We’ve heard all the excuses – no time, no budget, no idea where to begin. But finding your place in the social media world shouldn’t be a stress. Social media is an integral part of everyday life for 3.5 billion people – that’s a lot of potential leads. Delivering engaging and effective social media takes time, planning, and a certain degree of trial and error. Our guide to the best social media platforms for your business will help you identify opportunities to increase your reach and brand awareness.
Understanding organic and paid social
Before we delve into the many social media platforms available, it’s important to understand the difference between organic and paid social – and more importantly, why you need to find the right balance between the two.
Paid social - Paid social media includes sponsored and boosted posts, ads optimised for clicks (PPC), video advertising and so on. Anything that you put spend behind to achieve a goal, be it increasing brand awareness or web traffic, sales or lead generation, boosting community engagement or growing your audience.
Organic social - Organic social media includes all the content you don’t pay to promote. Through organic content, you can build your brand’s online presence and reputation. It will help you better understand your target audience through community management and discover what your customers are thinking and saying about your products or services.
Finding a balance - While organic content is important in building your digital footprint, paid social also plays an important role in getting you noticed – hashtags can only take you so far! Using paid social, you can amplify that organic content and expand your reach to gain a valuable following.
- Facebook is the world’s third most visited website and boasts “over 2.32 billion active monthly users”, making it the world’s largest social media platform. With so much potential reach, it’s a great starting point for most businesses looking to build a social media presence.
- Instagram is predominantly a lifestyle-focused social media platform, engaging audiences between the ages of 18 and 34, according to data from Statista. Some might argue that Instagram is a vanity platform, and in many ways it is. People like to show off where they’ve been, what they’ve eaten and how they live. But with trending hashtags converging on fashion, photography and food, there’s plenty of opportunity for businesses in the creative or hospitality industries to get noticed.
- Twitter has one major advantage over its rival network Facebook. While Facebook’s algorithm is designed to limit your reach, so that to maximise your reach you’ll be compelled to put spend behind your social, Twitter’s algorithm is far more merciful and egalitarian! If a user follows a Twitter channel, content from that channel will always appear on the user’s feed regardless of spend. If you can capitalise on trending topics, employ popular and relevant hashtags and encourage users to retweet your content, you can expand your reach with less spend.
- LinkedIn is the favoured social network among B2B businesses and business owners. The platform encourages users to develop relationships with existing and new connections. It’s a great space to recruit, with LinkedIn Talent Solutions offering tools to help you find, connect and manage candidates. As a business, you can build your reputation, connect with like-minded people and target a niche area of your industry where you can share your expertise.
- YouTube is both a social and media platform. It was created as a place for people to connect, but over time it has evolved into something more. YouTube might be up there with other media players like Netflix, but the platform retains the same social functionality and sense of community that made the online space so appealing to so many. While it is primarily a platform for video, the conversation that is built around that content gives it a place on this list. If you can create helpful video tutorials and share insights into your industry, you can generate brand awareness which will help your business stand out.
Steps to get started
- Developing your buyer personas
To understand which social media platform (or platforms) your business belongs on, you first need to understand who your target audience are, and more importantly, where they hang out online. A buyer persona is a profile, based on research into your sales targets, which describes your ideal customer: their personal life, work life, goals, pain points, interests, and how they make decisions. To create your own buyer personas, you can survey existing customers, check your analytics, and talk to your customer-facing employees for further insight. Buyer personas are important when starting out on social media as they will help you decide on your tone and approach. That being said, be true to your brand. If your business has a big personality, let it shine through! People tend to respond better to business social media accounts when they feel like they’re talking to a real person, so aim to be relatable and friendly.
- Setting your social goals
Before you settle on a social platform (or three) for your business, you’ll want to think
about your objectives. Setting achievable, measurable goals is equally important on
social as it is in any other aspect of running a business. Good social takes time, so being able to look back and recognise progress, successes and areas for improvement will help justify the time you’ve spent cultivating your social presence. Consider your main business objectives and choose social goals that will help you achieve them. Do you need to grow your customer base? Are you interested in raising the profile of your brand? Keep this in mind as you read on and weigh up the different platforms.