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How To Harness Social Media For Your Business

June 19th, 2015 by

Believe it or not, around 20% of businesses don’t have a social media strategy. An even higher percentage are yet to maximise their social media presence. So which channels should you be making the most of?

At this point in time, there are almost 1.5 billion active Facebook users, almost 250 million Twitter accounts and over 300 million Instagram accounts worldwide. This, in addition to a modest 50 million Pinterest ‘Pinners’, makes for a huge online market. With millions of Tweets, Facebook posts, Instagram images and Pins being created on a daily basis, social media is a hub of conversation. Businesses who aren’t tapping into this conversation are missing a trick, so here are a few tips on harvesting the power of social media:

Facebook

The big blue F is the undisputed King of social media, dwarfing all other platforms on monthly active users. Although the brand has had some controversial press in recent years, all research points to Facebook as a primary source of news and information for many users, and it’s not just full of teens. The site has seen a rise in its older population as teens have jumped ship for the more visual shores of Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat. Facebook is no sinking ship, though: more than half of social media users consider Facebook to be a life essential.

While Facebook’s reign as the superior social media channel doesn’t show any sign of slowing, the site is notorious for making it difficult for brands to reach their audience. Most recently, Zuckerberg and co. announced that they were changing their algorithm (hint: algorithm changes are not usually good news for businesses) to limit businesses’ organic reach, prioritising content from friends over advertisements.

Unfortunately for you as a business entity, Facebook is integral to your social media marketing strategy. It’s of vital importance that your brand is present on Facebook in some form in this digital age, be it to reply to customers or to promote products through promoted posts.

Good practice: set aside a small amount of your weekly budget to promote one or two posts on your Facebook channel. When launching new products or promoting a great discount, a little extra paid reach will pay off. The targeting tool can be used to invite new fans to interact with your brand. Post little and often in addition to paid posts, and be responsive to any engagement from potential customers; you’ll connect to a new demographic of ‘Like’-ers.

Twitter

Although the little blue bird has lived in the shadow of its elder (and perhaps more business-minded) troublesome sibling Facebook, Twitter has a lot to offer a brand. Although it too has its algorithmic ways of manipulating the content its users are exposed to, the essence of Twitter is real-time conversation; the Twitter-chitter-chatter is constant.

Twitter was slow to monetise as a platform, but now offers Promoted Tweets. Twitter For Business claims to “build positive sentiment towards the businesses and encourage positive word of mouth referrals”, and as with Facebook it can be a useful tool for sneaking onto your customers’ feeds when launching a new product or service.

However, with the fast-paced stream of consciousness creating a real-time news feed, brands should beware of their Promoted posts being lost to the user tendency to scroll endlessly through a sea of Tweets without much engagement.

Good practice: use Twitter to join the conversation about your brand online. Use social listening methods to find out who is saying what about your business, and leverage Twitter as a tool to appease any unhappy customers and encourage those who are positive about your brand online.

Instagram

Even though it is  a relatively new platform, Instagram is on the rise. This year, the brand hit 300 million users, which is impressive considering its practise of removing inactive accounts. Unlike Facebook and Twitter, Instagram is a primarily visual platform, which encourages creativity in its users. Although owned by Facebook, Instagram does less to limit a brand’s reach, and may be a wiser choice for more creative businesses.

Don’t fall at the first hurdle though; Instagram isn’t just for the artistically inclined. There are loads of businesses out there who are using the platform to get creative with their otherwise standard products (or at least not easily photographed). The luxury car tycoons at Mercedes Benz hit the headlines for leveraging Instagram to engage with a Millennial market. From romanticised images of the cars exploring beautiful scenery to close-ups of some of the brand’s more luxurious vehicle interiors, Mercedes Benz have made things work on Instagram, and you could too!

Good practice: always remember that everything looks better through an Instagram filter. A few artistically styled shots and a good edit suite will romanticise any product or service you may have to offer. If your product or service could be considered boring, Instagram is the perfect platform for you to take it out of its comfort zone and try something new. Selling cleaning materials? Take your mops to a breathtaking view and draw the audience in with the beauty (you can use the caption to poke fun at the mops hogging the limelight).

A few well-placed hashtags will widen the reach of your posts. Check out this list of the most popular hashtags to help new Instagram followers get started, but be sure to tailor your hashtag use to your audience: #selfie won’t get you many likes on that mop picture we were talking about earlier. Find out more about Instagram For Business on this page.

Pinterest

Pinterest is slow to monetise as a platform, and that could be something worth taking advantage of for brands who are less willing to part with a large portion of their budget to engage on social media. Generally speaking, the public opinion of Pinterest is that it’s full of home bakers and cross-stitchers looking for new recipes and patterns. Although there’s no denying that there are vast numbers of ‘Perfect Brownies’ recipes on there; a business with the right strategy could go far using the platform. We spoke to consultancy guru Cynthia Sanchez about the power of the Pin, and how it could help brands climb the ranks at Google. You can read more of our interview with Cynthia here, and discover more about Pinterest as a business tool on this blog post.

YouTube

While many see YouTube as a place to watch hilarious viral videos of owners chasing their misbehaving dogs through Richmond Park or keep up with the latest music videos, there’s actually great potential in the video sharing platform. The power of video is undeniable, with both YouTube and Facebook introducing autoplay functions to share their users’ content with increased ease.

Good practice: leverage the powerful medium of video to communicate with your target market. Research shows that video content is more engaging than basic text content, so creating a short video or two to showcase your product or service is well worth the time and investment. You can share your video content across all of your social media channels to boost engagement.

Here at UK2 we love to stay in touch with our customers through our social media channels. You can ‘like’ us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter and Pinterest, and check out some of our YouTube videos! Be sure to leave us a comment, or drop us a Tweet. We’re always happy to hear from our readers.

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