Using social media for business
In an earlier post we spoke about content marketing as still an important way to connect with your audience but in this post I want to talk about the importance of social media and what is social media marketing. Let me be clear from the outset. And acknowledge that not everyone likes social media but if you let that get in your way then please reconsider as the benefits of social media for business are enormous.
After carefully weighing-up social media pros and cons I’ve chosen not to use social media in my private life. Our reasoning is that our lives are way too busy as they are and we have to be careful how and where we choose to spend our time. And one way we choose to use our time is social media for business. We’ve found it an absolutely bonanza but you do need to know what you’re doing, otherwise you can waste a whole heap of time and money.
As a result we have developed a very comprehensive in-house strategy and while I’d love to give you some of our social media marketing strategy examples, that’ll have to wait for another post. What I will cover here are the top social media sites, how to use social media for marketing, and the benefits of having a social media marketing strategy examples of which are also given.
What are the top social media sites
Before we can answer that we first need to know what we all mean by this. Is there such a thing as a social media definition we can all kind of agree upon. We’ve researched this (as we do with pretty much everything we do) and here is the best definition we could come up with:
Social media is a collection of methods and collaborative communications channels that combine to facilitate sharing and curating content that was generated by the users of social media. Typical examples can include forums and wikis, blog, social networking and bookmarking sites.
In September 2014 the Pew Research Center, in association with the University of Michigan completed a survey on American adults using the internet. Among the top social media sites it found that despite that slowing growth Facebook has remained the most popular social media site with approximately 70% of online adults using the service, dwarfing Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest and LinkedIn although unlike Facebook, all of them saw a significant increases. Other key findings from the survey include:
- For the first time ever:
- more than half of all online adults 65+ use Facebook, representing a third of all seniors
- roughly half of internet using young adults ages 18-29 use Instagram, with half 0f all Instagramers using the site daily
- 50% of people with an LinkedIn had a college education
- More than half of all online adults now use two or more social media sites, a significant increase from 2013, when it stood at 42% of internet users
- Women dominate Pinterest: 42% of online women now use the platform, compared with one in eight for online men
Based on these results we think it is a reasonable proposition to say “ignore social media at your peril”. Social media is doing well with the established networks (eg Twitter, Facebook and Google+) becoming more popular on a daily basis, while new media sites often experience rapid growth. Marketers who won’t act will miss out. Below is list of the currently most popular social media sites but as it is a very fast developing segment of the market it is in constant flux, so what it a top site today may be gone tomorrow as is what happened for instance with MySpace, and even Facebook (as the stats show) has slowed. The table below shows the top 20 social media sites (as at March 2015), how many people use social media as active users, the country of origin and its main uses (ie content curation, forums, instant messaging, microblogging, news, social networking or telecommunications): ,
- Facebook (1,415 million) – USA – social networking
- QQ (829 million) – China – instant messaging
- WhatsApp (700 million) – USA – instant messaging
- Qzone (629 million) – China – social networking
- Facebook Messenger (500 million) – USA – instant messaging
- WeChat (468 million) – China – instant messaging
- LinkedIn (347 million) – USA – social networking
- Baidu Tieba (300 million) – China – forum
- Google+ (300 million) – USA – social networking
- Instagram (300 million) – USA – social networking
- Skype (300 million) – Sweden – telecommunications
- Twitter (288 million) – USA – microblogging
- Viber (236 million) – Israel – instant messaging
- Tumblr (230 million) – USA – microblogging
- Snapchat (200 million) – Snapchat instant messaging
- LINE (181 million) – Japan – telecommunications
- Reddit (169 million) – USA – news
- Sina Weibo (167 million) – China – microblogging
- VKontakte (100 million) – Russia social networking
- Pinterest (50 million) – USA – content curation
Benefits of social media marketing strategy – examples
A good social media strategy is can positively impact any business but is particularly important to entrepreneurs looking to quickly grow their business or to make money fast. Fundamentally business is about people communicating with people and along with podcasting and webinars, social media is perhaps one of the most “intimate” ways of electronic communication yet invented. So let’s take a look at some of the more salient points.
- It’s the new media and people all over the world have changed their media consumption habits away from reading newspapers and magazines, watching TV, or listening to the radio towards Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and all the other social sites.
Social sites provide the same news as the more traditional channels but the interactivity of social media is beguiling in a way that has never occurred before. Not only does it enable users to pick and choose the stuff they want but they are no longer consumers of media but also creators of media.
- People communicate with social networking sites through various devices and currently more than half of all traffic is generated from mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. For marketers, this creates opportunities for marketing to specific groups based on the platforms that are used.
This has also opened up a huge potential for Apps which have been changing the way we work rest and play. The app ecosystems are continuing to impact consumer lifestyles, businesses, even entire industries and are causing almost revolutionary changes the likes of which haven’t been seen before. It has been estimated that in the 28 countries that make up the European Union, in 2014 there were more than 1 million jobs directly or indirectly related to the app ecosystem, with Europe accounting for 19% of global app revenues. This suggests 5.3 million jobs worldwide. Mobile apps are penetrating and disrupting markets, connecting teachers with students, users connect with developers, patients connect with their doctors, artists connect with fans and taxi users connect with taxi drivers.
- Web users are spending ever increasing amounts of time on social media sites, sometimes (often?) to the detriment of their work and home lives, logging into their accounts numerous times a day and each time they spend considerable time online.
