Six so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing chan­nels for busi­ness

The last decade has seen so­cial me­dia take the dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing world by storm - it has been a game changer for al­most ev­ery com­pany.

The Malta Independent on Sunday - - NEWS - An­drew John­son An­drew John­son is a dig­i­tal mar­ket­ing ex­ec­u­tive at Deloitte Dig­i­tal. For more in­for­ma­tion, please visit www.de­loit­te­dig­i­tal.com.mt/ on­line-mar­ket­ing

Ever since the evo­lu­tion of so­cial plat­forms, spe­cific cus­tomer tar­get­ing has be­come more poignant and yet now also eas­ier than ever. So­cial me­dia is in fact one of the greater tech­no­log­i­cal in­no­va­tions of the mod­ern era, for both com­mu­ni­ca­tion and mar­ket­ing pur­poses, be­ing so di­rect and rel­a­tively easy to use.

Through so­cial me­dia, mar­keters are able to ex­pand their reach to those users who are ac­tu­ally in­ter­ested in spe­cific ser­vices or prod­ucts be­ing of­fered by com­pa­nies. One of the best features be­ing of­fered my so­cial me­dia plat­forms is the abil­ity to lower costs for clients - gone are those days where busi­nesses were re­quired to pay ex­ces­sive amounts in the hope of ad­ver­tis­ing and reach­ing a few po­ten­tial clients. Busi­nesses are now able to reach a spe­cific tar­get au­di­ence with fees as low as 5 Eu­ros per day (in or­der to achieve ac­tual re­sults).

That said, dif­fer­ent so­cial me­dia plat­forms ap­peal to dif­fer­ent kinds of au­di­ences so it is im­por­tant to iden­tify which plat­form a busi­ness should use to mar­ket on­line. In or­der to es­tab­lish this, one needs to be fa­mil­iar with the work­ings of each plat­form. Be­low is a list of some of the favoured so­cial me­dia plat­forms, from a mar­ket­ing per­spec­tive where the aim is to ac­quire new clients.

Face­book

Cur­rently the largest so­cial me­dia plat­form in the world, with over two bil­lion monthly ac­tive users, it also has the largest de­mo­graphic blend of all so­cial me­dia plat­forms. Face­book pro­vides an easy yet ex­tra­or­di­nary medium for any busi­ness to con­nect with prospec­tive cus­tomers all over the world. It prob­a­bly of­fers one of the best, most ac­cu­rate forms of tar­get­ing and is one of the eas­i­est to man­age. Face­book is a great tool for get­ting users from the Face­book news feed to reach a busi­ness/per­sonal web­site (sign up page or spe­cific page) with a sim­ple click of a but­ton.

In­sta­gram

Orig­i­nally launched in 2010, Face­book bought In­sta­gram in 2012 for ap­prox­i­mately US$1 bil­lion, which says a lot about how its new own­ers per­ceived the plat­forms’ po­ten­tial. In­sta­gram is a very pop­u­lar photo shar­ing plat­form that en­ables users to share and view high qual­ity im­agery and de­scrip­tions with friends. With visual based mes­sag­ing com­ing to the fore, this tool can be seen as a great plat­form for busi­nesses. What bet­ter way to mar­ket your prod­uct than with a high qual­ity im­age, on a widely used plat­form made specif­i­cally for that pur­pose. With in­te­gra­tion into Face­book’s ad­ver­tis­ing plat­form, it is now a sim­ple click of a but­ton that en­ables ad­verts for prod­ucts and ser­vices to be dis­trib­uted to the In­sta­gram plat­form, di­rectly into user feeds. Although some might dis­re­garded the value of In­sta­gram, the em­pha­sis be­ing given by Face­book sug­gests that this is a vi­able mar­ket­ing stream for reach­ing teens and young adults.

Twit­ter

Mar­ket­ing on twit­ter is quite straight for­wards, re­ly­ing mainly on the abil­ity of posts go­ing vi­ral. The more your a is shared and retweeted by users, the higher chance it has of go­ing vi­ral, which will help com­pa­nies who are seek­ing to gain more fol­low­ers of their prod­ucts and ser­vices. Hash­tags are an im­por­tant part of the Twit­ter world where ‘#’ is placed in front of a word which pro­motes it as a po­ten­tial topic for trend­ing. Hash­tags that are ‘in trend’ are more likely to at­tract users to fol­low a busi­ness. It is key that mar­keters keep them­selves aware of cur­rent ‘trend­ing’ hash­tags, to en­sure they are post­ing cor­rectly in or­der to achieve de­sired re­sults. Twit­ter of­fers a very good B2C re­la­tion­ship, as busi­nesses are able to com­mu­ni­cate di­rectly to users on this plat­form.

