Everyone likes to talk about "the Big 6" as if you could go into a job interview and say, "I'm proficient in the Big 6" and walk away with the job. But what does being proficient mean? What exactly do you have to understand about the Big 6? And is the Big 6 a static entity?
We'll get to the other questions in a minute, but as for that last one, the answer is a big NO. To think that the "Big 6" will stay the same 6 networks is to misunderstand the fluidity and agility of social media entirely. Google+ is most frequently named as the sixth network in the Big 6, but here I'm going to replace it with Snapchat, as moves from Google+ suggest that even they know the network is sliding to the back burner (if not completely off the oven entirely.) Watching the way brands use Snapchat has been one of the most exciting developments in the industry this year, and I think that soon having a Snapchat strategy might be as important as an having Instagram strategy, which, until the last year or so, would have been laughed out of your C-Suite conference room.
Things change in social, and they change fast. I'm also eagerly watching Periscope and Blab to see how they change the social marketing game. But for now, here's an updated guide to marketing with the Big 6, including an update to which networks the Big 6 refers to!
The birthplace of social marketing remains a player in the game, despite constant moaning about its pitfalls (I confess to doing some of that complaining myself.) The new bottom line with Facebook is that boosted posts and advertising are where it's at. Organic reach is barely a thing anymore, though even if you don't do any Facebook advertising, you'll still want a business page in case people go looking for you there and for SEO reasons.
Advertising: Boosted posts do really well if you simply want your posts to appear more frequently in the news feed of your existing fans or their friends. Facebook advertising options are also good if you'd like to create your own graphic and spend a little money getting sponsored posts in the feeds of the demographic you choose. The great thing about all of this is that Facebook advertising can be as cheap as you want it to be, and the in-platform support for making better ads & spending more money is truly helpful for the newbie. In-platform ad tracking and analytics is also pretty top notch.
Do: use photos. Good photos.
Don't: ignore negative comments. Respond to constructive criticism and make sure you do social care right on Facebook.
Sometimes the best marketing on Twitter can just be a really good, consistent account. That's the great thing about Twitter: organic reach is still a thing. The other great thing about Twitter is that there are distinct communities based on your interest that, once you find your way in, are excellent networking resources. And, now that Google has decided to favor tweets in their search results, an active account is extra good for your SEO strategy.
Advertising: Promoted tweets works similarly to boosted posts in Facebook, where you can spend what you want, choose who you want to reach, and use in-platform analytics to measure your progress. Promoted accounts might be more useful for those starting out, as your account will appear on the left side of the homepage as a suggested account to follow. If you're trying to get traction on a hashtag, take a look at the promoted trends option. It can be pricey, but your hashtag will appear on the trends list of the homepage, which can do a lot for whatever you're trying to feature.
Do: try Twitter for good-natured news-jacking. Think about those silly holidays, like yesterday's #NationalDogDay, and think about how you can incorporate it into your product or service in a cheeky way.
Don't: get too automated. People can sense canned language on Twitter, and a pre-scheduled tweet can look bad during a time of, say, national crisis.
Instagram is no longer a must just for fashion or food brands. It's become a serious tool for brands of any kind, especially in the age of visual & video marketing. However, there aren't many options for non-major brands to pay to advertise on the platform...yet. Instagram is working on bringing availability to brands of all sizes, but just how that will happen isn't clear. What's clear now is that a curated & crafted Instagram account can do wonders for your brand.
Marketing: In lieu of paid advertising, there are lots of best practices for a branded Instagram account. Among them: use hashtags; think about a visual theme; partner with Instagram influencers; offer discounts exclusively on Instagram; use a call-to-action.
Do: use third-party photo editing apps. It'll make your photos look professional-grade if they aren't already, and they'll pop in your followers' feeds.
Don't: post too many pictures in one day. One a day is a good benchmark. More might annoy your followers.
Some users might think you can just ignore Pinterest if you're not a crafty brand, but that's seriously not the case. Pinterest use is on the rise, winning the slow and steady race, and, unlike Google+, it shows no sign of slowing down and hasn't encountered major user backlash. And with the advent of promoted pins, Pinterest has proved itself to be a major player in the game.
Advertising: Again, Pinterest advertising works similarly to Facebook in that you chose your demographic and pay on a cost-per-click scale. This makes it super-accessible for newbies just staring out or brands with not a lot of money to spare. And again, the in-platform analytics is pretty great, showing you how your pins are performing and what your selected audience is liking outside of your brand. Other than that, you should be pinning anything from your company blog or photos of your brand's products regularly, and make sure you use your keywords wisely. This is all going to help your SEO recipe.
Do: think about your photos as inspiration. What do you think your followers will be inspired by? Pinterest is a place for aspirational visual content; make sure your account reflects that need.
Don't: make a million boards & then not update them all. Its looks unprofessional and isn't reasonable for anyone to follow.
LinkedIn might be seen by some as the boring uncle of the social network dinner party, but those who actually use LinkedIn know it's super-useful. For personal networking purposes, there is no better place to supplement your website than with a public CV showing your connections and desires. For brand purposes, the company page only serves to legitimize. Clearly state your brand mission and provide followers with major news about company updates, and you'll have your most professional social base covered.
Advertising: Paid advertising on LinkedIn isn't as seamless and helpful as on, say, Facebook or Twitter, but it's still an opportunity worth exploring. If, for example, your company is hosting an event and needs to sell tickets, a sponsored update from the company page would do really well to get it in front of professional development-minded eyes. Here's a recent post on LinkedIn's new guide to maximizing sponsored updates. The text ads option are a little more wordy and look like Facebook sponsored posts. They also tend to be more pricey than Facebook ads, but the targeting options are a little better, and you can start with a micro-campaign to see if it's worth it.
Do: think about headlines differently. LinkedIn isn't as clickbait-y as the rest of the social media world, so think about headlines that are really promising value to your professional audience.
Don't: forget that LinkedIn is a place for interaction. If you simply push content and forget to engage, you're doing LinkedIn wrong.
Here's where things get revolutionary. I'm doing away with Google+ and replacing it with Snapchat. Why? Because Google+ hasn't been useful for marketers recently, and even Google has started to quietly recede the network . And why Snapchat? Because millennials. And because the format allows for a unique brand expression, and I like a good mix of media in my social network stew.
If social marketing is about storytelling, then the Snapchat story feature has hacked it. The Snapchat story allows brands to put together clips or pictures that can give a behind-the-scenes perspective or feature a product or service in a way that is fresh and dynamic. Once you get the hang of using Snapchat (a helpful guide here and here) think about what story you'd like to tell. This is the most human your brand will be: holding a phone and making a mini-movie just like your users. The opportunity for authenticity on Snapchat is huge, and I believe this is the year brands are finally realizing that.
The paid advertising options on Snapchat are astronomically high and really only available to big brands like People, Mashable, and CNN. But a brand account is even better, in my opinion, and more likely to be receive traffic from your future loyal (millennial) customers.
Do: be your most creative self. Think the opposite of LinkedIn. Look at your offices or employees or products and try to imagine new ways these could fit into a Snapchat story.
Don't: just use it for selfies. Unless you're a makeup brand, but even then, a quick tutorial showing your customers how to use a product is better advertising than a selfie.
Anyway, I could go on, but there's a nice ring to "Big 6" that doesn't sound the same when you say "Big 7." We didn't even touch on YouTube. And should you be live-streaming? The point is, things change, and that's what's great and annoying about social media. Once you have it figured out, there's something else to figure out. What do you think I left out of this article? What's going to be outdated really soon? Let me know in the comments.