What are social media platforms?
Social Media Platforms are websites or mobile applications that are networking platforms that allow users to share and interact with others within their network. It allows users to interconnect with others that have a shared commonality with them. Lastly social media platforms allow users to share and exchange views through textual, pictures or video.
What is Social Media Marketing?
Social media marketing is application of the art and science which a marketer leverages social networks like Facebook to promote his business. Social Media Marketing involves influencing the customer positively enough that he willingly endorses and promotes a brand or a company among his or her friends on the network.
Social media is the fastest growing trend in the history of the world.
Social Media platforms have grown faster than the internet itself. In the first 10 years of being publicly available, there were 1 Billion users on the Internet. Compare that with Facebook which managed to get its first 1 billion users in little more than half that time frame!
When we hear the term “Social Media”, the only word that comes into our mind is Facebook and why not!
Since its launch and opening up of its sign up in 2006, there are over 130 Billion Indians on Facebook and FB has crossed just crossed 1.96 billion monthly active users in April 2017. Which means that nearly 1 out of every 5 humans on this planet has a Facebook account.
Little wonder that everyone and his uncle want to do social media marketing! There’s nearly 2 Billion of them on Facebook alone!
Social Media Platform are online communication channels that bring people together to share information, ideas, personal messages, audio, video, photos and videos with each other. Social media has relevance for not only regular internet users, but also for businesses.
Social Media interaction can take various forms, but some common types include:
- Sharing links of interesting content produced by third parties
- Viewing public updates of a profile, including information on its current activities
- Sharing photos, videos and posts
- Commenting on the photos, updates, posts, videos and links shared by others
- Liking Photos, videos and posts
The most popular social media platforms are:
Of course there are lots more. One survey done indicated that there were over 350 different social media platforms in the world! Literally one for every kind of social interaction possible!
How does one do social media marketing on these platforms?
In general, there are 2 ways to use these social media platforms for marketing.
- The first way is free and has to do with building followers, connections or fans by sharing useful content, running contests and generally engaging with your users.
- The second way is about using paid advertising. You can use Facebook ads, Twitter, Google Adwords or other promoted accounts to advertise your product or services on Google, Facebook, Google+ and Twitter respectively.
Why is Social Media Marketing so important for businesses?
1.Increased brand recognition and loyalty
Your social media plaforms are new channels for your brand’s voice & content. They simultaneously make it easier for you to be in touch with new customers & be recognizable for existing customers.
2. Develop loyal community of prospects.
Social media can be a great platform for doing customer services, transforming negative customer’s experience into a positive outcome for your business.
Studies have found that customers would purchase from businesses having an active Facebook fan page rather than without. Community strength is really a powerful branding force, and social media offers exactly this kind of relationship-building opportunity that is virtually limitless. From a marketing perspective, it delivers the best chances for brands to create a massive community of loyal and active customers.
3.More Opportunities to Convert.
Every post you do on social media platforms is an opportunity for customers to convert. When you build a following, you will simultaneously have access to existing customers, new customers and old customers, & of course you will be able to interact with all of them.
Every blog post, comment, video or image, you share is a chance for someone to react, & every reaction could lead to a site visit, and eventually a conversion.
4.Higher conversion rates.
Social media marketing is a key to unlock higher conversion rates in a few distinct ways. Studies have proved that social media comprises a 100% higher lead-to-close rate in comparison to outbound marketing, & of course a higher number of social media followers tend to improve trust and credibility in your brand, representing social proof.
Today, social media is the first point of reference for a customer looking to buy. Getting quick access to consumer feedback is undoubtedly going to jump-start your sales results. Prospects are more likely to become your customers if you respond to their specific requirements in a prompt as well as personal manner through social media.
6. Higher Brand Authority.
Interacting with your customers on a regular basis is a sign of good faith for other customers. When people go to compliment or brag about a product/service, they turn to social media. And when they publish your brand name, new audience members will be willing to follow you for updates.
More people will be talking about you on social media, more valuable and authoritative your brand will seem to new users. Not to mention, if you can interact with major influencers on Twitteror other social networks, your visible authority & reach will skyrocket.
