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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5 Awesome Brands on Pinterest You Can Learn From

Pinterest has been on a popular roller coaster since 2011. The photo-centric, unique layout, and quality content that Pinterest is known for has captured the hearts of over 10 million registered users. Depending on the month, Pinterest draws in more referral traffic to retailers than LinkedIn, Google+, and YouTube combined. Pinterest is a platform that cannot be ignored by brands, but you may have trouble figuring out where to get started on Pinterst from a marketing standpoint.

There are over 100 big name brands on Pinterest who are using the platform successfully, including Pillsbury, HGTV, Gap, Blockbuster, Unicef, People, Toms, Threadless, Zales, Whole Foods, Sesame Street, CBS, Zales, and more. However, there are five brands  that I consider completely expert in their Pinterest marketing strategy.

Etsy

Image Credit: Hootsuite

Etsy is my absolute favorite brand on Pinterest. There are so many things I have ordered from Etsy because I saw it on Pinterest. The best part is that individual sellers on Etsy can add products from their store on their own accounts and use the brand name of Etsy to get further traction to grow their business. Here is what makes Etsy stand out on Pinterest

  • Hundreds of Pinterest users who are individual sellers spreading and promoting the brand.
  • Those same sellers creating amazing products that are beautiful.
  • Over 90 boards categorized specifically with lots of color and high quality images.
  • A huge variety of topics so that everyone can find something they love.
  • Boards, like “Cool Spaces”, which encourage followers to get inspired by Etsy and make changes in their own lives.

Nordstrom

Image Credit: Hootsuite

Nordstrom is a power retail brand and their content on Pinterest definitely reflects that. What makes Nordstrom special is the complete understanding of their followers on the platform. They don’t just advertise their products – they inspire and give easy solutions to their followers. Other things that make Nordstrom standout on Pinterest include:

  • Over 60 boards full of designer products, DIY, fashion, decor, wedding inspiration, and more.
  • Specialized boards for special times of the year, like their Christmas board titled “Stocking Stuffers.”
  • Company personalization with a board titled, “Our Favorite Things.”

Everyday Health

Image Credit: Hootsuite

Pinterest is full of users who are looking for easy and inventive ways to improve their lives, whether it’s in their home with life hacks or with their body with detox and health recipes and easy 15 minute cardio workouts. Everyday Health understands that users seek  personal improvement and center their content around that. Their goal is to motivate, inspire, give valuable free information, and make improvement simple. Here is what makes them special on Pinterest:

  • Guest  boards with expert doctors and nutritionists pinning content and giving free advice to users.
  • Weight loss success stories based on their easy health solutions.
  • Boards with inspirational quotes and sayings.
  • Content that provides followers easy workouts and healthy recipes to get them started on their self-improvement.

Lowe’s

Image Credit: Hootsuite

Lowe’s has jumped on the Pinterest DIY trend and has become wildly successful with this strategy. As a home improvement store, they advertise how their products are affordable and easy to get that dream DIY project started. The Lowe’s Pinterest success comes from:

  • 55 boards with home improvement tips, amazing home design inspiration (like the ultimate man cave), color palettes, and more.
  • Step-by-step instructions for DIY projects with pricing for the products you will need, making budgeting DIY easy for users.
  • A board called “Build It” that has ZERO self-promotion. Instead, Lowe’s pins amazing bloggers’ DIY projects they love.

L.L. Bean

Image Credit: Hootsuite

I always consider L.L. Bean a large boutique store and their Pinterest page reflects that. L.L. Bean is the brand with the most followers on Pinterest and I think it’s because their content reflects a country store feel. They have everything the average Pinterest user will need with a homegrown feel. L.L. Bean’s Pinterest is unique because:

  • A mere 29 boards that doesn’t overwhelm users, but allow them to find everything they need.
  • Subjects that appeal to many different kinds of followers, including wedding themes, outdoor activities, and fashion.
  • Boards that solve common problems female users have, such as what to buy guys for Christmas, birthdays, and anniversaries.
  • Joining the internet popularity of cute animals with their board titled “Woodland Creatures.”

