibility. The ability to view live video, via Periscope, is gaining in popularity.
- LinkedIn: This platform revolves around jobs, career advice and thought leadership. Businesses create company pages and share job postings, industry news and company updates. It’s also a great place to showcase the culture of your company through photos and descriptive captions. There is also real value in joining and participating in industry groups, but this can be time-consuming.
- Instagram: As older people began using Facebook, the younger generation jumped to Instagram. Instead of text as the primary driver, photos are front and center on Instagram. This platform also uses hashtags, which is helpful for tagging and organizing information. If your business is a retail organization or has a culture that supports 1-2 great photos per day, this may be the channel for you. But if you only have sporadic photos— or poor quality images— to share, it may be better to skip this one.
- Pinterest: Acting as an electronic bulletin board, this network allows users to save images they like onto “Pinterest boards.” It’s great for people collecting recipes, interior design ideas or wardrobe ideas. Companies that have a lot of image-focused ideas or extensive product lines will excel on this network. When people “pin” your product image on one of their Pinterest bulletin boards, other users who click on this image will be directed to the source page on your website. This makes Pinterest a good channel for ecommerce companies. This network historically attracted more female users, but more men have started using Pinterest recently.
- Snapchat: The ultimate network for Millennials and teens, this photo-centric network is all about entertainment. Users’ Snapchat posts disappear after 24 hours. There are also fun filters users can apply to photos (think devil horns, funny hats and funhouse mirrors). A new feature allows users to buy temporary filters around specific buildings so that any user who posts to Snapchat within that area will automatically get your specially-designed filter on their photos. This can be great to create buzz about your event on social media. However, because the network doesn’t use hashtags and photos disappear after 24 hours, businesses can’t use it as an archive to document events, photos and video.
Evaluating your business, its goals and the potential customers you are trying to reach will take a bit of time, but it’s a wise investment before you begin to execute any kind of social media strategy.
Greta Cuyler is a public relations and social media specialist at CMA. Looking to create a social media strategy that makes people sit up and take notice? CMA can help! Contact us at 800.852.4269 or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.