Choosing the best social networks to market your business
As digital marketing experts we’re often asked about the benefits of various social networks, and the answer we give always depends on the business that’s asking. Whether you're a tradesman or an e-commerce site, choosing your platforms and the types of post you share can be difficult. Our first and main tip to anyone starting out, or indeed reviewing their digital marketing, is to focus on ideally two, but no more than three social marketing platforms. Doing this will allow you to become an expert in those channels over time, and you can focus on creating great quality, with useful and engaging posts, rather than jumping around several sites updating poorer quality material.
Overview of the main social networks and which businesses they suit most
In this blog post we'll be examining the big players when it comes to social networks, (and yes there are plenty more available too), giving a high level overview of the advantages of each, along with the types of business they best suit. In time we will create more detailed posts about them, starting with some of the largest such as Facebook and Instagram, but for the time being this will act as a brief guide to choosing which ones are right for you.
Information overload – Simplify (not a spell from Hogwarts)
Let’s face it, most of us are bombarded with information every minute of our waking day. I don’t want to pick on a dead guy, but Steve Jobs brought this upon us with the first iphone in 2007! Let me say, I am by no means against technology, the internet or indeed Apple and the late Mr Jobs, I just think we are getting to a stage where things need to start getting simpler rather than more complex. My point is that we all have so much to manage on a daily basis as it is, so adding your business to half a dozen social networks is only going to burn yet more time, and I can assure you the quality of your posts will suffer as a result. So if you take anything from this post, please don’t have more than 3 social networks for your business.
Get to the point – Which ones should I use?
Ah yes, the point, where were we…oh yeah, social networks…..Right, starting with one I’m sure you’ve all heard of…
Broad reach and suitable for all businesses
You’ve got to hand it to Mark Zuckerberg - he has built what is a truly monumental social network, one which over 1.86 billion people use every month, and 35 million of those are in the UK. To put that into context, that’s over half of the UK population using Facebook every month. Being so widely used and popular with all ages it’s pretty much a no brainer for every business to have a page, if you’re not on Facebook where have you been?
- UK user numbers: Approx. 35 million
- Percentage of users logging every day: 75%
- What type of business gets the most from Facebook? All businesses - from cottage industries to global corporations
- Who can I reach? Almost anyone
- What can I use it for? Information, brand awareness, lead generation, sales - you name it.
- How easy is it to manage? Very easy, with apps also available for phones and tablets
- Can I pay to advertise my business? Yes, anyone with a page can advertise on Facebook
- Can I target specific demographics with posts and ads? Yes, the level of targeting in Facebook is unsurpassed
- Which format is best for my posts? Facebook allows you to do everything from simple text posts and pictures, to newer features such as live and 360 degree video.
In summary, one of your 2 or 3 social networks should be Facebook - its broad appeal, huge reach and choice of posting formats make it a perfect first choice for every business.
Excellent for visual products and brand awareness
Instagram (owned by Facebook) has been cannibalising Twitter's numbers in recent years and young people between 18 and 34 make up the bulk of its users. Whilst it’s great for sharing images and both pre-recorded and live video, its weakness is that you can’t include links directly to your site, meaning that for most people Instagram is used more for brand awareness rather than actually converting sales. With around 18 million UK users, of whom over 40% are active each day, it shouldn’t be ignored - especially if you sell products or services which are visually appealing to young people.
- UK User numbers: Approx. 18 Million
- Percentage of users logging every day: 40%
- What type of business gets the most from Instagram? Those selling visually appealing products and services
- Who can I reach? A broad audience - around 50/50 men and women, particularly 18-34 years old
- What can I use it for? Primarily brand awareness
- How easy is it to manage? Very easy, with apps also available for phones and tablets
- Can I pay to advertise my business? Yes you can do sponsored listings to reach more people
- Can I target specific demographics with posts and ads? Yes - the same level of targeting you get in Facebook
- Which format is best for my posts? Pictures and videos, including live videos - make sure you include plenty of tags so that people can come across your posts
Business to Business Social Network – Essential For Professionals
LinkedIn is often called the Facebook for professionals and really comes into its own in the business-to-business market place. Whilst a lot of people view it as their online CV, it can be used to provide yet another shop front for your business. Companies that get the most out of LinkedIn take time to ensure that their page is set up well and the messages and copy echo what can be found on their website. You’ll often find that following a sales call, meeting or event, prospective customers will check out your company and employees on LinkedIn. Providing a re-assurance that you are credible and consistent will help you to advance those conversations and indeed close more business. Unlike many other networks the percentage of daily users is far lower, however you'll find that when those business contacts do log in they'll expect to see you there.
- UK User numbers: Approx. 22 Million
- Percentage of users logging every day: 11%
- What type of business gets the most from LinkedIn? Business-to-business
- Who can I reach? Other professionals
- What can I use it for? Building brand awareness, complementing other channels, reassurance to new business
- How easy is it to manage? Once set up it's straightforward. There's no need to regularly post, just having a page that reflects the business well is a good start.
- Can I pay to advertise my business? Yes
- Can I target specific demographics with posts and ads? Yes
- Which format is best for my posts? Links to interesting resources that are relevant to your industry, sharing successes and awards
Instant information sharing between you and your customers
Twitter is still without a doubt a big player in the social network scene, with almost 19 million users in the UK and 35% of those using it daily. It’s credited with breaking global news stories and giving us an intimate view of those in power or under the spotlight, but can it be effective in growing a brand and building business? We think so. It gives businesses an interface directly with the public, but unlike Facebook you can’t moderate other users’ posts and therefore you get a no holds barred look into the thoughts, likes and dislikes of your customers. It can of course be difficult to manage, and larger businesses will have dedicated teams working around the clock responding to tweets quickly and efficiently. If your business lacks a product or service that is overly visual, or you want a want to update the public quickly on events that have happened, then Twitter is the ideal companion to your Facebook page.
- UK User numbers: Approx. 19 Million
- Percentage of users logging every day: 35%
- What type of business gets the most from Twitter? Larger organisations with the resource to respond quickly to issues and tweets
- Who can I reach? Primarily a younger audience, generally more affluent and working
- What can I use it for? Sharing product/service releases, building brand awareness, engaging directly with customers
- How easy is it to manage? Can require a significant investment in time
- Can I pay to advertise my business? Yes, and the options for this are increasing
- Can I target specific demographics with posts and ads? To an extent. Twitter doesn’t collect as much information as Facebook, therefore the level of targeting is more limited
- Which format is best for my posts? Regular (daily) posts including plenty of relevant hashtags and shortened links to your site
Others to consider
Whilst these are the main players to consider, there are of course many others that are more applicable in certain markets. We’ve listed a few others below along with their primary demographics.
Youtube - One of the biggest search engines on earth and as such a great way to reach existing and new customers.
Pinterest - Similar to Instagram but with a larger proportion of women than men - usually more affluent users.
Snapchat - With its average age of user getting older each year, it won’t be long before Snapchat is a mainstream social network, not just for kids.
What Digital Mast Offers
Based in Bournemouth and Poole, Digital Mast provides high performance web design and digital marketing. An energetic and friendly team work with businesses, helping them to bring on new customers, expand into new markets and ultimately grow.
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