Doesn’t it feel like social media has been around forever? Even though it has existed for a short amount of time, it’s quickly become a part of our daily routine. For example, one of the first things I will do in the morning is check my newsfeed on Facebook to see if I missed anything awesome, while I was asleep. I know that may sound crazy, but that is how connected I am to the craze. It’s this association that makes social media so valuable to business owners like yourselves. The common misconception is that Facebook is the king, but that is not the case. There are a plethora of social media tools available for businesses to use. It all really depends on what you’re looking for and trying to accomplish. Below I will go into detail on a few alternatives to Facebook that are just as popular/productive, and explain how you can apply them to your business and marketing practices.
Can the “Social Media King” Really Help your Business?
It seems like every day there is always someone praising the ground that Facebook walks on. That’s crazy, but I can see why. Facebook has more than 968 million users active during the day and are adding more on a daily basis. They’ve also managed revenue growth incredibly well since going public back in 2012. However, these are just stats. We’re here to talk about if they can help your business. The short answer is yes. If you make a company page on Facebook you become validated in the customer’s eye. With this page you can provide fresh content and be able to keep track of the metrics most valuable to you. The longer answer is that Facebook has its weaknesses and it’s not perfect. Their search network and version of AdWords is not up to par with Google. The use of hashtags can’t compete with Twitter. They do not have the professional networking capabilities of LinkedIn. These among other things show that Facebook is not perfect and cannot do it all. That’s why there are other social networking platforms available to help fulfill your marketing needs.
Alternatives to the “Crown”
Facebook may have most business owners drinking the “We’re The Only Social Media Platform” Kool-Aid, but the fact is that they’re not. There are so many other alternatives that can provide your company with the marketing boost it needs, depending on what you are looking for.
These platforms are the cream of the crop and offer the best alternatives to marketing your business and reaching the millennials of the current generation, showing you Facebook does not have a monopoly on Social Media, like many seem to think.
The simplest of all social media platforms, as well as the most fun and interesting. No matter the type of business, you can use Twitter to build meaningful connections with a relevant and engaged audience. This can lead to actions across a network of loyal customers for your business. Now who wouldn’t want that? With Twitter you can create profile for your business. Any content you send out can only be 140 characters, but that might be changing soon. The use of hashtags are extremely prevalent. Hashtags help to grow and engage your followers. Basically you use this symbol “#” in front of any word or phrase, allowing you to target any marketing with the content you are posting. In turn anything you post can be monitored with Twitter Analytics, so you know if you are breaking through noise and clutter to reach potential customers.
Probably one of the only mainstream social media platform’s that is geared specifically for businesses. The best way to describe LinkedIn is networking groups for cyberspace. It’s great for meeting customers, getting in touch with vendors, recruiting new employees, and keeping up with latest in business or industry news. If you want your business to been seen as reputable in this day and age, especially with millennials, you either need to have a complete LinkedIn profile or company page. Whether they are linked together or separate, that is totally up to you. This in turn allows you connect with others, helps you utilize connections to get introductions to other members, and allows you to get reviewed, and recommended. Probably one of the greatest platforms out there, and you can do it all from your computer.
If there was an award for the biggest up-and-comer in the social media world, it would go to this platform. Google has basically combined the best of Facebook and Twitter into one site, with the backing of the world’s largest search engine! Why aren’t more people using this? The answer is that they actually. There are around 359 million active users, which is more than Twitter’s 200 million. Google has made sure that this social network has a little bit to offer for anyone. You can build authority and influence by claiming authorship of content you publish. Google also allows you to make a direct connection and link your business website to your profile. Just like Twitter you can use hashtags to further build your following. In relation to Facebook, Google lets you express your business with bigger & better cover photos. You can also use Google Plus as your business page to boost followers and exposure. The opportunities are endless and Google is adding new features on a current basis!
