The Internet is constantly changing. Just looking at the modifications made in the last few years between Google, Facebook, Pinterest and the mobile industry makes predicting how the next 12 months will look like pretty challenging. The beginning of social media completely transformed the way the internet looks today and this state of constant change forces businesses to adapt their approaches when interacting with customers. Staying relevant in this digital era requires you to adopt online marketing strategies that will connect the experience of your customers with the corresponding technologies that enable you to deliver the right content at the right time.
When considering your business online strategies remember that it all starts with your website – this is your own base that you will later link to or from other external points like the social media websites. Though getting social is an important part of your marketing efforts you should look at networking as just a mean to help you get your message out there and to drive the traffic back to your site.
There are almost 200 active social media websites at this point and more are being developed around the world every single day. Selecting the ones that most suit the nature of your business, products and services, and target readers is essential. Here are few of the most used social media accounts for business:
Facebook is the largest social network of all with a total of 1.11 billion users and 751 million mobile users. The website was launched in February 2004 as a college network and later this became an event that forever changed the way we use the Internet.
Starting a Business Page on Facebook is pretty easy; just make sure you register it with the name of your business. It’s important to keep brand consistence around the Internet, so make sure to secure your company’s username for all social media you plan to use, even sometime in the future.
As soon as your page is created people can Like it and everything you post on your page will be available in their News Feeds. It’s a really powerful platform for businesses, local or global, and its interface makes it really easy for you to enlarge your network of Fans and reach an audience you wouldn’t otherwise have access to.
Twitter is a social networking and micro-blogging website with a total of 500 million users, each with over 200 followers in average. It offers a huge potential for businesses to market their products and services to the second widest audience in the world.
The posts or Tweets are short and limited to 140 characters, which makes people share their thoughts concisely and to the point. You can Tweet about interesting events, industry related news, products or services; you can search tweets via Hashtags (#) to see what people talk about; or check how your competitors are doing. If you have a business blog Twitter is a great medium to share links to your latest articles, useful tips, product reviews, etc.
On Twitter users Follow each other so it’s easier to build larger following, but if compared to Facebook the audience here is far less targeted. Still, because of its popularity, as well as simplicity, almost every business includes this social website in its online marketing efforts.
Google+ (Google Plus) is Google’s social network introduced in June 2011. If looking at the numbers, with only about 340 million active users this social network is behind Facebook or Twitter, but since it is Google’s product and Google is the largest search engine in the world, for every business that tries to rank higher in this engine’s results Google+ is a must; if not for connecting with customers, then for SEO purposes alone.
On Google+ you have Circles, Messenger, Hashtags; you can easily connect with customers on a more personal level starting Hangouts to discuss new products or solicit feedback on issues like customer service. The “negative side” of this social network is you cannot create a vanity URL for your business page.
LinkedIn is the largest professional social networking website, the best for business-to-business communication. It has over 200 million users from 200 countries and territories around the world.
Though initially viewed as a resume and job search website LinkedIn now offers great possibilities for businesses also. Aside from being able to research partners and employees before you start cooperating, you can also build great business connections with the important people and companies in your particular industry.
Your LinkedIn profile is like a resume for your business and it’s important to keep it up-to-date adding your company listing, contacts and other important information. To establish yourself as an authority in your field you can join industry related groups – at least few of the 1.5 million available – and contribute to the discussions and conversations.
YouTube is a video sharing website, another product of almighty Google, with around 1 billion users, 4 billion video views each day, and 72 hours of uploaded material per minute. This social networking site is lately gaining more currency in the business world, becoming a great platform for local and large businesses to reach bigger audiences delivering video based testimonials, how to guides and commercials promoting their products and services.
The latest updates in its design and features and the direction in which YouTube is developing put this social media among the few most essential in every business online marketing strategy.
Although it’s just 3 years old (launched in March 2010) as one of the fastest growing social websites Pinterest has now reached a total number of close to 50 million users who view 2.5 billion pages each month. If your business and products are visually appealing, this is your best social media site – a photo sharing platform designed as a vision board where people Pin images of things they find interesting like their favorite books, cloths, recipes, vacations, products, brands, you name it.
You can join Pinterest as business, create theme-based Boards and add Pins linking to interesting and useful posts and articles on your website or company blog; others will Re-Pin your pins and spread the good words about your business and products or services.