“Social media” has become such a broad term. We all know it’s an integral part of our marketing plans, but as social technology continues to expand, it can become increasingly vague as to what exactly we mean when we say “social media.” There’s microblogging, photo and video sharing, crowdsourcing, networking . . . how are we supposed to know how each fits into our marketing design?
In our new blog series, Social Media 101, we’re going to take you through the basics of what each type of social media is, what features it has, and what it is best used for.
Today we’re covering what we like to call “The Big Three” – Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Not only do these platforms have huge numbers of users, but they offer diverse features that, together, can give your social marketing a solid foundation.
Keep reading to learn about the features and functions of each of these platforms, what they’re best suited for, and inside tips on how you can make them work for you.
Facebook is a social networking platform that allows you to share content of significant sizes with those who follow your business’ page. The text, images, links, and videos you post can then be re-shared, commented on, or liked by those following you.
Facebook can help you:
- Build a community with your customer or client base. Because Facebook users can easily interact with one another through comments and reactions on the posts you create, it allows for a community to develop consisting of people interested in your products, services, or values.
- Interact with customers. Facebook also makes it easy for you to interact with your customers. You can reply to them through comments or message them directly if you desire a more private or extensive conversation.
- Get customer feedback. Facebook makes customer feedback visible. On your business’ Facebook page, customers can review and rate your products and services, enhancing your credibility to other users that visit your page. Keeping track of what people are saying through mentions of your business, tags, location check ins, and comments can help you gauge what you are doing well on and what you may need to improve.
- Learn about your target market. Facebook Analytics provides detailed insights into not only who is interacting with your business on Facebook, but how they are interacting. By learning about your ideal posting times and demographics, you can more effectively market to your target audience.
Facebook is free, and the techies behind the scenes say that it always will be, but sometimes, throwing a little cash towards boosting a specific Facebook post (especially if it’s one containing information especially significant to your audience) can dramatically increase the exposure to your post, drawing in more viewers to your Facebook page and website.
Twitter is a microblogging platform that lets you share short snippets of information to your followers. Twitter caps your text posts at 140 characters, but also gives you the ability to include links, pictures, and videos. And unlike Facebook, you can be sure that everything you post to Twitter will appear in the news feed of every single one of your followers due to the fact that Twitter does not filter content in the same ways that Facebook does.
Twitter is used to:
- Release quick updates. Because the information is so compact, Twitter is best used for releasing quick snippets of information to your followers.
- Mention other brands and users. Twitter makes it easy to interact with other companies and customers by mentioning them in your posts or tweeting directly at them.
- Research your audience. Unlike Facebook, Twitter allows you to follow anyone, even if they are a stranger. Follow vocal customers who have interacted with your company in the past to monitor the trends, interests, and values that characterize your target market.
Update the background graphic of your business’ Twitter page so that it matches the branding scheme of the rest of your marketing materials.
Instagram is a photo sharing platform that allows users to upload, edit, tag, and caption images from a mobile device.
Use Instagram to:
- Build your brand’s visual presence. A well-kept Instagram profile can characterize your company and brand through the images that you share. Making sure that your profile is filled high quality and interesting images helps establish your credibility.
- Show the human aspect of your company. Customers love to see that they’re working with actual people! Snap a picture of a company breakfast or an employee bringing in coffee to humanize your brand.
- Show your products in real situations. Products always look nice when they’re displayed on a website, but sometimes your customers want to see what they look like in real life situations. Instagram gives you the ability to capture your products or services being used “in the field.”
- Use content generated by customers. Having customers submit images to you and then using those images in your Instagram feed helps them feel connected to and appreciated by your company. Hold a hashtag contest where users attach a specific tag to photo submissions in order to generate a lot of usable, real-world content.
Using hashtags effectively is the secret to growing a following on Instagram. Keep up to date on what hashtags are currently trending and always be sure to use tags that are relevant to and reflective of your images.