The term “social media” refers to online websites where people interact with one another to create, share and/or exchange information and ideas, including what they are buying and why.
These sites allow businesses to raise awareness of their products and services, while “listening” to what people think about their business by engaging in ‘text’ conversation. Through this connection, businesses are able to provide better customer service while building their customer base.
Done successfully, using social media is a must as part of your digital marketing strategy, so here are some helpful hints about which social media sites do what for your business:
Facebook is by far the most popular social media space in Australia at the moment with 13+ million users (Social Media Stats Australia – April 2014). Facebook users are looking to connect with friends and family, so this social media site is great for “business to consumer” businesses.
Recommended interactions through a Facebook Business ‘Page’ which people ‘Like’ includes posting interesting and useful content. Other popular interactions include:
- competitions or giveaways or discount offers
- polls or requests for consumer feedback
- answering questions on other people’s status updates and in Facebook Groups
Interactions should be restricted to three short posts per week.
There are also different targeted paid advertising opportunities which suit even the smallest digital marketing budget, as you can set your own dollar amount.
Best times to interact are: early morning, during lunch, after work, before dinner and before bed – aka, whenever people aren’t working.
LinkedIn doesn’t have as many users as Facebook at the moment, with only 3.5 million Australian users (Social Media Stats Australia – April 2014), however, LinkedIn is fast becoming the place to be for business to business interactions.
LinkedIn provides an excellent online business networking space as key decision makers have profiles in there. Businesses are also using LinkedIn to recruit staff and contractors from across Australia.
Interactions in LinkedIn include sharing ‘thought leader’ posts about industry / topical news or how-tos.
LinkedIn has a thriving ‘Groups’ environment, where large numbers (sometimes with upwards of 4,000-5,000 members) subscribe to a group and then ask for help or advice. By joining a LinkedIn Group in a topic area of your business’s expertise, and then “lurking” or reading the discussions will mean you can offer your advice and services at the point when the information is required. This builds ‘street cred’ about your business without looking like you’re simply trying to ‘sell, sell, sell’.
These Groups also allow you to offer useful information for people in your industry, and listen to what the latest trends and needs are in your industry.
LinkedIn allows businesses to create a Company page which people can follow. Targeted paid advertising is also available.
Best times to interact are: Before / After work aka ‘outside of business hours’
Google+ is Google’s attempt to have a presence in the social media space. While Google has been quickly picked up by many early adopters, unfortunately Google+ is not seeing a large number of Australian users at the moment with only 65,000 Australian users per month (Social Media Stats Australia – April 2014).
“So why bother?”, I hear you say. The hook for business to play in this space is not the number of people in Google+, but more that creating a ‘company’ profile page which has received ‘reviews’ or ‘social annotations’ will help your business’s profile in ‘Google’ search ranking, as Google tries to lure more people to interact with Google+. This will require that your Google+ company page is linked to your Google Ads.
Interactions on Google+ are a mix between what you would do on Facebook and LinkedIn – useful updates and joining into conversations which people can then ‘+1’ (aka “Like”) or share with their different circles of ‘acquaintances’, ‘friends’, ‘family’ and ‘following’.
Best times to interact are: between 9 am-11 am.
Twitter and Tumblr
Micro-blogging sites like Twitter and Tumblr are fast becoming important for businesses to have a social media presence. Twitter has 2.5 Australian million users, while Tumblr has 4.8 million Australian users (Social Media Stats Australia – April 2014).
These sites are best for short posts (< 100 characters) of witty comments / quotes, industry news, promos, and tips and tricks which encourage responses and ‘re-tweets’ or ‘re-blogs’ (respectively). Asking for help or feedback is also well received.
The internet is visual so using photos/video is becoming more popular on Twitter, and is definitely king on Tumblr. Strong WIIFMs (What’s in it for me) which encourage a call to action like “click”, “read”, “buy” work best in this space.
“Trending” or popular conversations are good to monitor what is happening in the marketplace, while #hashtags allow people to follow ‘tweets’ or ‘posts’ around a particular topic or event.
Paid or sponsored of ‘tweets’ and ‘posts’ or profiles are available.
Best times to interact are: Twitter between 11 am-3 pm, and Tumblr between 7 pm and 10 pm.
YouTube is currently the second biggest search engine. Yes, if people are looking for information, they are just as likely to search for it in YouTube then they are in Google. With 12.7 million Australian users (Social Media Stats Australia – April 2014), YouTube is certainly an excellent social media space to be involved in.
Having a YouTube presence requires a ‘show me, don’t just tell me’ mindset. Video is the King of Kings of visual on the web so using strong messages, and creating how-to tutorials, debunking of myths, providing pros and cons, and telling stories, all work best on YouTube.
Keep your videos short ie no longer than 3 mins, and your videos don’t always have to be professionally produced, but they should be constructed with a good storyboard before you begin shooting. Keep these to 3-5 videos per month.
Like most of the other social media sites, there are paid targeted promotion options.
Best times to interact are: between 2-8 pm.
Instagram and Pinterest
Instagram and Pinterest are currently leading the pack for visual sharing content sites with 1.6 million users and 400,000 users in Australia respectively (Social Media Stats Australia – April 2014). Interestingly, Flickr has more Australian users with 780,000 Australian users, but this site does not seem to be a space which businesses are using as part of their digital marketing strategy.
Instagram allows its users to share inspirational images through in-built editing tools. Businesses are using Instagram to show sneak peeks, behind the scenes and product demos.
Interactions are encouraged through asking questions which include a #hashtag or by asking people to post images using unique #hashtags around a particular theme.
Posting 1-2 images per day is acceptable.
Best times to interact are: after 8 pm weekdays and after 5 pm on weekends
Pinterest is also an image sharing site, but it encourages members to curate images around key themes: eg travel destinations, crafts, home décor, fashion, jewellery, animals, etc, which they either upload images themselves or that they ‘pin’ images which they find from across the web to their board. Other members can then repin these images onto their own board, helping to potentially get your business’s images to a much wider audience.
Pinterest is currently female dominated, and pinning 1 image a day is acceptable.
Best times to interact are: Saturday mornings; Weekdays: 2-4 pm and 8 pm-1 am.
As you can see, each social media site has its own unique features so taking the time to ‘play’ in the spaces where your target market are to determine how best they will work for your business is important.
Also note that using social media is just one component of your digital marketing strategy, and should be used to drive traffic to your business website and blog.
In reference to ‘best times to interact’. This does not mean that you need to be living every minute of every day in these social media spaces. Using sites like “Hootsuite” and “Sprout Social” mean that you can schedule your interactions at these peak times.
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Our own experience doing digital marketing, plus
- Smarter Business Ideas – Spring 2013 – “Make a social call” – http://smarter.telstrabusiness.com/index.htm
- Social Media Marketing, January 2014 – “Best and Worst Times and Days to Post Your Social Media Updates”: http://socialmarketingwriting.com/best-and-worst-times-and-days-to-post-your-social-media-updates-infographic/