A survey conducted on social networking sites worldwide shows that in the month of January 2012 the average minutes per visitor to social media sites ranged from:
- Facebook: 405 min
- Tumblr and Pinterest: 89 min
- Twitter: 21 min
- LinkedIn: 17 min and Google+: 3 min
In terms of time spent online social media accounts for approximately one out of every five minutes spent online.
- Social media increases your online exposure with more than half of local online populations engaging in social networking. While opinions differ whether a personal profile is better than a business profile, our view is that it doesn’t add that much more work, so why not have both.
- Social media connects you with experts in your niche and being an active participant on social media you build relationships with your customers as well as with companies and people in your niche.
This can result in all kinds of opportunities such as joint ventures, collaborations, supplier/customer relations, all facilitated via social media.
- Social media is a fantastic tool for managing your brand. If something goes wrong and it hits “the net” you can be right there managing the issues in an open and transparent way, turning what is potentially a difficult issue into an advantage by building trust
- Many customers have a strong preference for receiving assistance via Facebook or Twitter than through a formal customer service that requires the exchange of emails. From a business point of view, this is also a much more efficient way to deliver outstanding service – a win-win
- It is very easy to keep your customers updated by communication about your latest products, launches and events. Through tweets or Facebook updates company news can circulate quicker and more conveniently than through traditional press releases. In essence you by-pass the “gatekeepers”.
- Using social media is a great way to stay in touch with your customers and building a trust relationship with them which is particularly beneficial through the sales cycle. It shows you’re not just trying to flog stuff, but actually care about them as people. It is a process of give, give, give, give, ask, give, give, give, give, ask etc
- You learn infinitely more about customers by using social media than just about any other channel. Furthermore most social sites have developed tools that help you analyse your audience’s demographics.
- Being active on social media will result in people spontaneously wanting to link with you. In SEO terms this is called backlinks which is one of the most important elements in Google’s ranking algorithms. But the trick is they must be organic and not manufactured.
- Social media marketing doesn’t have to cost a lot of money but it does require an investment of time. It is easy to let it get away from you, so be careful that you optimize the time you spent.
No sensible online marketer should ignore social media marketing, but you should be aware that increasingly the main social media sites are going to push you towards paid advertising. They do this because they have to try and justify their share price to their investors by actually earning money.
How to use social media for marketing
If you are interested in knowing how to use social media for marketing by far the most important issue is to make sure that your messages are read. As the medium is extremely fast moving, you are going to have to ensure you’re posting your content at a time when most people are online and are looking for something to read. The question then is to what are the best time to post. Below is a general guide for the more popular English-speaking social media sites and is based on numerous research studies as well as our own in-house research. As always it is vitally important to do your own research to make sure you find the best times for your website. Every social media site will differ and depends on your audience. You also need to be aware of time zones. The specific suggested time zones below are for the USA which itself uses nine standard time zones. For the purposes of this blog post US Eastern Standard Time (EST) was used. If you have a global audience it’ll be in your interest to adjust your posting time to coincide with your main markets. I’ve found an easy tool that helps me work it all out. It is located at http://www.timeanddate.com/worldclock/converter.html
- Peak times for posting links are from 1pm to 4pm EST, before 8am and after 8pm EST
- While peak traffic on Facebook occurs at midday Wednesday, the click-through rate is much lower at that time
- Weekend posting on Facebook seems to result in the highest possible interaction
- Google+ posting is best right after people reach their jobs, from 9am–11am EST, and worst when people are on their way home from their jobs
- The people who are on Pinterest include a fair number who who work from home with peak click-through times in the afternoon and very often late at night. Dinner time however seems to be off limits
- Tumblr peaks at night for people who are willing to click through. People seem to be on Tumblr late at night and during times when other social networks are quiet
- Weekend posting on Twitter does not result in a large number of click-throughs.
- LinkedIn click-throughs peak before work (7am–9am EST) and the hour after work hours (5pm–6pm EST). At all other times, traffic is very low
- Twitter’s peak time for clicking through links is from 1pm to 3pm EST Mondays through Thursdays
- As I said earlier, these are some general times but by using a good analytics program it is easy to work out the time(s) of day and day(s) of week that are optimal for your website.
Become very friendly with your social media analytics tools and become a data driven webmaster who leaves as little as possible to chance. But that’s a subject for another post another day. This original content was created by www.BusinessNavigate.com © BusinessNavigate.com – All rights reserved
 Source: Maeve Duggan, Nicole b. Ellison, Cliff Lampe, Amanda Lenhart and Mary Madden, Social Media Update 2014, 9 January 2015, www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/social-media-update-2014/  Source: Andreas Pappas and Christina Voskoglou, The European App Economy 2014, VisionMobile Ltd, London United Kingdom. http://ec.europa.eu/research/innovation-union/pdf/active-healthy-ageing/vision_mobile.pdf  Source: http://www.statista.com/statistics/278304/average-stay-on-social-networking-sites-in-minutes/, 2012  Source: comScore Media Metrix, October 2011  Monthly Active Users (MAU) is a measure of the success rate of a social media site and is measured by counting the number of unique visitors within the previous 30 days.  Sources: http://www.statista.com/statistics/272014/global-social-networks-ranked-by-number-of-users/; http://mashable.com/2015/02/25/pinterest-usage/; http://expandedramblings.com/index.php/reddit-stats/; and http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wikipedia:Statistics