Social Media for Business – What Channels make sense for my Business?

Over the last few years the palette of social media platforms has grown more and more diverse and colorful. Everyday content is being shared, liked and commented on a rising number of channels. These channels pose a great, cost efficient opportunity to businesses to engage huge audiences and win over new target groups.
A successful placement on social networks has already helped numerous brands and business to big-time breakthroughs.

While maintaining an active presence on social networks is highly advisable for any kind of business, it is definitely worth taking some time up-front researching each platform’s quirks and features to single out the best suited channels for your own brand.

Each platform got its own dynamics, demographics and thematic focuses. Finding the optimal mix for one’s own social media strategy is the key to minimize resources needed while maximizing reach and marketing effects.

To help you find the ideal social media channels for your brand we profiled the currently most attractive platforms in this market.

Facebook

With 1.8 bn. active users worldwide (Q4 2016) Facebook is undoubtedly the biggest and most influential social network online. The page that started as a local forum for college students evolved during its 13 years of existence to the number one virtual meeting place. Virtually anyone can network and converse with anybody on this platform.

Individuals and companies alike can stage themselves on their very own profile pages and share thoughts, ideas and news with each other. In so called groups people with similar interests or hobbies can come together and network.

Facebook offers businesses a wide variety of possibilities to engage their target groups, from free-to-use company profiles for posting updates, news and images to payed ad campaigns that come with in-depth data and performance analysis.

With its enormous user numbers, the diverse topical areas and the versatile marketing options, Facebook should be without a doubt one of the cornerstones of every social media strategy, no matter how big your company is or what industry you’re working in.

Twitter

The whole world in 140 characters – Or something like this could be Twitters slogan. On a daily basis almost 320 million people use the short-messaging service to share news, images, videos or links in posts with 140 characters or less.

Twitter in some way revolutionized the art of condensing complex content into short messages. Furthermore it offers the option to directly address certain users, companies or topics by using the characters “@” and “#”.

Twitter is an amazing tool for quickly spreading interesting and engaging content. If you’re on the other hand just looking to distribute plain marketing material you should maybe refrain from using a corporate Twitter account and concentrate on other channels instead.

„Interaction“ is king on Twitter. That’s what also makes it a great customer service tool. The platform can be used to interact with customers and react to their wishes, needs or complaints. An unsatisfied customer is very likely to address your business via Twitter in one way or the other.
An actively maintained Twitter account can easily become the proverbial gold-mine for a wide variety of market research, marketing and customer retention purposes.

Social Media user numbers & prognosis (goo.gl/pkPAS2)

LinkedIn & Xing

To put it short: LinkedIn and its German counterpart Xing are social networks for professionals. These platforms got them all: From the graduate looking for a career entry to the small business proprietor trying to acquire new costumers to CEOs headhunting for qualified staff. The purpose of both platforms is connecting individuals with companies and industries while promoting professional exchange of ideas and personnel.

The apparent main focus of these networks is personnel and service mediation. So creating a profile here is highly recommended for anyone looking for able staff, new job opportunities or wants to market service offers directly to big companies’ deciders.

Especially the, compared to Xing, more internationally operating LinkedIn is a meeting place for high-profile executives actively searching for new potentials. Managing a well-connected and maintained may quickly become a step stone towards next level business for individuals as much as for firms.

Professional demeanor is an absolute premise for successfully handling LinkedIn and Xing profiles. Content shared on these platform should always be well planned and of professional nature.

Instagram

Up to 600 million users daily upload and share images and video on this heavily visually oriented network. Instagram is mostly about the hedonistic lifestyle – Food, art, fashion and travel motifs constitute the majority of posts. A broad assortment of filters and video editing tools provided by the Instagram app further assists the users in glossing up their content.

Design and consumption oriented industries are well represented on Instagram. This doesn’t necessarily mean that other industries won’t be able to score as well.
A construction company might also be able to attract attraction by posting creative and aesthetically appealing content. Thorough research and targeted hashtag usage are crucial for a well-run Instagram account. Correctly placed content is nearly always bound to go viral.

Pinterest

Just like Instagram the in Europe still somewhat unknown social network Pinterest is mostly about fashion, food and free-time. Only the underlying concept is bit a different one. Pinterest lets users create so called boards that work like actual pin boards. Users can pin images and videos to their boards and group the content into different categories.

Especially interesting for businesses is Pinterest’s “Rich Pin” feature. With this feature posted images and videos can be enriched with additional information like recipes or product details.

Compared to Facebook or Instagram Pinterest is still a niche product whose usage is not recommendable for all types of businesses. As Pinterest is currently mostly frequented by women, an in-depth look into this social media channel is quite advisable for businesses promoting services and products for a female audience.

YouTube

Since its creation 10 years ago this video-sharing platform, now owned by Google, has become one of the online brands. More than 1 billion people use the website to upload, watch, comment on and share video content.

Apart from the countless individual users and the professional “YouTubers” there are also a lot of companies running their own video channels as a sometimes more, sometimes less creative marketing asset.

Creativity is what’s driving YouTube. With content that’s tailored towards one’s own target groups and their interests and needs it is well possible for corporations to establish thriving YouTube channels. A thought through content strategy and a team of at least semi-professional video editors are basic requirements for a successful approach. In most cases well done in-house YouTube marketing requires a high amount of funding and resources to work properly and make an impact.

A suitable alternative are co-operations with so called influencers, popular YouTuber, who often reach above-million click numbers. With clever product placements in such video productions it is possible to score amazing short- to middle-term effects for a brand’s reputation.

Snapchat

The idea behind Snapchat is simple: Panta rhei – Everything flows. In contrast to all social networks mentioned before, content posted on Snapchat is only temporal and will delete itself after maximal 24 hours.

In general there are 3 way to interact on Snapchat.
You can directly send images and short videos (max. 10 seconds) to contact on your friends list. The recipients will be able to see the content for 10 seconds after opening the massage before it gets deleted.
Content that’s shared with the Stories feature is accessible to all contacts for 24 hours and can be watch indefinitely during that period. Images and videos posted as stories are displayed in flip-book like manner, one after another in the same order they have been uploaded.
Last but not least there is the Discover feature. Prominent Snapchat partners like Buzzfeed, MTV or Vice use it to market their content and products. Discover articles include additional functionalities like links to websites or extensive texts. Costs for such partnerships can easily add up to five- to six-digit figures a day.

Starting a Snapchat account without big budgets can nevertheless be profitable for business. With such a corporate account you can create stories to aggregate follower and keep your brand in your customers’ mind in a more slack and easy-going way. The momentariness of Snapchat content also diminishes the need for it to be extraordinarily polished. Images and videos shared here may well be funny, spontaneous and unexpected. The main thing is they have to entertain and engage your audience and make it keep your channel in positive memory. It is good advice to refrain from direct marketing on Snapchat and instead concentrate on creative and fresh approaches to content creation.

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