This blog about utilizing Social Media was originally one of a series of monthly guest blogs written by our director, Ellen Gunning, for Microsoft’s Irish SME platform. It has been updated and refreshed by Connor Coleman (Feb. 2020).
Have you noticed that absolutely everyone talks about reaching their customers and clients by social media? It seems that the world has forgotten all about traditional media and decided that social media is the way to go.
Social media has actually been around for quite a while, but new variations keep appearing and people love hopping onto the latest thing or keeping up with trends.
Don’t believe anyone who tells you that social media is not time consuming. IT IS. Don’t believe anyone who says that any idiot can do it. THEY CAN’T. Well – they can, but you won’t see any results. Don’t believe anyone who tells you have to be on it – even if you don’t yet have a clear vision of what you’re doing. No, you don’t.
Let’s have a look at social media and see what it can do for your business.
Firstly, in the same way that I told you in the Public Relations blog that PR is telling, and advertising is selling, social media is interacting. People are on social media because they want others to connect with them.
If you are using social media you need to know where your customers can be found and that varies by age group, by profession and by location.
LinkedIn is hugely popular in the western world as a way of connecting with fellow professionals and keeping in touch with trends and contacts. It is particularly useful if you are trying to connect with someone (it’s very easy to find a contact who can introduce you). It’s also great for keeping track of where people are at in their careers – and what new positions they have moved to. But LinkedIn is not universal. We formed a LinkedIn group some years ago for all our graduates worldwide. The first email I received was from a graduate in Japan to tell me that it is never used there. The second mail was from a graduate in Russia who told me that Russians use Vkontakte or Odnoklassniki (not LinkedIn). So, your location matters when you are choosing which social media to interact with.
The age-group also makes a big difference. If you are trying to reach the mothers of young children, then Facebook is definitely a platform that you should be using. You’ve heard it said, and it is true, that young people began leaving Facebook when their parents started using it. Who wants to be on a social media platform that your mother or father is on, right?
Instagram is a particular favorite of teenagers who love the fact that they can use it for pictures. If you are aiming for a teenage audience, this is where you should be. It is also becoming much more popular with the business community.
Snapchat, which many people have stopped talking about, still has over 200 million daily users.
TikTok, which is filled with comedic and cringey videos, is popular with teenagers and many of the videos on this platform have gone viral!
Vine’s successor – Byte – has just launched as we go to press!
Reddit is a user run website in which you can share links, photos, make posts etc. like other sites. It considers itself to be ‘the front page of the internet’ for good reason, its model revolves around a voting system in which each post can be upvoted or downvoted. The most upvoted content across the whole site reaches the coveted spot of ‘the front page’. Those posts found unworthy drop down into obscurity.
Every post made on Reddit is made on a subreddit (a special interest sub site) related to the topic of the post. Reddit has subreddit’s dedicated to almost anything from the mainstream to the more niche topics and fandoms. Each subreddit is a whole community in itself filled with its own moderators, rules, terms and culture. The anonymity provided to the users of this particular social media platforms leads to people feeling safe to have real credible debates without worry of personal backlash.
This idea is so synonymous with Reddit that many even non-Redditers associate the platform with its popular Ask Me Anything subreddit in which people like Barrack Obama, Keanu Reeves and Martha Stewart have done AMA’s on the page. Reddit is a fascinating site that allows companies and individuals to truly find the pulse of their industry, keep up with trends and ask their reddit community for their honest feedback.
Parents also spend a lot of time reading blogs about anything to do with children. Find a reputable blogger about children’s issues and you will find thousands of mammies! Teenagers also follow bloggers – mainly for clothes, make-up, fashion and celebrity gossip.
Twitter is the communications tool of choice for journalists. It is fast and furious. It is the perfect tool for finding alerts about upcoming events or things that are happening right now. Journalists have really adapted to twitter and constantly monitor it. If they are your audience, you should definitely be on this platform.
So, what is your strategy?
You need to know exactly what you are doing on social media, so you should have a strategy. Are you chatting with people? Building a brand? Selling product?
And of course, no matter which platform you choose, you need to create specialized content. You can use file photos for social media, but you shouldn’t be using them all the time. Your photos should be of real people and real events – that’s what your readers are interested in.
You also need to create video footage. Enough for those ‘40-second snippets’ that can get people interested, and longer footage for people who want to ‘learn something’ by visiting your website.
Podcasts are becoming increasingly popular as a way of capturing advice and information on audio. People can listen as they walk the dog, commute to work or even when they’re in the gym!
You should also look at whether or not you should consider enhancing your information with paid advertising. If your product is new, it might be worth doing some Google AdWords to get yourself noticed. Advertising is expensive, so make sure you know what you are doing. Pay Per Click only shows a return on your investment if a high enough proportion of the clicks lead to sales. On Facebook for instance not only can you run ad’s you can also spend money to promote your posts (so more people will see it).
Consider blogging as well. If you are an expert in your area – people will be interested in what you have to say. Whether it is furniture restoration, choosing the right car or great holiday destinations your expertise will be valued by that niche group of people who are looking for your service.
The over-riding objective of social media interaction is that you want to become the ‘go to’ resource, i.e. the place where people go when they want good, unbiased information. If you achieve that, then they will come back to you when they have a need for your products or services.
First published in its original format in 2017
Be sure to check out the previous blogs in this series!