I Choose You! Marketing Strengths and Weaknesses For Major Social Media Platforms
You probably have a personal account on at least one form of social media. If you’re anything like me, you watch recipe videos on Facebook, follow Ellen on twitter, and spend a little more time than you’d like to admit following the recommended links on YouTube. But have you ever considered putting your online business on one of these platforms?
Social media has seen incredible growth as a medium for online advertising. Accounts are usually free, the outreach is wide, content is easy to promote and share. And most importantly, the average Internet user 18-64 years old (so, essentially, anyone with a wallet) spends around 3.2 hours a day checking their social media accounts.
Really, 3.2 hours. Guilty.
With that kind of massive traffic, social media can be an amazing tool to help you attract and keep more viewers than you’ve ever had before. But there are a lot of platforms out there, and you probably don’t want to devote the time it would take to be on every. Single. Platform.
So (maybe a little in honor of the massive marketing success that is the Pokémon Go app) we’ve put these platforms to the test and broken down the strengths and weakness of a few major social media sites used by online businesses. You might not be able to catch every Internet user, but these platforms can at least get you a little closer to levelling up your revenue.
Facebook’s the Kingpin right now on the social media scene. It traffics the most online advertising on the web, Google aside.
The percentage of small businesses in the US that have Facebook pages is 41%--that’s (according to a Facebook report done this past January) 51 small businesses on Facebook. Two days ago, the number of total users for Facebook was 1.59 billion.
Basically, if you don’t have a Facebook account, we’d highly, highly recommend getting one for your company.
- An (insane) number of users that you can reach
- Excellent video and image sharing for your original content
- Liking and sharing can help expand your content’s viewership
- The ability to like and share other user’s content related to your field and have conversations with your followers through the comment system
- (Here’s where the site becomes less-free) You can pay to promote your content by boosting it, which can
- On-site analytics
- The message application can be used for customer management and assistance
- Facebook has been described as a “slow burner” when it comes to attracting an audience—for your company to get a following, you’ll probably need to plan on boosting at least some of your posts, and you’ll need to update regularly
- Deceptively simple—Facebook seems like a very easy, very free platform. But in order to make the most of it, again, you might need to make some monetary investments, and you’ll need to be more active than you’d be on a personal account.
- The line between advertising and sharing good content can be a little blurry on Facebook—try not to spam people who follow your page with interruptive marketing
One of Facebook’s most popular features is its video sharing—take advantage of it, and try out some video content. If you have the resources, use Facebook’s boost function as you start out to help your content gain more traction. Definitely share images, and take advantage of Facebook’s linking ability to link your page to any other company social media accounts and even your blog.
Here's a link to Facebook’s site for businesses.
twitter. From the cute little bird logo to the length of your content, everything on this platform’s short and sweet. Millions of companies have taken flight with this social media outlet (ba-dum-tsssssssh). Twitter even offers tips for businesses on twitter, so they’re definitely aware of how popular they are with businesses. Twitter has over 310 million current users.
- Easy-to-use and accessible
- Quick content
- Wide outreach
- It’s easy to follow other companies in your field and retweet customers/followers
- There are a lot of trends that are easy to hop onto that can boost your post popularity. But make sure you know what trend you’re getting into. Please don’t be DiGorno Pizza back during their #whyileft disaster.
- Your content has to be CONCISE—just 140 characters!
- It’s hard to make content this short not come across as annoying, interruptive advertising
- Weird, but true—Twitter can be distracting for your employees. It’s a pretty commonly complained drawback to using the site for business—one more frequently cited for twitter than other social media sites.
Our Suggestions: Twitter’s a great place to host contests and promos. It gives your followers an incentive to stick with while also giving you some wiggle room with how much your content slips into ad territory. You can automate tweets, but we wouldn’t entirely recommend this—there’s a lot of room for accidental error here, and goof ups on Twitter can go viral. Oops. You also miss the opportunity to stay on top of trending content—and trending helps your content stay relevant and increases the chances of your content going viral.
Instagram, I choose you!
According to Mary Meeker’s 2016 Internet Trends Report, images are IN. And social media platforms that are image heavy have been preforming incredibly well in the past year, especially with Millennial audiences.
This graph shows the engagement time spent on each site along with their reach for Millennials. And even though Facebook’s annihilating everyone, look who’s a “close” second.
Instagram, even though it’s image-only, is a great marketing tool. It’s got 400 million users, and there’s a strong business presence on Instagram.
- Easy to create content for—snap a pic and post, it’s that simple
- Easy to share images—and image sharing can help your SEO when it comes to Google Images
- Good audience size! Nothing to sneeze at, and again, it does an amazing job of keeping its viewers engaged, which is great for your exposure
- More so than with twitter or Facebook, Instagram’s users tend to be on the younger, more Millenial side. Which isn’t too much of a problem in terms of buying power! But the younger audience means a different marketing strategy, and factoring in if your customer base and target audience includes this age group
- While creating content is easy, make sure you’re putting in some artistic effort with most of your posts—if Instagram’s anything, it’s artsy.
Our Suggestions: Try to balance product/business specific photos with fun images. Don’t be afraid to let your viewers see your process, or to share photos of your customers engaging with your products or events! That’s true for all platforms that have image sharing, but Instagrammers especially love seeing multiple sides to your brand and feeling more personally involved. Consider following some of your more active followers back! And take advantage of their more recent video sharing.
If you’re not on Pinterest, you probably just associate it with #pinterestfails and pictures of Lana del Ray in varying flower crowns.
1) has actually shown its worth on the retail side of the Internet:
And 2) Pinterest is in an incredible sweet-spot when it comes to balancing low-effort from the company’s perspective and high engagement/identification with users:
Which means that Pinterest, even though it’s a smaller platform, might be a little marketing gem.
- You’re still sharing and letting other users share images, which are powerful marketing tools
- A lot of users log on specifically to find new products
- You don’t have to manage comments
- Pinterest has a strong culture of sharing original links, which means your images will get credit and send your followers to your site
- The quality of your photos is VITAL on Pinterest, according to site surveys
- A smaller audience compared to some other sites
- A very specific audience—most Pinterest users are female (82%), and most are under 45
Our Suggestions: Take advantage of how low-maintenance Pinterest is. Quality of posts is better than quantity, and while we normally suggest modifying content to fit the site, you can essentially share all of the same uploads you’d make on Instagram onto Pinterest as well.
On any platform, using social media for a business is not the same as using the site for yourself. Make sure that the employee that you trust with your social media sites is well-read on how companies should run their online profiles, knows your brand better than they know themselves, and is good with interacting with others online. Your social media accounts, for many of your customers who engage with you there, will become the face of your company—the voice of your company. That’s a lot of power. That’s a lot of responsibility. And, more excitingly—that’s hopefully a lot of content shares.