Social Media Marketing: Part 2 – Which Networks Are Right For My Business?

This entry was posted in Blog on by .

In Part 1, I showed you how social media marketing wasn’t necessarily the right thing for your business. I used four principles (and it’s important you understand these):

  1. Know Thyself – Are you the sort of person who loves using social media already, and is constantly tweeting and posting facebook status updates? Or do you have neither the time nor the inclination?
  2. Know the Value of Your Time – Contrary to popular belief, social media marketing isn’t free. Why not? Because it costs you time – time that you could be spending on more useful activities.
  3. Know Your Customers – What sort of people do you actually sell to?
  4. Know How Your Customers Feel About Your Business – Jimmy Choo has ten times as many facebook likes as Clark’s. And almost nobody ‘likes’ mastic asphalt.

I’m now going to add a fifth, equally important principle:

Principle Five: Know What You Want To Get Out Of Social Media Marketing – Increased brand awareness? Direct sales from your website? Engagement with your customers and other audiences?

Only once you understand these five principles are you ready to take the next step and decide which social networks to market on. Let’s consider the contenders.

Facebook

indexPros: It’s huge. Everyone seems to be on Facebook. It’s casual and friendly. It’s very visual. It’s very easy to spend small amounts of money to promote your posts and your page, and to target that promotion at people with the right demographic fit, in the right location and with the right interests.

Cons: People go on Facebook to escape work and business, so it’s a better fit for businesses who sell fun stuff to consumers rather than dull stuff to other businesses. Being very visual means you have to put more effort into making your posts look good. It’s a better fit for some demographics (e.g. women in their 30s) than it is for others (e.g. embarrassed teenage children of those same women in their 30s; teenagers are slowly moving away from Facebook as the social network of choice). Without paying to promote them, your posts probably won’t get noticed by most people because every Facebook user’s feed is full of stuff their actual friends do.

Twitter

twitterPros: It’s huge. Not Facebook huge, but still pretty big. It’s easy to get new followers. (Hint: Find someone else in your industry, then try following the people who follow them.) Posts (‘tweets’) can only be 140 characters, so shouldn’t take too much time to write. Tweet something interesting (or fun) and your followers may retweet it. You can also post images.

Cons: Needs more involved management. Think of Twitter as a communication tool, not a billboard. People will reply to your tweets, and it would be rude not to respond quickly. Do you want to be rude to current or potential customers? Thought not. 140 characters can be annoyingly short. Getting images right can be fiddly if you want them to display automatically. (Hint: Try uploading images that are exactly 1000 pixels on their largest dimension.)

YouTube

youtubePros: Huge, but often overlooked by smaller businesses. Creating interesting video isn’t as difficult as many think it is. Video is a great way to engage with your customers and potential customers. Show people how to use your products. Find popular YouTube users who post review videos of products like yours and send them samples. It’s easy to embed YouTube videos on your own website.

Cons: The chances are that your video won’t ‘go viral’. You may have to spend a little money to promote your videos (although it is easy to target with YouTube advertising).

Linkedin

linkedinPros: It’s all about professionals. The people on Linkedin are professional people and this is the social network they go to to discuss professional matters. It’s easy to show people that you are an expert in your field if you contribute to a Linkedin group about that subject.

Cons: It’s not fun, it’s not exciting and it won’t be a fit for businesses who sell fun and exciting things to fun and exciting people. There are plenty of fun and exciting people on Linkedin, but while they’re on Linkedin, they’re doing dull stuff. (Or looking for a job.)

Google +

google+Pros: Your posts can also show up in Google search results, especially to people who follow you on Google + or who follow someone who +1ed your post. It’s a very flexible platform with all sorts of exciting features like dividing your followers into distinct ‘circles’ so you show some content to one circle and other content to others.

Cons: It’s never been as successful as Google would have liked, and next to Facebook, it’s tiny. It sometimes feels that everyone you meet on Google + is an online marketing consultant.

Pinterest

pinterestPros: Very visual medium, so perfect for companies that sell objects to consumers, especially objects that are themselves very visual. Anything fashion-ey or design-ey should be on Pinterest.

Cons: Does not attract all demographics (note that 80% of users are female). Recent content will show up more than popular content – so it’s important to keep posting new images.

Instagram

instagramPros: Another very visual medium (images and very short videos). Fast-growing network, especially among younger, trendier smartphone-using types. Instagram users are devoted to the network.

Cons: Unless you’re selling to that demographic, it’s hard to get people’s attention.

Forums

mumsnetPros: The social networks that everyone overlooks. If there is an online forum where people go to discuss an activity that you sell a product for, make yourself known.

Cons: Many forums don’t like explicit selling. In fact, even if you are scrupulously polite, expect to encounter the occasional idiot who thinks that advertising is evil and that everything on the internet should be free. Instead, you should be there to help people. People who respect you because you give sound, unbiased advice are people who will buy from you and recommend your advice – and your business.