Building a Social Media Presence for your Business
According to the Pew Research Center, 72% of online adults regularly use a social network. Social media is no longer a passing buzzword despite its relatively young age, and businesses are paying attention. According to Business 2 Community, 52% of marketers have found customers on Facebook, 36% on Twitter, and 43% on Linkedin. Companies are now hiring knowledgeable professionals to maintain their social media accounts, which was unheard of a few years ago. These individuals must be well-connected, savvy wordsmiths, quick with updates and news, and able to answer requests and work through consumer demands. Building a strong social media presence that achieves business goals requires strategy, commitment, and creativity in equal measures. Sound daunting? Let Picobarn break it down for you.
Where did social media come from?
Before Facebook, blogs, podcasts, Internet forums, and wikis were commonplace, a rudimentary internet network called the Bulletin Board System was the closest thing to an online meeting space. Beginning in 1978, people used BBS to send messages and share files with strangers and the precursor to the modern social network was born. During the late 70s and early 80s other basic online bulletin boards cropped up on college campuses and in obscure hobbyist groups. The launch of America Online (AOL) in 1985 and Geocities in 1994 paved the way for mainstream internet usage. In September 1998, Google filed for incorporation and radically changed the way information was organized online. After the advent of early social networking sites like Friendster and Myspace, Facebook arrived and changed the game forever. According to Wikipedia there are currently eighteen social networks with more than 100 million active users. For businesses to remain relevant and profitable, they must follow their clients to the web.
What do you want people to do?
There is more than one social network, each one fills different needs. Choose social media outlets that are relevant to your business — that is, the social media outlets your target market uses. First, let’s discuss the most popular social media networks and the typical demographic encountered on each. We’ve culled this information from a number of resources like Business Insider and Business2Community as well as our own experiences working with clients.
Facebook – By far the largest and most popular network, Facebook has a growing number of 40 and 50 year olds. That demographic has grown more than 40 percent in the past year alone. While the majority of Facebook users still skew young, from teens to 30 year olds, we predict younger social media users to transition to other, more narrow social media platforms as older adults spend more of their free time on Facebook. Here are some more interesting stats on the Facebook demographic.
LinkedIn – LinkedIn is typically seen as a “job search tool,” but it is increasingly popular among professionals and consultants. LinkedIn can also be used as a content marketing tool for companies, entrepreneurs and other industry influencers.
Twitter – Perhaps one of the most overwhelming networks for beginners, Twitter was created as a micro-blogging platform and is used mostly for news consumption. Twitter’s twist on social media content marketing was the hashtag, a phrase or keyword used with a pound sign like “#2014resolution”. Other Twitter tools to include in your marketing strategy would be Retweets (shorthand RTs) and Mentions (using the “@” to tag someone on Twitter).
Pinterest – A new and growing platform, Pinterest mimics an inspiration wall, with “pins” being photos with captions that you can like, comment on, and repin to your followers. This is a great tool for any ecommerce businesses and designers. Other top trending industries for Pinterest include parenting products, home goods, food and restaurants, fashion and lifestyle products.
Instagram – This social media network made headlines last year when Facebook purchased the app for an unprecedented $1 billion. For any business-to-consumer enterprise, retail shop or creative professional, Instagram is an excellent tool to build a following, show off your chops, and market your goods. Photo contests on Instagram have remarkable success reaching new customers and improving brand loyalty.
Businesses interested in using Social Media to promote their products are smart to do so, but how to do you know the right place to start? When you call Picobarn, we will go over the first steps any savvy social media lead should take:
Knowing your audience
Posting about the company or business
How to network with an audience
Strategies to discover new followers and trends
Beware the Blerch: How to Avoid Burnout
Finally, we want to briefly discuss a common issue with any new social media campaign: burnout. In many ways, a successful social media campaign is like running a marathon—it takes religious-like practice and daily maintenance for any effect. Like marathon runners, social media leads must beware the Blerch, the burnout monster who tempts you to quit around every corner. Social media is demanding and multifarious, and it’s so easy to become overwhelmed or frustrated and have your social media accounts fall into a lapsed state. The biggest prevention of burnout is zeroing in on just a small number of social media networks to maintain and monitor. (Of course, if you want to get rid of the headache entirely, you can always call in our social media gurus at Picobarn to take care of your profiles for you.) The best advice for social media we’ve received so far is to “Keep it up!” Producing regular, highly relevant content about your products, your niche or trends in the industry is the best way to establish your brand’s voice and develop strong relationships with consumers and clients.
Have you run a social media campaign for a business before? What were your successes and challenges? We would love to hear from you in the comments below!