Social media: Could it be bad for business?

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Lately, it seems like more and more people are “over“ some popular social media platforms. The internet is full of postings of people dumping on one social site or another because of the controversies associated with them.

This is leaving many marketers concerned about what they can do if their clients and prospective customers are turning away from the social channels they depend on to connect with them.

After all, most businesses use social media for critical things like:

Increasing brand awareness so they’re always top of mind with prospects and clients.

Staying connected with customers to increase the amount of business they do with them.

Improving SEO by earning clicks, likes, shares and engagement with content.

Collecting leads by moving people to a business website and encouraging them to share contact information.

Generating revenue by getting the people they connect with in social to convert into customers.

Despite these benefits, many marketers are worried about being associated with social channels their customers view as so wrong — or using the right ones in the wrong ways.

From an economic perspective, we’re expecting sales, sales, sales, but that’s the last part of the funnel. Social media is about discussion, about community. That’s successful. Doesn’t it make you feel good when you post something and people start talking about it? That’s success on social media. Sales, ROI, they are consequences of the conversations you spark.

Saul Suaza, SketchDeck designer

Here is the latest on some social media options that could be right for your business along with tips on how to use them correctly.

1. Reddit

If “hmmm” is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about Reddit, you’re not alone. There are pockets in this social sharing site that can come across as scary, and in many situations, anti business. Add to this the fact that Reddit groups have strict rules about what can be posted for commercial reasons. Violating them could cause you to be removed from a group. This may not make it seem, on the surface, like a good place to find new customers.

Still, companies can have great success in Reddit by using it to teach, learn and engage with people. Think of it as a brand awareness channel, sharing opportunity and way to introduce yourself to prospective customers and get to know them. Just don’t try to “sell”.

Simply find sub groups that align with the information you want to share. Make sure you understand the rules of the group before engaging. Once you do that, you’ll be able to start making new contacts and providing answers to questions posted by people in the group. At a certain point, you may be allowed to share links to helpful content on your website.

Another good business use for Reddit is gathering market research. Many organizations use community interactions to get feedback about topics related to their industry, along with product or service offerings. Doing market research on Reddit is definitely less expensive than hiring a firm to handle it for you.

Bottom Line: Reddit can be a great social media platform for your business if you use it to share information or conduct research. Go beyond that and members are likely to investigate your posting history to find out whether or not you are making valid contributions to a group or just trying to attract visitors to your website.

Tip: If you choose the Reddit route, be prepared to spend a lot of time engaging with it and being a valuable community member.

2. YouTube

You may think of YouTube as the online video platform you turn to when you have nothing better to do.

Maybe it’s time to think about it another way: It’s a place where millions of people watch a billion hours of videos every day, whether it’s to entertain or educate themselves. Despite many social upstarts trying to overtake YouTube’s dominance, it’s remained the leader in the video sharing arena. Despite this, it’s still a place where almost any business can afford to use their video content to connect with all those people. YouTube is currently the second largest search engine after Google and the place you want to be, especially if you hope to attract customers in the video generation.

People like to see normal, organic video. That “behind the scenes” look and feel has appeal. They look simple, people really love them. It’s more about intention, what you’re showing to the client. Opening up, making yourself vulnerable (although in a controlled, strategic environment).

Saul Suaza, SketchDeck designer

If you have a product or service that’s complicated to explain, leveraging video distributed through YouTube could be a great marketing option for you. You might also find success if you share videos that feature a charismatic company leader or expert in your industry.

Bottom line: If your company is dependent on using video to market or communicate about its products and services, YouTube should be your top choice for sharing it.

Remember: Depending on your brand and target audience, you may not need Hollywood level budgets to develop your videos. All types of them find audiences on YouTube, from simple demos to more highly produced content.

3. Facebook

Many people think of Facebook as the social media site they go to when they want to connect with family and friends, share news or find out about events.

The reality: Businesses in many industries connect with customers through Facebook. It’s how they make themselves feel real to their customers by sharing everyday updates, success stories and timely opportunities.

If you still think of Facebook as the place you go to in order to keep tabs on your aunt in another state, you could be missing out. Real estate businesses, restaurants, car dealerships and companies in countless industries cement their relationships with prospects and clients.

Bottom line: Facebook is the platform businesses go to when they want to come across as more human. It’s a great way to open your doors to the public in the virtual world.

4. Instagram

Of course, Instagram, the image sharing app and Facebook’s more artsy corporate family member, isn’t new. It’s been providing a way for people to share photos, videos and stories for years. It has more than one billion people engaging with it every day.

What is new is that businesses in many industries have finally figured out how to monetize it. They’re able to convert interactions with videos and images into measurable levels of brand awareness, leads and sales. This is especially true for design companies and those in the entertainment and real estate industries.

Instagram provides businesses with a unique way to paint a picture of their culture and values. It’s the “show”, not just “tell”, social media platform.

Even companies in unexpected industries like financial services and healthcare have figured out how to make money through Instagram. If you haven’t, you owe it to yourself to have a chat with a SketchDeck social media expert to get ideas about how you can.

Bottom line: Instagram is a great platform for reaching younger, more visually oriented consumers, who aren’t as engaged with Facebook and Twitter as their parents and grandparents are. It can be an awesome way to introduce people to your business and actually close sales using its “checkout” feature. It may take a little extra work to get people to engage with your content on Instagram compared with other social sites, but for many businesses, it’s worth the effort.

