How to Choose the Best Social Media Platforms for Your Business

So you realize that you need to be social. But where do you start?

It can be overwhelming. There are numerous platforms and every social media advice website will tell you something different. Here is what it comes down to – you need to evaluate your brand message and your marketing goals and find platforms that match the “persona” of your business.

“But how do I know which platforms match my business?” Luckily, I am here as a social media expert to break it down the main platforms for you.

Via Flickr by marcopako

Via Flickr by marcopako

Facebook. Many say Facebook marketing is as dead as paper marketing, which, if you follow my posts, you know is not the case. It is good to have some Facebook presence no matter what your business is (however retail, restaurants, and local businesses do the best). It’s a numbers game – there are over 1.2 billion active users as of January 2014. You can’t ignore that big of platform. Granted, Facebook’s algorithms make it hard for your messages to reach that platform, but if you do a little bit of research you can greatly use organic reach Facebook to your advantage.

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Via Flickr by mkhmarketing

Twitter. With the right hashtags, you can do anything on Twitter. Yet the best businesses on Twitter are the opposite of the best businesses on Facebook. This is because retail, restaurants, and local businesses have a dedicated customer base while other businesses have more casual relationships with the audience. This is where Twitter comes in. Twitter allows you to connect with other businesses, prospective customers, and industry enthusiasts who will promote you for free – as long as you use the right hashtags. I insist the majority of my clients get both a Twitter and Facebook. They are the two powerhouse platforms you can’t ignore.

Via Flickr by Link Humans UK

Via Flickr by Link Humans UK

LinkedIn. LinkedIn is THE platform for B2B marketing. Yet LinkedIn can be tricky. You need to have one employee be the “face” of the company, meaning they create, manage, discuss, and make connections on the company’s behalf. It can be tricky to outsource your LinkedIn marketing. Usually it is best to do in house after researching the best way to use LinkedIn as a connector tool, not as a spam marketing robot.

Via Flickr Zack D. Smith

Via Flickr Zack D. Smith

Google+. I admit, I have a love-hate relationship with Google+. There is a lot to be desired and I don’t see its use as a social media platform – outside of its affiliation with Google. With Google’s search engine rules, having a Google+ page is practically a must. With a Google+ page, you get higher search engine rankings and more credibility in Google’s (AKA – Internet God’s) eyes. If you rely on high search engine rankings for your business, get a Google+ page.

Via Flickr marioanima

Via Flickr marioanima

YouTube. YouTube is more of a supplemental platform for your marketing plan. Only certain brands are good for YouTube. If you have the opportunity to make instructional videos, product reviews/highlights, or “commercials” online with your product or service, then YouTube is a great platform for you. Just make sure your videos are professional and high quality!

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Pinterest. Pinterest is a great platform if your business is highly visual. If you have high quality product photos or offer services that are eye-catching, get your boards started! The pinning platform is best for craft, home decor, home improvement, wedding, food-related, and retail businesses.

Via Flickr Play Among Friends

Via Flickr Play Among Friends

Instagram. Like Pinterest, Instagram is great for highly visual businesses. The difference in Instagram – you need to be very interactive as well. On Pinterest, you can get away with throwing up content without a whole lot of interaction. On Instagram, you have to be involved. You have to know the best filters, know the hashtags, and know your audience as well as constantly communicating with your audience.

Via Flickr by manoftaste.de

Via Flickr by manoftaste.de

Blog. Bottom line – blogs are important for pretty much every business. Blogs are your opportunity to showcase your knowledge about your industry. The golden rule is to never write an entire blog post as self-promotion. You should always blog to give away “free samples” of information to your audience so they want more.

Originally posted on LinkedIn

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3 MORE Ways to Engage Readers in Your Business Blog

Creating a business blog can be a huge asset to your marketing plan. Business blogging provides readers with informational content that establishes your brand as an industry leader. Sometimes when you make a blog it is not successful at first. There are six ways to change that and get ultimate reader engagement. This will help promote your business and create a loyal customer base.

Via Flickr by See-ming Lee

Via Flickr by See-ming Lee

  1. Ask questions. To make engaging with the blog easier for your readers, you should include questions at the end of the post. Do not ask anything like, “What is your favorite color?” The question needs to relate to the blog post topic, be thoughtful and dynamic, and inspire readers to participate in discussion in the comments.

    In order to have these dynamic questions, you need to have a very interesting blog post that discusses the similarities and differences on something, or that pose a discussion on a prevailing train of thought. Get creative with your post content and the questions that you can ask readers will activate more discussion in the comments. Make sure to reply to comments with great answers to questions.

  2. Share on social media. Not only do you want your readers to share your blog posts, but you should also share it on your own social media accounts. Each reader has a different way they like to interact with content on the web, so you need to post your blog to all of these sites in order to reach all potential readers. Many people do not want to comment on the actual blog and instead will share their thoughts on a social media site.

