Which Social Media Channel Does Your Business Need?

With Social Media as the must-have tool for businesses of all sizes, shapes, and ages, the plethora of options may seem daunting. There are myriad ways to engage your audience including Facebook Fan Pages, Twitter accounts to tweet away, company blogs, company profiles on LinkedIn, patron discounts on Foursquare, YouTube channels and more. Which platform should you invest your time, effort and money in? For small businesses in particular, it is important to narrow down the focus, considering the limited resources.

Before you decide which social media to become involved in, it is important to understand two things:

  1. What is your business attempting to accomplish via social media? Are you a small business looking to network with industry members, build your brand name and gain leads? Are you a medium to large sized business who wants to initiate a conversation with their consumers, to remain top of mind and increase customer engagement?
  2. What are your consumers like? Will they be responsive to social media? What are their web habits? What will help them “click” into your brand?

Once you have determined what you hope to achieve by foraying into social media, and how you plan to target whom, it is time to choose the channel(s) that will best help you achieve this.

Let us briefly look into what a handful of platforms can offer:

Twitter: Networking with industry members, getting people to know you (and vice-versa), engaging with current and potential customers, exchanging and keeping up with news. For more in-depth tips and tricks, check out Twitter Marketing A to Z.

Company blog: Show your expertise by writing about your views and opinions on the industry and its happenings. Make new business and new projects announcements, brag a little, and show some praise for good work done by other relevant parties. Connect your blog to readers via LinkedIn, Twitter or Facebook.

LinkedIn: Your company profile on LinkedIn can be a prime way to connect with other members in your industry (via the Groups feature), to hunt down talent (you are able to view hundreds of relevant resumes), and to keep interested prospective employees in the loop in regards to open positions, internal changes and upcoming projects.

Facebook: A Facebook Fan page is a great way to go if your business is big enough to have “fans.” People must know you enough to want to keep up with you, and view your updates amongst their friends’ updates in their news feeds. You can engage customers and potential clients by posting news, views, links to the company blog, to videos on seminars/talks delivered by your in-house experts, and watch the comments and feedback pour in. Check out the Adidas Originals fan page to see how they display product information along with ads, events and World Cup involvement.

Foursquare: If your business involves a physical establishment that users can “check in” to, this is a pretty smart way to gain from WOM (word-of-mouth marketing). To keep customers coming back and continuing to Check In, offer incentives such as Starbucks’ discounts for Mayors (frequent patrons).

Looking at a quick example, a small business would be best served by creating a company blog, a LinkedIn company profile and a Twitter account. There is no real and immediate point to establishing a Facebook Fan page because the business is not big enough to have acquired fans yet. Although several businesses appear to want to indulge in all available social media channels, there is a fine line between maintaining a multi-platform presence, and maintaining unnecessary real estate on these networks.

That being said, some businesses are able to successfully manage a multi-platform social media presence that is underlined by a cohesive strategy, where each channel complements the other. An example of this is luxury brand Louis Vuitton – their Facebook page streams live event coverage including runway shows during Fashion Week. It is also used to announce upcoming events and product releases. Photos are posted to engage fans by asking which celebrity wore which of their products best. Furthermore, they keep videos of all past events ready for viewing on their Facebook page as well as their YouTube channel, using Twitter as a way to provide brief, quick updates on all these items.

So before you jump into the vast and evolving realm of social media, ask yourself which channels can help you be most effective and best benefit your business as well as your customers. Quality definitely reigns over quantity when it comes to social media and your business.

About Rachna Sundaram

A digital media and marketing addict, Rachna’s love affair with the web began during the days when the Internet was being referred to as New Media. With a degree in Communications focused on “New Media Journalism” and an MBA focused in Marketing, Rachna was a reporter and web producer at Forbes, Inc. and then pursued a career in digital branding & communication. Her current range of activities include the role of Editor and Business Developer at http://SQUA.RE, a web-based luxury community start-up; Corporate Blogger with a focus on consumer experiences & behavior, and writing about all things digital for various online publications.

A well-structured nomad, Rachna has lived, studied & worked in south India, Chicago, NYC, Montreal & Paris, a track record that helps in understanding what makes different people (& consumers) click, online and offline. Follow her on Twitter: @Rachna2010

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