To the uninitiated, the world of social media can seem confusing and downright impenetrable. What purpose can social media marketing serve your business? What ROI can it earn? You might be surprised to learn just how powerful a tool social media can be not just in its own right, but as an integrated tool to drive other channels. Social media can ensure that email, organic search, paid search, and more are all optimized to the fullest. This basics guide will teach you all you need to know about the most important social media platforms, including what they are, how they work, and how to use them!
What once used to be a semi-private network that required a .edu email, Facebook is now the largest online social networking site, with over 1 billion active users around the globe. Thanks to Mark Zuckerberg, you can use Facebook on a personal level to connect with almost anyone you've ever encountered (or would like to get to know), and understand your fans and be discovered by new ones as a business.
What's on your mind? Well... Facebook welcomes you to share it through a status update! Facebook is a modern day yellow pages that also includes personal or company information, photos, blog posts, and thoughts for users to share. Whether it's your personal or business profile, here are a few features to take note of:
1. News Feed
The centerpiece of the Facebook page that displays stories posted by friends and companies. You can customize the amount of news that you receive about a particular profile in your News Feed.
2. Status Update
It's exactly what Facebook suggests. This is where you can share photos, links, thoughts, feelings, inside jokes, and places you've been. These updates will be seen on both your profile timeline and Facebook News Feed.
This section hosts all the photos shared by an individual or business. Dedicated albums can also be created to share more than 1 image.
Facebook's search function where you can search friends, businesses, and locations.
Like, comment, share, invite - this red conversation icon indicates when someone interacts with your profile or page.
6. Facebook Ads
One of the biggest advantages to advertising on Facebook is your ability to target specific groups of highly engaged people. These ads are visible on the Facebook News Feed and the right hand side of every page.
Why does Facebook Matter? Because 1 billion people are on there. Facebook is the best channel to connect and reconnect with people, share your thoughts, expand into new networks, and create worldwide awareness.
Twitter is considered the premier microblogging social network that is most known for its 140 character limit messages. With 9.6 million active Twitter users and about 500 million tweets per day (6,000 per second), the lifespan of a tweet is much shorter than that of posts on other networks. Its reliance on hashtags helps put conversations about globe-spanning topics all in one place.
Tweets can contain different media, links, and hashtags to help tell a story within the limited space. Tweeting frequently keeps your audience engaged and consistently keeps you in their feeds. Repeating tweets can be successful if tweeted at various different times, as the content does not have a long lifespan. Grow your audience by making meaningful relationships with those interested in what you are talking about.
Twitter makes for great brand relationships and instant updates. Build relationships with your fans by regularly curating relevant and engaging content. Keep fans up to date with live updates from events or happenings with frequent tweets. Hashtags can help keep relevant conversations in one place and can help expose your tweets to a larger audience.
Pinterest is an image-based social media platform that allows users to discover and save products and ideas. The platform is essentially a personal visual bookmarking tool with purchasing capabilities and an advanced search function.
Create a profile, set up boards -- which help you organize your Pinterest content --and start pinning! It's good to have a mix of product pins from your site, as well as outside content that your customers will find interesting and useful. Pin regularly - make sure your audience sees your content by keeping fresh pins at the top of their feed. Pin seasonal content (such as during holidays) to show up in users' search results.
Optimize your website for Pinterest. Set up Rich Pins and add a "Pin It" button so users can easily share your products on their own profile. Advertise by promoting your top performing pins in order to drive engagement or website traffic. Consider utilizing "Buyable Pins" to make shopping even easier.
Pinterest is used by many as a tool to plan their next purchase. In fact, 87% of active Pinterest users said they have made a purchase because of Pinterest. The platform is also the #2 source of social traffic to shopify stores. Pinterest has a reputation of being primarily for female homebodies, but with over 72 million users, the audience you are looking for is on Pinterest; you just have to know where look.
Instagram is a very visual social media platform that is great for companies to leverage for branding initiatives such as generating brand awareness or establishing a brand image, lifestyle, and voice. After being acquired by Facebook, Instagram has rolled out advertising options for brands to utilize when promoting new products, events, or just getting their name out to new potential customers. With calls to action like 'Learn More,' these Instagram ads now allow users to tap a button to view a landing page and allow businesses to gain activity like video views, website clicks, and app installs.
There are numerous ways to display content on Instagram. One can share both square and rectangular photos, combine several photos into one photo collage, create a slideshow, or keep things simple with a 15-second video. Filter options and other photo-editing tools are available for users to customize their content to their liking. Once you have a photo ready to post, it's best practice to identify the location of the photo and include a couple relevant hashtags for increased visibility.
