The world of Social Media can seen a bit overwhelming for newcomers. With so many options to choose from and buzz words like “Hashtags”, “Retweets”, “Fan Gates”, it can be hard to know where to start.
Recently, a lot of our clients have been asking the same question:
“Which social networks do I need?”
There is no straight forward answer, as every clients needs and customer base is different. The first step is identifying your potential online market. Chances are, you already know this if you’ve already made the step to move online or have an existing website.
If you’re reading this, chances are you probably already have a social network account, or even several which you use on a personal level. If not, it’s a great time to start. Play around and get comfortable. Facebook, Twitter, Google+, YouTube and LinkedIn can all be used for personal and business use.
Normally we suggest treating your website as a central hub as usually this is where you ultimately want to drive customers toward to boost sales. From there we usually suggest focusing on a few key areas/ networks – you can always add and expand on those later once you’ve got a fan base (and your head round how they all work!)
A good starting point is:
1) Your Blog (this is also a great way to boost SEO rankings for any website)
Surveys have shown that the public are much more likely to trust (and therefore buy) from companies who have active accounts – it shows them as “real people”, not just some automated system.
Consider your content
It’s important to have content on your social media pages before you start adding friends and followers. When you try to find followers, they’re going to look at the page to see if they want to follow you. So you need to give them a reason to follow you first. Provide valuable information about the industry and don’t focus solely on your products.
Currently the most commonly used networks are Twitter and Facebook and these are a great place to start. LinkedIn is increasingly popular but seen as the more “grown up and serious”, more business side of things. Google+ is starting to take off, but it’s still in relatively early days compared to the other networks and there are no shortages of others out there such as YouTube, Digg, Tumblr and many others.
Each network has their own merit, and specific use. For example, YouTube’s primary focus is video, which isn’t always key to every businesses success.
Facebook offers the ability to have bespoke fan page tabs (essentially mini-websites) to increase fan bases and promote products/ launch competitions, gain subscriptions and much more. You can add “like gates” which encourage users to become fans before they can see certain content – this effectively “subscribes” them to your posts, very much like becoming “friends” on the personal side of Facebook.
There is also some great Facebook functionality which can be leveraged to encourage users to share things with the friends within these tabs and apps. You obviously don’t need to add these advanced features to start with. Many businesses choose to have a simple page, including information about the business, opening times, links and maybe some relevant images. Custom Fan Pages can always be added later.
Help with Social Marketing
There are a variety of tools out there to help make your life easier. We use TweetDeck (free from Twitter) which can be used to post to multiple Twitter accounts and Facebook accounts at once.
Hoot Suite is also very good – it really comes down to personal preference and what works for you.
It is worth considering your content though if posting to multiple networks at once. Different channels/ networks are better suited to different kinds of posts.
Twitter is limited to 140 characters, whereas Facebook is much more flexible and you can add inline images & videos to posts.
Social Networks can be used to promote blog articles, but consider mixing up other posts – think of it from the user perspective; many people use both Twitter and Facebook. You’ll want to attract both – if someone is subscribed on Facebook, what is the incentive for me to follow on Twitter if the posts are all identical?
Your first priority should be building that relationship with people, not pitching your service or product.
We hope that gives a small insight into the world of social networking.
If you’d like to know more, or get things kickstarted for your business, get in touch for a chat.