7.Increased Inbound Traffic.
In absence of social media, your inbound traffic is limited to people who are already familiar with your brand and those searching for keywords you currently rank for. Every social media profile added by you is another path leading back to your website, & every piece of content you syndicate on those profiles is another opportunity for a new visitor.
The more quality content you syndicate on social media, the more inbound traffic you will generate on your site. Remember more traffic results into more leads and then more conversions.
8.Decreased Marketing Costs.
Promoting your products on social media platforms increases your return on investment (ROI). By using social media channels, you can grow your advertising opportunities exponentially, while energizing your PR efforts without a huge money & time commitment.
Social media has become an imperative tool for all brands looking to be a part of the digital market and create buzz around their business. In today’s time, the importance of Social Media is indisputable. .
According to Hubspot 84% of marketers found that six hours of effort per week was enough to generate increased traffic. Six hours is not at all a significant investment for a channel as large as social media.
9.Better Search Engine Rankings.
Social Media is one of the key factors that influence SEO. Google and other search engines calculate site’s rankings taking social media presence as a significant factor. Being active on social media acts as a “brand signal” to search engines ensuring your brand is legitimate, credible, and trustworthy. That means, if you are willing to be ranked for a given set of keywords, and then having a strong social media presence is almost mandatory.
10.Richer Customer Experiences.
Social media, at its core, is a communication channel like a phone call or an email. Every customer interaction you have on social media is an opportunity to demonstrate your customer service level publicly and enrich your relationship with your customers.
Types of Social Media Platforms and How Each Can Benefit Your Business
Relationship networks consumers a chance for brands to connect with your users on a personal level. Facebook and Snapchat are 2 such relationship networks that help us connect and keep in touch with friends and family.
Relevancy for Business : Personal recommendations are the best form of brand endorsement that one can get. Through social media marketing, if a brand is able to leverage a user to share and give positive recommendations about a brand to his personal relationships, half the sale is done!
2.Media sharing platforms
This type of social media platform is defined by the primary type of media shared among users: Flickr or Instagram . Images are the main focus; users have to choose, upload and edit image files before proceeding with anything else. Likewise for sites such as YouTube and Vimeo or apps like Vine and Snapchat video is the primary mode of communication.
Relevancy for Business : Video is the fastest consumption media format today and for businesses that can provide infomercials, video based social media platforms are an ideal way to quickly brand awareness
Location-based review services such as Yelp and Urban Spoon are getting more traction as personal social networks adopt geolocation, and more users choose to consult Internet along with their friends for recommendations of best dining spots.
There are multiple sites to review anything from hotels; restaurant or your latest employer & user reviews have more weight than ever before. Sites like Airbnb and Uber the biggest service providers in the emerging sharing economy, rely largely reviews, respectively, to determine who benefits from the service.
Relevancy for social media marketing: It’s highly important for your brand to have the capability to leverage user reviews, whether positive or negative, to maintain client relationships and turn a possible negative influence into a positive brand ambassador
It is one of the oldest types of social media. Popular forums like Quora and Digg, seldomly require person’s real name to register and post, allowing for complete anonymity, if desired. Reddit is another very popular discussion forum online.
Relevancy for Business in social media : Such platforms allow a brand to answer queries, jump into conversations and steer discussions into positive rub offs for the brand or product. It is great way to drive inbound sales.
5.Social publishing platforms
Social publishing platforms consist of blogs and microblogs, where long as well as short-form written content can be shared with other users. Platforms like Twitter, Medium , Tumblr fall into this category as do other blogging platforms including WordPress.
Bookmarking sites come in very handy when you know what to look for or have a rough idea of the kind of content you would like to read. These are web services like StumbleUpon , Pinterest , and Flipboard , where users collect content from elsewhere on the Internet, and save it to their account on the platform.
This content can be either private or public, and shared with other users. Often, these bookmarking sites then suggest content similar to the links or images you have already saved on the network.
