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Let’s Get Social: A Guide to Social Media Channels

Which social media platform is best for your business?

Let’s Get Social: A Guide to Social Media Channels
By Karin Eldor
Monster Contributing Writer

Status update: it's overwhelming to determine which social media channel is best for communicating with your customers. #toomanychoices #marketingproblems
When it comes to developing a social media strategy for your company, it's crucial to take a step back and start at phase 1. It's easy to say you want your marketing department to embrace all platforms, especially since every day brings with it a new platform hailed as THE social media channel you MUST use.
The truth is: your company's marketing team needs to assess which is best for your needs. It's not enough to jump on the social media bandwagon and cover all your bases — it must be a strategic choice and must be done properly.
So how do you break through the heap of social media platforms? Start by assessing what they can do for your business.
Let's start with the mother of all social media, the one that got the ball rolling and launched a phenomenon when it first debuted in 2004. We all know the power of Facebook when it comes to sharing news and updates, but do you know how it can be leveraged to boost sales and at least engagement? Facebook is all about creating a sense of community and dialogue, and it remains an effective way to stimulate conversation between a brand and its followers (customers), as well as followers with other followers.
How can it work for you?
  • Facebook can be leveraged as a great platform for contests and sweepstakes
  • An easy way to share recent photos relating to your brand with fans (for product launches, a store event, etc.)
  • A wonderful way to engage with your community by asking open-ended questions that are on-brand, for your followers to answer
  • For many consumers, Facebook can be an incredibly personal space — be cognizant of this when planning posts
The social channel best known for sharing thoughts in 140 characters or less has taken the digital world by storm. Everyone from Bieber to Barack tweets (in fact, they are the Top 2 and Top 3 of the world’s most popular accounts users, respectively), but the question is, should your company?
How can it work for you?
The truth is that when done strategically, Twitter can be an easy way to remain top of mind to your demographic. For starters, it can be a great way to direct people to your customer service contact center. You just need to make sure it’s equipped with enough manpower or resources to handle the incoming amount of support or customer-related queries.
Twitter is also an awesome way to give your brand personality, by making tweets sound natural, informal and relevant. This is where you as a brand can engage with other influencers on Twitter.
Open-ended questions, voting and polls are fun tools to generate interaction on Twitter, as is the case on Facebook.
The site known as a “virtual bulletin board" has attracted millions of eyeballs at an exponential rate since its 2010 launch. Pinterest has caught the eye of many brands — especially those who target women — and is especially popular for companies involved in industries like decor, dining, fashion, weddings, and event planning. Pinterest is a fantastic way to showcase mood boards and inspirations: it's all about "curating inspiration" for your followers.
How can it work for you?
Before tasking someone in your company with going on a “pinning” craze and creating your boards, consider whether this extremely visual platform is the right fit for you – otherwise your efforts will be more like a needle (or shall I say, “pin”?) in a haystack. So far when used correctly, Pinterest has proven to be a successful channel for e-commerce sites by linking pinned product images directly to a company’s e-comm page.
If your company goes the Pinterest route, keep in mind that your boards should be filled with original content (product shots, either straight from the e-commerce website or stylized) and other’s content ("repinned" images).
The little app that could was bought by Facebook in 2012 and brought with it the instant gratification of taking photos and sharing them, the fun of using filters to make these photos more engaging, and was likely responsible for starting the whole “selfie” craze.
Users take photos with their mobile phones or tablets (thanks to the Instagram app), apply filters if necessary, and “share” the pic with their network of followers (they can also automatically share the same image on their Twitter and Facebook feeds, if they so choose).
How can it work for you?
Brands have taken to Instagram to engage with their followers by having fun with imagery, and much like Twitter, creating a brand persona. It’s an easy way for a brand to stay top of mind to its followers, by adding a visual element to a brand strategy (a picture of a new product, or a lifestyle-related image that is "on brand").
Instagram has tremendous potential for contests and enticing followers to join the conversation, by creating a hashtag and instructing them to “tag” their images accordingly.
Google+ launched brand pages in late 2011, and with it came the opportunity to connect people to the brands they love. Until then it had been all about connecting people with other people, but now it’s all about building relationships with all the things and brands users care about. It's all about “Circles” – you add people and brands to your “Circles” and thereby choose who you’d like to follow.
How can it work for you?
Google+ is more about quality than quantity when it comes to choosing what to post, unlike Facebook and Twitter. And thanks to a “comments” system that is integral to social interactions on Google+, companies can connect its followers with the people who are behind-the-scenes at the brand. For example, its “Hangouts” feature allows a limited amount of users to connect and chat with someone from the company.
Google+ also reaps the benefits of strong “searchability” and YouTube integration; it is part of Google, after all. (YouTube is a Google property). It's being hailed as a great way to engage users in a highly targeted way thanks to the ability to use Circles and segment brand influencers.
But be forewarned: Google+ content must be more unique than what you’re putting up on Facebook or Instagram, for example. Google+ users tend to be more dialed into the brand and expect to see original content, tailor-made for Google+.
Tumblr is a microblogging platform and social networking website, which allows anyone from an amateur blogger to an all-out brand to develop a blog. And since its acquisition by Yahoo! in 2013, Tumblr has proved it means business.
How can it work for you?
Tumblr’s user-friendly interface and tools make it an incredibly appealing option for a brand that wants to develop more content and multimedia by launching a blog – either for SEO (search engine optimization) purposes or for marketing and branding strategies.
What does all this mean?
Before you feel the need to “reboot” your mind after all this information, don’t panic: the right social media channel(s) are out there for your company – it’s up to your marketing team and/or its equivalent to determine which make(s) the most sense for your strategy and communication plan. Don’t get overwhelmed by the new platforms that crop up every year (Vine, Snapchat…etc.): it’s best to focus on doing a few very well rather than doing them all.
Here’s what you need to consider before creating an account for each one and posting status updates:
      Resources: What kind of budget do you have to dedicate to your social media activities and how many staff members?
      Goals and objectives: Why are you doing it in the first place?’
      Target audience: Who is your key audience and which platform(s) are they using?
      Metrics: What kind of key performance indicators are you hoping for?
You need to hone in on these questions before moving forward, so that your goals are aligned and you’ll be able to key in on the social media channel(s) that make the most sense for your company. #winning