Social media can be an absolute godsend for marketers looking to maximise the online reach of a company or business. Of course, social media can also be a complete pain in the neck for some marketers, too, as maintaining constant output on the channels, keeping on top of interactions with customers and staying in-tune with constantly evolving best practices takes a lot of time and effort.
But social media is hugely influential and definitely worth the extra effort for the reach and exposure it can produce. So let’s take a look at the top few social media sites and how they can be leveraged for better brand exposure – warts and all:
Everyone has heard of Facebook; it’s almost impossible to have completely ignored any mention of the site, whether for personal or business use. It has millions of active users and is therefore perfect for businesses looking to extend their reach; the beauty of Facebook is that it is so popular, almost all demographics are accounted for. And similarly, there is a place for most businesses with a target audience ready and waiting to be engaged. Marketers can easily set up a Facebook page for a company, which can include the logo, contact information, hyperlinks to the actual website and content created to generate interest. There’s also the incredibly useful Facebook Insights tool that allows marketers to keep tabs on page likes, page engagement levels and post-reach. It is also great for emerging online trends like mobile optimisation, as the site has a specific mobile app – meaning business pages can be accessed on the move.
Ads can also be purchased on the site and running promotions can be published on a page. But, along with all these great features come a lot of constantly-evolving guidelines and algorithms; the site is always updating its rules for businesses for the benefit of its users, so marketers need to be sure to stick to them so that they don’t annoy the site or their audience with inappropriate content.
Although businesses and the public were unsure about Twitter at first (the unique 140-character limit was a new concept), the site has simply exploded in popularity, launching the hashtag feature that has spread across other social sites (Facebook and Instagram) and is now a worldwide phenomenon. Twitter, like Facebook, has millions of users and therefore caters for almost every market. But it is different to Facebook in that it forces a business to be more concise with its posting. If savvy marketers post correctly, Twitter can encourage more interconnectivity between other sites – like blogs, Facebook pages and Instagram accounts. It is the ideal launching platform for directing users to other sites for more information.
The speed at which Twitter moves and the consequent need to be concise is what can trip marketers up. They need to understand their Twitter audience (the kind of hashtags that draw them in, when they are most active on the site) and learn to tweet in keeping with these needs.
This may seem like a wildcard social media choice, but Instagram – compared to the more business-focused LinkedIn or Google+, for example – is a breath of fresh air for marketers and has actually overtaken Twitter in its number of active users and is swiftly catching up with Facebook (although it is owned by the site).
Yes, it is a specifically image-focused site, but this makes it the perfect antidote to the short tweets or lengthier blogs shared by a business on other platforms; it gives marketers the chance to get creative and engage their target audience (again, most demographics are covered on the site, and if they’re not then images can be shared on both Facebook and Twitter easily enough) in a visual manner. Even if the product or service being touted isn’t visual, companies can use Instagram to showcase their culture, employees or milestone events in the business.
As Instagram is visual, the aesthetics of a business is something marketers need to define – they need to maintain a consistent ‘look’ or ‘feel’ on the business’ account, or risk confusing the user or creating a muddied impression.
Overall, social media is genuinely a fantastically modern method of marketing; it’s mostly free, hugely popular across most demographics and geographies, has no time constraints and is totally measurable. Marketers can objectively track how popular a particular piece of content was, and even how popular a company is overall with the click of a button, giving genuine insight into how a business is performing in the online space and pinpointing where improvements can be made to generate that all important reach.