What is social media?
Answer: An online platform which connects people
Social media is a way to connect people, businesses and communities online.
The main drive of content on the platforms is by the users themselves.
Social media plays a big part in our day to day society. So much so that the number of active social media users grow year on year, with 2019 being up 9% from 2018.
With the rise of social media, comes the rise of exposure and with statistics like these, it’s easy to see why a lot of businesses are now often relying solely on social media to market their brand.
Social media glossary
When trying to understand the different social media platforms, it’s important to get to grips with the lingo.
For your ease, here is a glossary for the most popular social media terms you may come across.
A post is any content that is published online; this can be in the form of text, images and even videos.
A "like" often refers to the like or love button. Quite often, this is depicted by either a thumbs up or a heart.
This is a feature on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram and can be used by other users to show their support or enjoyment at certain content or a post.
A share is another feature of social media platforms, where people can choose to broadcast content from another poster to their connections, groups or a specific individual.
This is often the primary aim for social media marketing strategies, as it raises brand awareness at often no cost.
A comment is when another user replies to any content that you have published online.
Most often, comments are beneficial as they can be social proof. However, it is important to be aware that anyone can say anything at any time.
Engagement measures public shares, likes and comments of the social media of an online business.
Usually, it is used as a metric for evaluating the performance of their social media. However, this doesn't always necessarily translate to sales.
Inbox or direct message (DM)
An inbox or a DM refers to a feature on social media platforms that lets you get in direct contact with another user.
This feature can often open up opportunities for a business and can be used as another form of networking.
A hashtag is the use of the hash symbol (#) before a word or phrase to identify messages on a specific topic.
They can also be used to get involved with certain trends, for example, #ThrowBackThursday can be used when posting old photographs/content.
A tag allows social media users to engage any entity on social media when they mention them in either a post or comment.
Often, the entity being tagged will be notified.
This is another tactic often used within social media marketing strategies, as it can again, grow brand awareness.
Wall, feed or timeline
A wall, feed or timeline essentially refers to the same thing.
It is the main page of the platform, and it's something that updates whenever there is new content available.
Quite often, a users wall, feed or timeline is filled with content from other users they have chosen to connect to or shown an interest in.
Which are the main social media platforms and how they differ?
When you think of social media, many of us will have our own preferences.
What works for one business, may not work for another.
For example, Neuroradiology Consulting chooses to solely have a LinkedIn. As a highly skilled medical consultancy, LinkedIn seems more suited to their customer’s focus, rather than Pinterest.
According to Search Engine Journal, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, Snapchat and Pinterest are the top players for social media platforms.
With close to 3 billion active monthly users, it’s not hard to see why this has come out at number one.
Not only that but with the existence of Facebook groups, there are even free marketing pools businesses can participate in.
For example, if you own a shop selling dog collars; there are hundreds of groups dedicated to dog lovers. Or perhaps you have a holiday home you want to rent out; there are groups specifically dedicated to people who are interested in these too.
Certain businesses can reap the benefits of Twitter more than others. However, with over 300 million active monthly users, it’s still not something to pass on.
Entertainment, sports and marketing are three sectors that stand to do well on this social media.
If your brand has a strong brand personality and interest in current affairs, Twitter is an amazing platform to reach your audience.
Twitter is also an easy way for your customers and clients to respond to your business and to feel involved.
Harnessing this to its full potential not only helps you build rapport with your customers, but it also helps build social trust.
LinkedIn may not be the flashiest of social media networks, however, it can definitely pack a punch for B2B businesses.
With over 60 million users in senior positions and over 300 million users in total, if you’re looking for decision-makers, this is the social network for you.
As LinkedIn focuses more on the professionals of the world, it tends to work better for businesses with a more professional feel.
For example, LinkedIn may be a great place to advertise your health and safety training course, however, it may not work as well for your local coffee shop.
The social media platform also has a large focus on networking to gain connections and opportunities, which can be the perfect network for hiring for your business.
A picture can be worth a thousand words and that’s certainly true for Instagram.
As Instagram solely focuses on uploading photographs, this network is more for the creatives of the business world.
With over 1 billion active users, it’s a platform where social media influencers thrive.
Product lead businesses tend to flourish on this platform, and with the rise of the hashtags, you can target anyone searching those certain words.
And if your target demographic is the under 35s, that consists of 71.2% of worldwide Instagram users.
Why should businesses use social media?
As touched on previously, there are many benefits of choosing the correct social media platform for you and your business.
From bringing brand awareness through to networking and building credibility, social media can do a lot for a company.
Here is a little more information about why your business should be using social media and how it can help.
Everyone has heard the term “brand awareness” but do you actually know what it is and how it affects your business?
You may know people who call themselves Apple people, or Nike/Adidas people.
This is the dream goal of many businesses and this is what brand awareness can do for you.
Having good brand awareness means embedding your brand into your consumer’s mind.
This means your customers will come back time and time again, often without even thinking about the competition.
So how do you raise your brand awareness?
Hashtags (almost all social media have these now) can be used to get some social media engagement.
Using hashtags can be a clever way of integrating your business into the latest trends.
Hashtags can also get people talking or even sharing your content.
Therefore, the higher your social media engagement, the more people are engaging with your brand and raising awareness.
Tagging other businesses within your posts, if you’re a B2B company
Tagging other businesses within your posts can often lead to you being shown on their wall.
This means not only is your consumer base seeing your content but potentially, another company’s consumer base is also exposed to it.
It can also be a great way of networking and opening your business up to more opportunities.
Build credibility & social proof
As well as raising brand awareness, being on either one or multiple social media platforms is an easy way to build credibility with your consumer base.
Not only that but if you’ve secured all your social media handles, then you’ve protected your brand from brand squatters.
Show you’re active and up to date
Having a strong online social media presence shows potential customers that your business is active and very much up to date.
If a company doesn’t put much thought into their social media, it may come across that they don’t care as much or are even closed for business.
With some lines of work, this shouldn’t matter too much. However, if your company is all about the latest trends, it’s good to show that you are in fact, up to date with the latest trends.
Build & display reviews
Reviews are the best way to build social proof and credibility.
Reviews have the potential to make or break a sale, and can often be the tiny little push a customer needs to go ahead with a purchase.
When a potential customer sees positive reviews, it is often the proof that they need that you are a legitimate business and more importantly, that they are getting their money’s worth.
However, it’s important to note that negative reviews have the potential to be devastating, especially to small business owners.
Whilst this can be the case if you receive a negative review, all is not lost. Customers will also be interested in seeing how that case is dealt with, and they can decide for themselves if your business is trustworthy.
Stand out as the market leader over competitors
You will notice that any market leader in any field will have a strong social media presence — this isn’t just a coincidence.
Interacting with your customers over social media ensures that your company is at the forefront of their minds.
Get more conversions
However, as previously mentioned, as good as social media engagement is, it doesn’t necessarily lead to sales, it’s also important to take note of your conversions.
Naturally, the more exposure and the more brand awareness a company has, the higher the possibility of conversions.
Note, this doesn’t necessarily mean your overall conversion rate will be any higher; as 20% conversion is 20%, whether this is 1 person or 100 people.
As technology advances more and more each day, social media platforms can help to track your conversions relatively accurately, as well as provide social media analytics too.
Whatever social media platforms and marketing strategies you decide is right for your business, it’s important to know what tracking they can offer if you’re keen to measure your ROI.