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Published By Janet Gershen-Siegel at April 29th, 2018
If you’re wondering which are the biggest and best social media platforms where your business should be, you’re not alone. With a myriad of choices out there, how can you know what’s best?
And more importantly, how can you know where your customers will be?
Drop whatever you’re doing and start researching. Yes, now.
Why? Because while it’s tempting to just get onto every social media platform there is, don’t do that. Why not? Because you’ll burn out. And you’ll also waste time and money. It’s a bad idea. Don’t try to be all things to all people.
Here’s where understanding what’s called a buyer persona pays off. Hubspot explains it best.
A buyer persona is a semi-fictional representation of your ideal customer based on market research and real data about your existing customers.
When creating your buyer persona(s), consider including customer demographics, behavior patterns, motivations, and goals. The more detailed you are, the better.
A buyer persona will help you make marketing choices, too. So it’s important. Also, there are any number of lenders which will want to see a business plan in detail. That usually means buyer persona information.
Know what your customers and prospects are like? Great! Now it’s finally time to look at social media channels.
We’ve done the searching for you and found great social media channels for you.
Let’s start with the 800 pound gorilla.
Facebook is truly, astoundingly, enormous. According to Statista, Facebook has just about 2.2 billion monthly users worldwide. And that’s as of the end of the first quarter of 2018. Yes, that’s ‘billion’, with a B.
In the United States and Canada, Facebook has about 239 million monthly users, per Statista.
In America, Facebook’s distribution by age and gender (as of 2018) works out to a larger percentage of men being on Facebook when you look at ages 18 – 34. However, for ages 45 and up, the numbers flip, with a higher percentage of women within the overall user community.
That is, about 20% of US Facebook users are women ages 45 and up, whereas only about 16% of Facebook users were men aged 45 and up. And with the genders combined, 25 – 34 year olds make up one-quarter of all American Facebook users.
Facebook is so large that, even if your customers aren’t in its demographics at all you need to have a presence there. These are people such as children. Technically, the minimum age for Facebook is 13. But there are parents who look the other way and allow their underage children on the site.
And after all, even if everyone on Facebook was thirteen or older, parents and grandparents do make most of the purchasing decisions for children. And Facebook has (according to a 2011 study cited by the Atlantic) a good quarter of all American children on it, ages 8 – 12.
To not be on Facebook means you are missing out on customers, big time. Even if you don’t sell on Facebook, you will need to have a presence there, however small it is. Even if you don’t have a presence there, someone inevitably will create one for you. And you can’t count on them to be kind.
Facebook has a few great ways for you to interact with prospects and customers. Groups and pages help you get your message across. Groups allow for more interaction. But you may find you have less control. Pages are best for sending out a message, such as an ad. But don’t expect too much interaction unless your page has a lot of followers.
Even small companies can sometimes go through social media crises. For your company, there are a few things you can do proactively.
Write a social media policy. Today. Having a policy will give you a road map of what to do if it all goes to hell in a hand basket.
Install someone to manage social media. Don’t make it your cousin who ‘knows computers’. But it may be hard to afford someone. Still, if you are handling it yourself, you’ve got to spend some time and attention on it.
Address concerns as well as you can. Here’s where a preexisting policy will do wonders. Most people communicating in a crisis are either confused or curious, or have a legit complaint. Address those people. For someone who just wants to complain, decide if you want to let them vent. But deleting every negative thing said is not a great idea, either. Again, here’s where a policy will help.
Hang in there. Lots of companies have gone through a social media crisis. They are no fun but most businesses will survive it.
Next up is YouTube.
The video platform of choice also has a robust search engine, good enough that it’s second only to Google. Yes, the YouTube search engine is bigger than Bing and Yahoo. There are a good billion mobile video views per day, according to Brandwatch. YouTube is also the third-most visited site on the internet, after Google and Facebook.
If Facebook is the 800 pound gorilla, then YouTube is the 700 pounder.
Don’t think your product or service will go over well on YouTube? Terrified of appearing on camera? Don’t think you can attract attention? Think again.
While the biggest videos have views in the billions, you don’t need that much in order to make an impact. It’s better for you to target your customer base well and make as many views count as possible.
Ideas for videos can include a look at your operations, or a how-to, or a demonstration. Health clubs can demonstrate exercises or show off equipment. Auto repair shops can show the parts of an engine and explain how it works. Accounting firms can bring to light more obscure tax deductions.
If you don’t like appearing on camera, you can always go with a slideshow. PowerPoint has lots of good templates; just pick one and add your own verbiage or pictures, or even a voice over.
A favorite – and free – YouTube app is a Chrome extension called VidIQ. Get information on how your videos are really doing. Get a handle on the best tags to use. And check out your competition’s tags. Good tags will make it easier to find your videos. They are a must if you want to be successful.
Can’t appear all the time? That’s okay. You don’t have to release a video every single day. But do some experimenting. You may do better with more than one in a week, say. And don’t forget – you can schedule when a video goes public. So if you’re feeling inspired and have the time, record several and then schedule them.
Better photography deserves a better image platform, and that’s exactly what Instagram is. Instagram skews heavily toward younger folks, with nearly two-thirds of all 18 – 29 year olds reporting they are on the platform, according to Statista. Monthly usage climbs every month, and has since 2013. In June of 2018, per Statista, there were one billion users worldwide. Yes, a billion.
Here’s where equipment, or hiring a professional, will do you the most good. A few blurry photos from your phone’s camera are not going to cut it here. Selfies are fine in smaller doses, but Instagram really shines with good-looking imagery.
Don’t think your business can be beautifully photographed? Think again. You can show off new machinery or your location, or just your employees, if you like. As with other platforms, even a small presence is better than none.
Browse through the most popular Instagram accounts. In particular, focus on the ones that are popular and the owner isn’t a celebrity. It’s easy for someone like Kim Kardashian to get a very large Instagram following. But for your local florist, there has to be something more. So look at popular accounts, particularly in your industry. What do they all have in common? How do they manage various social media channels?
For a lot of great accounts, there is a look not just to the individual posts but to the presentation of everything in the profile. So take a look at not just a post or two but also click on a user name and check out the profile. Here’s one that looks particularly appealing: https://www.instagram.com/readcommendations/. The colors all work together in very interesting ways. It never looks repetitious.
Your company may not have quite so much design behind it, but either a unified look or an eclectic look can work. Experiment and see what happens.
In Part 2, we’ll go into more great social media channels your business should be on. So be sure to stay tuned! Check out how this will help your company leverage the power of the internet and social media.