Social media are used for private and professional purposes. They have become valuable tools in B2B and B2C marketing. However, there are so many networks today that it has become hard to determine which one fits the business the best.
Social media can be valuable to businesses for a number of reasons: they offer businesses a tool to interact with (potential) customers in an informal manner. They can be used to give customers a glimpse behind the curtains and be used for recruiting new talent. Also, social media accounts can improve the search engine ranking. However, this should not prompt companies to open accounts on all available social media. It takes time, effort and sometimes money to be successful, which is why businesses should take some time and really consider which of the social networks suits their purposes the best and concentrate their efforts on those.
Facebook was founded in 2004. That is a long time ago and from foundation to today, the network's influence has only increased. The potential audience it offers advertisers is gigantic: 1.7 billion active users. The sheer number however makes it at times tough to actually get content in front of people's eyes. While a company page is free and can be a tool to communicate to followers, expanding reach often takes an investment in Facebook's advertising features. It should also be considered that teens today do not like Facebook as much as other, hipper networks.
Recommendation: Facebook is still the big player among social networks. A company page that regularly features content, e.g. shared links and a picture every now and then, is a must. To really take advantage of Facebook possibilities, a budget for the Ads Manager feature is required. It can be worthwhile as the targeting options are pretty refined.
Instagram is an app to share images. People can like and comment on the images. The images themselves find a greater audience when hashtags are used along with them. Ever since Facebook bought Instagram, it has expanded its reach and also has an advertising feature. Its over 500 million users a mostly teens and millennials.
Recommendation: Instagram is a great B2C marketing tool. If done well, the ads integrate well into the app's overall user experience. It is a great platform to present products in a very visual and stylish way.
140 characters is all it takes for a tweet. Of course, people can also share images and videos on Twitter, that increasingly looks at itself as a news tool than a social network. Its user numbers are stagnant (around 300 million) and the company still has not figured out how to make money. The live video product Periscope offers hope.
Recommendation: Twitter is easy to use and a great tool to get information out. Thanks to hashtags, people find content they might like whether they are connected to Twitterers or not. Twitter is probably best used as a tool for content curation and for distributing own content. This way, companies can position themselves as thought leaders and stay connected to people who have similar interests.
This is a professional network that is first and foremost a recruiting tool, which is why it should be considered by both B2B and B2C companies. Moreover, LinkedIn can also be used to establish oneself as though leader by sharing interesting content and publishing original content.
Recommendation: A LinkedIn profile has become one of the essentials today for both B2B and B2C businesses.
Pinterest is like Instagram a very visual network that allows users to share images and save images to pin walls. The network can be very attractive to marketers as the company introduced a buy button a while ago. Now companies can publish images of their products that people can buy by clicking on that button.
Recommendation: Pinterest does not really make sense for B2B businesses. However, companies who sell visually appealing products can use this tool to boost their sales.
We have written about Snapchat last week. Read our Snapchat post here.
Whether it is B2B or B2C: every business should consider two to three social media accounts. Facebook and Twitter appear to be a given. Other networks offer different features. Depending on your services and needs, pick one or two additional networks. Read more about Social Media Marketing.