5. Linkedin

Almost the antithesis of Instagram, Linkedin is often thought of as a utilitarian, text-heavy, job seeking and career networking site. It just doesn’t seem to be as much fun as the more visual Instagram experience.

The truth: For people working in many professions, including law, finance, technology and sales, Linkedin provides a very satisfying user experience that they genuinely enjoy. While many people only interact with the platform once or twice a month, some access it multiple times a day.

If the people in your target market are active in Linkedin, it could be a valuable marketing channel for your organization, especially if you’re focused on business-to-business sales. It provides extremely precise targeting capabilities and users are known to actively engage with the content distributed through it.

Bottom line: For many people, Linkedin is far more than a job hunting platform. It’s a vital part of how they do business and get information. A little research on the Linkedin user base, along with some testing, will help you decide whether it could be a good Facebook or Twitter alternative for your operation.

6. Twitter

Sure, Twitter is the place where many people go to sound off without thinking.

However, that’s not always the case.

Especially if you take control over the conversation.

Many of the companies we work with are able to leverage Twitter to get into conversations with prospective customers and current ones. They toss out smart ideas and ask people to interact. This allows them to demonstrate expertise, friendliness, commitment to service and more.

Bottom line: If your business is willing to make a serious commitment to monitoring conversations on Twitter, it could pay off with some great opportunities to “talk” with the people in your target audience no other social platforms offer.

7. Pinterest

If your business is a visual one, targeting younger women, Pinterest could be the ideal social channel for you.

What makes Pinterest unique is that it’s one of the rare social platforms that people come to planning to spend money. According to Pinterest, it provides a more than four to one return on money spent on advertising. This makes it a less expensive and more profitable promotion platform than Facebook or Twitter.

Of course, there is no such thing as a free lunch. You need to maintain a consistent Pinterest posting schedule, come up with stand-out images and have a plan for growing your follower base. If you do these things, you should see your traffic increase and enjoy a higher number of conversions.

Bottom Line: Pinterest can be a great way to drive traffic to your business website, especially if your industry is a visual one like home decor, cosmetics, food service, photography and travel. It has a relatively wealthy user base and many users plan to spend money when engaging with content on Pinterest.

8. Quora

Quora offers some of the same benefits and has many of the same limitations as Reddit.

It provides you with an opportunity to establish yourself as an authority in your field, look out for questions related to it, then share content developed by you or your business that answers the questions.

But be aware, much like Reddit, moderators are able to see who is providing genuine answers to a question and those who are using it as a marketing opportunity. The only way for organizations to succeed on Quora is to be helpful to other users.

Bottom Line: If your business involves demonstrating expertise, it’s probably worth trying out Quora. It takes a relatively big time commitment to seek out relevant questions and provide solid answers to them, but when you do, you could end up building close and beneficial connections.

9. WhatsApp

Do you have a business that needs to communicate with a global audience? WhatsApp could be right for you. It’s used by people in more than 180 countries. While it’s original purpose was for people to communicate with family and friends, it’s now become a way for them to connect with businesses, as well.

The app makes it possible for companies to have their own profiles, share updates and offer customer support. The app is also one of the few that offers solutions tailored to different size businesses, which means it’s easy to use and effective for both small companies and large ones.

Bottom line: If your business has gone global, as more and more have, WhatsApp could be worth checking out.

10. Messenger

One of the most popular offshoots of Facebook is its Messenger app. Many people use it to connect with people, groups and businesses without having to give out their phone number.

Companies can now advertise, create chatbots, send newsletters and more on Messenger. If you haven’t checked out Messenger’s features for businesses, you may be surprised by all that’s available to you to engage with prospects and customers in unexpected and affordable ways.

Bottom line: Messenger isn’t a stand alone marketing platform. However, it can be a cost effective way to add impressions to campaigns run through other media channels.

11. WeChat

Much like Messenger and WhatsApp, WeChat expanded from being a messaging app to a much broader platform. Users are now able to leverage it to shop online, make payments, transfer money, book reservations, request ride service and more.

WeChat is most popular in China and other parts of Asia.

Bottom line: If you do business in places where WeChat is commonly used, or where other social media platforms are banned, it could be a good option for your business.

12. Tumblr

Tumblr is a micro blogging network with a relatively limited, but committed audience base. That means businesses may find potential customers on Tumblr they may not be able to reach anywhere else. It allows you to share text, photos, videos, links, audio files and more. You can tailor what you share to what works best for your business.

Bottom line: If you want to expand your audience base, it’s likely that you’ll be able to find a new pool of prospects through Tumblr.

13. Medium

Medium is an online publishing platform with a social component. It costs nothing to publish content on Medium, and you can read most articles on it free of charge, although some are reserved for paying members.

Businesses often repurpose their blog content and publish it on Medium to extend its reach to a new audience.

Bottom line: If your business has made a commitment to written content, you owe it to yourself to maximize its value by publishing variations of it on Medium. If it’s good content, you could attract a whole new readership, generating fresh interest in your organization.

Social media is about making people feel, to provoke. That’s what you should look for. Make people feel, share, be part of the brand, that’s how social media works. What should they feel, though? That’s up to you. 

Sauls Suaza, SketchDeck designer

Got questions about using social media for business? Start a chat and we’ll connect you with an expert who can help you out.



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