The most frequent question I receive from business entrepreneurs and corporate companies wanting to create brand awareness via the internet is, "What social media platform would be best for our company?"
It's important to understand that social media refers to the interactions among people in virtual communities, whether it's through sharing a photo or exchanging information. It's not just a platform to which you post content. Social media requires direct interaction with your customers. The more interaction with these individuals, the more your brand will thrive. Try to think of social media as a gateway to great community and customer relations. Unfortunately, the tricky part of social media is that each platform has its own unique benefits and shortfalls, so understanding the difference between the platforms and how to utilize each one separately for your marketing efforts is crucial to success.
Social media has a wide variation of categories; from blogs, to micro-blogs, social networks, social bookmarks, video sharing and photo sharing. It's a lot to take in, so for simplicity's sake, let's just focus on three of the giants; the micro-blog known as Twitter and the social media networks, Facebook and Google+. Each one of these social media outlets caters to a completely different crowd and they are seen as the fundamental outlets when establishing an e-marketing plan.
Twitter allows users to exchange small amounts content such as short sentences, individual images, or video links. When you "tweet" you are creating a micro-blog post of 140 characters or less. It's the closest to "real time" social media as you can get, which can be very beneficial when trying to create a trending topic or have a micro-post go viral quickly. Twitter has a tweet life of about an hour. So it's good to remember that this medium is less about social connections and more about staying informed. Twitter's main benefit for marketers is that it is home to many writers, bloggers, and thought leaders that use it as a work-related networking platform. You can send a tweet to these experts in real time without it feeling as personal as sending them a message on Facebook. Marketers need to be aware that these writers and bloggers receive hundreds of pitches a week, so spamming them with tweets about your company will not help your cause. Instead, subtle tweets regarding topics they post or remarks about their articles will gain you some great press-related contacts.
While Twitter is great for networking with press and staying up-to-date, Facebook differs by offering an inside look at the more personal side of the company. Facebook is beneficial for businesses as it acts more like a "social friendship", giving companies a path to create a more personal relationship with consumers through posts about events, employees and workplace situations. It also works as a great customer relationship management system by publically interacting with "fans" on a one-to-one basis. Another benefit to Facebook is that the content is less time sensitive as compared to Twitter. The life of a Facebook post can last hours, even days, which gives amount of views/shares/likes time to rise, so it doesn't have to be the most current information. It's important for companies to note that the majority age demographic for Facebook users is between 24-34, as teenagers are using other forms of social media, such as thephoto sharing sites; Tumblr, Snapchat, and Instagram. If your target demographic is the teenage population, being active on sites other than Facebook might be a better fit for your marketing initiatives. While Facebook is still considered to be the dominant form of social networking, it's a more mature social network, so brand saturation is high and it's harder for companies to really make a mark.
Google+ is a relatively new social media form when compared to the stand-alone platforms Twitter and Facebook, but unlike these two mega giants, Google+ is an integrated platform, connecting into every Google service, including gMail, YouTube, Google Drive and Google Search. Google+ also has a unique feature called Hangouts on Air, which is free video conferencing with an unlimited number of people who can join in. These hangouts are great for when a company wants to stream a live event or to make an announcement. The communities on Google+ are also very active, as sharing within your "circles" of friends and acquaintances is simple, fast and precise. According to Searchmetrics sharing on Google+ is poised to surpass sharing on Facebook by 2016. As a newer form of social media, Google+ does not have the brand saturation that Facebook and Twitter have, which means it's easier to make your brand noticeable on this platform. On the other hand, it doesn't have as large of a fan base as more established social media networks. One considerable plus is that Google+'s integration into all other services means that special hashtags that you use, or posts that do well, will actually show up on Google Search, thus increasing the amount of views you receive and extending your brand reach to people outside of your communities and circles.
Each platform has different benefits that can help extend brand awareness. Being aware of how to use each platform, along with knowing each benefit and shortfall will allow you and your business to create the largest impact on social media. So check out your demographics, think about how you want to promote yourself, and do your research before diving in.