Social Media Best Practices: What Social Networks are Right for You?

Social Media Best Practices: What Social Networks are Right for You?

By Claire Schillings

When it comes to social media, one thing’s for sure—and that’s nothing. Twitter has hashtags, but LinkedIn has Influencers. Pinterest has pins, and Tumblr has posts. And is a Facebook “like” the same as an Instagram one? While many of them overlap, every social network is unique in its own way, and that means they each have distinct strengths and weaknesses.

If you’re getting ready to launch social media for your brand, you’re probably about ready to choose your networks. But let’s clarify one thing: “all of the above” probably isn’t your best option. Some brands feel the pressure of having a presence on every social network, but it can spread them too thin and waste time.

The solution is simple: cast your line where the fish are biting. With different audiences, measurement tools, and capabilities on each network, crafting an effective social strategy means leveraging the network (or networks) that best meet your needs and reach your audience. Now that we’re all on the same page with building a social foundation and avoiding some big blunders, here’s what you need to know about some top social channels, and how to decide if they’re right for you.

Facebook

Believe it or not, Facebook is worth more than your mom’s embarrassing picture comments. There are almost as many people on Facebook as there are residents in China, so naturally, there’s a draw. While Facebook may be losing some steam with younger generations, over 70 percent of adults online actively use it, making it the most popular social media site by a landslide.

A solid Facebook presence is especially important for B2C companies, largely due to the advertising and targeted sponsorship capabilities. Because Facebook is primarily a personal network (as opposed to the likes of LinkedIn), B2C companies in particular see high engagement opportunities. While it’s important to note that the Facebook algorithm has been limiting brand posts within consumer news feeds, those that avoid promotional content and stick to visual-based, relevant topica (like Oreo for example) see greater success.

Twitter

For brands and people alike, Twitter is an information hub of news, popular culture and tons of interaction. With high traffic among both men and women, Twitter offers engagement potential for brands to reach younger audiences. For both B2B and B2C brands alike, branding and community management generally take precedence on Twitter, while e-commerce and sales-driven marketing should be on the back burner.

On Twitter, snackable content is key. Tweets with less than 100 characters receive 17 percent more engagement, and those that feature trending hashtags, Twitter handles or engaging visuals (like these from Delta Airlines) work well to start conversations with your audience. And don’t be afraid to answer! A retweet or reply can keep followers coming back for more.

LinkedIn

We all know LinkedIn for its networking capabilities, but brands can (and should) network, too. For both B2B and B2C companies alike, a LinkedIn presence is first and foremost essential for recruiting purposes. With so many job seekers in one place, it’s teeming with potential employees to build your company’s teams.

But beyond recruiting, LinkedIn’s potential for industry-specific discussions and sharing business insight is a B2B marketer’s sweetspot. LinkedIn is 277 percent more efficient for lead generation than Facebook and Twitter, so a carefully curated conversation on LinkedIn can be a powerful asset for driving ROI. IBM is a great example of this. Their content spurs hundreds of comments and lively discussions.

Instagram

For visual brands, Instagram is an excellent way to connect with your more consumer-facing audience base. Because its user base overlaps with Twitter’s, coordinating with Twitter can offer brands synergistic engagement opportunities across multiple platforms. Instagram’s internal linking capabilities aren’t great at driving traffic like those on Facebook or Twitter, but its strong suit falls under brand building. Brands with image-based stories to tell or visual elements to showcase, like fashion and lifestyle brand Everlane, should use Instagram as a key tool in their arsenal.

Pinterest

Like Instagram, Pinterest is any highly visual brand’s goldmine. Pinterest users—the majority of whom are women—collect product favorites and curated lists, so providing them with curated recommendations is the primary way of engagement. Particularly for lifestyle and retail brands, Pinterest resonates with shoppers, consumers and browsers alike; it drives four times the amount of sales per click than Twitter does. But don’t count B2B brands out on Pinterest. Infographics, data illustrations and even company culture photos can find a home on business-facing pinboards. GE’s Pinterest is a great example of this.

Google+

While many people assume that the platform hasn’t exactly taken off with mainstream users like Facebook or Twitter has, Google+ actually boasts over 540 million active users. Tech companies in particular have great potential to create communities on Google+, as its users tend to be more tech-savvy than those on other social sites. With its “hangouts” feature and its “circles”-based organization, Google+ offers unique ways of engaging and grouping with B2B audiences. Worth mentioning is Google+’s SEO benefits as well. Because it’s Google’s social network, the more content you post, the better your content’s SEO rank. For brands looking to boost their standing with Google, investing time in its social network is a great first step.

Tumblr

Similar to both Instagram and Pinterest, Tumblr is a visual and interactive social site with a demographic of predominantly young users (41 percent of Tumblr users are between 18 and 34). While it’s best known for image- or video-based content, don’t count Tumblr out for text posts. It’s a great way to integrate visual elements into text-heavy content. For brands looking to offshoot a blog or creative project onto an external site, Tumblr is a viable option, as it straddles both the blogging and social media worlds. GQ’s Tumblr bridges does this—and very successfully, too.

No matter which network you wind up choosing for your brand, what matters most are the relationships you build with your audiences. Make every interaction genuine, strategic and even a little bit playful; social media is all about connecting. Stay tuned for our next few posts where we dive into the details of navigating specific networks. And while you wait, share your social wisdom and woes with us @LaunchSquad.

Image c/o techtimes.com

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