Social media for business

Which social media platforms are right for my business?

“You can’t run away from trouble. There ain’t no place that far.”

Or social media, in this case.

When you’re next on a train, bus, a busy street, or out and about anywhere – count the people with their heads buried in their phones and you’ll have no problem reaching double figures.

All of those people you counted will range considerably by demographic, but they will have one thing in common; many of them will be interacting with some form of social media and quite probably interacting with a business or organisation.

Having a presence on social media is a very important factor in communicating with your audience online. The perception of your business has never been a more important part of your branding. One bad review online can deter swathes of potential customers. Your image needs to be managed, and very carefully.

The abundance of social platforms is at such an unprecedented level that big corporate organisations are creating well-paid, full-time positions to manage their own accounts. This indicates the extent of which social technology is changing our world and how we need to adapt our approach to marketing our brands. However, we’re not all multi-national corporations with endless amounts of capital to throw at this, so by being here, I’ll make the assumption you want to do this yourself.

Symbian’s guide to social media will help you choose the platforms to post to, what to post, how often, and when the best time is to shout about your latest offer.

So if you can’t beat them, join them.

Performing a quick search for social media channels will introduce you to a confusing amount of options – making it difficult to know exactly which channels will be good outlets for your business.

One question to ask yourself before signing up to all and sundry is do you understand the culture behind the platform? Each platform has a very particular user demographic and using a method for one social platform may not being the correct course of action for the next. Often, one platform can use language and dialects that aren’t seen on another. This includes niche jokes, references to site-specific happenings and colloquialisms.

Our guide lists the most popular social networks to use for business, defines what they are used for and ranks them by the most visited. Helping you to easily find the perfect platform for your business and know the perfect time to get your message across; whatever your business.

The List

1. Facebook

“I like graphic design”
Everybody has a Facebook profile. Everybody.
Unless you’re that guy that lives under that rock. This platform is a must for any business.
Usage: 1.28 billion daily active users (source March 2017)

Your first step is to create a business manager account. From here, you can manage all your posts, adverts, and sponsored posts. You can also see the financial outlay for these items and analytics to show which ones are working for your money.

Best for: A business will thrive if their output is shareable. A lot of retail outlets like shops and restaurants enhance this by sharing offers and vouchers. But if even if you manufacture chair legs or distribute chicken wire, being active – however you choose to dress it up – is still favourable to losing business to a competitor.

What to post: Post anything about the services or products your company is involved with. Updates can include links from news sites or relevant industry pages that directly affect your business or your audience’s interests. Vouchers or sale events always work.

*Top Tip: Follow an 80/20 rule by posting news, links and other pages at 80% and keep self-promotion to about 20%.

At first, you won’t have any likes, but post anyway; invite your employees and their entire extended family to like your company’s page too. The visitors that haven’t already ‘liked’ your page will still want to see the type of business you are, before entering into that emotional contract and eventually clicking the ‘like’ button.

Best times to update: Early afternoons, between 1–3pm. This window gets better towards the end of the week. If you are going post at the weekend, post around midday.

How often:Depending on your company size, post one or two things each day. Remembering your share/self-promotion ratio.

2. Youtube

“I can show you how to design a logo”

Usage: 1.5 Billion estimated unique monthly visitors

Best for: Niche markets thrive here – if you are involved with something that is on the periphery of mainstream sport, activity or media, your audience is here. Young people will use YouTube for everything they can’t get from the television, which is nearly everything they’re into. Clips and highlights, tutorials and how-tos, teasers for events are all high-performing videos, and the better they are, the more often they are shared through facebook and twitter.

3. Twitter

“I’m designing a #logo”

Twitter is an extremely fast moving platform, so posting often isn’t as bad for you as it might be on Facebook, for instance.

Global usage: 400 million estimated unique monthly visitors
Best for: Anyone!  Really – Anyone. Talking to multiple people at once in far-flung corners of the world has never been easier.
What to post: Start conversations, comment and interact regularly if you can. Provide links to other, similar companies’ content will also encourage people to follow you, appearing as a source of information within your industry.

Like Facebook, industry-related news or relevant industry pages will be of interest to your followers. Again, a la Facebook, follow the 80/20 rule; post links and content that isn’t generated by you 80% of the time and promote your business with offers, deals, sales, events, or just plain chatter for 20%.

Best times to post content:
It’s safe to post anytime on twitter most weekdays, but particularly, you’ll receive bigger audiences around lunch after midday, your afternoon break at 3 pm, and after work around 5 pm for a couple of hours. Quite similar to LinkedIn, in terms of working vs networking.
How often: Every day for content – and all day for engaging!

4. Instagram

“Look at our awesome #graphicdesign”

A purely visual feast, Instagram plays strongly to users most wanton interests. The best time to catch this audience is when they are on a downtime. So target your customer’s commutes, evenings and weekends – and don’t forget to catch those night owls!

Global usage: 275 million estimated unique monthly visitors
Best for: Companies with strong visual identities. Lifestyle, art, food, personalities and luxury brands.
What to post: Desirable objects. Photos, celebs, artwork, designs, handiwork, sports.

