There are literally tons of social media platforms and more being added to the social media universe everyday. Many of these platforms attempt to cultivate social, professional, romantic and/or interest-based connections amongst users. Understanding the kinds of connections that are optimal for each platform will help you understand how best to maximize the impact you make on each platform. While I cannot do a deep dive for every social media platform there is, I can give you an idea about how best to take advantage of my top five social media platforms.
While Facebook was not the first social media site, it is easily the biggest. Facebook offers users the opportunity to make just about any kind of connection through friends, groups, pages, ads, interests, events and various Facebook apps. When you consider that Facebook is readily integrated into other web services such as blogs and websites, it comes as no surprise that businesses spend hundreds of millions of dollars each year on Facebook advertising. You do not have to spend hundreds of millions of dollars (or even hundreds of dollars) advertising on Facebook to benefit your business. Create a Facebook page for your business (not a personal page but a page for your business), invite your Facebook friends to like and share your page and regularly post interesting, funny, relevant or viral content.
Twitter is my favorite social media platform because of its simplicity. It is, however, also difficult to get the kind of reach you may desire for your business. There are approximately 500 million tweets per day which means there is a lot of opportunity to reach various audiences. The flipside is that there is a lot of other noise to compete with. The best way to amplify your Twitter voice in a meaningful way is to regularly follow and meaningfully engage with other members of your business community and/or target audience. You also want to make sure your Twitter profile is not void of information. You should use both your Twitter handle and your profile to tell people what you do and where they can go to find out more information.
When it comes to social media, LinkedIn is the current go-to platform for professional connections. Like Facebook, LinkedIn offers various ways to expand your network through features such as company pages, groups, job postings and publishing posts (or articles) reflecting your professional insights. LinkedIn presents a great opportunity to not only make connections but make impressions. Through your profile, your comments on friends’ posts and your own LinkedIn publications, you can really start to build a brand for yourself and make yourself the “go-to” person for a particular field or specialty.
Instagram and Tumblr reign supreme when it comes to sharing and connecting with others over images. Much like Twitter, there is a lot of “noise” in the form of competing images on the two platforms but there is also a lot of opportunity to reach distant audiences. Like the other platforms, regularity and consistency are key to building a following on Instagram and Tumblr. Identify some of the influencers in your field or specialty and engage with them in a meaningful way on their pages and with trending hashtags. By building connections with influencers and consistently putting out quality images, you are sure to increase your following.
Social Media Plan
As is the case with most things in life, failing to plan is planning to fail. Your social media impact is only as good as the plan you create for it. If you do not create a plan, you will not have an impact. The good thing is that creating a social media plan can be easy. A basic plan includes the social media platform(s) that will be most beneficial to your business; a posting schedule; goals; engagement with your connections; and, a regular review of your analytics.
Some social media platforms will be more beneficial to your business than others and this really turns on your target audience, your industry and your personal style. Products and creative services tend to do well on Instagram, Tumblr and Twitter because your posts are easy to scroll through, like and comment on. Professional services like consulting or staffing are probably better for Facebook and LinkedIn because you are able to display in-depth posts and convey information that tells prospective customers about the quality of your business.
The key to success on social media is consistency. This is why a posting schedule goes a long way. Whether you post once per hour, day, week or month, it is important to be consistent about it so that your connections get used to seeing your content and eventually begin to expect it. The goal is to come to mind when someone thinks of your industry or field. The predictability and consistency of a posting schedule help encourage your connections to think of you even when they do not see you. Your posts can consist of a mix of original content and other people’s content that you find interesting or relevant (and that is properly shared).
You should have goals for your social media so that you can use analytics to gauge whether your engagement efforts are successful. In addition to setting goals for the number of connections or followers, consider setting goals such as getting retweets/reposts/shares from influencers on your platform and/or engaging in an actual dialogue on your platform of choice with followers and influencers. Evaluate whether your social media activities are driving traffic to your website or increasing the number of inquiries you receive. Tweak your plan or your strategy if you find that certain types of posts or certain platforms are more effective than others.
Social media should be viewed as a business tool. While it can certainly be mystifying or frustrating to figure out how to be successful, the benefits are both proven and compelling. Check out Inc.’s Social Media Toolkit to help you get started on your plan today!