What social media is, what it isn’t, and how to decide what platform to use for your needs.
Social media… in less than 10 years, social media has taken traditional media (print, radio and television) and turned it on its ear. Social networking is the #1 activity on the Internet, and everyone from tweens to nonagenarians (the tech savvy ones, anyway) are using social media to connect and engage with the world around them. It’s also been estimated that 1 out of every 4 people use social networking worldwide. Now, with a potential audience of nearly 2 billion people, the question goes from, “Should I use social networking to reach my target audience?” to “How will I use social networking to reach my customers?”
What social media isn’t. It may seem overly simplistic, but the first rule of social networking is to remember two things: 1) it’s social, and 2) it’s networking. While traditional media is static, social media is the complete opposite; the entire point of social networking is to have engagement between your company and its target audience. Engagement drives traffic to your website and grows your branding, therefore increasing sales and likely your customer base.
What platform do I use for my company? There are two things to consider when choosing social media platforms. First, what kind of product or service are you selling, and second, who is your target audience? Let’s take real estate for example. If you’re a residential agent, your product is very visual and you’re targeting individuals. Therefore, you should use a platform that allows you to post pictures and encourages dialogue. Facebook is a great option, as are Instagram and Twitter.
However, if you’re a commercial real estate agent, your target audience are businesses. The best social media platforms for you? Start by using Facebook, as it keeps current and potential clients informed of what your company has to offer in addition to fun things that may be going on within the company. Next, think about using LinkedIn. Not only does LinkedIn offer the opportunity for you to network professionally, it also allows you to establish yourself as an expert in your field by participating in LinkedIn groups, “publishing” white papers or by sharing pertinent items of interest with your connections.
You may be thinking at this point, “Why can’t I just use all of them?” It’s tempting, isn’t it, since your target audience most likely uses multiple social networking sites. The problem with trying use every social networking site to broadcast your message is that social media is time consuming. When you’re trying to be everything to everyone, the result is that you spread yourself and your company thin and you transmit a watered-down version of your message. Not only will your audience be overloaded and think of your company as “spammy”, but they’ll also think you’re trying too hard. And let’s face it, if you’re busy shouting your message out, you’re too busy to listen to the incoming messages from your audience, which goes against the very point of social media.