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Social Media Platforms

By: Bruce Hayne

Much is written and discussed about social media these days and how important it is for every business to have a presence. With that said, there is also great debate about actual, measurable return on investment and how it really fits in with a company’s overall marketing strategy.

Of course, some industries are better suited to social media than others. It’s hard to get people to follow you and like you on social media platforms if you manufacture door hinges. However, when you sell liquor, people genuinely love the products you make or distribute. This makes a social media presence a must.

The reluctance of many organizations to get heavily engaged in social media is understandable. It is time-consuming, difficult to track ROI, and can expose a company to public criticism completely out of their control. Even with those negatives, you still can’t afford to not be there.

Each social media platform has its strengths and weaknesses. Decide first what you’re trying to achieve and then choose the platform(s) best suited to meet your objectives. Are you trying to raise brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website? Create a buzz about a new product? Shore up loyalty? All of the above? The answers to these questions will lead you to the platform and strategy best suited for your products and services.

Facebook is probably the best known and most used social media platform today. While younger people (under age 25) are turning away from it, older adults are still flocking to it. Embedded video and other new features are keeping Facebook alive and well. It’s a great platform to engage consumers in contests and promotions, and it is rich in content compared to platforms such as Twitter, which requires you to get your message across in 140 characters or less.

According to eBizMBA, here are the top 10 platforms based on monthly usage:

Facebook – 900,000,000 – connecting people and groups with posts

Twitter – 310,000,000 – 140 character “tweets” to your followers

LinkedIn – 255,000,000 – primarily used for business-to-business connections/employment

Pinterest – 250,000,000 – hobbies and areas of interest, photo rich

Google+ – 120,000,000 – variety of apps and site optimizations

Tumbler – 110,000,000 – blog posts about a wide variety of interests

Instagram – 100,000,000 – photo and video sharing

VK – 80,000,000 – European social network like Facebook

flickr – 65,000,000 – photo site

Vine – 42,000,000 – 6-second looping videos

It’s all about engaging your customers. Whether it’s your partners or end users, engaging them in your unique story is what social media can help to do. For consistency, be sure to only allow one person or a small group of people manage your social media presence. It will take time to build a loyal following regardless of the platform(s) you choose, so don’t get discouraged early on. If there is no one in-house who has the time or inclination to take charge of your social media postings, there are service providers who can create and post content on your behalf to build your social network.

To get a better understanding of the various options available to you, set up your own personal accounts on various platforms and just follow along for a while to get a sense of each network’s features and culture. Once you are comfortable and like certain platforms, you can then take your company online from there.