The variety of social media services means that it’s easy for users can find the one that suits them best, but it can be difficult from a business perspective to find which one can help you reach your customers most effectively. This is only further complicated when it seems like new platforms are popping up all the time, and it’s difficult to tell which ones will take off and which will be defunct in a year or so.
Rather than spreading your time and attention too thin by trying to utilize every available platform, it’s best to know right off the bat which websites and apps are worth your time and which ones you can skip. I’ve curated a list of five of the best social networking sites for businesses, and in this article we’ll dive into the best ways to maximize your influence on each of them.
Yes, Facebook has been in the news recently for some highly unsavory reasons, but there’s a reason why so many people remain on the platform despite its scandals. It’s still the best platform for people to keep their friends and family updated on any and every aspect of their lives, and it’s also one of the best services for keeping up with the businesses and companies you support. With over a billion monthly active users, it’s also the most popular social media website, which means it likely holds your largest potential audience.
So what are the best ways to use Facebook to increase awareness and improve consumer relationships?
The first step you need to take after setting up a page for your business is to flesh it out. Include your address, hours, phone number, website, menu, a concise description of exactly what it is that you do, and any other information that applies to your business. Coordinate your profile and cover photos for a more modern, eye-catching look.
Once your page is good to go, it’s time to start creating posts and generating some traffic. Try to vary the format of your content; a page that includes text posts and nothing else will undoubtedly have a high bounce rate. Text posts are usually not the most shareable. Instead, mix it up a little bit with an amalgamation of text posts, photos, videos, and even links from other places that are relevant to you (as long as they aren’t your competitors, of course). Use hashtags within your posts to increase your visibility across the website. Another thing Facebook is very useful for is engagement: try to set a goal of how many likes, comments, and shares you receive each month. If you miss the mark, it might be time to reevaluate what you could change in order to motivate your customers to interact more often.
One dilemma that businesses on Facebook can face is how to handle negative reviews, which can pose a large problem as they are visible to anyone who visits your page. When it comes to bad review etiquette, my number one rule is not to delete them. I have followed a few pages that have done this in the past. In my experience, users soon caught on fairly quickly and have warned others against the business’s page because of it.
If you want to cultivate an image as an honest and trustworthy brand, respond to those criticisms. It’s a good idea to try and respond to as many reviews as you can anyway, good or bad, but it can be particularly helpful to try and have a conversation with the critics. Let them know that you hear and understand them, and if they’ve made a reasonable request, consider implementing some of their suggested changes. Your customers will view you as more personable and reliable, and you’ll gain their respect as opposed to losing it.
With Twitter, it seems like people go one of two ways: they either can’t figure out how to use it and abandon their profile, or it becomes their favorite platform to use as everything from their source of news to their personal journal. Regardless, this platform still boasts hundreds of millions of users, so you definitely shouldn’t discount it when looking for a way to increase awareness of your brand.
Because of the nature of the platform, most of your posts will be text posts, but you’ll be forced to limit your thoughts to 280 characters or less. Although you can technically insert videos in your tweets, the format doesn’t lend itself to that as well as Facebook. If you want to break up your feed a little bit, the best way to go about that is through embedding photos or GIFs.
As far as content, most people use Twitter as a
way to stay updated on current news. The shortcut to gaining followers,
retweets, and likes is through relevancy: find a way to relate your business or
products to the news of the day and tweet about it. Before you do this, figure
out your business “voice.” Will you be more classically professional or casual
and off-the-wall à la Denny’s? Decide what suits you best and stick
with it, and try to consistently post at least a couple times a day - after
you’ve proofread your tweets. Just like Facebook, take advantage of the hashtag
system to make your tweets easier to find.
This might not be the most fun website to build up, but it’s certainly useful. LinkedIn’s Wikipedia definition calls it “a business- and employment-oriented service that operates via websites and mobile apps.” Much like Facebook, the first thing to do on this service is to build your business page. Try to include a lot of the same information you put on your Facebook page: a company description, your industry, what you specialize in doing, your company size, where you’re located, etc. Again, try to make your page as complete as possible. It’s more attractive to those who visit your page.
Besides making listings for any open positions you have, the best way to increase your awareness on LinkedIn is to use it as a blog. Keep in mind that LinkedIn’s audience is a bit more mature than either Facebook or Twitter, so even if you’ve adopted a casual tone on either of those websites, you may want to be a little more restrained and refined on this one.
Write posts about the industry you’re in - weigh in on any developments or news, give some tips, or personalize your company with insight on your workplace and employees. Speaking of employees, make sure they all have individual LinkedIn profiles that are also kept up-to-date. The great thing about LinkedIn is that it’s broken down by industry, so you know that the people who follow you will likely be interested in any content that’s related to your field.
The final two forms of social media that work well for businesses and brands are fairly self-explanatory if you’ve ever used them, as they basically have a singular use. In Instagram’s case, that use is essentially as a photo album.
If you’re going to use Instagram, use it well. Terrible photos aren’t going to attract anyone to your profile or your company. Take the time to set up a well-composed photo of your products, services, employees, or whatever else you deem to be photo-worthy, and edit your photos using an app like VSCO or Afterlight. For photography tips, consult the last platform on this list. Create a theme for your photos so that when someone visits your profile, it appears to be cohesive. If you’re going to make your photos dark and moody, make them all dark and moody; if you prefer the look of pastels, edit them all to be that color scheme. It bears repeating that you should be incorporating hashtags in your posts (but don’t go overboard).
Now that Instagram has stories and live videos,
it’s even more appropriate for businesses. You don’t have to incorporate every
image you take into a post that will be on your page forever. For example, if
you’re having a noteworthy company event, post a few pictures or videos on your
story to give your followers a little peek at what’s going on. Just don’t post
more than four or five per day, because a story that’s too long or that takes
forever to load is almost definitely going to be skipped. As for live videos,
use them as a way to promote sales or new releases and to connect one-on-one
with your customers. Shout out specific people when they join or comment on
your livestream. This will help your customers put a face to your company,
which never hurts.
The ways in which you can use YouTube to benefit your company might be obvious, but it’s still worth mentioning because it is the most heavily-used and recognizable video platform on the internet. If you make products or offer services that lend themselves to video in any way at all, you should try your hand at generating some YouTube content.
It certainly helps to have expensive video recording equipment, but it’s definitely not necessary. A phone with a decent camera is all it takes. The ideal way to come up with an idea for a video is to think of the problems your potential customers might have. For example, if you’re a bike repair shop, a common problem your customers might have is flat bike tires. In response, it could be helpful to make a video on how to re-inflate your tires.
Shoot the video in good lighting, make sure the sound is clearly audible but not blaring, and try to minimize any echoing. If done incorrectly, these three factors can be huge turn-offs for viewers. Edit your footage down to a watchable length (anywhere around 10 minutes tends to be good). The last thing to do before you post is to come up with a succinct title and a striking thumbnail that will get people’s attention. Finally, you’ll of course want to share your video on Facebook and LinkedIn and post an announcement that you’ve uploaded a new video on Twitter and your Instagram story!