An Introduction to Social Media
There’s a lot of ongoing buzz about social media, and a wide range of opinions on how useful it can be. As a marketer, I can say for certain that — used in the right way — it can be a very powerful communication tool and an unsurpassed platform for engagement. There’s a lot to learn about social media, and a huge variety of social media that you could employ, but this article will give you a strong start on knowing what’s out there and how it can help you.
How can social media benefit me?
The benefits of social media vary on what you use and how, as well as the nature of your website. That being said, there are many ways that you could find social media valuable to you:
- As a marketing platform, with little-to-no-cost, social media can promote your website, brand, products or services
- As an engagement or support tool, social media can help you communicate and interact with your customers both broadly and individually
- For customer research, social media can give you insight into your visitors’ behaviour, interests and activities
- For content management, social media can curate and publish your content· In terms of e-commerce, social media can bring a lead into your sales funnel
Before diving in, it’s important to identify the objectives and outcomes of your social media use so that you can pick the right media and implement it as effectively as possible.
What are some popular social media?
There are a plethora of social media, with new platforms regularly being introduced. Each medium has a unique use and userbase, so identifying the right blend and content for each platform is important.
A truly social platform, Facebook is friend, community and interest-based. It can be a great way to communicate and interact both individually and en masse. It has a variety of methods (pages, groups, events, figures), and a unique advertising system to promote both internal pages and external websites. Think of Facebook as being a place online that users can “hang out” with friends, and what role your website or brand can play in that.
A “microblogging” platform, Twitter is a way to converse, share and communicate in 140 character or less messages (called tweets). Twitter is more open and less community-based, largely because users can follow other users or lists without needing approval or reciprocation. It can be a great way to put out concise messaging (which can go to a wider audience through use of hashtags), as well as have brief conversations with some of your users and participants.
What seems like a simple photo app is quickly becoming much more. Almost purely visual, Instagram is a popular photo-sharing application that integrates with other social media. If your website is very visually-oriented, sharing photos with users by Instagram is a great way to establish your content, brand and value.
A media-heavy blogging platform, Tumblr is a flexible way to publish and curate content with added social features like re-blogging, replying and liking a user’s posts. Traditionally Tumblr is widely-adopted by a younger (14-20) audience, it is quickly gaining steam as a leading blogging platform. You can also use a domain or sub-domain with Tumblr to create a full website or microsite, customized as you see fit using themes or your own CSS.
The standard in professionally-oriented social media, LinkedIn provides value for individuals (as an online resume, job-hunting, networking and communication tool), companies (as a branding, job posting and communication tool), and groups (in an open or closed format, for communication and networking). For B2B and professional interactions, LinkedIn is the most popular platform.
Predominantly a visual tool, Pinterest is a great content-sharing platform that allows for individual user accounts as well as branded pages. Traditionally, Pinterest had a very female userbase, and content was oriented around food, design, fashion, and DIY projects. However, both the users and content are continually broadening and diversifying.
There are many more social media, each with their own community and application. It depends entirely on the nature of your website and your objectives, but adopting the right blend will let you tap into a wealth of potential.