With 69% of Australians on social media platforms it’s clear most businesses would benefit from a presence there. The hard thing to decide is – which platform?
Representing your brand on social media platforms has become an indispensable part of business over the last decade. Engaging with customers across the now-ubiquitous, no-cost world of social media is such a high-return strategy, it’s difficult to envisage a successful business plan that doesn’t include at least some two-way dialogue between a business and their target market.
The advantages of pursuing a comprehensive social media strategy are many:
- Virtually all social media channels are free to some extent, especially for setting up user accounts
- A full 69 percent of Australians use social media, with significant numbers researching brands before making a major purchase
- 46 percent of Australians visit social media sites daily, which lets you keep your audience in the loop with daily updates
- It’s global, and virtually any platform you use will reach around the world, preparing the way for low-effort expansion into new markets
This ubiquity has given businesses an embarrassment of riches when it comes to reaching out to the public, but that diversity of options creates a problem of its own. There are many weeds in the garden after all, and the return your business gets on certain social media platforms just isn’t going to be worth the time and attention required for them.
How do you avoid pouring resources into a corporate Instagram account, for example, only to find that your core audience there is made up of 14- to 19-year-old kids who may not be in the market for your services?
Another problem created by the multiplicity of social media platforms is the difficulty in tailoring unique content across each platform. You can’t be all things to everyone and it doesn’t do your business any good to have dormant YouTube and Pinterest accounts set up with only one or two posts over six months; it’s just not a good look.
With all of that in mind, my recommendation would be to pick out two or three social media platforms and focus on filling them with engaging, high-quality content that is native to each platform. This approach, however, calls for discipline in choosing your channels. Obviously, a financial services consultant will see a disappointing return if the three chosen platforms are Snapchat, Instagram, and Vine. Picking the right social media channels, and investing heavily in great content, is crucial.
While there’s a lot to be said about Facebook’s diminishing organic reach, you can’t ignore the fact that 95% of Australians use it irrespective of what demographic you’re trying to reach. Even if you don’t have a budget for advertising or boosting posts there, there are still intangible merits that make it worthwhile.
One nice thing about Facebook, and a big part of the reason it’s succeeded as it has, is that it lets you give the public a peek at your business behind the scenes. Your profile picture, for example, can feature the cliché of multiple operators working at a row of computers, but your timeline can include posts from a function you presented at, short bios of your team members, and pictures of the chill out area in the office. If your business is trying to connect on a human level, this is strong direction to take.
As a business owner, you need a LinkedIn profile just the same as you need to be on Facebook, but for the opposite reason: where Facebook humanises professional organisations, LinkedIn represents a serious effort to connect with partners, customers, and potentially new recruits for your business.
Linkedin is also great for your personal brand management as your public profile is indexed on Google. If a potential customer or strategic alliance decides to search for you, there’s a high chance your profile will appear so it helps to have an optimised profile.
From the perspective of a business looking to attract the attention of customers, candidates or business partners, LinkedIn’s demographic profile couldn’t be more promising:
- 24% of Australian social media users are on LinkedIn
- Users average seven visits per week, or once daily—even on weekends
- 77% of small businesses, and a full 82% of large ones, report that advertising through LinkedIn was worth the investment in increased sales
Other social media platforms
So, now that you have the two biggies set up and running well, what’s your third choice for your social media approach? That depends on you, your business, and what kind of relationship you want with your audience.
Twitter, for example, is very much a stream-of-consciousness platform, and every 140-character tweet is like the kind of remark you’d make in person to your followers if you were pressed for time.
Instagram offers your business the opportunity to reach an audience through visual storytelling at no cost (for now) but you need to make sure your target audience is participating there.
Each platform has its advantages and each of them has quirks that can get in the way of effective social media branding.
The “diverse and disciplined” approach – that of setting up on two of the heavies and keeping to just one or two niche channels on the side – seems to offer the most balanced way to combine access to a broad public with high-quality, high-output content that keeps your following growing.
Is your business active on social media? Which social media platforms have you found work best for you?