The most well-known video-sharing service on the internet. YouTube has become extremely popular over the years. It has a catalog of videos that ranges in the high billions. It’s basically the world’s second largest search engine. To top it all off, Google also owns it. YouTube is great for businesses there are so many options at your disposal. You increase brand awareness. One of the best examples I think of is the Old Spice ad campaign. YouTube can be used for advertising products, retail promotion, sales, product/customer support, and for training purposes. It allows you to interact with your audience in a more personal and current way. Using videos is also a great way to have positive impact on website traffic and conversions. Customers, clients, and general public all love watching videos, so you haven’t exploited this gold mine, you are missing out!
These platforms are the up-and-comers. Business owners haven’t quite figured out how utilize them for their benefit yet. The potential for these platforms are out of this world and they may very well be added to tier 1 in the next couple of years.
The fastest-growing social network with more than 100 million daily active users. Most businesses choose to market on Facebook because of this perceived notion that they are the “king.” Only 2% market on snapchat! This is a great opportunity to stand out a go another direction to take advantage of your competition. Unlike other social networking platforms, it doesn’t matter when you post on Snapchat. You will never be buried on a timeline. They stay unopened until the individuals/customers that follow you have time to look at them. As of right now there are a few ways that you as business owners can use Snapchat to your advantage. You can develop content, invite participation for an event, get creative with humor and wit, add a call to action, and build a following. This one of the premiere up-and-comers for the millennial generation, so it is important for you to understand what Snapchat is and why it benefits you.
This is a very different platform. Tumblr basically hosts micro-blogs for its users. Individuals and companies can fill these blogs with multimedia (i.e. memes, GIF’s), as well as any other viral content. For companies that have strong visual content, Tumblr is an untapped opportunity. More than 300 million people frequent the website every month. This platform also caters to the younger millennial demographic and can extend the life of a post for a few days. How can you as a business owner utilize this platform? First provide the right kind of value. Tumblr is a great place to host a contest. Second, try and use humor. Sarcasm, wit, and comedy are key to reaching and building an audience. Third, be innovative. If you are using Tumblr’s paid post option or are just trying to gain some interest, you need to break through the noise. Meme’s & GIF’s would be great examples of ideas that would work. Finally you need to know who you are marketing too. What is your audience like? That way you can customize posts to specifically target them. This platform has incredible upside, so give it a chance to increase your competitive advantage.
Basically, this is a giant virtual idea and inspiration board. It has made a huge impact on the social media atmosphere the past few years. It is especially popular with the female demographic and the do-it-yourself crowd. The reason you should try this platform out is that it represents a massive opportunity for B2B & B2C companies. Pinterest allows you to increase your brand awareness and authority. You can create a company profile and make several Pinterest boards that provide educational information your company, what you offer, and the industry you are in. You don’t have to create the content yourself. If you choose to share make sure that business owners are just as professional as you. Pinterest can also expand your reach. There is a whole community that you can leverage to grow the size of your audience. Use the group boards to collaborate with businesses or people. Target those that have a large following, so that you can expose your brand and content to more people. Pinterest can also drive traffic to your website. It drives more traffic than LinkedIn, Google Plus, and YouTube combined. In order to this you can either have your site and Pinterest linked or not. Totally up to you. This is a based on quality so you need to combine great images with great content. In order keep track of these metrics, Pinterest has analytics called the Pin Count Tool, which keeps track of everything in order to help gauge engagement, reach and awareness. Go and check it out. See if it is right for you. You may be surprised.
Probably the quickest connection that you have, at your disposal, on your phone, to post photo and video content to Facebook and Twitter. Instagram also allows you to choose from a variety of photo filters to diversify what you post. If you could express your business visually, why wouldn’t you? It’s just another medium for you to have at your fingertips. Businesses do best on Instagram with well-crafted content that is brand-centric, and has a clear objective. The best way to do this is to have a strong creative concept with clear goals. You also need to build this profile or strategy around your brand’s vibe or the look and feel of your business. