A guide to social media, part 2

In this second part of our series, we look at four more major social networks you may want to consider as part of your marketing plan. You can find part 1 here.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has around 300 million users. Although this is a small number compared to a behemoth like Facebook, LinkedIn is a specifically professional network, so if you’re a B2B company this is a very good place to be.

LinkedIn business pages, similar to Facebook and Google+, are set up independently of your personal account and can have multiple admins, but must be managed by individual users – there’s no way to log in directly as a business page.

Business pages can post updates, like and comment, but the real power of LinkedIn is networking between individuals. Treat it like a huge online networking event, don’t assume that ‘business update’ means ‘spam’, and you’ll do well.

Advertising

LinkedIn’s advertising options are pretty great. You can promote an update (which shows up in people’s newsfeeds) or have a display ad in the sidebar. That in itself isn’t a big deal, but what makes it amazing is the targeting. You can be extremely specific with your audience, and you can use most of the filtering options that you’ll find in the Advanced Search. This means that for a reasonably small investment you can target only the most relevant people.

Tips for success

One of the most useful features of LinkedIn is its excellent, detailed Advanced Search facility. You can even save your search results and have new profiles that match your search filters emailed to you weekly. As you can imagine, that’s amazing for recruitment and lead generation purposes.

LinkedIn doesn’t support hashtags, so don’t use them. It just looks like you copied a status from elsewhere.

Keep your communications as businesslike as possible. While you have a personal profile on LinkedIn, treat it more like a living CV (if you’re job hunting) or personal business ad (if you’re networking). It’s a professional network for businesspeople, so save the kittens and selfies for Facebook.

Good for: networking, recruitment, lead generation, B2B
Not so good for: idle chitchat, B2C, personal stuff

Youtube

Youtube is not only the second biggest social network (after Facebook), it’s also the second biggest search engine (after Google). More than half of video views come from mobile devices, over 500 hours of video are uploaded every minute, and the platform has well over a billion users.

An update on Youtube is always a video, though you can add a title, description, tags and links. If you’ve got content ideas that would translate well to video (tutorials, presentations etc.) you can do really well on Youtube.

Users can comment on videos, like or dislike them, add them to their own playlists (this is the closest thing Youtube has to sharing/retweeting other people’s content) and share them on other social networks with a single click or embed them in an external website. Part of Youtube’s success is this ease of sharing content.

Advertising

There are multiple advertising options on Youtube, from full-on video ads to banners and display ads. Like Instagram, there are also many opportunities for sponsorship deals with high profile users.

Tips for success

Tutorials, how-to videos, interviews and short videos with business tips can all do extremely well. As with any other kind of content creation, make sure your output is high quality and valuable to the viewer. If it’s not, people just won’t come back. You want it to be shared and viewed by as many people as possible, so don’t use it as a sales pitch – people will feel their time has been wasted. There’s no value in creating long, boring adverts with no takeaways for the viewer. Having said that, if you plan to advertise on Youtube, you need to host your ads there – but never make them long and boring!

Customise your channel layout. You can display and feature any of your videos on the front page, not just the most recent ones. You can make a “channel intro” telling people about your channel and what to expect from it. Keep it very short and engaging to encourage people to watch it.

Good for: Businesses with a lot of content that translates well to video. Written tutorials that can be repurposed into video tutorials open you up to a whole new audience.
Not so good for: Poor speakers. If you’re not confident, that will come across in your videos, and it can be hard work listening to a bad speaker. Write a script and practice reading it aloud to gain confidence before you make your video. Then video yourself, and watch it back to see where you can improve.

Pinterest

Pinterest has around 100 million users. The platform allows users to ‘pin’ images from anywhere online and comment on them. It’s very popular for personal users, who can create scrapbooks and inspiration boards on any topic, using images from anywhere online (or images they upload themselves).

When an image is ‘pinned’, it links to the page that it was pinned from. This makes it very useful for businesses selling products, particularly products that are visually appealing. If your product gets pinned, users who view it on Pinterest can easily get to the product page on your website.

Tips for success

Don’t just pin your own images – share a variety of images that would be interesting to your followers, too. You can ask for access to shared boards to increase your exposure (these are boards to which multiple users have access to post pins). These are very useful, because you can reach a much wider audience this way – similar to groups and communities elsewhere.

As well as pinning images from elsewhere on the web, users can re-pin other users’ pins (similar to retweeting on Twitter), increasing exposure.

Optimise your website to make it easy for people to share your images. Because each image links back to the site it came from, you can generate quite a bit of traffic to your site by using fantastic, shareable images. Many users will have a Pinterest browser plugin, but you can also add code to your website to encourage them to pin individual images. Make sure your images are attached to pages with interesting content and a clear call to action, and Pinterest can be a powerful tool in your social media kit.

Advertising

Pinterest allows users to promote their pins. This option has only recently launched in the UK, and it allows advertisers to target who sees their pins (based on demographic information as well as interests and keywords). Because Pinterest is all about curating images related to different interests, this is a very effective way of targeting.

Good for: visually appealing products, how-to infographics and step-by-step photos, things related to baking and crafts
Not so good for: B2B, service providers

Instagram

Finally, we come to Instagram. Owned by Facebook, the platform has 400 million users and is all about sharing images, particularly photos. The most popular images are beautiful, interesting, inspirational or aspirational, and users can like or comment on them. Typically, Instagram updates get many more likes than similar updates on any other platform.

Tips for success

Instagram is huge with the under 35s – over 90% of its audience fall into this age bracket. If that’s your target audience and you can create fun and visually engaging content, Instagram may be a good platform for you. You can’t add a link to a post – you can type in the URL but it will show up as plain text. You can also add the URL as text over your image (this works best if it’s a short URL). The only place you can have an active link is in your profile. For this reason, Instagram won’t drive lots of direct traffic to your website, but it’s excellent for creating a buzz around your products.

Hashtags are not only supported, they’re encouraged. What might seem like excessive hashtag use elsewhere is normal or even moderate on Instagram.

Advertising

Instagram does have an ad platform, though many savvy brands get better exposure by striking sponsorship deals with prolific users of the platform.

Good for: businesses that offer lifestyle products and services; visual products
Not so good for: B2B, many service industries

Further Reading:

https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-social-media/
http://www.simplybusiness.co.uk/microsites/guide-to-social-media-success/