Relevancy for Business: If your business is dealing with information that you believe your customers would love to consume, you need to be active on bookmarking sites.
7.Interest-based social media platforms
Social media helps in connecting people having common interests, no matter how niche these hobbies may first appear to be. In addition to Facebook, LinkedIn Groups and Google+ communities, there are whole networks dedicated to exploration of interest: Such as Last.fm for musicians & music lovers, and Goodreads for authors and avid readers.
Relevancy for Businesses: If you’re in a category where community involvement could lead to a flip in sales, joining and being active in interest based social media platforms will benefit yor brand.
Social Media Platforms for Marketing
# 1. Facebook
Facebook is THE social network.Today, it’s the biggest social media platform. Today Facebook is not just a medium to stay in touch with friends and families, it has expanded its platform to take in businesses too with features like Company Pages, Events, Shopping, Workplace and Facebook Live.
Recommendation for Businesses: Must Have Social Media Marketing Medium
# 2. Google +
Google+ has only been around since 2011.Out of 2.5 billion Gmail users, around 250 million have activated their Google+ account. It is the poor cousin to Facebook. However G+ plays a bit role when it comes to SEO especially on Google Search and businesses should not ignore it.
One of the Google’s most successful moves was integrating Google Hangouts, which plenty of people use to host webinars.
Recommendation for Businesses: Need to have Social Media Marketing Channel if SEO is important for you.
# 3. Instagram
Instagram was among the first social media platforms that saw the power of pictures and decided to build a network entirely around it. Today there are nearly 400 Million users using Instagram and with its integration with Facebook it offers a powerful additional social media network for businesses.
However, sadly Instagram has not moved with the times. The platform is still largely what it was when it was first launched and its user base today is largely derived from Facebook. Alternatives like Snapchat are likely to see Instagram becoming a poor cousin very soon. This is our prognosis
Recommendation for Businesses: Can be avoided.Get into Snapchat instead.
# 4. YouTube
This social network has transformed the way we consume video.YouTube has spawned entire industries & kickstarted thousands of careers. For marketers, it’s a great way to share long form content with your target audience, especially if they are not avid readers. For example: You could turn your blog posts into video tutorials like we have done..
One can use other social media channels as a gateway to drive your followers to YouTube, by giving snippets, excerpts & previews of your videos. For example: The little bite sized teasers spark curiosity & make people to watch the whole thing.
Recommendation for Businesses: Must have medium if your business requires infomercials or needs to be shown to the user for him to understand better.
# 5. LinkedIn
The one social media platform that every business professional has to be in and hate it at the same time. Unlike other social media networks LinkedIn has been around for ages and is the platform if you are a working professional or a business.
However its stodgy nature, expensive advertising rates and lack of powerful user features are pretty frustrating. Remains to be seen how it performs now that is owned by Microsoft.
Recommendation for Businesses: Must have social media platform if you’re in the B2B business.
# 6. Twitter
An absoulutely must have social handle if you are trying to build a strong personality based following. It is the preferred social media platform for celebrities, personalities, experts and of course a lot of businesses. This is what is called micro-blogging and allows you to ‘tweet’ your message in 160 characters or less!
Try it. Its fun!
Recommendation for businesses: Must have medium for people running companies.
# 7. Reddit
Reddit is an American social news aggregation, web content rating & discussion website. Reddit’s registered community members can submit content, For example: Text posts or Direct links. Then, registered users can vote submissions up or down to organize posts & determine their position on the site’s pages. Submissions that have the most positive votes appear on the front page or the top of a category. Content entries called “subreddits” are organized by areas of interest.
Recommendation for Business: Another must use social media marketing platform
# 8. Snapchat
Snapchat has over 100 million daily active users. They are all young. 70% of the users are under 25 years old. It is today giving very serious competition to the likes of WhatsApp as the preferred messaging and sharing platform especially among the next generation of internet users. Facebook is off course playing catch up trying to integrate several of the original features of Snapchat into its own platform.
