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The Benefits of Social Media for Your Business: A Run Down of the Five Most Important Platforms

Posted: 20th October 2015
Benefits of Social Media

By now, you’re probably aware that social media should be a key part of your marketing strategy. But do you really understand the benefits that each social media platform can offer your business?

Many business owners aren’t fully aware of the influence that platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest can have, but when used correctly, social marketing can have a huge impact on conversion rates, SEO and customer satisfaction, among other things. Not only does social media allow you to share content with an audience of followers and potential customers, but it can help to strengthen your brand image and get ahead of your competitors.

Let’s take a look at some of the advantages (and a few disadvantages) of the key social media platforms and why they are so important for online business success.

Facebook: The All-Rounder

Facebook is the biggest social media platform online, with over 1.49 billion users, many of whom use Facebook for hours per day. The all-rounder of the social media field, Facebook allows users to do everything from sharing updates and posting images and videos to sending messages publicly or privately. Businesses can also display important information such as contact details and opening hours for free on their Facebook page.

One of the biggest advantages of using Facebook for business is targeted advertising. Crucially, the platform allows business pages to tailor their paid-for adverts, so that they only show up for a select portion of people based on demographics, location and interests. For example, a fashion brand targeting UK females between 18 and 24 who like shopping, can actually specify that exact demographic and only advertise to them. This smart way of advertising yields more focused results and wastes less time and money on the people who aren’t interested in your brand.

With scope for reaching a huge audience of people, every business should have a presence on Facebook. However, despite its popularity (or, in fact, as a result of it) Facebook can be difficult to get right. With so many brands already on Facebook, it can be hard to stand out from the crowd. For this reason, businesses on Facebook need to work hard to keep their content interesting and relevant if they want to convert followers to customers.

Twitter: The Customer Engagement Champion

Twitter is a fast-paced platform where users can share short snippets of text updates with followers. Over 300 million users are active every month on Twitter, sharing 500 million tweets per day. As a marketing tool, it offers many benefits to businesses and is relatively easy to get to grips with.

One of the best ways that brands can use Twitter is to improve customer satisfaction. Twitter breaks down walls between companies and customers, allowing business to respond to questions and complaints in real time. Many businesses now use Twitter as a modern form of customer support. This personal interaction helps to make a brand more human and develops relationships between brands and customers.

Twitter is also an effective way to see what’s happening in your industry and to carry out key research on what others are saying about your brand. Businesses are easily able to keep an eye on trends and follow hashtags for the latest up-to-date information.

With millions of users tweeting constantly, Twitter can be a useful and successful marketing tool. However, the platform does have some limitations; tweets are confined to 140 characters or less, which restricts the length of message you can tweet to your followers. Similarly, Twitter is a predominantly word-based tool, and isn’t ideal for brands who want to share lots of photos and visual content. For the best results, use Twitter alongside other platforms as part of your overall social media marketing strategy.

LinkedIn: The Professional Platform

LinkedIn is a social media platform designed for professional individuals and companies. LinkedIn isn’t just a tool for finding jobs though – it’s a way for companies to connect to a different kind of network and to develop the corporate side of their business. Through LinkedIn, you can stay up-to-date with the latest industry news and share business-related content with peers, establishing yourself as an expert in your field.

B2B businesses tend to benefit the most from being on LinkedIn. The professional platform is a strong outreach and sales tool that can be used to find new business opportunities and connect with other companies who may be interested in your B2B services.

While LinkedIn can benefit your business, it requires a lot of work to grow a good network. Users must actively seek out people and ask for permission to connect with them, making it somewhat time-consuming to build a large audience.

Instagram: The App for Inspiring Images

Instagram has only been around since 2010, but it is one of the fastest growing platforms online, gaining 300 million users since then. Instagram is an app for sharing photos and videos with followers. Designed to be used exclusively on a phone or tablet, it is especially popular with a younger audience.

Instagram is a free and easy-to-use tool that allows businesses to showcase and sell their products or services, working particularly well for brands that they sell something that is visually pleasing. Instagram users respond well to beautiful, great quality photos. The use of hashtags on Instagram can also help to increase brand awareness. By using the right hashtags, you can expose your posts and your products to a huge potential market.

The single biggest benefit that has just been introduced to Instagram is that you can now harness the power of the Facebook advertising tool to advertise on instagram, making the already popular platform more powerful to businesses.

However, unlike Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest, Instagram posts cannot feature a link to outside content. This makes it harder for brands to direct users and drive traffic to their website. Brands who want to increase their traffic and sales through Instagram must find more creative ways to convert customers.

Pinterest: The Place for Creative Content

Pinterest is becoming a popular marketing tool as businesses are realising its potential. Launched in 2010, Pinterest is an online pin board where users save and share images, photos and other creative visual content on online mood boards.

The great thing about Pinterest for businesses is that each image shared is automatically linked back to its original source. This makes it easy to drive traffic directly to your site and means that potential customers can quickly find out more about your brand and make a purchase by clicking on the image. For this reason, Pinterest is a fantastic sales tool for e-commerce websites. Additionally, well-presented Pinterest boards can help to build your brand image and online identity, while freely promoting your products or services at the same time.

While Pinterest is a fantastic resource for businesses, it can work for some brands more than others. Pinterest attracts a very specific audience, with around 85% of Pinterest users being young and female. It is ideal for brands catering to that target audience, but it can be hard to engage users if you don’t.

In conclusion, each social media platform has its own advantages and disadvantages, suiting the needs of each business differently. Without a doubt though, businesses who want to get ahead cannot ignore the benefits that social media brings. Whether you want to develop a better connection to your customers, establish your brand as a source of expert content or drive traffic to your website and increase sales, when you take social media seriously, you will reap the rewards.

If you need help deciding which platform is right for your business then get in touch.