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8 Social Media Platforms: Who Should Use Them & How
Many businesses are looking at the value of building an inbound marketing platform using social media and web content to create value, attract attention, and drive leads into the business. With so many different social media platforms to choose from, many business owners are stuck spending more time trying to figure out new platforms than building their business.
It’s easy to get overwhelmed by the sheer volume of social media platforms. Which ones are right for your business? One solution is to research your various social media options and then hone in on the top two or three that make the most sense for your brand.
We put together this post to give you an overview of your social media options, along with drawbacks and benefits of each.
Facebook remains the largest social media platform, and many businesses have gained great value from using it. However, a lot of those businesses have discovered that starting in 2014, Facebook has regularly changed their algorithm to drive down organic reach and drive up paid reach.
There are still ways to grow your Facebook audience organically, but reaching the right audience and getting them to engage is unpredictable at best. Having a Facebook page (just like having a frequently updated website) is useful for showing that you’re current and active, but for now, Facebook’s algorithm is one of the reasons many businesses are focusing on building value on their own websites, as well as branching out to other social media platforms.
The second-largest social media platform, Twitter’s 140 character limit creates unique opportunities for businesses to manage their information in a fast-paced environment without the constraints of a search algorithm filtering out results. Twitter users can instead filter their own results through hashtag searches, lists, and chats.
The chat function is very important for businesses who desire to increase their marketing and brand value on Twitter. In a Twitter chat, a brand’s account poses questions related to your business and industry and an expert gives their opinion on each question, but anyone on Twitter can join by using the chat’s hashtag and posting their own answers or responses to answers.
Twitter’s market includes many journalists, marketers, and online businesses, as well as a hugely diverse group of consumers. To use Twitter well, businesses need to focus on the fast-paced lead generation without losing sight of the fact that there is a real person behind each profile: treat them as you would in person.
Among all the major social media platforms, Google+ functions the most like a CRM (customer relationship management) platform. With full communication integration through Gmail, Hangouts, and Google Talk, Google+ often functions less as a social media site and more of an interactive business management system.
With Google Drive and Photos integrated into the Google system as well, businesses can use it as a collaborative tool. While the social media aspects of Google+, profile pages, and sharing, are incredibly valuable (especially for search ranking, and especially if you’re a small local business like a restaurant), many businesses use Google+ for more than just marketing.
If you do not know and use LinkedIn, you are sorely missing out. LinkedIn is a networking site specifically for businesses and professionals. Networking on LinkedIn is designed to establish you as a thought leader in your industry and connect you with other businesses. This is essential for building trust and relationships with businesses and customers: you build trust, and they will come to you for help, for more information, and when your business can potentially fulfill their need.
For anyone with friends and family in the do-it-yourself crowd, Pinterest is a well-known platform. Pinterest is a site for sharing pictures and other media via “pins” to “boards.” This gives businesses and individuals the ability to create valuable infographics, advertisements, and how-to pictures.
These pins bring value and worth to your entire community and create essential momentum in building trust and communication. Pinterest users are 68% women, so this site is great marketing for businesses who desire to reach out to tech-savvy and artistic women, as well as any business owners in a visually-oriented industry.
Pinterest and Instagram seem similar on the surface, but they differ in function. Instagram is designed for users to post photos, and now short videos and “stories“. Instagram was founded in 2010 and now has 700 million monthly users, and does a great job of attracting millennials. Instagram is driven by mobile photography, and is a great way to supplement your mobile marketing on other sites. With “official” photos combined with candid shots at the office, you can build your brand visually while creating powerful value and trust with your audience.
Videos are a powerful platform for delivering information, building relationships, and creating emotional connections with your target audience. YouTube is a great platform for managing webinars, posting instructional videos, and providing value for your customers. Webinars are one of the most important parts of YouTube information management.
While hosted on their own site instead of YouTube, Moz’s Whiteboard Friday videos are excellent examples of using the video medium to engage your customers effectively.
While many people do not think of a blog as a social media platform, blogs are designed to manage social interactions between a brand, individual, or company and their target audience. A well-designed and consistently updated blog is a place where you can drive traffic from all your other social media platforms without losing control of your content, presentation, and user access to specific information like CTAs and infographics.
By taking advantage of commenting on your blog, you can further turn your blog into a social media content driving engine: build relationships, create dialogue, and provide value for your prospects. Additionally, your business’s blog can be structured to integrate with audio/visual platforms for a full multi-media experience.
Key Things to Keep in Mind
Each of these platforms comes with its own unique quirks, but they all share a common goal of helping you better engage your prospective and current customers with relevant content.
Whichever social media platforms you choose to focus on, it’s important to keep these points in mind:
- It is easy to get overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information online and start treating people as numbers. Always remember that the social media users who interact with your brand online are real people. Spam, aggressive sales pitches, and offering content with little to no value all detract from an authentic social marketing campaign that actually resonates with people.
- Graphics sell information. There is a reason George Takei has over 8 million fans on Facebook and is a larger brand on the internet at 78 than many younger celebrities. He delivers hilarious, thought-provoking pictures and memes to all his fans regularly. If you want users to interact with your brand online, and share your posts, use graphics.
- Any site worth building your brand on is worth regular posting. Multiple posts a day get your information in front of users regardless of time zone and preferred social media use (at work or at home in the evenings). There are great tools for scheduling multiple posts to publish throughout the week, like Hootsuite, Sprout Social, MeetEdgar, and Buffer, so that social media management doesn’t become a distraction throughout the day.
In the course of marketing your business, there are many things to learn and ongoing changes on each platform that will affect your business. Using the various social media platforms effectively has the potential to drive plenty of traffic to your business, but there’s a definite learning curve when it comes to differentiating all those platforms and tailoring niche content to each one (if appropriate).
With so much to learn, it makes sense to outsource your marketing and content generation to a professional marketer. Rather than navigating the confusing field of social marketing all alone, contact us for your free business social marketing analysis today.