Using hashtags (#) adds a searchable keyword to your post. #graphicdesign #logo #photo #etc

*TOP TIP – if you use Instagram on a mac, hashtags are revealed under the ‘3’ key, by pressing ‘alt‘ with it.

If you’re a brand that uses promotions at events, a great way to engage is to get visitors to post to Instagram using your event hashtag, while tagging you. Have an incentive for those that take part like free giveaways or prizes.

Best times to post:
• Most weekdays are good for posts – except Fridays for some reason – maybe they switch to Pinterest…
• 2 am and 5 pm are the optimal hours. But, 8 am and 10 pm are also good.
• Overall; Mondays and Thursday, at 2 am and 5 pm.

How often: Every day is fine.

5. LinkedIn

“Our skill is Graphic Design.”
Global Usage: 250 million estimated unique monthly visitors
Best for: B2B companies. But a very good way to connect to similar types of all companies. Hugely popular with recruiters and job-seekers.
What to say: Don’t use a sales pitch; start with making a connection. LinkedIn makes it easy to connect with any business professional because you are able to target quite specific areas, in any industry.
Take the time to investigate LinkedIn’s Groups feature. Establish a group in your industry or niche, and look to invite others from your target market.
Best times to post: Basically, try to post when nobody is working. Since everyone here is professional, most will (should) be hard at work during office hours. The best days are Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday, but all weekdays are safe.
How often: About 3 times per week is good, out of office hours.

If your business is in the B2B sphere, this is the social media network for you. Make connections with business professionals in any industry is simple with LinkedIn because it allows you to specifically target them by their industry, job title, etc. Like all social media, LinkedIn prioritises building relationships more than any other. Again, don’t lead with a sales pitch; build a connection.

6. Reddit

“Look at this cool page of graphic design.”
A lesser-known social platform, but in terms of quality, it is second to none. Don’t be put off by the basic interface, especially on a desktop machine. The level of highly shareable content here is very good indeed. Ther is also 50,000 active communites using Reddit, so there is very high user engagement.
For instance, that funny/interesting/genius post you saw on Facebook was probably generated by a handful of Reddit users and could already be a year old.
Reddit has a home feed, much like your Facebook feed, whereby posts are featured on merit basis of each one’s current popularity. Every topic under the sun can have its own section – or subreddit – and are all user-created. Think of these as channels that you’re able to subscribe to that appear on your very own tailored list of popular posts from each subreddit you’re subscribed to.
Usage: 125 million estimated unique monthly visitors
Best for: Any business market will benefit from wise words and instructional material and Reddit is no different. Find your subreddit and enhance a community.
What to say: A subreddit is only as good as its content, and to attract more subscribers so that a particular subreddit will appear on the main Reddit feed, you should contribute to it. And if you contribute good material, hiding a bit of self-promotion may be a tad more forgivable if you’ve become a valued member of your community (subreddit.)
Best times to post: Essentially, this depends on which community you’re planning to build your reputation on. Redditors are aware of spammy links, so lurking a little bit first to see how the land lies is advisable.

7. Pinterest

“A collection of my favourite designs”
Pinterest uses a user’s image and is ‘pinned’ to any number of ‘boards’ they have curated. It can then be seen by others searching for similar items under the same topic.
Largely used by consumers, especially those with a creative nature, looking for inspiration and ideas – customising, improving, making, and cooking all thrive here.
Global Usage: 105 million estimated unique monthly visitors
Best for: Businesses which are able to promote a how-to guide, or just sharing photos from within your industry.
What to say: If you can’t provide desirable objects or imagery, offer advice and information displayed in an interesting and graphic way to provide tips/stats on your products or services.
Gain interest by using a graphic designer to create infographics, cheat-sheets, product tips and tricks, etc. to promote traffic to your blog or website.
If they are created in keeping with your brand this will resonate and be more familiar with your potential customers.
Best times to post: Because of the hobbyist nature of Pinterest users are more likely to browse this during their leisure time; post on Friday evening and early on Saturday morning to catch them during that ‘inspiration’ period.

8. Google Plus

“Articles about graphic design”
Google + may be the least mooted social platform when it comes down to it, but in this world of a huge Google presence, you would be crazy to avoid using it for your business. If your profile is correctly connected to your website and the multitude of other Google apps and platforms, then you are making it wonderfully easy for Google to rank your page. The positive actions you have via Google+ will have a positive impact on your organic search engine rankings.
Communities here are very passion target=”_blank”ate about their chosen subject. Ask a question here, and you’re likely to get a very well-informed response. Which also makes it a great place to research anything.
This is a fantastic platform to raise your Social Proof. Reviews, testimonials, videos, inbound links. This is where people are talking about your business, but not necessarily interacting with it.
It stands to reason, the more you can help Google, the more they will reward you for it. Be informative, lend your expertise to the communities, give sage advice along the way and you will prosper. If you ensure your Google business page is populated, this will attract trust from users, turning them into customers.
Usage: 450 million active users
Best for: While everyone is on Facebook, in comparison, very few are using Google+.
What to say: Treat it just like Facebook. Post industry news and engaging content that others are likely to share, and of course your own shameless self-promotion too.

Have fun out there!

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