By now we should all know that any interaction through web-based or mobile devices which creates a dialogue between two or more people is considered social media. The key to quality social media though, is that it provides a medium to display user-generated content and encourages engagement.
These social platforms allow for user generated “posts”, so the members decide what will be seen and what will not. Each application and site has its own display of, and variation on, the definition of what a post is. They are all very similar: videos, images, links, or just words. What’s important to point out is that: It is content posted for others to view, review, and engage with.
The Major Platforms: Where You Should Be
When it comes to your online presence and ‘Which platforms you should be on’, you will get different answers from different people. From my experience, you should focus your efforts on the following platforms, especially the first 3:
- Facebook Largely image/video/text based. Posts are put as users’ status or on others’ “walls”.This can act as a very successful feedback tool and it is a great tool for local businesses. It has more of an open forum format. With the introduction of timelines, branding will become more prominent.
- Twitter Largely text based. Posts are in the form of less than 140 character “tweets”.Commonly used for branding. Retweets and trends are the quickest ways to get something noticed. 58% of users follow brands to find discounts. 39% of users follow brands for contests. If you have a sale, event, contest, or any limited time special, this is the place to post it.
- Instagram Largely image based, video-sharing and social networking. Posts are pictures and videos taken by its users, who can then apply digital filters to them, and share them on a variety of social networking services, such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and Flickr.
- Pinterest Largely image based. Posts are categorized. There are public comments on posts. Do you have a business with unique or new product ideas? Post them to Pinterest, and let its popularity carry the weight for you. This site is perfect for boutique or specialty stores. When posting, keep in mind, the American Pinterest population is over 60% female. The ratios are much more in most other countries.
- LinkedIn Largely text based. Posts are business oriented, and generally in the form of updates. Hands down, this is the best ‘tried and true’ method for business to business communications. With almost 2.5 million different businesses on LinkedIn, you have a vast opportunity to network with companies that could help you.
- YouTube Largely video based. Posts are videos and a description. There are public posts, or comments, under all videos. This is the king of viral marketing. If you don’t have videos to upload yourself, it is really only useful as a buffer for your other social media efforts. However, if you do have videos to upload, by all means use it. This is popular for service industries and industries with complex products. Tutorials are very popular. Consider your options, and then decide which network or networks to focus your campaign on.
- Google+ Largely video/text/picture based. Posts can be isolated to certain “circles” of friends. This is a very consumer driven site. It also lends itself well to Google’s other features. For our current purposes, that is the search function. Since it is so customer driven and pages from Google+ gain ranks in search results, this is a prime candidate for any business with a focused niche market.
Social media marketing can wear all the hats of your business. It can increase sales, decrease customer service costs, acquire new customers, increase brand recognition, and more. It can influence nearly every aspect of your business. You simply have to condition it to do so.
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