My first draft headline for this post was something along the lines of “Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, OH MY!”
Then I decided to tone it down to something a bit less cheesy (you’re welcome). But The Wizard of Oz reference feels spot on when we talk about the complex, fast-paced social media landscape. It can feel a bit like navigating an unexplored, alien landscape filled with all sorts of pitfalls and unknowns.
But unlike Dorothy & Co., you don’t have to wander through the maze of social media options, crossing all your fingers and toes that nothing scary jumps out at you.
All you really need to know are the pros and cons of the top social media sites and which platforms your clients are already using. From there, you can develop a game plan – where to post, how often to post and how to best utilize the tools those sites offer.
One caveat before we go any further – in the early days of social media, all you needed to increase your followers and gain traction on these platforms was lots of good content. This is what social media marketers refer to as organic reach.
However, because social media companies are hugely profitable businesses, the model has changed to make it more difficult to reach those kinds of numbers without purchasing targeted advertisements – in other words, it’s not solely about you posting popular, engaging content anymore.
This isn’t to discourage you from being on social media – it’s hugely important that you have presence on these platforms!
But you want to make sure that you have realistic expectations and that you are investing your time and your advertising dollars for maximum benefit.
So, let’s start by looking at three of the most popular social media platforms for businesses and figure out which options make the most sense for you and your company.
Once upon a time, Facebook was a humble website used exclusively by college students who wanted to keep tabs on what all their friends were up to. It’s a bit more than that now. ?
Pros: huge number of users, hyper-targeted advertising.
There’s no doubt that Facebook dominates when it comes to sheer number of monthly active users – 2 billion of them, in a recent count. While Facebook started as a site for college kids, over half of Facebook’s users are 35 years and older, making this a terrific way for companies to market to adults of all ages.
Remember though – organic reach (growth via content you post) is actually going down.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t bother posting on Facebook (you absolutely should!), but it does mean that Facebook Ads will be the key to growing your follower base.
An incredibly useful tool that you’ll want to check out is Facebook Business Manager. Think of it as a command center that allows you to manage all aspects of your Facebook page and your ad campaign from one place!
Since we’re doing an overview of multiple platforms in this post, I won’t go into detail about Facebook Ads here, but check out this post from Neil Patel – he gives a step-by-step breakdown of everything you need to know.
This popular platform is a favorite for younger users and artistic, creative entrepreneurs.
Pros: Millennial user base, image-driven marketing.
You might have noticed that I focused on adults 25 and older when talking about Facebook. While teens and younger adults do have Facebook accounts, a lot of their social media time is spent on other platforms – and one of the biggest platforms for Millennials is Instagram.
Instagram currently has over 800 million monthly active users. But what’s truly eye-popping is that around 60% of Instagram users are ages 18-34. If you’re marketing to Millennials, an active Instagram presence is an obvious choice!
A major difference between Instagram and platforms like Facebook or Twitter, is that Instagram is entirely image and video based, rather than text based. So managing an Instagram account means committing to a lot of picture taking/editing and uploading to Instagram Stories (a feature that lets users chronicle 24 hours worth of short video clips).
If you run a business that lends itself well to photo ops (restaurants, coffee shops, boutiques, interior design, lifestyle blogs, etc.), Instagram is a natural fit.
Just like Facebook, you have the option of using hyper-targeted advertising with Instagram. Facebook is Instagram’s parent company, so you can actually use Facebook Business Manager to manage your Instagram ad campaigns as well – huge plus!
This platform is distinctive for its 280 character per post limit and its use of hashtags to connect companies and customers with trending topics.
Pros: Broad age range of users, hashtags, targeted ads and search words.
While Facebook and Instagram have also picked up on the hashtag function, Twitter excels at using the #hashtag format to track trending ideas, topics and keywords across the platform. This gives you the opportunity to connect with conversations across your industry. It also gives you an easy way to put your post in front of anyone who searches for a specific hashtag. This is a fantastic opportunity to connect your business with new customers!
Just like with Facebook and Instagram, Twitter gives you the option of setting up a targeted ad campaign and allows you to select a tailored audience and specific keywords.
So which platforms are right your company?
Always keep in mind that how much social media presence you have and which platforms you choose is a personal decision. You know your company best and trying to force active presence in too many places or using a platform you’re not comfortable with won’t be effective.
If you’re not on social media at all yet, Facebook is a great place to start!
And keep in mind that while I chose to cover three of the most widely recognized platforms in this post, there are many other choices that might be worth looking into – YouTube, Pinterest and LinkedIn, for example.
Still feeling lost in the woods?
No worries. We’ve got you covered! If you’re looking for some help making sure your company gets the web presence it deserves, we can help you with that. Call us or send us an email – we’d love to chat about your goals!