In the last two decades, the internet’s landscape and the way we advertise our businesses have changed dramatically.
The attitude of “build it, and they will come” is no longer the order of the day. With the rise of social media and a sense of instant gratitude brought on by the bigger players in the market, it has made it difficult to gauge the new landscapes.
I am not a marketing expert, and I will not try to guide you through these landscape from a marketing perspective, but I am going to show you how to get set up and a few tips that may help.
In the next few posts, I will focus on the setup of each of these platforms but let’s introduce them to you first.
The giant Google machine tried to create a Facebook competitor with Google+ in 2011 and is no longer be available to consumers as of 2nd of February this year.
Is it worth the effort for businesses?
The answer is yes, Google My Business is well worth the effort, not only will it give a social media aspect to your business but it will also add you to Google Maps and create a card on Google Search. When paired with Google Analytics and good site SEO, it becomes a powerful tool.
Amongst the many features offered by Google My Business are Business localisation on search, directions to your business using Google Maps, reviews, Analytics and Business info with contacts, addresses, operating hours, photos and much more.
Adding your business to Google My Business is probably the most critical thing you will do on the internet, even if you do not have a website.
Though Facebook has its merits, particularly in the advertising and communication spaces, it can granularly target audiences with adverts only closely matched by Google AdWords. However, I found it to be unreliable as a free advertising platform or broadcasting medium, due to the way that the Facebook page is generated your post may not show.
It is a brilliant communication platform, and a business page will allow you to enable some great features beyond what you may be aware of — for example, Facebook Messaging or comments which you can embed into your website.
You can also schedule posts and create events, but if used well it can be a benefit to your company too with reviews from customers and the group functionality where customers can publicly ask for help, and either another customer or you can engage with them. There is a host of additional functionality such as a “shop” that can be linked to your website and Pixel to track your advertising success.
The biggest dilemma that Facebook faces is it tries to do too much and overwhelms most of its users with too much functionality.
My recommendation, use it as a customer engagement platform with Messenger and Groups. Also, use its powerful paid advertising system in conjunction with Pixel, see if it works for you.
Interesting statistics: About 30% of South Africans use Facebook, that is between 16 and 21 million people depending on the report you read. There is also a good 50/50 balance between gender.
Twitter is a broadcasting system, and it is very good at announcing. Though discussions are possible, it is a platform of millions of users where most will find themselves lost.
This is not to say it should be ignored, hashtags first introduce by Twitter in 2009, and now used by LinkedIn, Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, are powerful tools, get trended using hashtags is even better. Unfortunately, this takes a lot of time and effort, time and effort that a small business owner does not have.
My recommendation, use it as a broadcast system to announce sales, new product or services or re-post an interesting article related to your company.
Interesting statistics: about 8 million South Africans are more active during work hours.
The biggest surprise for me is LinkedIn; it accounts for 60% of my personal blog’s traffic and is the first social profile I go to for business.
If you are in B2B, LinkedIn is a place you want your business listed. It is a social media platform for professionals. There has been a time when LinkedIn became a lot more like Facebook, but it did not last. Professionals started pushing back, and though you may still see the odd “Facebook” attitude this is the exception and not the rule.
It is also worth mentioning that the potential to engage directly with customers is entrenched into LinkedIn, so don’t just post, reply too.
Interesting statistics: LinkedIn is the 3rd largest social platform with about 6,1 million South African users.
Another product of Facebook’s toolbox, Instagram is a photo and short video sharing platform with a business aspect. You can also advertise on Instagram with your Facebook account, but I must admit that I never found the appeal both as an individual and a business.
My personal feeling aside, in no ways should it be dismissed; the user base is different, and in the long term it may be worth investing into Instagram.
Interesting statistics: South Africa has about 3.8 million users and growing
Pinterest is a left field entrance into the market, being a link sharing service what could it possibly bring to the table? The short answer is Pins! And much more.
Pinterest has also got a nifty analytics system that allows you to track pins or URLs if that makes more sense to you. As Pins are re-pinned, you can profile what works and what doesn’t. I am relatively new toat Pinterest as businesses. However, the premise is rather simple, if a user is interested in the article they can pin, re-pin for sharing or review later.
There is a catch, every page, post, product, in fact, anything you want to pin must have an image attached. Pinterest also has paid advertising campaigns in its toolbelt, this includes video awareness.
I am currently experimenting with Pinterest as awareness and advertising platform and will report back later on the success or failure.
Interesting fact, in 2018, 83% of US users were women and 80% are on mobile. In South Africa it holds a 23% share as of late 2017.
Though not strictly a social media platform YouTube has enough aspects resembling it that it gets included here. The most interesting part of YouTube is that you can make a living out of making videos and sharing them through advertisement on your channel.
YouTube offers an opportunity to get your business going through the medium of video.
It does not need to be an expensive endeavour either, most smartphones can record full high definition videos and a stabiliser like the DJI Osmo Mobile 2 are within range of most businesses. I would add that sound is vital, a microphone such as the Rodes smartLav+ or VideoMic Me would be an affordable choice for use with a smartphone.
Interesting statistics: YouTube is the 2nd largest social platform in South Africa.
If you have an active blog with your company’s website, make sure you post these on all your company social profile along with any announcements regarding sales or new products you may have.
Remember Hashtags are the new sharing method. Whether you use all or a few of the discussed platforms, hashtags are going to be important, learn how to use them effectively and be consistent across all your social platforms including your website. This will help with your searchability.
Finally, you do not have to exist on all the social media platforms, but the right combination can give you free exposure, start by concentrating on the four big one Google Business, Facebook, Twitter. If you feel you require a more professional social platform as we do, add our favourite LinkedIn. Should you feel adventurous maybe pick another, we choose Pinterest to try something new.