It wouldn’t be an exaggeration to say that your next new customers are likely to be waiting for you on social media. According to one recent report, the number of social media users globally has recently surpassed 3.5 billion, with a quarter of a billion added in just the last 12 months.
This means that practically half the planet’s population is now using social media (perhaps right now) – and this statistic actually rises to 59% if only people aged at least 13 are included.
However, social media users do also remain scattered across multiple platforms, due to such factors as personal choice, content style and what they use each platform for. Each platform can attract noticeably different demographics, which means that no single social media platform is a case of ‘one size fits all’ for businesses, either.
Therefore, to effectively and engagingly market your products or services, it’s worth investing a little time in deciphering where your target audience is active – and what sort of content attracts them. To get you started, here is a rundown of the best social media platforms for marketing a local business, and how you should consider using them.
For keeping users updated on what is happening as it actually happens, the micro-blogging site Twitter is dynamic – and dynamite. Its MAU count of 330 million is formidable, and the 280-character limit of tweets helps you to make them informative while still easy to quickly digest.
This can prove especially useful if you use your Twitter account as a customer service channel, as many businesses, both small and substantial, like to do. In fact, some advertisers have reported receiving over 80% of their social customer service requests through Twitter alone.
Essentially, Twitter is a great way to show how responsive your business can be. Whether you are using the platform at any one time to address queries or complaints or to post short, snappy and fun responses to the latest industry news, you are only ever a few characters away from engaging your audience.
A key aspect of using Twitter for business, however, is ensuring that you communicate in an agreed and distinct tone of voice. With such short-format content being posted at such a high frequency, it can be easy to accidentally divert from an agreed strategy, becoming too conversational or stern in the process, even unintentionally. On the other hand, when Twitter is used correctly, it’s a wonderfully effective way of keeping your audience engaged and informed on what you are doing.
This photo and video-sharing network has been Facebook-owned since 2010 and has a strong following of its own – a billion MAUs, in fact. The highly visual nature of Instagram means that the site lends itself well to the pursuits of fashion, lifestyle and entertainment brands.
However, you should be careful not to underestimate the platform’s versatility. With more than half of the site’s users being 34 years old or younger, Instagram’s recently-launched IGTV tool allows users to post this substantial demographic segment’s favourite form of content – video. This makes it a great platform for putting yourself in front of a younger and potentially long-lasting audience, with Instagram giving you the opportunity to help people to visualise exactly what you do.
Instagram also presents an opportunity for businesses in any sector to think creatively in their marketing strategies. If you don’t necessarily have an instantly stunning image of a product to publish, for example, you could instead share a short video explaining the benefits of it. Or if you provide a service, why not film or photograph the process of that service being delivered?
At the very least, Instagram is a platform that can showcase the true personality of your business to your audience.
In the first quarter of 2019, Facebook had 2.38 billion monthly active users (MAUs), making this social network the world’s largest. In short, with almost a third of the world’s population periodically using Facebook, you can’t afford it to ignore this platform.
But this isn’t the only reason why Facebook is a good place to start with your social media marketing. The site suits content of almost all formats, including text, images and videos, but you should also remember that content needs to spark meaningful interactions if Facebook’s algorithm is to make it prominent.
It’s almost an expectation now that businesses of any size should manage a Facebook business page, which makes it a worthwhile choice for firms in any sector, and an integral part of any social media marketing campaign. Even if what your organisation does is too complex to detail in a short social media post, Facebook is a great place for linking to the content that you publish on your site, thereby encouraging visits to landing pages, blog posts and new content.
Far from just a place that people might occasionally visit to advertise their CV or look for a new job, the Microsoft-owned LinkedIn is now the social media site for professionals. It’s a place to see industry gurus networking, sharing content and building their brands.
In light of this, it has obvious appeal if you are looking for connections within your sector, especially given the wealth of advertising tools ready to use on the platform. The possibilities include showing ads at the side of the site’s interface and submitting personalised ads to LinkedIn inboxes.
In terms of marketing your business to customers, LinkedIn also has a business page feature, where you can publish linked content from your website, or standalone articles and posts specific to the platform. It can also be a good place for other LinkedIn users, even customers, to learn more about your business, as well as a useful resource for potential applicants researching your business.
It’s ironic that although Google tried and failed to forge a social media giant in the form of Google+, the Google-owned video-sharing site YouTube has become one of the planet’s leading social media sites while seemingly barely trying. Not only that, but it’s also now the second largest search engine worldwide.
With long form video no problem for the platform, it’s a great place to get creative and detail to your audience exactly what it is that you do. You could capture attention with interviews, Q&A sessions, tutorial videos, updates on new products, services and offers, and show people the tangible benefits of your business. Meanwhile, transcribing your videos could also help both hearing-impaired viewers and your own SEO efforts.
Unlike Instagram, YouTube doesn’t appeal more or less to any particular demographic, and has an even split of male and female viewers. Although younger users do tend to spend more time on the platform, YouTube is nonetheless a channel that you can practically guarantee every part of your target audience will use, whether on desktop or mobile.
Identifying The Right Platforms For You
There’s nothing wrong with ‘testing the waters’, one site after another, as you discover the best social networks on which to market your business online. You may find that one works better than another, or that managing multiple platforms becomes far too time-consuming. Essentially, it’s about figuring out a strategy that works for how you work.
While the optimal use of each platform does involve some creativity on your part, keeping things simple is still crucial. A multi-platform approach won’t be any use if you can’t use each channel effectively, but you should also be sure to dedicate a reasonable amount of time to each one.
If one site isn’t working after a few months, try another, and so forth. However, when you do start to notice good results, you’ll know that you’ve found the right platform, or platforms, to help your business to thrive. Follow our upcoming Marketing Mondays articles for more great social media marketing tips.