Possibly the biggest mistake that businesses make when starting out on social is to cast their net too wide. Let me ease some anxiety here and now: you do not need to be present on every single platform. Unless your target audience is every person in the entire world (which, if it is…you’d best do some re-strategizing), you don’t need to waste your time trying to wedge your way onto platforms where you just don’t fit. If your goal is to improve the relevancy of your content, while building great relationships with your audience, the first step is refining your presence on social media.
There are so many platforms, though – how do you evaluate which will be best for your particular brand? When deciding what to use, the two most important factors are–predictably–content type and demographic. If you can create relevant, high-quality content on even one platform naturally populated by your target demographic, you’ll have a much easier time than if you bounced between a dozen ill-fitting platforms.
To give you an idea of how we at Think Digital refine our clients’ social media strategies, I’ve compiled four popular social media sites along with their demographics, a quick overview, and tips on how to make your business stand out on each platform. Today’s post covers Facebook and Twitter, and I will post part two (Instagram and Pinterest) next week.
1.65 billion monthly active users as of March 31, 2016
87% of people ages 18–29 and 56% of people aged 65+ are on Facebook
75% of female internet users and 66% of male internet users have profiles
Who Should Use It?
EVERYONE. Facebook is set up perfectly to be the hub of your social media presence. Many Facebook users communicate with customer service staff via Facebook and can also give feedback directly on the page. Think of your Facebook page as a pre-landing page that encapsulates your business’s attitude and the way you interact with your clients, customers, etc. There are a wealth of options for promoting your posts, as well as ways in which Facebook users can interact with those posts. It’s an invaluable tool for any business of any size, and is relatively low maintenance considering its massive community reach.
- Keep it varied! Try not to post all links, or all text updates. Creating visual interest on your page with pictures or video will draw in users who might otherwise click off of your page quickly.
- Additionally, not all content HAS to be original. Reaching out to other Pages and creating conversation by re-posting articles that you agree with or that fit your mission is a great way to draw in users who might not have found your page on their own.
- Video posts are having a big moment right now. The recent auto-play feature means that users are watching more video content than ever on Facebook. Keep an eye on trends like these and, in the case of video, commit to high quality posts that demonstrate your understanding of the platform.
- Facebook’s algorithm is always changing. Make every effort to work with, not against, the news feed algorithm. Organic post reach is the best kind of post reach – and your customers will appreciate a non-spammy business that appeals to their interests.
Who Should Use It?
Twitter is another platform with a broad appeal, but in comparison to Facebook it is much more focused on moment-to-moment updates as well as quick, easy interaction. It is skewed toward a younger demographic as well as mobile users (83% of users are active on the mobile app). Twitter is a great choice for companies that interact heavily with current events, sports, entertainment, and other fast-moving industries. It’s also a fabulous place to interact with your clients and customers and receive instant feedback.
- Same with Facebook – vary your content! Inline photos take up space, and will draw the eye in a sea of text-only content. Quality videos are eye-catching, and posting links has proven successful in driving traffic to brand websites.
- #HASHTAGS. Learn them! Keep an eye on what hashtags are trending, and use them to target your intended audience. Don’t overdo it, though. Lots of hashtags makes a tweet look cluttered, and your followers won’t respond well to it.
- Likes are free. Use them! It will ALWAYS pay off to be friendly on Twitter. If you interact with consumers in a positive, personal, and timely way, they’ll feel a much greater loyalty to your brand. One time Taco John’s replied to a goofy tweet I wrote about them…I ended up eating there three times that week. It works!
- It may be tempting to weigh in on everything that trends on Twitter, but current events and controversial topics should be treated with extreme caution. If it directly relates to your business, then sure. But when big brands tweet about unrelated topics (think Old Navy re: Prince’s death), it’s perceived as pandering. Keep it classy.
Who Should Use It:
Any image-friendly business (restaurants, fashion/clothes, travel, etc) should focus on building an Instagram presence, as well as any business that serves a younger demographic. Instagram is dominated by teenagers who tend to engage – 32% of teens in the US list it as their most important social media platform and most use the app multiple times a day. Since Instagram is almost entirely mobile (there is a web platform but it offers drastically reduced functionality), in-the-moment content is important just as it is on Twitter. Brands also see a much higher percentage of engagement on Instagram than anywhere else, making it incredibly worthwhile to take advantage if you fall within the right demographic.
- You might be seeing a trend here – variation is important. You can’t vary your post type (photos or video only!) so make sure you vary your content. Too many pictures of your product? Post a group shot of your employees having a good time. Running out of pictures to post? Host a user-submitted photo contest! There are many ways to creatively build a gallery that excites your followers.
- If you want engagement, you’ve got to engage. Posts that tag other users and locations or utilize hashtags tend to see more interaction.
- Instagram + high-quality phone cameras = a world of amateur photographers. If you want to stand out, make sure you start with high-quality photos. Do your research on photography basics and place priority on posting great photos.
- Themed content is always fun, so take advantage of holidays, special events, etc. Do a photoshoot of your product dressed as a turkey for Thanksgiving! Come up with an elaborate April Fool’s Day prank for your followers! Instagram’s young demographic appreciates fun – you don’t have to shy from humor just because you represent a brand.