To end this post, here are some fun facts about the power of Pinterest, especially for retail business:

  • 47% of US online customers have made a purchase based on Pinterest recommendations.
  • Pins generate 4x more revenue per click than Twitter and 27% more than Facebook.
  • There are 12 million monthly unique visitors.
  • Pinterest is the fastest site in history to break the 10 million monthly unique visitors mark.
  • 97% of Pinterest’s Facebook fans are female.
  • Daily users have grown by 145% since 2012.
  • The brands that are most successful on Pinterest are in the food, cooking, television, news, media, non-profit, travel, retail, apparel, home improvement, DIY, sports, health, beauty, or fashion industries.

Credit: HootSuite, Jeff Bullas

4 Strategies to Expand Your Brand on Pinterest

Many businesses overlook Pinterest because they think it is just for recipes and craft projects. The businesses that utilize Pinterest marketing tools are seeing huge conversion rates. Since Pinterest is not well-known as a business marketing tool, it is a good idea to get ahead of the competition and use the image-based website for your brand strategy.

Pinterest is amazing because users can digest a lot of content very quickly due to the focus on images. Users scroll through images quickly, pinning things that grab their attention. Having high quality and engaging images are important for successful branding on the website.

Via Flickr by vastateparkstaff

A good example of a company using Pinterest to their advantage is David’s Bridal. They post photos of their gowns, along with real wedding photos from their customers and they supply photos of hot wedding décor trends. They are targeting the majority female audience on Pinterest that have dream wedding boards.

Pinterest is very successful for the businesses that do it right. They look at the audience on Pinterest and find their target consumers. Like David’s Bridal targeting the many women who have wedding boards. The numbers don’t lie about the success of Pinterest.

  • Nearly 70 percent of people who get on Pinterest find items they want to buy. Etsy is becoming very successful thanks to Pinterest.
  • There are 2.5 billion page views every month on Pinterest. It is hard for businesses to ignore this kind of traffic opportunity.
  • 70 percent of brand engagement on Pinterest is generated by users. This makes it important to engage customers with your pins.

Via Flickr by cambodia4kidsorg

Understanding how customers work on Pinterest can allow you to craft a brand marketing strategy that provides deeper engagement and conversion of new customers. There are four strategies you can use to gain awareness on Pinterest.

Via Flicker by Hanspetermeyer.ca

  1. Use contests
    Pinterest is a perfect platform for a giveaway contest. Users can either pin a photo of an item to win it, or they can pin five of their favorite items on your Pinterest board in order to win a gift card or shopping spree.

    Via Flickr by Peter Haden

  2. Tell your story
    This does not mean post pictures of your weekend excursions. Leave that on Facebook. People like to know the company they are looking at. Make a board called Our Story and post pictures, such as the first dollar you ever made, with a link to your About Us page on the business website. You can also post a cool graphic that tells your mission, photos of philanthropic and volunteer work you have done, and items that tell the story about what your business stands for.

    Via Flickr by cambodia4kidsorg

  3. Spread knowledge
    Either make your own or find and share how-to tutorials, DIY projects, tips, and your personal expertise on matters that relate to your business. For example, David’s Bridal pins advice on invitations with a photo that links to the whole article about it. So, if you did this, post a high quality photo of beautiful invitations with the title of the article in the description (IE: “5 Things That Make Invitations More Effective”). Then have the photo link to the article.
  4. Sell part of your catalog
    While you should not put your whole catalog on Pinterest, you can post new items or customer favorites on Pinterest. Put what the item is in the description, along with all of the features or uses for the item. The description is where you get to place a miniature product review. Make sure to link to the webpage where customers can buy the product.

What are your feelings on Pinterest? Do you feel like it is an idle waste of time or a viable marketing strategy for highly visual businesses? Let me know in comments or on Twitter @HS_Writing!