07 Sep, 2015

Make social media work for you

Social media... love it or hate it, but you can't deny that it now has the power to make or break a business, a career, a trend, or a reputation.

This is a brief overview of just six of many social media applications available, and why they might, or might not, work for you or your business.

Facebook logo
Facebook page

This is not to be confused with a Facebook profile which is used for individuals. A Facebook page is intended as a tool for businesses, brands, or organisations. You create your page within your personal profile, and while your personal profile remains private and limited to whoever you allow to view it, your page is available to be viewed by anyone.

Facebook pages work in the same way that profile pages do, you simply post to your timeline and people who are following your page will see the post in their news or page feeds—if they have "liked" your page. Plus you can add photos, videos, and details about you or your business.

Think of your Facebook page like dandelions—if someone loves a post you've done they might share it with all their friends, and some of those might then "like" your page and/or share the post to all their friends and so on. So like the many dandelion head fluffy fronds that blow off and seed anywhere they land, your post may do the same by being shared and reshared—the propagation opportunities are endless.

Create your Facebook profile and from that create a Facebook business page: Facebook

Twitter logo

If you can tweet a succinct, attention getting post in 140 characters or less then it's worth the effort for many businesses. Using hashtags will get your tweet into topics that are trending, and you can pick up a surprising number of followers in a short time. Also, getting retweeted is what you're after, and if you can be retweeted by Twitter users with large followings then that's a highly desirable way to propagate.

Twitter doesn't just limit you to text, you can add photos and videos, and it's a great way to get news out. For example, we recently built a website for a restaurant where they have daily specials on the menu. When their daily specials are published on the website each morning they automatically publish to Twitter and Facebook at the same time. So followers are immediately notified of what's on special for the day and can get to the front of the queue for a great deal.

Twitter isn't for all businesses, but it can be a real asset if used to your advantage.

Create a Twitter account: Twitter

Google My Business logo
Google My Business

Google My Business page example

See those extra information areas that pop up on Google searches? Well those are generated using businesses that have Google My Business pages.

For example, search for "Canmore restaurants" and a box will display, normally above general search engine results, which will either have a map with pins to various restaurants in Canmore, or will display a listing of restaurants. These premier results are generated by having a Google My Business page. Each entry can be clicked through for further details e.g. opening hours—website not required.

So with or without a website for your business, having a Google My Business page is a fairly essential social media requirement. And look at it philosophically, if your competitors have a Google My Business page and are appearing in a preferential listing in search results, shouldn't you be there too?

Get your Google My Business page set up now: Google My Business

Google+ logo

Nah... not really. Google+ has never been able to challenge Facebook since initially launching with the intention of grinding its rival into the dust. In July this year Google announced that they were unlinking Google+ from other applications like YouTube accounts, and Photos, meaning users would no longer be forced to have a Google+ account to use some Google services. Probably the beginning of the end and not far off its predicted total demise.

So unless you prefer the small-town feel of Google+, with less than 1% of all Google accounts using it, then it's really not worth putting the effort in. There are other social media platforms available that will benefit your business and give you a visible return on effort.

Here's the link to create a Google+ page, but it's probably not worth the effort: Google+

Instagram logo

If really great visual images are part of your business then Instagram is a good place to have an account. Many people make a living from posting photos they've taken and then selling high resolution versions. Instagram is a fantastic medium for restaurants or foodies who are able to capture high quality shots of their food. It's also a great way for arty or crafty people to post images of their work, again with the purpose of getting interest and possibly sales.

Using hashtags will help people who are following particular topics to find you, so you will also pick up followers. And in the same way that posts on other social media platforms operate, users can favourite a post as well as comment on it.

Instagram is a great opportunity for your business if you have a very visual aspect to your products.

Create your Instagram account and get posting those pics: Instagram

Pinterest logo

If you like to save ideas or information for a later date then Pinterest offers you a visual bookmarking tool expressly for that purpose. I have a corkboard, and two whiteboards—one magnetic— in my office; they do take up wall space and there's only so much stuff you can put on them, but Pinterest gives you the benefits of infinite corkboards and whiteboards.

Using Pinterest users curate all the interesting things that they see or find online, and they never run out of wall space. Every time a user pins an image to one of their boards a link to the original location of the image is also stored. This means that the creators of the original image or content it accompanies will still be credited as the originator.

Again, like Instagram, if you have great photos—food, art, crafts, jewellery, or just about anything really— they will be pinned and repinned, and always link back to your website, which is a potential business opportunity.

It's sort of like a social social media. People who don't know each other can share in their similar passions by pinning things that interest them; other people can see those pins and either repin them on their own boards or comment on the original posting.

Pinterest is a great opportunity for your business if you have a very visual aspect to your products.

Start a Pinterest account and get creating your boards: Pinterest