LinkedIn

The LinkedIn plat­form is pur­pose­fully built for pro­fes­sion­als and busi­nesses work­ing in a B2B field. LinkedIn makes it easy to con­nect with a spe­cific au­di­ence as mar­keters are able to tar­get peo­ple by in­dus­try, job ti­tle, job po­si­tion, etc. This plat­form pri­ori­tises re­la­tion­ship build­ing over all the other so­cial me­dia plat­forms as em­pha­sis is placed on cre­at­ing a ‘con­nec­tion’ be­tween two users or busi­nesses. Another wel­come fea­ture is LinkedIn Groups, which are closed or open groups that en­cour­age busi­nesses and pro­fes­sion­als in sim­i­lar tar­get niches or in­dus­tries to join up and in­vite oth­ers in the same tar­get mar­ket where con­nec­tions can be ex­panded and net­work­ing can be ef­fec­tive. LinkedIn is seen as the pre­mier plat­form for busi­nesses and pro­fes­sion­als to mar­ket them­selves. In ad­di­tion, LinkedIn pro­files are of­ten re­ferred to through Google search by re­cruiters and pro­fes­sion­als that are seek­ing to learn more about po­ten­tial tar­gets and busi­ness re­la­tion­ships re­spec­tively.

Pin­ter­est

Another plat­form that fits well into the visual mar­ket­ing niche, and some­what sim­i­lar to In­sta­gram, is a photo shar­ing so­cial me­dia plat­form called Pin­ter­est, which en­ables users to ‘pin’ high qual­ity im­agery (or links to im­ages within on­line ar­ti­cles) in or­der to share them. Pins can also be grouped into gal­leries called ‘boards’. Users may be­come pop­u­lar and ‘fol­lowed’ by oth­ers if their pins are seen as in­ter­est­ing/high qual­ity and re­ceive con­stant pos­i­tive feed­back, which can see their pins or boards pro­moted through­out the net­work and seen by mil­lions around the world. Much like Google’s im­age search, Pin­ter­est is of­ten seen a pre­ferred plat­form for peo­ple search­ing for visual ideas. Adding links to pinned posts also helps busi­nesses to boost sales, as users are then able to browse the prod­uct site for more in­for­ma­tion.

YouTube

Founded in 2005, YouTube is the cur­rently the se­cond largest so­cial me­dia plat­form and was bought by Google as early as 2006 for US$1.65 bil­lion. Be­cause Google now owns YouTube, YouTube videos are more likely to rank above other web­sites in Google’s search re­sults – an im­por­tant fac­tor when con­sid­er­ing SEO (Search Engine Op­ti­mi­sa­tion). Ad­ver­tis­ing on YouTube is video-based – while this might seem a more time-con­sum­ing propo­si­tion to con­sider, video mar­ket­ing should be a con­sid­er­a­tion for the fu­ture as ready-made soft­ware and even mo­bile phones tools are now avail­able that make the pos­si­bil­ity of video pro­duc­tion more ap­proach­able. In terms of grab­bing user at­ten­tion, sound and video is at the top and will only keep ris­ing as we move into the fu­ture.

Given Face­book’s ven­ture with In­sta­gram, you can see now how ac­quir­ing plat­forms geared to­wards visual mar­ket­ing is seen as an im­por­tant part of strat­egy for the ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try. How­ever, when all is said and done, so­cial me­dia plat­forms all have their own pros and cons - there is no ‘best’ one-stop so­cial me­dia so­lu­tion for mar­keters and each busi­ness ap­peals to dif­fer­ent au­di­ences and vice versa. There­fore the an­swer must be to use a blend of dif­fer­ent plat­forms de­pend­ing on the de­sired goals. Some plat­forms of­fer more fo­cused tar­get­ing with higher costs, while oth­ers of­fer broader tar­get­ing with lower costs. Some time to re­search is all that is re­quired to de­ter­mine the ideal so­cial me­dia mar­ket­ing strat­egy for your com­pany.

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