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Choosing the Right Social Media Platform for Your Small Business

An increasing number of small businesses today are incorporating the use of social media platforms into their marketing strategies. For small businesses looking to get started with social media it can be intimidating selecting which platform to use, learning how to use it to gain the most exposure and sales-conversion potential, and the ongoing process of maintaining your brand and business identity.

social media

social mediaAn increasing number of small businesses today are incorporating the use of social media platforms into their marketing strategies. For small businesses looking to get started with social media it can be intimidating selecting which platform to use, learning how to use it to gain the most exposure and sales-conversion potential, and the ongoing process of maintaining your brand and business identity.

Two factors, or challenges, that face any organization attempting to properly utilize social media are consistency and ongoing maintenance. What this essentially means is you will need to allocate time towards regularly curating, sharing, and creating high-value content to engage with your social network. For organizations that have dedicated social media staff, this is less of an issue; however, for many small businesses this will be a shared or added responsibility to existing workloads.

Consider Your Intended Outcome

The first steps when planning an overall strategy, is to consider what the main business goal would be. Is the goal to drive direct sales in to your physical store? Is the goal lead generation or brand awareness? Is the aspiration to drive website traffic or search engine optimization (SEO)?

Your requirements and needs will vary depending on your business, but it is important to be clear about your intent, or primary objective, as it will help guide you in selecting the most beneficial social media platforms to utilize, and in what capacity.

Know Your Audience

Besides understanding your goals for social media you need to identify your target audience and demographic. Are your audience business professionals, young adults, children, or seniors? This is one of the most important elements to clearly identify for your business since this will help you determine which social media platform to utilize. For instance if your target market were a business professional then LinkedIn would be the ideal platform. Or if your target audience is a design professional then perhaps Pinterest and Instagram are better platforms to make use of. Figure out your specific target audience and market.

Ultimately, the true ‘value’ of social media marketing is its ability to directly engage with specific demographics. So don’t waste your time by using the wrong platform. Research and find out what platforms your target audience favors, then adapt and implement those as your primary modes of social media engagement.

Content Is King

After you have classified your business, pinpointed your goals and determined your target audience the next step is evaluating your content. Remember that using social media is an ongoing process that requires regular content to be published. This can either be curated and culled from third party sources like blogs, or can be original content that you create yourself.

A combination of quality curated content as well as original material is typically recommended as the best way to get the most out of a social media strategy. In order to appeal with your audience, it’s important to not only show them that you’re engaged with the same things they are (by sharing, re-tweeting, or re-blogging), but that you also happen to be a thought leader or expert in a certain field. This can be achieved by sharing relevant original content.

The most successful companies set schedules to routinely publish content that is relevant and of high value to their audience.

Analysis and Metrics

While it can be easy to be drawn into a numbers game with social media, it’s important to understand the value of social media for your business rather than just keeping track of how many fans or followers you have.

Incorporating frequent analysis and keeping in mind your intended outcomes can help to keep you and your social media strategy on track. For instance if your intended outcome is to increase leads you’ll need to actively monitor and measure how many leads are coming from what social media channels.

Understanding what your audience is responding to can also be a good way to measure how you’re tracking. Regularly looking at what your most popular posts have been can help you to continually tweak your strategy and continue to deliver relevant content that your audience is interested in. For channels that don’t have their own insights there are several options, both free and subscription based, that you can use to monitor this.

Through regular analysis you may also find that some platforms are working better than others, this can assist with refining your strategy overtime.

So Which Platform Is The Right One?

Like with so many things in business, the answer is “it depends”. As outlined above, with the plethora of social media platforms on offer, your primary concern as a business owner are the tangible benefits to your business, as well as where your audience resides online.

For a quick rundown or cheat sheet into the major platforms available today, consider the following:

  • LinkedIn – A professional network that is most valuable as a tool of B2B engagement.
  • Twitter – Allows for informal broadcasts and direct, almost-real time engagement with an audience.
  • Facebook – A dizzying population of users that can be segmented according to precise niche demographics, as well as directly targeted using Facebook’s own paid-advertising service.
  • YouTube – The most popular video broadcasting networking right now. Allows products or original content to be presented and, in the appropriate context, can also be monetized as an additional revenue stream.
  • Google+ – Google’s answer to Facebook. Growing in popularity, and is an emerging factor in Search Engine Optimization.
  • Pinterest – Allows users to share or ‘pin’ images or video into curated collections. Known for having a significant female user base.
  • Instagram – A mobile based platform for sharing photos and videos. Typically a younger demographic and very popular among more visual based industries eg. design, fashion, travel.

