SMM 101: Which Social Media Platform Should I Use?

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By now you’re completely aware that you need to have some sort of social media presence. After all, the statistics have proven how important social media networks are for a business. Consider the following:

  • 8 out of 10 internet users are reached by social media sites and blogs.
  • Marketers saw an increase of 74% in website traffic after devoting just 6 hours per week in social media.
  • 87% of small businesses claim that social media has helped their business.
  • 85% of business-decision makers believe that at least having one social media channel is very important for technology purchase decisions.

But, there’s much more to just creating a Facebook or Pinterest account and expecting success to follow. You actually have to understand which platforms work best for your brand and where your audience spends most of their time. For example, the MTV crowd is more likely to spend time on Vine, while a white-collar professional would be over on LinkedIn. It’s very doubtful that both of those audience would cross paths on one specific social media network.

Besides, it would take more resources than it’s worth to update and perfect all of the social media platforms out there. Instead, just to focus on the couple of networks that can best broadcast your message and raise brand awareness to your targeted market.

That may sound easier said than done. Which is why we put together the following article which the most popular social media platforms and who should use them. As an added bonus, we also included some helpful pieces of advice so that you can master your preferred network and become a social media hero.

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Facebook

Everyone had a Facebook account. Literally. Statistics have shown that 93% of all adult users online are on Mark Zuckerberg’s social network. Marketers are also aware of Facebook’s power. According to Hubspot, “74% of all marketers say Facebook is important to their lead generation strategies.”

While there’s no doubt that Facebook has a lot of pull, does that mean it’s the right platform for you? We’re going to go ahead and say yes. As a whole, Facebook remains a popular platform for people to spend time and catch up with friends, family, and even the news. Having a Facebook business page to share a variety of content, like updates, contests or events. Just keep in mind that the most effective Facebook pages aren’t just advertisements 24/7. It should be casual and spark conversations.

Our friend Belle Beth Cooper put together some really useful Facebook statistics over at the Buffer blog you can use as a guide. Here are some of the more important takeaways:

  • Posts that contains photos make-up 93% of the most engaging posts.
  • Keep your posts under 250 characters.
  • Using emoticons can get your post liked 57% more than those without.
  • Most engagement occurs towards the end of the week from Wednesday to Friday.
  • Posting between 9am and 7pm is acceptable.
  • Question posts “get 100% more comments than standard text-based posts.”
  • 35% of users participate in contests, 42% like a page in order to get a discount or coupon.

If you’re looking for some inspiration on how to create an effective Facebook page, check out the “20 Best Company Facebook Pages” from Inc.com. Suggestions includes Zappos, Fresh Brothers, Community Coffee, Burt’s Bees, and Bonobos.

Twitter

The 140-word character micro-blogging site has 190 million unique site visitors every month, on top of the close to 650 million registered users. That’s a lot of people who you could potentially convert, which is why everyone should have a Twitter handle. Twitter can be used to continue a conversation and because of its “in the moment” platform it can be used for customer service.

The problem is that there are also 58 million tweets per day. And that’s a lot of competition. So, how can you make the most of this invaluable tool?

  • Make sure your tweets are relevant and urgent.
  • Show your personality.
  • Tweet 2 to 5 times daily.
  • Use a tool like Buffer to schedule tweets throughout the day.
  • Image links can get 2x the engagement rate.
  • 86% of tweets with links will get retweeted.
  • Make sure links come from mobile friendly sites.
  • Use hashtags to gain 2x more engagement.
  • Keep tweets under 100 characters.
  • Tweet later in the day while people are commuting.

Want to learn from the pros? Check out the Twitter accounts from Delta, Charmin, WWE, Skittles, American Express, and Taco Bell.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn has become the go-to social media platform for professionals. If you run a B2B business, are a recruiter or a job-seeker, you need to be on this platform. And there are numbers to back this claim. There are over 300 million members and 3 million company pages on the service globally. In other words, if you need to post a job or do some research on an employer or employee there’s no better option out there.

However, LinkedIn is all about growing your professional network. This is why you need to have a complete profile and make sure your contacts are appropriate and professional. You’ll need these contacts, along with the people you already know, to get introduced to second and third-degree connections. If done correctly you never know who you’ll meet – maybe a potential employee or employers.

While establishing connections is the most important aspect of LinkedIn, it’s also a place where professionals can gain advice, industry insights and exchange ideas. This means that LinkedIn is mainly composed of mature, career-oriented individuals and isn’t as casual as Facebook.

To get the most out of LinkedIn, remember the following:

  • Use relevant keywords in your content.
  • You should customize your LinkedIn profile URL.
  • Have a link from your website to your LinkedIn profile.
  • Keep your page clean and organized.
  • The best times to share content: 7:00-8:30am, 5:00-6:00pm
  • The worst times to post: Monday and Friday, 9:00am-5:00pm

In December 2013, LinkedIn shared the best company pages of the year. Included in the list were Adobe, AppleOne, Commonwealth Bank, Dell, Four Seasons, HubSpot, Kellogg, Marketplace Home Mortgage, Mashable and NPR. We suggest you look them over.

Google+

Perhaps the most interesting thing about Google+ is that it’s appealing, and useful, for both professionals and people just looking for a casual social media network. The reason this is possible is because you can organize your contacts into circles. This means you could share a funny video with your friends or family without sharing said video with your professional network.

Of course, we already suspect you’re questioning how popular Google’s so-called Facebook competitor really is. As of October 2013, there are 300 million active users per month. And, 53% of users have reported that they’ve had a positive interaction with brands on Google+.

Albert Costill
Albert Costill is a co-founder of evolvor.com and a freelance writer who has written for brands like ForRent.com and Search Engine Journal. When he’s not writing and brainstorming content ideas, this New Jersey native spends his time traveling, blasting music, and keeping his chocolate lab at bay.