If you Google a business and nothing but the address and a strangely angled photo of their front door appear in the results, how can you be sure it’s a legitimate business? Perhaps it closed down permanently? Who knows? Businesses need an online presence in order to even qualify as a “real business” these days. A website is a major part of that presence, and probably the most important part, too. However, social media plays a huge role in brand awareness as well. It’s very rare to find a company without at least one or two social profiles. It’s 2018, buyers do their research before choosing a company to give their money to -- don’t fall behind because the buyer doesn’t even know you exist!

Social media can be used in hundreds of ways for hundreds of reasons. It helps to humanize your company and to make you an industry leader. By communicating with buyers, customers, and industry peers, you are telling the world that you’re here, you care, and you know what you’re talking about. It’s not just for audience engagement, either. It can be used to promote your products, gauge reactions to a new service, and even as a quick and efficient form of crisis communication. Most of all, you want to use social media to stay “top of mind” and increase sales. Even if a buyer only knows you because you answered their question on Twitter, they’re still more likely to buy from you versus your competition.

Not all social platforms are created equal, though. For instance, you wouldn’t post a video of your daughter’s first steps on LinkedIn - that’s Facebook material. You wouldn’t post a 25-second video of a company-wide baseball game to YouTube when your Instagram story is a much more appropriate place. So, here are some tips for using the most popular social platforms to your advantage.

Even with all of the articles in the news about Facebook lately, it should still be the social starting point for your company. Facebook works for every industry and is where most customers will communicate with you. It requires the least amount of upkeep but keeps you relevant just by existing (kind of like your website). Facebook is great for sharing photos, videos, blog posts, and fun personal content that your customers would be delighted to see. For example, if your small company just sponsored a Little League team, post a photo of the team in their brightly colored t-shirts. It’s also a great place for updates like holiday hours.

Twitter has a much, much wider reach than Facebook. Your Facebook content reaches only your fans. Tweets, on the other hand, spread like wildfire through the use of hashtags. It’s useful for marketing your services and handling customer service, but where it really shines is industry conversation. Twitter will always be on-topic. Nothing in your Twitter feed is going to be outdated. Have conversations with your peers about industry news. Hashtags will boost your content (#SocialMediaRocks) even more.

The third most important social platform (for most companies) is LinkedIn. It’s perfect for professional networking and cultivating your industry leadership. Make sure to create a business page as well as improve your personal one. Buyers interested in you and your company will look at both to learn what they can about you. Keep things professional and fill out your profile as best you can. Use headers and symbols to make your content stand out.

Instagram is 100% visual and 100% mobile. A blurry photo of the company BBQ is not going to cut it here. Remember, these images are viewed on smartphones. It’s essential that your photos are high quality and quickly digestible. Otherwise, people will scroll right past your content. Aesthetically pleasing graphics with quotes or announcements are perfect for Instagram. Preferred IT’s Halloween costume contest did well on Instagram.  

If your company has a large creative component, YouTube would be a perfect platform. While it’s less useful for back and forth conversation, YouTube is great for sharing videos to showcase your products, your creation process, and your company culture.

Pinterest is another visually oriented social platform. It has much less social engagement and is more useful for building SEO. A pin of one of your blog posts on Pinterest will tell Google that users are sharing your content, thus making it appear higher in searches. This platform is best used for health and beauty or food industries. However, most industries can use Pinterest to their advantage as long as they’re using it correctly.

You’ve likely heard about Snapchat. It’s the platform that lets you put filters on your images that give you a flower crown or cat ears. But, it’s great for marketing, too! You should create a separate Snapchat account for your company. It can be used to post temporary videos of something happening with your company right now.  You can also enable interactive features like polls and questions.

All 7 of these social platforms are not necessary for every (or any) business. You should choose the ones that make sense for your industry and your customers. Think about the kind of person or company you want to sell your product or service to - now do some research on where those people are spending their time online. Maybe a combination of Facebook, Pinterest, and Instagram work best for you. Maybe it’s Twitter and LinkedIn exclusively. By Googling “social media demographics”, you will be well on your way to choosing which social platforms are best for your brand.

Don’t stop there, though. Remember, social media moves fast. You do, too. Keep a close eye on your analytics (daily or weekly at the very least). Make adjustments and check your analytics again. Find the groove that gets your audience engaged.