If that jumble of colorful icons at the bottom of big-name blogs and company websites seems like an alien language, you’re not alone. Social media has only become a marketing force to be reckoned – let alone a content delivery device – within the last few years, so many hard-working business owners are still playing catch-up.
Thankfully, social media is also fairly user-friendly once you wade in. When your company partners with the right writer, you can work together to deliver a concise, relatable message about your brand across the spectrum of ‘names’ – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and more. Here’s a little Social Media 101 on the three largest names to help bring you up to speed:
- Users: 1 Billion +
- Marketing Potential: Updates, Photos, Contests, Followers, Searchable Hashtags, Linked Names/Identities, Paid Ads
The juggernaut of the social media set, Facebook has some staggering numbers to boast about – over a billion monthly users access the site each month through traditional computers and mobile devices.
The site allows companies to create special identity pages as if they were individuals, which are very useful tools for customer interaction. Customers can leave comments publicly on a company page, message a company privately or tag a company in images, updates and more. This versatility is excellent for exposure through sharing and reposting, especially when paired with promotional giveaways and contests.
Facebook is also excellent as a content delivery device; links to your products or pages can simply be pasted as an update and, provided the landing page contains an image, it will typically display as a thumbnail preview in the update, automatically.
- Users: 63 Million +
- Marketing Potential: Updates (“Tweets”), Photos, Contests, Followers, Searchable Hashtags, Linked Names/Identities, Paid Ads
Once a new-kid-on-the-block novelty for rapid, compact updates, Twitter has grown into a force to be reckoned with in terms of social media. Unlike Facebook, which allows users to post fairly lengthy updates and even blog posts, Twitter updates are limited to 142 characters, which often requires the creative use of “text speak” – DM for “Direct Message,” LOL for “Laughing Out Loud” and so on – in order to fit a message in one post.
Images may not show automatically in a post, as they do on Facebook, but the requirements of this “micro-blogging” platform also give businesses the chance to gather data through special, shortened URLs that lead to messages and webpages on their company’s website. Figuring out how many people clicked one of these shortened URL links is useful because it helps determine what kind of post gets the most interest, or what time of day is best to post it.
- Users: 42 Million +
- Marketing Potential: Updates (“Pins”), Photos, Contests, Followers
Visual impact is the name of the game on Pinterest, with users ‘pinning’ – essentially bookmarking or ‘liking’ someone else’s pin – the often image-centric updates of others to their own self-titled boards.
A typical Pinterest user will have one or more boards they’ve dedicated to a theme or trend – e.g. one named “Shabby Chic,” or a more traditional bookmark-worthy cause like “Furniture for the New House”. These boards can be used by your company as the basis for a contest, encouraging users to make a theme centered around your brand, or as a way to peek into the mindset of coveted customer demographics.
If, for example, you find that many of the users that pin updates of your product also pin a lot of images full of bright, airy color palettes, you could use this knowledge to design a bright, airy look for your next product’s packaging.
Pinterest can also be used for content delivery; Cindy King of Social Media Examiner recommends businesses create a blog board of their posts, pinning each update separately for maximum ‘shareability.’ While it still remains in development as of March 2015, Promoted Pins – Pinterest’s answer to paid ads – is also in the works.
Delany M is a freelance writer available for projects at WriterAccess.