which-social-networkIn recent times, social media has emerged as one of the most effective tools to help businesses build relationships leading to repeat business and a more satisfied customer base. However, with new social media platforms being born and gaining popularity every month, it can be a daunting task for businesses to establish which platform is right for them. A poorly run social media account can be even more harming for a business than having no presence at all, meaning that the choice of which social media channel to progress with can make or break a company’s online marketing campaign. In this post, we will look at a number of popular social media channels, illustrating their pros and cons to help you to decide whether or not they are the best choice for your business.

Facebook

When people talk about social media, more often than not, the first platform that comes to mind is Facebook. Understandably so, Facebook was the first real player in the social media revolution and with 1.23 billion users, it remains the most popular platform. Recently, however, the way that Facebook’s users interact with the platform, along with the customer base that Facebook holds, has dramatically changed. When it was first launched, Facebook’s popularity was driven forward by its predominantly teen user base; nowadays this customer base is shifting with the number of young, teen members falling and the number of older users rising. The biggest movers are the 55+ category which saw an 80% rise in users between January 2011 and January 2014. This shift has been driven by younger user’s adoption of newer platforms coupled with older user’s late adoption, meaning that, if you want to market to the younger generation, Facebook is becoming much less of an effective platform.

The increase of advertising on Facebook’s site is another change which has affected the effectiveness of the platform as a marketing tool. The use of paid for adverts, which are seen by Facebook users based on their demographics and information they provide, are still an effective route to increasing exposure for your product/service. However, the continuing increase in number of these adverts, coupled with concerns over Facebook’s privacy policies have lead to users increasingly seeing marketing on Facebook as a nuisance, or even invasion of their privacy. Rather than helping your business’s online presence, using Facebook as an advertising platform could, in fact, harm your image.

Twitter

With 650 million users worldwide, Twitter is arguably the second biggest social media platform and is going the opposite way to Facebook. As a platform it is still growing with the number of young and teen users growing faster than any other demographic. This has caused Twitter to emerge as, arguably, the best option when looking to market to a younger audience, with the most effective route being through sponsored and promoted tweets. The 140 character limit on all tweets does somewhat limit the detail that can be broadcasted through twitter marketing, but the addition of links or questions within the tweets can successfully increase engagement and exposure of a brand. Another main advantage of using Twitter for online marketing is the fact that it can improve your website’s SEO. Any Tweet that mentions your company or that your company does will appear on search engines, improving your online presence.

However, for a business to have success on Twitter, what they post needs to be relevant, engaging and in line with their brand message. If any of these factors are not met, the tweets that your company puts out will be lost in the millions that are posted every day. For Twitter to be an effective online marketing tool, it needs to be part of a fully integrated marketing campaign which links your company’s website and traditional forms of advertising with the platform.

Google+

The simple fact that Google+ is a social media site created by and linked to the search engine giant Google shows that it is a platform which cannot be ignored. Despite the fact that, as a platform, it is not quite as popular as the big two of Facebook and Twitter, Google+ does have 550 million worldwide users and is a growing site.

The best argument for your business to adopt Google+ is the fact that it is based around SEO and can dramatically improve your online presence and position within the hierarchy of search results. It is no secret that search engine optimisation is a key factor in the success of businesses online and Google+ can be a vital tool if used in the correct way. If the aim of your online marketing campaign is to increase expose, visits to your site, or connection to your customer base; Google+ is a platform that must be considered within your strategy.

Overall, the choice of which social media channel to use to move your business forward online must be based upon what you aim to achieve from an increased presence. It must also be based on the area that your business works within, with a good example being that fact that a business specialising in photography and design must have a presence on picture sharing social media platforms such as Pinterest and Instagram. No matter what your speciality lies in, there will be a platform to suit you.

It is also worth stating that for a business to achieve their full online potential, the use of social media sites must be a part of an integrated marketing campaign which links a variety of different platforms with websites and traditional forms of advertising. By spreading across a wide range of sites, the chance that consumers will see your brand increases. But beware, for this to have a positive impact on your business, all the accounts must be kept up to date and complimentary to each other or else you risk diluting your brand message and losing your customer’s interest.

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