Social media is like any form of communication – there are good and bad ways to get your message across. But social media is particularly risky because it’s easy to publish, highly visible and can go viral very quickly. And, as with most forms of marketing, bad news stories are much more interesting than good news stories so you need to proactively manage your social messages.
The choice of platform is diverse and some are better suited to certain business types than others:
Facebook suits personal interest or product based businesses, especially if they attract a community or group dialogue because like-minded people are often connected, so if your business is Liked by one person, the chances are high that it will be Liked by one of their friends or family.
Twitter suits large, fast paced organisations and brands that have a high level of interaction or engagement with their customers. It enables quick dialogue, whether that’s about product details, opening hours or complaints. Celebrities love Twitter because it enables them to build huge global followings and to post a high number of fairly inconsequential announcements as well as, of course, major shock announcements that travel quickly.
Google+ is important because it’s directly connected to Google’s search engine and therefore anything you publish helps you to improve your search engine optimization. It helps to establish you as an original author of a post which gives you priority when your site is ranked.
LinkedIn is mandatory for corporate networking and profile raising. For individuals it helps to highlight their career achievements and serves as a great career development tool (ie. a compelling CV). For companies and organisations it provides a credible way of linking with other industry people and groups while improving brand awareness and relationship building.
Pinterest is ideal for creative or aesthetic products that are highly visual because it’s basically a vast picture book that lets potential customers browse quickly and easily and share posts that catch their eye.
YouTube is great if your business involves a complex process or narrative that is difficult to describe in words or pictures. It brings a dull message to life and adds spark and depth to your website content.
It’s likely that you’ll want to be on more than one platform – but you don’t need to be on all of them. The list above isn’t exhaustive and there are more social media sites launching every year. Ask yourself what you want from your social media audience and what you can realistically expect from each site.
Make sure you complete your social media profiles in full – don’t leave blank spaces or blank profile pictures. Remember to be consistent with your profile descriptions across different platforms – or else you’ll seem disingenuous. And while you should be consistent with what you post or tweet, don’t cut and paste the same message across each medium – it looks lazy and impersonal.
Social media is all about building relationships and increasing engagement so be natural, be genuine and be polite. Even when a disgruntled customer has taken to your Facebook page to post a lurid complaint, don’t ever fight back, be gracious and diplomatic.