    Make sure to respond to these alternative comments and even consider featuring them on your next blog post for further discussion. The business should have the basic four: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. If your business is large or sells high-end products or services, you do not necessarily need a Facebook page.

  3. Get to know your readers. This is the most important rule. Interaction with your readers is the key way to engage them. Get to know those who follow and comment on your blog and respond to any questions or great comments. Even respond to negative ones in a kind and professional way – absolutely do not start a flame war. By responding to readers, they feel valued and it shows others in your blog community that their responses are viewed.

3 Ways to Engage Readers in Your Business Blog

Creating a business blog can be a huge asset to your marketing plan. Business blogging provides readers with informational content that establishes your brand as an industry leader. Sometimes when you make a blog it is not successful at first. There are six ways to change that and get ultimate reader engagement. This will help promote your business and create a loyal customer base.

Via Flickr by laffy4k

Via Flickr by laffy4k

  1. Use a conversational tone. Whenever you use a technical or professional tone in writing, people do not feel connected with what is being said. In order to maximize reader engagement, you need to craft your blog posts in a more conversational way. This also means avoiding making constant sales pitches for your product or service. Posts should be completely separate from your specific products or services and instead promote information related to your market niche.Imagine questions friends would ask you about your industry, and write blog posts as if you are answering their questions over dinner one night. Use words and phrases from everyday life and avoid industry terms, like market niche. Short sentences are more attractive for readers.

    Since it is a blog post, it is okay to start off sentences with and, or, but, etcetera. Address the reader directly by using “you” frequently throughout the post, and same goes for using “I.” Cut down on adjectives and adverbs to make it more conversational. It should not sound like a press release.

  2. Write metaphors. Metaphors do wonderful things for your blog. They make complex ideas simpler to understand, allow content to be vivid and engaging, and use imagery in order to make your readers experience what you are writing.The more specific your metaphors are, the more effective they will be at getting readers’ attention and keeping them coming back for future posts. Incorporate sensory in order to fully engage readers. Metaphors are more effective when the writer of the blogs draws on personal experience or hobbies to create metaphors. This will give the company more personality.
  3. Tell readers to engage. This does not mean forcing your readers to enjoy your content. At the end of the blog post, say, “If you like what you have read, please share it on:” and include links or buttons to popular social media sites. Some of the best ways for people to share your posts is on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Pinterest, Tumblr, and LinkedIn. Providing this call to action will influence more people to share the content.Getting your blog posts shared on many different media forms will increase the visibility of your business and make the blog more successful. Plus, you get to see how engaged your readers are when seeing how much of your content is shared. For example, if you have 100 readers and only one or two share your posts, then you need to do something different to engage them.

How to Start a Successful Business Blog

Many companies want to know how to start a business blog because of the importance it plays in a marketing scheme. When you learn how to make a successful blog for your business, you can reap all huge benefits by increasing your brand awareness. Successful blogs are also a great source of revenue that can finance future marketing efforts.

Businesses who start a blog produce content on a regular basis, increasing their SEO rankings and spreading brand awareness. They also set up the business as an industry leader who is knowledgeable and genuine. As you are implementing a blog, make sure to keep certain tactics in mind.

Via Flickr photosteve101

Via Flickr photosteve101

  • Stick to your market niche. If your business is in retail, keep all blog topics on retail. However, you do not want to make the blogs just general retail topics. While it does give you more ideas for content, there are hundreds of blogs about retail on the internet.

    Focus on a specific aspect of your market niche, such as writing only about young men’s fashion. This topic is not general retail, but it is also not so specific that half of an audience does not find the information they need.

  • Make content entertaining and easily readable. First and foremost, content needs to be conversational. Even if you write for a tech blog, write the posts using I, you, and we. Make jokes throughout, especially insider technology jokes that your readers will love. The posts you write need to be entertaining and personable with content that solves a problem for the reader or educates them.

    Break up lengthy paragraphs with line breaks and make sure to divide the blog content up with subheadings, italics, bullet points, and photos. This diversity in content will make the blogs easy to read and appreciated by followers. Following these steps when you are crafting posts will help you build a loyal readership in no time.

  • Focus on Google search rankings. This means utilizing correct SEO, or Search Engine Optimization. This requires correct keyword placement and research in order to see higher search engine rankings. There are many internet guides and books available to help you develop the best SEO practices, but there are a few easy things you can implement to get started.

    Make page titles unique, accurate, and brief. They need to catch the attention of the reader so they click on it, but be short as well. A description meta tag should be used. Keep URLs short and easy to spell and remember. Use relevant and descriptive text for the anchor link. For example, instead of saying, “Click here,” type “learn about carpet installation” with the appropriate link. There needs to be an alt description for photos and the blog needs to be easy to navigate as well.

  • Be social. Even when you have customized your blog and content to be Google-friendly, you cannot rely on just that to get readers. Share your posts through all of your social media accounts and interact with any responses to shares. You also have to be social and join in the blogging community. This can be accomplished many ways.

