Let’s be honest, social media can be intimidating, maybe even a bit scary. Think about it, social media connects you with everyone, and anyone can see you and listen to you, but how do you know what to say or post or tweet that will not only get you attention, but get you the attention you want? That’s a tough question, especially if you’re trying to build a business, and there’s no one, right answer when it comes to social media.
The number of social media channels grows every day, but the challenge is knowing how to treat each channel individually. Each social media platform works differently, and what will work for one, won’t necessarily work the same for another. So how do you know how to structure your content and posts to each social media platform? To answer this question we’re taking a look at three of the most well-known social media channels: Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram and how each one works so you can understand how to make them work better for you.
FOCUSING ON FACEBOOK
Let’s start with one of the older siblings of the social media family, Facebook. The first step in knowing how to get the most from the social media channel you’re using is understanding the channel itself. Facebook is one of the most well-known social media platforms out there, mostly because it is so versatile. With Facebook, you can do just about anything from posting picture albums, to publishing articles, to sharing links with related content on your page. The goal with Facebook is to build your brand and business within a targeted community. Your reach may not be as broad as other social media channels, but as the saying goes, content is king, and with more room for quality, content should be the focus when working with Facebook.
Frequently, our clients ask us what they should post and how often. Unlike other channels, your interaction with Facebook doesn’t need to be as frequent. This is not saying you don’t need to be active, but the focus is the quality and not the quantity here. Typically, we will post to Facebook on average once per day, but that post is usually an in-depth marketing piece such as an article, white paper, or blog. So while our interaction on Facebook may be daily instead of hourly, we’re still taking the time to choose and create content that our community and peers are interested in and will take the time to read.
Another question often asked by our clients is how to use Facebook to reach their audience. Starting out, personal profile pages will be your best friends when building your Facebook community. You have friends, family, and colleagues on Facebook, so already you have a means to connect with people. You’re not going to reach thousands of people, at least not right away, but you are going to connect with people who will share your content and like your page. Having just those few friends and followers helps get you connected to their network of friends and followers so you can eventually reach more people and build your own network for your business.
TALKING ABOUT TWITTER
While Facebook works on building a community of friends and followers for your business, Twitter takes a faster and more active approach. Twitter connects you with people via quick thoughts, messages, and comments known as Tweets. The beautiful thing about Twitter is that it is great for quickly expanding your brand and business by helping you to reach a much broader audience. However, Twitter limits you to only 140 characters per post, and even less than that if you throw pictures into the mix, and because the content window is much smaller, what you tweet has a lot more bearing than it does on other social media channels. Therefore, it’s important to produce direct and streamlined content that grabs the attention of people quickly and efficiently
The question that usually comes up with clients is how to produce quality content that reaches as many people as possible in 140 characters or less. The answer is hashtags. No doubt you’ve seen #hashtags, but for those who aren’t familiar with what hashtags are or how to use them, hashtags are keywords or phrases preceded by the (#) symbol that are used to categorize social media messages. Hashtags make it easy for people to find and read your tweets by allowing them to see all tweets containing the same hashtag when they search it. In this way, hashtags get you connecting with more of the public, but the trick to using them effectively is making them relevant to your content. That’s why when we post anything to Twitter we make sure our hashtags fit with the content we’re posting about. Being a Kansas city-based marketing agency, we often use #kansascity allowing anyone who searches that hashtag to read any tweets we’ve made containing that same hashtag. This allows more people to see what sort of content we’re posting and allows our brand to gain more followers.
Although understanding how Twitter and hashtags work is important to building an audience, know how often to post plays just as vital a role. Unless you’re a multi-million dollar company, you probably don’t have a team, or even one person who is solely devoted to sending tweets constantly. However, the goal with twitter is to connect and interact with people and to do that, you have to stay active. Twitter followers’ feeds are constantly being updated with recent posts from everyone they’re following, so you have to make sure you’re staying active in their feeds so you don’t fall off their radar. The problem many of our clients have is that they don’t always have something new to tweet about, but we educate them on other ways to stay active with their followers. For instance, we tell clients to retweet or favorite posts relevant to their business or industry. This makes them stay engaged with their followers by making them stay fresh in their feeds. By staying active and interacting with people, you’re still connecting with them and that’s what it’s all about.
Although it’s not as old as some of its social media siblings, Instagram still has its role to play in social media marketing. With Instagram, the name of the game is pictures and content is more focused upon showing rather than telling. The benefit of using images to help tell your brand or business’s story is that they can create an immediate emotional response as well as leave an impression with your audience, something that even the best text content can only hope to achieve. In this way, Instagram combines much of Twitter’s ability to connect and interact with people quickly with images that are easier for people to process and remember. As in other social media channels, content is king; it’s just that the content is presented in different clothing.
Clients who are new to social media often ask us if they even need to be on Instagram. The truth is, marketing yourself through Instagram can be tough, and it may not work for every business. In fact, if you’re not marketing your products to the public, as in the case of one of our clients, you may not benefit from Instagram or any social media channel for that matter. Instagram, in particular, has a tough time on the marketing front and unless you have a product or service that has a lot to show off, you’re going to have a difficult time keeping followers. That’s why it’s important to understand how each channel functions compared to others and to know that not every channel will be suited to your business. Many companies use Instagram as a way to show off their corporate culture or employees, but the fact of the matter is, if you don’t have something to show your followers, then it may not be worth the time, effort, and money. Just because Instagram, or any social media channel, works for one business, doesn’t necessarily mean it will work for yours, too.
Social media platforms are changing every day, but social media itself is here to stay. It can be intimidating, but if you want to grow your business, reach a new audience, or just get noticed, you have to learn to get comfortable with social media. That’s why it’s important to know the differences between each social media channels, and even though you may not be able to connect with everyone on every channel, if you want to make those new friends who will help your business grow, you’ve got to be social in some way.