Just remember that when you are starting out, it’s important to appreciate the amount of time it can take to build a significant social media identity and audience. Don’t expect to achieve this on day one. Identify the most relevant platforms, evaluate the time you spend maintaining them, then adapt and refine your social strategy accordingly. The ability to continually engage with your audience is far more important than being on every platform available.

More and more Social media is becoming a key component of any online marketing strategy which in turn is a corner stone to any online presence. In our article, The 11 Essentials to a Successful Website, we have ranked online marketing strategy as number 10.

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Social Media

How to Define Your Brand’s “Twitter Voice”

twitter

Your Twitter is failing, if you don’t have a strategy and strong brand image behind it.

That’s where your Twitter voice comes in. It’s the strategy and tone that should flow easily through your entire profile. Want to know how to find yours? Read on below.

What Is a Twitter Brand?

To define what a Twitter brand is, let’s look at someone who’s rocking their own unique one. That brand…Wendy’s. The other-wise and previously non-opinionated chain makes a splash on Twitter.

No one was expecting them to “come after” other burger chains or even individual users like they do. It made a lot of people not only laugh but respect Wendy’s more.

And due to the way they conduct themselves on Twitter, we know Wendy’s doesn’t mess around with sub-par ingredients and practices.

Like the time they tweeted about using never frozen beef, unlike other big chains. A twitter user (who has since deactivated their account) tweeted them back saying that was impossible.

Wendy’s fired back a tweet saying something like “don’t blame us because you forgot refrigerators exist”.

A harmless comment in the long run, but it got the point across. We could write a whole article about Wendy’s tweets, but we’ll leave you with one more before we move on.

In a response to Bailey (@Mr._Anderson 36) tweet “@Wendy’s Where’s the beef?” The account replied:

“@Mr_Anderson36 In our cheeseburgers and on our timeline”. In case you’re behind on the times, beef is another term for a drama or disagreement.

Not into the catty stuff? Smart Circle tweets are inspiring, instead.

Defining Your Own Twitter Voice: How to Do It

First thing first, you need to understand yourself as a brand. What’s your image? What’s your brand definition? What’s your mission? If you are or you work at a well-established business, this is probably all wrapped up in your past work.

That means the about page where your mission statement and purpose are, but also the tone in past articles and publications. Even your Instagram captions define and describe your brand.

So if you can’t write out who your brand is and describe it in three ways, do some research. That’s step one.

Step 2: Find Your Audience’s Interests

Wendy’s is lucky in that they have a pretty wide audience. They know that they’re the “one” different competitor between McDonald’s and Burger King. At least that’s how they’ve always marketed themselves.

And they know that their followers see them that way too. If they didn’t, they’d go to one of the other chains instead of Wendy’s. So it was easy for Wendy’s to know that poking fun at the other brands would go over well, as a marketing tactic.

But you may not have that clear cut of an audience and there’s no one secret to finding out what they like. Okay, there is – research and hard work. Check out your current followers and audience. Who do they follow?

Who do they retweet? What tone are those tweets? That’s where you should aim to meet them (where they already are).

Step 3 (The Final Step): Be Consistent

Wendy’s doesn’t always tweet mean things, but if you look through their Twitter, you can definitely see their attitude. You don’t have to be catty or clever all the time but sprinkle those tweets through.

You want people to expect that from you. Deliver it more than or at fifty percent of the time.

Follow these steps and you’ll find your Twitter voice. It’ll take research and practice, but you’ll come off as and be more authentic along the way.

Want to know that we practice what we preach? Follow us on Twitter.

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How Social Media Can Influence Buying Decisions?

ppc advertising on mobiles

ppc advertising on mobilesSocial media started out as an online platform for people to share personal photos and communicate with others. However, it has systemically evolved to become the holy grail of marketing.

Recent research reveals that social media is playing a major role on influencing buying decisions. This means that it’s about time that companies start paying more attention to their social strategy.

It’s unfortunate to see companies diving into social media marketing without any clear strategy. These firms only end up with disappointment. There’s strong evidence that shows that if social media is approached correctly, it can influence people’s buying decisions. But, how does social media influence buying decisions?

Buying Decisions

In order for you to understand how social media influences buying decisions, you should comprehend the psychology behind decisions. Buying decisions are much more complex than you think. Social media has gained a lot of traction for influencing consumer decisions because of these reasons:

Emotions can Influence Decisions

Buyers are influenced by emotions. People make buying decisions using both the right and left regions of the brain. They aren’t robots, so it’s highly unlikely that they’ll make decisions based only on analytical and logical basis. Think about when you’re buying a smartphone. You may have seen a photo of a cell phone on a social media post by the company selling it and then rationalized your buying decisions by checking its specs. This can happen with anyone.

