Many of us have been there
Social media has so many options; it’s like standing at an elaborate restaurant buffet, asking, “Where to start?”
- Slowly with an appetizer?
- Dig into the side dishes?
- Or go hog-wild and dive straight for the Buffalo wings, pizza, and desserts?
So let’s clarify
In order to narrow down your starting point and develop an effective social media marketing strategy, you have to understand what your choices are, what each offers, and how to leverage them.
Having this solid understanding is essential because social media marketing is as varied as it is indispensable. For many businesses, it's no longer an option, and it’s incredibly lucrative when done correctly.
Social Media is constantly evolving
It’s undeniable that social media has come a long way over a short period of time.
It was only about 20 years ago that sites like Six Degrees and Friendster arrived on the scene, to be rapidly followed by LinkedIn, MySpace, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.
These social media giants now account for millions of users and billions of dollars in revenue every year (for themselves, as well as for their users). Their influence makes them the perfect place to apply your marketing, sales, and branding efforts as long as you keep up with the changes.
Social media began as a means to:
- Create networks and communities
- Share information
- Share ideas
- Share messages and content such as videos
But now it has become so much more! Let’s look at the buffet.
The four main entrées and heavy hitters in social media are LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.
Which, or all of them, best suits you and your business needs?
With that in mind, let’s take a brief look at what’s available to put on your plate.
LinkedIn launched in 2002 and is one of the first social media platforms. It has never deviated from its primary purpose as a professional networking site for corporate professionals, home-based businesses, freelancers, and telecommuters. It’s a simple idea, but oh so powerful.
LinkedIn likes quality, not quantity
This isn’t about being “friends” and getting a lot of “likes.” This site is for hardcore networking as a means of building strategic relationships. LinkedIn users are not concerned with how many contacts they make, but how high quality they are. In fact, LinkedIn won’t display your number of connections if you have more than 500.
Even so, it’s mighty
LinkedIn is one of the most efficient ways to locate others who can help you or contribute to the success of your business. You have access to the top players in your industry.
LinkedIn encourages you to:
- Post your resume and business card
- Introduce others to, or get introduced to key players and decision-makers
- Showcase your talents and integrity through recommendations and endorsements
- Look at job openings exclusive to LinkedIn
- Join groups that specifically target your interests and needs, so you don’t waste time with useless networking groups
Let’s look at the next satisfying entrée.
Facebook came on the scene in 2004 but was targeted only towards college students.
The founders of Facebook, however, quickly noted how addicting its entrée had become to its users, a real chocolate-like craving in many cases, and by 2006, anyone more than 13-years-old could have a profile even if they were not enrolled in a university.
Facebook is a marketing dream for businesses
The overwhelming success and importance of Facebook come down to the ingenuity and adaptability of its founders to cater to their users every whim, and its compatibility with third-party software. See a glimpse of what your company could partake in:
- Live events
It’s clear why Facebook is one of the first dishes people put on their social media marketing plate to get their business branded, marketed, and known.
Facebook makes it easy
Facebook is one of the best ways to keep clients and potential clients up-to-date with what you and your business are doing. You can:
- Post about events or special offers
- Share videos
- Host live events
- Post tutorials
- And of course, advertise!
Many people don’t even use any other marketing except Facebook, which can be risky because you don't own the real estate your content occupies. Still, Facebook has made itself indispensable to most businesses.
Still hungry? Let’s keep going.
In 2006, only two years after Facebook, Twitter made its splash onto the buffet table with its micro-blogging platform. At first, it allowed users a maximum of 140 characters, but in 2017 they changed that limit to 280 characters.
Brevity makes Twitter unique
This platform forces people to condense their thoughts, news, or messages for maximum impact.
The main power of Twitter, however, really is the way people interact with each other. You can “follow” or “be followed” and build an entire network specific to your marketing need with just a few words!
Limited characters but a tremendous impact
Twitter is one of the best ways to offer small, juicy tidbits that whet peoples’ appetites and engage them. Specifically, you can
- Answer and ask questions
- Share links
- Tell jokes
- Share information
- Retweet something relevant to your followers
- Drop an enticing morsel that leads readers back to your site or sales page
- Create comments (in good taste) that people will feel compelled to discuss
- “Listen in” and get useful feedback about services or products to help dial in advertising efforts
- Offer customer service
Twitter has also changed how we use symbols
It’s commonplace now, but using the “@” symbol, hearing "retweet" in conversation, and applying the “#” hashtag symbol were at one time very new. But using the above are now compelling ways for people to mention others, build connections, and help spread information. It’s pretty clear why this entrée is a must-try!
Let's taste one more delicious dish, shall we?
Instagram launched in 2010 and created its own space on the buffet table by being a smartphone-only app. It’s now desktop-accessible, but as its name implies, Instagram focuses on videos and pictures. Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012 and added many new features. Now you can link your Facebook page to your Instagram account, making it even more effective.
Its formidable visual platform makes it so popular
A picture is indeed worth a thousand words, and many brands and businesses leverage this to share videos and product photos to build relationships with customers.
What’s cool is that you can filter and edit your images to look as appealing or as weird as you want, so they stand out! Think about it: if you can make your images more attractive, unique, original-or better yet, unexpected - people are going to notice.
Instagram users look at images and videos from others in their main news feed, and of course, many businesses pay for their content to appear to their targeted audience.
Now that we know what’s on the buffet table, let’s dig in!
It’s pretty clear how effective this smorgasbord of social media can be to your marketing efforts, but how do you want to partake in it?
We’ll get into this in our next post: Strategies to Getting the Most out of Social Media
If this post got you hungry and ready for more, the chef highly recommends you try one or more of our Digital Marketing Courses available à la carte. Bon appétit!