Social Media for business: Which channels are right for your organisation?

Social Media for business: Which channels are right for your organisation?

Working in web design, it can be easy to assume that everyone 'gets' social media. The fact is there are still many businesses who have no idea how to start getting social.

For those still struggling to tell their Facebook from their Flickr, here's a breakdown of the big social networks and what they can do for your business…

Facebook

Facebook is quite simply the world's biggest social networking site. It's business pages operate similarly to personal profiles, allowing you to post status updates, videos and blogs.

As a business, you can like other pages and gain likes for yourself. People that like your page will see your updates in their timeline.

Good for business?

Facebook has nearly 1bn users - that's a lot of people that you could be talking to.

Making the most of Facebook

The key to creating an engaging Facebook page is publishing content that reflects the personality of your brand.

Great business pages will offer variety in their posts, featuring a mix of videos, photos and written content. Businesses should aim to engage with fans as much as possible. They will pose questions, answer queries and offer exclusive incentives.

Twitter

Twitter allows you to post status updates of 140 characters or less. These can include photos or links to your latest blog post or an interesting article.

Good for business?

From bakers to banks, almost every type of business is on Twitter.  It's a free and easy way to publicise promotions, products and receive direct customer feedback.

As with all social networks, you must be prepared to monitor your feed regularly. Responding quickly to customer queries is essential to keep them happy and avoid a public relations disaster.

Making the most of Twitter

There is no 'one size fits all' way to succeed on Twitter. Knowing your business and your customers is the best way of delivering content they want to read. Research your competitors and don't be afraid to experiment as you try to grow your following.

YouTube

YouTube allows you to set up a channel from which to publish videos, comment other people's videos and subscribe to other channels.

Good for business?

Search engines love video content and so does the general public - but quality is key. You don't need to be Spielberg, but poor sound and bad editing are not going to do your business any favours.

YouTube users that regularly upload, receive lots of views and engage with their subscribers can even monetize their channels by becoming a YouTube Partner. As a Partner, you can receive around $2 for every 1000 views of your videos.

Making the most of YouTube

What types of video you choose to upload depends on your type of business and your social media objectives. However, all businesses should remember to subscribe and comment on other channels. Social media is about creating meaningful conversations, not just publicising your own content.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is a social media network for professionals. Individuals create virtual CVs and make connections with business contacts. They can post updates as well as creating and participating in forums.

Organisations can set up company pages that allow you to share company news, blogs and job vacancies,

Good for business?

LinkedIn tends to be associated with those offering B2B services. However, it continues to grow and is an excellent way of networking with other local businesses in your area and building professional contacts.

Making the most of LinkedIn

While Facebook lets you to show your personality, LinkedIn allows you to promote your expertise. Posting business-related updates will be more effective than posts about the weather or your office antics. Ensure your employees are active on LinkedIn and associated with your business page.

Google+

Much like Facebook, businesses can post blogs, links, photos, videos and updates, with followers able to comment on your content or sharing content on their own page.

What makes Google+ different is that you can post different updates to different people. As a business, you can group the people who follow you into different circles, meaning you can post different updates to your customers to those of your colleagues.

Good for business?

Despite being less than a year old, there were 20 million unique visits to the network in December 2011, and many big  brands have developed engaging, business-driving pages.

More importantly, an active Google+ page could be a useful Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) tool. Google's personalised search function takes into account the Google+ account of logged in users.

This means the more people who interact with your page and content, the more likely you are to feature in their Google searches and those of their Google+ connections.

Making the most of Google+

Many businesses make the mistake of creating a Google+ page and letting it lay dormant until the network grows. This will not reflect well on your brand, or help you appear in more Google searches.

People are using Google+ so be active. Ensure you content on your Google+ page is as fresh and varied as that on your Facebook page and interact with other people and pages whenever possible.

Beyond the big 5

While Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google+ attract the most attention, there are many others out there worth exploring.

Foursquare is a check-in website which businesses can use to incentivise visiting their premises, making it ideal for retail outlets and restaurants.

Image sharing websites such as Flickr and Pinterest are increasingly popular and allow you to showcase your portfolio or products to a wider audience.

Social bookmarking sites will also help you reach more people online. Digg and Reddit allow you to link to articles on your website and encourage people to comment on them.

What next?

It's great to try the social networks out for yourself, but a social media strategy is required to generate real business results requires. Contact us to find out how we can help make social media work for your organisation.