    Link to your sources for the articles, and other blogs, throughout your post. Comment on these blogs saying you linked them in your post. Follow similar blogs in order to get noticed. Engage with commenters on your blog in order to keep them as loyal readers. Get to know them so they feel valued. Guest blog for others and invite people to guest blog for you.

  • Keep length, consistency, and traffic in mind. Surprisingly, detailed blog posts are worth more on Google search rankings than shorter posts. On the first page of Google search results, each page has at least 2,000 words of content. However, do not fill up posts with fluff words to hit the 2,000 mark. All content needs to be useful and authentic.

Make sure to post new blogs consistently. If you start blogging three times a week, then you need to always blog three times a week and on the same days. The more you blog, the more your content will be viewed. It is very easy to get new traffic to your blog, but hard to keep people invested in visiting. This can be changed by building a community of followers. Respond to all emails and comments and get people involved by having them take surveys about what content they would like to see.

Which Blog is Right for You?

Blogs are an important part of today’s business marketing scheme. They are a great way to help your business stay current, communicate with customers, and increase your SEO rankings. There are many blog hosting platforms to help you make your blog, but it can be difficult deciding which one is best for you.

Via Flickr by Sean MacEntee

Normal websites have a few pages which only allow a limited number of indexed searches. Every blog post you create, however, has its own URL. Therefore your blog can be indexed as many times as you create blog posts. This increases your website’s visibility and makes you an authority in your market niche. Here are four of the most popular blog hosts, along with the pros and cons about each one, to help you make your decision.

Via Flickr by Heisenburg Media

Via Flickr by Heisenburg Media

WordPress

  • About: WordPress is a free blogging platform with costs to upgrade. WordPress.org costs $5 a month for hosting. It is also the most popular blogging platform with one of every six websites using it to host. WordPress offers a free publishing tools and content management systems for self-hosting. They have a huge library of tools for the casual and expert blogger, however it is recommended for professional bloggers and media companies that need a stable blog.
  • Pros: WordPress is very flexible, allowing many different markets to use it to their advantage. It is over ten years old and have gone through multiple updates to perfect the platform. It has an open source developer community which provides users with hundreds of plug-ins. There is also a huge theme library for many customizable options.
  • Cons: WordPress is difficult for beginners to understand. There are many courses online that offer help for those who have trouble. Full control of WordPress is only allowed when it is hosted on the user’s server, meaning overhead costs increase with hosting, domain, and CDN name. Customizing requires code knowledge.

Via Flickr by > ange <

Blogger

  • About: Blogger is a free platform owned by Google and is one of the oldest platforms that helped make blogging popular. It is also known as BlogSpot. It is best for causal bloggers and businesses who want a simple blog for internal uses.
  • Pros: Blogger is highly stable because of its age. All issues and problems are eliminated. Making money from Blogger is easy with Google AdSense modules. It is very easy to set up and maintain and you cannot hurt your blog by messing with the code.
  • Cons: Blogger does not let you customize the site when messing with backend code. It is difficult to get your own domain name. There are limited themes and design styles and there is not many plug-ins or community support.

Via Flickr by joshwept

Tumblr

  • About: Tumblr is a free blog that is growing in popularity for business use, so much so that Yahoo! bought it in a billion dollar deal. Tumblr encourages users to share photos, infographics, videos, quotes, links, and more instead of complete content posts. This is best for casual bloggers who want something in between Twitter and WordPress and businesses who want to visually expand their content.
  • Pros: Tumblr is easy to use; users choose the type of post, add specific content, and press Publish. The Control Panel makes it easy to manage multiple blogs. There is a huge variety of themes and a mobile-friendly interface that is constantly being updated for improvements. Posts can be published through SMS, email, or audio message.
  • Cons: Tumblr’s design is highly visual, meaning it is not good for text posts. There is no comprehensive CDN, caching, or anti-virus plugging. The emphasis placed on sharing tends to devalue original content and text-based content.

Via Flickr by SATOSHI TOMIYAMA

SquareSpace

  • About: SquareSpace is a paid blogging platform that starts at $8 a month. It is made for professional bloggers, businesses, and media outlets. The best feature is the LayoutEngine technology which allows instant customization with a drag and drop interface.
  • Pros: There is a huge range of beautiful themes on SquareSpace. Mobile apps are available for publishing. Blogs created on other platforms can be incorporated into SquareSpace. It is less susceptible to viruses and hacking.
  • Cons: SquareSpace is expensive, especially for eCommerce businesses. There is not much flexibility because of a missing developer community. Users have to depend on SquareSpace for all features and designs. There is no way to modify the backend code.

Personally, I have this blog on WordPress and a wedding planning advice blog on Blogger. I think WordPress has more options for customization and it is a much sleeker, professional blog platform. However, I feel like Blogger has more tools for measuring analytics thanks to its integration with Google. My Tumblr is just for fun!

Which blog platform is your favorite and why? Let me know in comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!