The recent closure of Google+ is a salutary lesson for all of us. Even the mighty of the tech world don’t always get it right when it comes to social media. So how do you make the right choice when deciding which is the best social media for your business?
Is it you or your business?
What are you trying to do with your social media?
As a sole-trader you may see yourself and your business as one and the same. If so, overlap in your social media between personal and professional may be acceptable to you. Conversely, and particularly if you employ people (or plan to) you may be less comfortable allowing your work life to encroach into your personal life – and vice versa.
Undoubtedly, taking the mixed approach gives you more to talk about. But at the risk of being less focused on your business and your target market. Are you trying to nurture friends or clients? Certainly working for people you know well can be enjoyable. Also they are more likely to engage with your social media in the way that friends and families do in the non-commercial world. However, for potential clients who don’t know you personally, there is a danger that your blog may come over as a bit ‘cliquey’.
Conversely, staying business-focused in your social media makes it easier to stick to talking about the benefits that people can gain from working with you. You can remain customer-focused, promoting your business proposition and brand in your social media posts. While this approach is certainly dedicated to your business, it can come over as a bit sterile and even ‘salesy’ both of which can discourage engagement.
However, remember why you are in business. You are looking for people who are looking for you. If your social media posts demonstrate your ability to deliver and someone looking for what you offer reads them, so long as they have confidence that you will do what you say you will do, there is a good fit that may well lead to a business opportunity.
Finally, if you do decide that the mixed approach is the right one for you, remember that splitting the personal from the professional at a later date down the line can be a real challenge.
The big question…
Are you committed to driving your business journey into social media?
Whatever social media platform(s) you chose, it will be down to you (or appointed staff) to make it happen. The key to effective marketing on social media is sticking at it. Social media is often portrayed as a self-sustaining dialogue between like-minded people with a common interest. Even so, for most businesses, most of the time, social media is pretty much a one-way street.
This is another reason the mixed Personal+Professional approach can be appealing. It is easier to sustain as you are likely to get more engagement, more often. Yet, unless you are comfortable that the mixed approach is appropriate for your business, the downside of you social media being less business-oriented can be a significant distraction from promoting your brand and proposition.
Which Platform Type?
Social Media platforms fall into 3 distinct types:
- Text/blog Base
- Visual Base
- Chat Base
The early platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn tended to be text/blog based. You post articles/updates for your followers to read and/or engage with. Platform developments quickly introduced the idea of posting visual content alongside your text. This was the precursor to the development of the platforms based on visuals (Pinterest/Instagram/Snapchat). Essentially these have the same approach as the text-based platforms but the core content is visual rather than written.
Chat based platforms such as Whatsapp are a bit different in that they are less about putting content out to a wide group of followers who predominantly do not engage back. The chat platforms tend to work as communication amongst a smaller group or team where there is a high level of engagement and response amongst all participants.
Which type for your business?
As often, it depends. But it should be relatively easy for you to make your choice depending on your business and what you do. If it is very visual, Instagram may be most suitable. If not, Facebook or LinkedIn may be better – you get the idea. It may be that multiple platforms are what you need but remember the more you have, the more you need to drive. Also, don’t forget to consider your audience…
Consider your Audience
Who are your target audiences? Are they consumers at home or people in a work environment? A while ago I wrote an article looking at Social Media platforms from the perspective of people wearing their Home Hat or Work Hat. I believe the principle still holds good today. The division is most significant in the text/blog type platform. LinkedIn was launched squarely at the B2B market where it is still evolving today. While many people use Facebook as a marketing tool, I believe it sits less well when you are targeting people wearing their work hat. The division is much less clear amongst visual platforms but the reality is that most are used firmly as Social platforms rather than Business platforms and even here, the capabilities of LinkedIn to handle video and other visuals may be a good bet if you are targeted at a B2B audience.
A final word
There will certainly be those of you who are shouting “What about YouTube, Reddit, Tumblr etc…”. Undoubtedly these are all important in their own right. YouTube ranks 2nd behind Facebook in terms of monthly active users. However, typically these platforms are more specialist and/or require more effort to use them effectively as business marketing tools. Maybe a future post?