Social Media: Wading in a Sea of Channels

As we have mentioned many times in this blog, social media is an unavoidable marketing tactic in today’s business culture. Without some degree of social media presence, you are likely to miss capturing part of your desired audience. But, with strained budgets and personnel, it is hard to find enough time in the day to post and manage social media.

In a previous post, we talked about the importance of choosing quality over quantity when it comes to social media channels. But, there definitely isn’t a hard and fast rule for what social media channels every company should use. You really have to look at your audience and your products/services to determine what channels are right for you.

Lets take a brief look at each:

1. Facebook – Facebook is one of the most popular social media channels right now. Facebook is ideal for companies with wide audiences and the desire to post a wide range of content. Photos, videos, links and content are easily posted and shared. Facebook allows you to publish your messaging content without concern for characters or hash tags. This channel also allows you to create events, which could be a need for some companies.

People use their personal Facebook accounts to do everything from announcing new babies to talking about what they ate for breakfast. People spend a lot of time on Facebook, sometimes only to waste time.

As far as the product adoption cycle is concerned, it is used mainly by the late majority and laggards, mainly because the innovators and early adopters have either moved on to other channels or are splitting their time between Facebook and other, newer channels. In addition, the younger generations are still using Facebook, but less and less every day because it isn’t always cool to spend time posting content on a channel also used by your parents and grandparents.

2. Twitter – This channel is the here and now. Content on Twitter ranges widely, but one thing is the same – there is a 140 character limit – and no one is exempt from the rule. When I say no one, I mean not even the large amount of celebrities and politicians that use Twitter to connect with their fans and give the world a real look at who they are behind the red carpet. Twitter is used to “live tweet” press conferences and facilitate worldwide conversations about any topic under the sun, amongst other things.

One thing that Twitter is very good for is posting links and photo content. It is proven that your Tweet is more likely to be shared when it contains a photo. Also, by promoting and utilizing hash tags (denoted with # before a phrase or word), you can stay abreast on the conversations happening digitally about your brand and your products. For example, if you own an ice cream shop called “Ice Cream Dream,” a relevant tweet from one of your customers could look like this: “Just had a great cup of #IceCreamDream, I love that stuff!” You can search your hashtag, #IceCreamDream, and read everything being said on Twitter.

While Twitter has been popular for a while, it is not as widely used as Facebook. It is coming to the end of the early majority adoption phase, but many choose not to use Twitter because they don’t want to take the time to understand hash tags and other nuances of the Twitter world. But, if done correctly, Twitter is an extremely effective social media channel that really deserves its own post to describe its many uses.

3. Instagram – Instagram is all about mobile photo and video content sharing. Many times, people use social media just to see photos as they don’t want to actually use brain waves to read and process posts. They use social media to break away from work or other mentally draining activities. Therefore, Instagram is the perfect outlet for those that have a visual product or brand. Restaurants and other hospitality industry entities, among others, use Instagram as a part of their marketing campaigns to attract followers and, hopefully, customers.

While Instagram recently adopted video content, it is already sweeping the social media landscape, making other new channels irrelevant in the grand scheme. It is extremely simple to snap a photo with a mobile device or tablet and get it on Instagram in less than a minute. Instagram also utilizes hashtags and keywords to further encourage the conversation about a product or brand.

4. Pinterest – Pinterest is an interesting channel that has emerged into a multidimensional social media entity. While it started as an outlet for mainly women to post photo content about their favorite things to share with friends, it has emerged into a haven for businesses and all demographics. These “digital pinboards” are now used for companies to post photos of their products with direct links to a site to purchase. Organizations are also using Pinterest to connect with their audiences and find out more about what they like. While Pinterest is well into the adoption cycle, it is still a viable resource for businesses if it is managed effectively.

5. YouTube/Vimeo – Similar to Instagram and Pinterest, YouTube and Vimeo are all about messaging and engagement through video content. YouTube is very well known, but not as accepted, by businesses as a conceivable outlet for social media. I will admit that it is very specific in the type of content you need to make it relevant for your business and video isn’t as widely used with small businesses. If you have a large amount of video content or need an outlet to post content for a niche market, YouTube or Vimeo might be for you. While quality video content does take some expertise, time and resources, it is a very effective form of marketing.

Based on this information, what social media channels work best for you?