In this day and age, social media forms a large part of our daily lives. From a business’s point of view, it is becoming the primary place where consumers come across products and services that they could potentially buy. A majority of our purchasing decisions are being made online. Brands are googled to establish trust and authenticity and small home-businesses are conducting their transactions through WhatsApp and Paytm. The way we buy and sell changes dynamically, and it is imperative that businesses keep up.
The influence of an attractive presence on social media can be very powerful. Unlike conventional forms of advertising- when you come across an interesting commodity on social media, you can be linked to a page where you are able to purchase it instantly. If you express interest through some clicks, it will return to grab your attention. If you follow the brand, they will give you incentives to buy. The potential for business to consumer interaction and ‘persuasion’ is quite endless. But with the variety of options available out there- which platforms should you choose?
Facebook forms the home-base of your social media presence. The sheer size of Facebook makes it mandatory to have a presence on the network. It is the social platform that has the largest number of users (almost 2 billion monthly active users) and as an advertisement medium, the company offers huge scope to businesses.
Facebook can be very effective for lead generation. It is often used for more elaborate portrayals of brands, where you can create a positive image by showcasing interesting activities, employees and customers. Longer posts, multiple behind-the-scenes photos, regular updates, etc are common on Facebook.
However, Facebook is also considered an outdated social media platform by younger users. If you’re targeting a younger audience (primarily below 25), it is better to have a much stronger presence on Instagram, Twitter, and Snapchat rather than Facebook. But if your product/service requires an older demographic, it is beneficial to be active on the network. Other than normal posts (which is only visible to people who actually follow you), Facebook’s advertisement tools have much to offer and can give you a lot of visibility.
This medium has been all about visual appeal throughout its existence. Unless you can make your product/service look appealing and interesting on Instagram, chances are that it will not work. Even though they have regularly been making updates to increase its marketing potential in other ways, Instagram remains a visual medium and thus, effort must be put into every single post. If one does manage to hit the right buttons, the results can be impressive as a majority of its 500 million users check the app every day.
Apart from posting high-quality images, using hashtags is necessary for increasing visibility and engagement. Now that users can ‘follow hashtags’ as well, it presents even greater opportunities. Instagram Stories is another favourite feature. It invited much controversy since it started out as a blatant copy of Snapchat. But the company has managed to turn it into much more. It comes with a wide array of tools to play with, creating an endless opportunity for creative posts.
Lastly, influencers are a big deal on Instagram. Accounts of individuals can amass massive followings because of their content- which could be about anything from fashion to food to music. Promotions through collaborations with them can work exceedingly well. Hosting giveaways, small competitions, discounts, etc are also useful.
The biggest advantage of Twitter is its ability to provide real-time engagement. People come onto the platform to discuss and communicate about various topics- ranging from world issues to daily grievances. Reaching out to people is easy with Twitter but gaining a following is tough. It requires multiple posts in a single day because the lifespan of a single tweet is quite small. And these posts need to incentivize people to listen- they should be witty, wise, or unique. To get followers, your business needs an identity and its presence on Twitter needs to depict a purpose. Are you commenting on trending topics? Are you participating in discussions? Are you engaging with other users? A successful Twitter presence is hard work.
There are also disadvantages to real-time communication. Users can target you for any grievance they have and whether they are made-up or real, resolving them becomes crucial. Any fault in one part of your operations may tarnish your image online if not handled well. On the other hand, positive interactions with customers on Twitter can do wonders for your company. Gaining brand loyalty through Twitter is a gold mine, as is evidenced by accounts of companies like Netflix.
When Snapchat first gained popularity, it seemed like it was everywhere. It was the medium which allowed real-time updates before live streaming became common and easy on most social media apps. Since the majority of its users are under 25, it is best used to connect with this younger audience.
Snapchat is about being rather casual but authentic. Giving followers largely unedited content is what makes it appealing. Instant access to ‘behind-the-scenes’ imparts a feeling of inclusion to the viewer. The usage of funky filters, consistency, and transparency are important for Snapchat’s users.
This is the ‘professional’ network of the internet and the content that goes out should also reflect that. The network is used to interact with entrepreneurs, individuals with a ‘business mindset’ and also as a valuable HR tool. As for marketing on LinkedIn, we wrote an entire blog on it. You can check it out here.
The social media presence a business needs is entirely up to its own nature, goals, and resources. Instead of haphazardly conducted forays into social media, a detailed plan of action should be drawn up. This can be done only after a thorough understanding of each available medium and analyzing the possibilities. The one piece of advice I will leave you with is this- Do not take social media lightly. It can take your brand to high places by inciting incredible brand loyalty and possibly changing the very functioning of your business. But a careless attempt will at best drain your resources and at worst tarnish your company’s reputation (ask Pepsi or Dove.