With a massive captive audience of over 300 million users, flexible content-sharing capability, and a wide array of advertising targets available, Instagram has become one of the largest mobile ad platforms available. Brands should certainly consider adding Instagram to their marketing strategies whether their goal is increasing visibility, website traffic, app installs, or a number of other initiatives.
With 380 million users as of July 2015, LinkedIn is no small player in the social media landscape. Yet LinkedIn is often overshadowed by social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter when it comes to digital marketing.
Indeed, LinkedIn marketing is not a must-have strategy for every industry or brand. Generally speaking, LinkedIn is most effective for B2B organizations that want to increase brand awareness, drive website traffic, and generate leads.
The foundation for a successful LinkedIn marketing strategy is content. People use LinkedIn to learn from other professionals and companies, so educational, problem-solving content tends to resonate best.
Before an organization even considers LinkedIn marketing, a foundation must be put into place. Consider these questions:
What type of content will you share on LinkedIn? Blog posts, eBooks, white papers, live events, webinars, and so on are all good options.
How many different audiences do you want to target (e.g. IT managers, local government clerks, Fortune 500 CFOs)? Are your target audiences present and active on LinkedIn?
Which content assets will be gated? For example, will you share blog posts openly but require an email address for eBook downloads?
Where do your prospects congregate on LinkedIn? Will you get enough visibility simply by sharing content from your company page, or should you consider sharing content within LinkedIn Groups?
With a clear content marketing plan, you can make your presence known on LinkedIn and start to generate followers and leads. Your LinkedIn mantra should be "Add value and answer questions."
So why use LinkedIn as a marketing platform? In short, because no one else is doing it. The majority of organizations use LinkedIn for employee recruitment and posting job positions instead of marketing assets. But an organization that shares interesting, timely, and educational content on LinkedIn will attract job applicants and business prospects alike.
And because LinkedIn is not yet oversaturated with content marketers, it's a goldmine for niche products and services. If you've got a unique offering and a well-crafted content marketing plan, LinkedIn is yours for the taking.
Many businesses see YouTube as extraneous or a waste of time, especially if they already pour resources into maintaining Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter accounts. However, YouTube is not just another social platform; to think of it that way is to underestimate its value entirely and also to misclassify it.
YouTube would be better thought of as the second largest search engine in the world, accumulating more searches than Yahoo!, Bing, and AOL combined. Even if your site already has SEO implemented and a blog that generates content for your site, there are several reasons to create and maintain a YouTube channel:
92% of mobile video viewers share YouTube videos with others.
When marketers included a video in an email, the clickthrough rate increased by 200% to 300%.
YouTube videos with proper metadata tags outrank traditional blog posts.
Using video on landing pages can increase conversion rate by 80%.
Google searches include and favor YouTube thumbnails that are eye catching when sifting through results.
The average Internet user spends 88% more time on a website with video.
60% of unsubscribed viewers will watch a YouTube video to completion that is less than one minute.
In competition with YouTube, Facebook has introduced video ads and favors video content.
YouTube serves as a collective online space where all of your video content can live and thrive.
For businesses that decide YouTube will be a good fit, here are the next steps to take:
Think content over ad. Brand videos with the most virality seamlessly integrate their brand, product or service into a sketch-style production. For example, Organic Valley's video quickly generated over 2,000,000 views.
Implement a channel trailer. Produce a 30 second reel of who you are as a brand.
Create channel art (YouTube's version of a Facebook cover photo).
Add website information and a company mission statement to the 'About Me' section.
Segment your videos by adding playlists. These should guide a user's activity on your channel.
Be consistent. YouTube promotes and suggests videos and channels based on consistency and quality. The best way to grow your channel is to produce great content on a regular basis.
Utilize the tag feature to ensure your videos show up in results when individuals type in key phrases that relate to your video and brand.
Add annotations within your videos that drive traffic to your website, other videos, or additional social platforms.
Have calls to action everywhere that is appropriate. The longer someone is on your channel, the more likely they are to become a customer.
Do not post videos that are over two minutes long. For optimal engagement, video length should be between 30 seconds and one minute and 15 seconds.
YouTube is more than a social platform. Companies should utilize YouTube to showcase their brand identity through videos. This will ultimately expand brand awareness, increase overall search rankings, and differentiate companies from their competition.