Should your business be on social media? Absolutely. But should you have an account on every platform? Not necessarily.
Your social success depends largely on the type of business you run and how much time and effort you intend to put into your strategy. Some networks, like Facebook, are more low-maintenance and work for every type of business, while others, like Instagram, require more dedication, working best for businesses in certain niches.
We profiled the top social media platforms, so you can learn how to utilize each one for your business and determine which ones fit your needs.
Facebook is the biggest social network out there, both in terms of name recognition and total number of users. With over 1.39 billion active users, Facebook is a great medium for connecting people from all over the world with your business. And Facebook is not only the biggest network, it's arguably the most versatile one. In the 11 years since it launched, Facebook grew from a simple website where college students could keep in touch into a multifaceted Web and mobile social-platform where anyone can connect with not just their friends and family, but also with celebrities, organizations, businesses and more thanks to the Pages feature.
Since Facebook has a wealth of options for any type of organization, it's a great starting point for your business, regardless of your industry. You can use it to share photos, videos, important company updates and more. Additionally, Facebook is a lot more low maintenance in terms of posting frequency — whether you post several updates a day or only a few a week won't make much of a difference in terms of what your fans think of you.
Twitter is another social network where mostly anything goes. With Twitter, you can post short (140 characters or less) text updates along with videos, images, links and more. You can also easily interact with other users by mentioning their usernames in your posts, so Twitter is a great way to quickly connect with people all around the world (the platform has more than 500 million users worldwide). Because of this, Twitter is not only a great way to market your business; it's also an effective channel for handling customer service. For example, if you maintain an active Twitter presence, then customers who are also active on the platform will seek you out to express concerns or share their praise.
If you have interesting content, Twitter is also a great tool for quickly spreading the word. Retweeting and sharing other users' content is incredibly simple, and if a user with a lot of followers retweets you, your content has the potential to go viral. But with Twitter, it's important to remember to find balance — don't simply share your own links or media; make sure you are also sharing a lot of interesting, relevant content from other Twitter users so your audience doesn't think you only care about what your business is doing.
This platform consists of digital bulletin boards where users can save and display content they like in the form of pins. Users create and organize their boards by category, so for example, as a personal user, one might have a board dedicated to food where they pin recipes, another board dedicated to photography they find interesting and so on. Pinterest is very visually oriented (every post has to be an image or video), and like Facebook, it is also fairly low-maintenance as far as post frequency is concerned. However, keeping your boards organized and search-friendly can be time-consuming.
Pinterest is also a much more niche network than Facebook or Twitter, and so it may not work for everyone. Pinterest's users are primarily female, and popular categories on the site are DIY projects, fashion, exercise, beauty, photography and food. That's not to say that businesses outside of these categories can't succeed on the platform, but it does make it a great marketing tool for businesses that do work in those areas. If you can find ways to connect your content to Pinterest's audience, then go for it.
Instagram, like Pinterest, is a visual social media platform that is based entirely on photo and video posts. The network, which Facebook owns, has over 300 million active users, many of whom post about food, art, travel, fashion and similar subjects. Instagram is distinguished by its square photo/video post format that makes each post look similar to a Polaroid picture. This platform, unlike the others, is almost entirely mobile (there is a Web version, but you can't take photos or create new posts, and other functions are limited, as well).
Instagram is another platform where more artistic niches excel, so again, it may not be the best fit for your business depending on your industry. If you want to succeed with Instagram, it's important that the person running your account has a good eye for detail and has at least basic photography skills so that the photos and videos posted to your account are high quality. And don't be discouraged if your industry is underrepresented on Instagram; if you can find the right hashtags to latch onto and can post intriguing photos, you will most likely make it work.
Tumblr is arguably the most difficult social media platform to use as a business, but it's also one of the most interesting networks. Tumblr allows several different post formats, including text posts, chat posts, quote posts, audio posts, photo posts and video posts, so you're not limited as to what kind of content you can share. As with Twitter, reblogging (reposting other users' content) is very quick and easy, so if a user with a lot of followers shares your content, it's possible to go viral fairly quickly. However, what sets Tumblr apart more than anything is its audience, which is less like a pool of users and more like one big tight-knit community full of smaller subcommunities.
Tumblr currently hosts more than 200 million blogs, and the majority of these blogs are run by young people (half of Tumblr's visitor base is under the age of 25). But this means that businesses that don't cater to young people's interests or aren't relatable to young people in some way are not poised for success on the network. The good news is, there's a subcommunity or fandom for almost every niche and interest you can think of, so a successful marketing campaign is possible if you use Tumblr correctly.
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