Indeed, many people who purchase something say that they landed on it and had not thought about buying something like it. The reason is that emotions can sometimes affect our decisions and we can end up buying something we hadn’t planned.

We Are Naturally Suspicious

Sales representatives usually find it hard to convince people to buy. That’s because we’re naturally suspicious. Strong emphasis must be placed on establishing trust and credibility with customers before one can pitch their idea. In this regard, social media is extremely effective as people trust a product when they see that their family or friend have bought the same. They’re influenced by people they can trust.

Crowd Mentality

People feel safer to move in large groups. That’s because human beings generally have crowd mentality. Thus, it’s easier to sway people when they’re in group. That is one of the reasons social media is so powerful in influencing buying decisions. People will be convinced to buy something if they see their peers purchasing the same. All a company has to do is show them how their friends and peers have benefited from the same product. Thus, positive customer reviews are extremely important for social media marketing.

These are just a few of the ways in which social media influences people’s buying decisions. If you’re looking to promote your product or service, you should consider using social media as it has the ability to reach potential customers and influence their purchase decision.

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Which Social Media Platform Performs The Best For Start Ups

startup

startupSocial media is an essential marketing tool for startups. It’s a great way to get your message out there for not much money, although it does take some effort to get noticed. When you launch your business, it’s a good idea to establish a presence on social media as soon as you can.

Stretching yourself across every social media platform isn’t really possible, especially when you’re short on time and money, so choosing the best one or two platforms to focus on is smart. There are several big name players in social media, and choosing between them take some thought.

Does One Social Media Platform Work for All Startups?

The first question that you might have is whether there’s one social media platform that will work for all startups. If there’s a king of all social media, you want to be on it. However, there isn’t exactly one social media platform that will work for everyone. Each platform has different benefits and it suitable for various content and differing audiences.

B2B brands might find that professional network LinkedIn is the best option for them. Fashion retailers could find a highly visual platform like Instagram to be the right choice for them. You can expand your social media presence later, but if you want to start with just one, you need to think about which one is best for your startup specifically.

What to Consider to Choose the Best Network

You might want to take the overall numbers of each of the highest performing platforms. If you’re looking for the biggest audience, you’ll find it on Facebook where more than two billion people can be found each month. It’s followed by the likes of YouTube, WhatsApp, Instagram and Tumblr. However, numbers aren’t everything. It’s not just about founding the most users, but also the most suitable audience for your startup. When you’re trying to decide which platform to start with, you should consider the demographics of your target audience.

Younger social media users are increasingly choosing platforms like Instagram and Snapchat over Facebook. Pinterest has more female users than male, while LinkedIn is clearly better for targeting other businesses and professionals.

You need to think about your goals before you choose a social media platform. What sort of content will you be sharing? How do you want to communicate with your audience?

The Benefits of the Major Players

Every social media platform offers different benefits to startups. It’s important to know how each one could help you to reach your audience and promote your startup business.

Facebook

Facebook has the most users of any social network, but it’s important to recognize that things are starting to shift. There’s a great range of users across different ages, locations and genders, but younger people are starting to move away from it. Facebook is excellent for posting a range of different content, from links and text posts to images and videos. It also has its own PPC advertising platform, and you can pay to promote your posts too.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is best for any startups trying to reach professionals and other businesses. If you’re promoting a B2B business, looking for staff or perhaps trying to connect with other business people for funding purposes, LinkedIn is a great choice.

Twitter

Twitter can help you to get in touch with professionals, but it’s good for B2C brands too. The short posts can be good for conversation and banter, and several brands have found success with humorous Twitter interactions. Twitter doesn’t have the highest user base, but there are still plenty of people on there.

Instagram

Instagram is a visual platform, perfect for sharing photos, videos and Stories, which lets you share a series of photos or video clips. The audience on Instagram is a little younger than some other platforms, so it’s ideal for finding a younger audience.

Using Social Media Together With Your Blog

Blog posts provide the perfect content to share on social media. A business blog is an essential content marketing strategy, so get started by setting up a blog on your website. By writing regular posts and sharing them on your social media channels, you can bring more people to your site. When you share on social media, for example by creating a Facebook post or tweeting a link to your blog post, you can use social media tools to monitor the performance of your post and see how people are engaging in it. For example, Facebook offers you analytics so you can see how many people have clicked on your link, on your post or on your page.

You need to choose the right social media platform for your startup by considering your audience. Platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn may be better for sharing blog posts than more visual networks.

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