Recommendation for Business: If you’re thinking young teens and young adults- Snapchat is a must have social platform for your business
# 9. Pinterest
Pinterest is the number 1 social media platform for marketers who want to target women. 85% of their 100 million users are female. They collect, they curate and they share. Topics, like decorations, cooking, clothing, interior design do extremely well.
Recommendation for Business: If you’re targeting women it’s a must have social platform
# 10. Quora
Quora has over 100 million users. Questions can be asked. Answers can be upvoted, to ensure that quality answers must be shown up first. It is today the ultimate Q&A site to be in. Quora has now started accepting advertising.
Recommendation for Businesses: A must have social media channel in your social media marketing mix. Use the platform to address customer queries relating to your domain.
# 11. Vine
Vine allows their users to watch videos that are only 6 seconds long. If YouTube is about teaching, then Vine is all about entertainment.
Top most successful Vine channels are ALL COMEDIANS and PRANKSTERS. Music is another option for success on Vine. If your brand teams up with an artist, you could release snippets of their work to build awareness for your new product.
Recommendation for Business: A could avoid medium unless you’re in the music or entertainment business.
# 12. Tumblr
Tumblr is sort of a mix of Blog, Instagram & Twitter. The owners call it a microblogging platform. This platform is mostly used to curate images, that can easily be reblogged & liked by its users, sort of like RETWEETS and FAVORITES..
Recommendation for Businesses: Another ‘can avoid’ social channel
To sum up and get a snapshot view of the top social media platforms here is an interesting tabular representation from a blog post by Neil Patel in Social Sprout
|· Extremely vibrant, consumer-focused social network.
· People use heavily to stay in touch with friends and family
· App integrations with games.
|· High engagement.
· Fan pages integrate with newsfeeds.
· Free and paid marketing solutions.
· Sponsored post opportunities.
· Strong performance in mobile ad network.
· Rich in multimedia.
· Viral traffic driver.
|· Consumers exceptionally critical about ad targeting and banners.
· People don’t like to be hit over the head with a sales pitch on Facebook.
|· Micro-blogging platform for rapid and efficient distribution of information||· Strength is in short-form communication; Twitter users are masters of condensing information into short spaces.
· ’Hashtags’ for discovering and participating in new conversations.
·Heavy emphasis on connections and meeting new people.
· Ad platform.
· Vine is powerful for delivering an artistic message.
|· Short-form messages can sometimes complicate in-depth communication.
· Ad platform can be limited in delivering web traffic; can be stronger for branding (but you need to test and see)
|· Virtual pin board for curation of your favorite topics.||· Can be extremely strong referral traffic driver.
· Strong skew towards female-focused demographic.
· Visually engaging and friendly format.
· Opportunity for community to share and pin products that they love.
|· Can be a challenging marketing medium for non-visual brands.
· Self promotion is a big no here.
|QUORA||· Question and answer engine.||· Audience of entrepreneurs, marketers, engineers, VCs, and students.
· Genuinely curious and intelligent community.
· Opportunity to promote and get distribution for blog posts.
· Amazing platform to research topics in depth and to learn.
|· 1:1 connection might be difficult to achieve.
· Requires dedicated time and effort.
|·Largest business-to-business social network.
·Designed for networking and making new connections.
|· 1:1 outreach
· Market intelligence
· Employee recruitment
· Variety of paid channel solutions
|·Some professionals don’t consistently use LinkedIn
·Advertising on LinkedIn is relatively expensive
· Don’t ‘spray and prey’ strangers with messages.
|YELP||· Customer review platform for brick and mortar platform.||· Advertising solutions available
· Opportunity to engage directly with customers.
· Significant word of mouth referral driver.
|· Some small businesses feel that the paid channel advertising platform is too aggressive.|
|YOUTUBE||· The world’s biggest DIY video network.||· Significant referral traffic driver.|
As you can Social Media Platforms play an important role in the way we as users, interact and communicate with our friends, families, our business colleagues, our interest groups or within our community. By focusing one’s effort as a digital marketer on the right social media platforms that address and carry your target audiences one can get significant leverage out of the social media marketing efforts.