Developing an online marketing plan can be confusing at best. How can you gain results from social media platforms? Where is the best place to spend your time? Is one site better than the other? Should you try using a site with billions of followers, or would you be better off with a niche platform related to your field?
It’s not easy staying on top of current trends and connecting with your target audience in meaningful ways. Just when you think you’ve got it figured out, all the rules can change.
Social media, in particular, can be a tricky place to advertise and grow your business. Get it right, and you can be rewarded with high ROI. Get it wrong, and you might be canceled.
Organic and Paid Social Media
Before you look at achieving results with the social media of your choice, it’s important to understand how to interact and post on the different platforms.
Organic social media refers to the free content on a site. When you add content – posts, stories, photos, videos, etc. – it’s a way of letting your followers see inside your brand. When you post organically, only certain people will see what you post:
- Your followers
- Your followers’ followers
- People following hashtags you use while posting your content
This is why it’s essential to grow your social media account over time. With a handful of followers, your reach can be small. When you attract more viewers and use hashtags correctly, you can improve your exposure exponentially.
Paid social media refers to paid content you place on a site. If you pay to advertise on any social media platforms, you ensure your content reaches the demographics you select. You can use paid social media content to:
- Raise brand awareness
- Attract new followers
- Promote your latest product or service
- Announce sales
- Generate leads
- Drive conversions
While organic growth takes time, paid content can target new audiences immediately. That’s why it’s a good idea to have both organic and paid social media strategies in place. They work hand in hand to grow your exposure and increase your ROI.
Social Media Advertising
Each platform offers its users something unique. Your first starting point is determining which platform is the best place to reach out to your target audience. People spend time on each social media site for different reasons. If you can give the audience what it demands, you’ll have a better chance of growing your business.
Facebook, for example, allows you to reach out to several types of audiences.
- Core audience – people based on your advertising criteria – you choose the demographics as you build your ad
- Custom audience – gives you a chance to continue advertising to people who have already connected or engaged with your business
- Lookalike audience – people who match the interests of people who like or engage with your business
You can build ads in one area or try all three. The more you learn, the more refined you can grow your ad campaign, and the more success you’ll find with your results.
Different Platforms Have Different Results
It’s easy to get sucked in with the numbers. When you see Facebook reaches billions of people each month, it seems like a good place to advertise.
It’s important to remember that different platforms will give you different results. Stay small as you first start, then refine your message as you learn what your target audience wants. Don’t forget, platforms can change overnight; this can cripple your business if you rely on one specific platform for all of your leads. Platforms like Vine and Google+ were once popular platforms … until they weren’t.
Facebook is the behemoth in the social media world. That also means it has taken more control over how you reach your audience, meaning if you want growth using Facebook, you’re going to have to be willing to do it with a paid strategy. Facebook’s audience is skewed slightly older than other social media platforms, with less than half of today’s teenagers stating they still use Facebook at all.
Instagram is another giant platform, and while Facebook owns it, it has its own characteristics. It draws a much younger crowd than Facebook, though the demographics are changing. Posts are completely photo- and video-driven and don’t easily link to pages outside of the platform. You can operate both the Facebook and Instagram ad platforms in one place, making implementation easier for a single campaign.
If you’re looking for connecting through video, YouTube may be the place to do so. It gives you a way to turn any business into an education platform or a talk show. Instead of telling your audience, show them. Some YouTube channels have become so large they’re money-generators on their own.
Twitter has a much smaller user base, but if you can find your audience on this social media site, it might be easier to connect with them. Twitter is most commonly used for customer service and social listening to see what people say about your business. One of the biggest challenges is how rapidly the results change. If you don’t pick up on the latest trends, you may bypass the conversation altogether. If this is your chosen platform, it’s best to put in the time to make it work for your needs.
If you connect with business leaders, LinkedIn is the platform to play on. It has the highest level of wealthy and educated users. Ads may cost a bit more than on other platforms, but if you’re trying to fill an event or advertise your new business products, LinkedIn may give you the results you’re looking for.
If you’re looking for results from today’s social media platforms, take an all-in approach to ensure maximum exposure. Social media isn’t something you can flirt with from time to time. Depending on the platform you select, it takes a lot of commitment and interaction to ensure you get all you can out of it.
Having trouble selecting the right social media platform for your business? That’s where we can help. We’re happy to speak with you and help you define the best way to maximize your dollars and return on investment as you navigate the digital frontier.