- Katie Patterson, founder and CEO of Happy Medium, writes about social media for IowaBiz.com
We live in a digital age and the necessity of a social media presence can no longer be ignored by businesses. You may have reached the point where you know you need to jump in but have no idea where to start… Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, oh my! It can be so initially overwhelming that it’s easy to just put it off and worry about it later.
Take a breath and don’t fret. Companies often times think they need to jump in everywhere to be successful, but in reality, what platforms you should have an active presence on really depends on your target audience. It’s rare that a company has a need to be on all programs so take a look at your own customer demographics and where those fit in best with social media to develop your approach.
Facebook is by far the most universal social media platform, and if you have to start somewhere, the best bet is to start here with a business page. In January 2016, Facebook released there were more than 1.59 billion monthly active users worldwide (that’s 71 percent of all adults who go online), and of those, 1.04 billion log in daily, a 17 percent increase year over year. Women are slightly more active here but the difference is not large enough that you wouldn’t be able to reach both them and men if you are targeting one over the other.
- Tip #1: Do not make a personal page in your business name; it’s not a great user experience and you won’t get the same benefits of a professional account like analytics.
- Tip #2: More visual posts – such as video, photos and designed graphics – do tend to perform better, so have fun with it!
Brands to follow for inspiration: Coca-Cola, Nike, Chanel.
Twitter is the next most known platform with 23 percent of all internet users active on it. This is much less visually-driven content than the others we’ll discuss today and is best used for brief announcements or breaking news about your company, participating in industry conversations such as Twitter Chats, and providing an extension of your customer service. The demographics show that majority of users are 18-49 years old.
- Tip #1: Twitter users love to have dialogue with companies and brands about both good and bad experiences so if you decide to invest time in this platform, make sure you have someone responsive dedicated to participating in the discussions and offering solutions.
- Tip #2: Do not link your Facebook and Twitter accounts so they’re posting the same content simultaneously.
Brands to follow for inspiration: Southwest Airlines, MTV, Oreo, Scandal (yes, even your favorite TV shows can be active).
Instagram currently has a lot of buzz and is being praised for its growth. This platform is primarily known for utilizing photos although there is an option to implement videos which just expanded from 15 second snippets to now 60 seconds, initially launched by the Taylor Swift treadmill campaign. Twenty-eight percent of adult internet users are active here or 24 percent of the entire adult population. Women are slightly more involved than men here (31percent to 24 oercent) according to recent Pew Research Center studies.
- Tip #1: Food, pets, and hand lettering do incredibly well on this platform. Go for bright colors and utilize apps like Over or Word Swag to add text to your photos before posting.
- Tip #2: If you decide to do both Facebook and Instagram, try to not overuse the same images on both platforms. It’s ok to post to both, but try to spread it out a couple days or so in order for your audience sees value in following you on both.
Brands to follow for inspiration: Staples, Mercedes Benz, Kum & Go.
Snapchat is having a moment. It’s rise in popularity has really exploded with more than 100 million active daily users and 8+ billion video views every day, but there’s a common misconception that this is only utilized by teenagers. While 60 percent of users are 13-24 years old, Adweek actually just reported the platform has seen a noticeable spike in active 18-34 year old women this year.
Snapchat is a series of photos and videos that only last for a set amount of seconds and then disappear. It was first utilized by friends who wanted to communicate with images or video but not take up huge storage space by sending via text. Brands eventually caught on, and visual industries such as fashion have been having a large growth in presence and engagement.
- Tip #1: Focus on telling a story rather than just posting random content here and there. Take your audience behind the scenes in a cohesive series of posts.
- Tip #2: Show content they won’t see anywhere else, on any of your other platforms, giving them premier access to what makes the magic of your business happen.
Brands to follow for inspiration: Starbucks, Taco Bell, Los Angeles County Museum of Art
The best thing about social media is that it’s free to participate so you can experiment to see what works for your company. You do, however, have to invest time and creativity, and if that gets to be overwhelming, there is help out there.
Katie Patterson is the founder and CEO of Happy Medium, a full service interactive marketing firm. Follow her on Twitter - @_klpatterson.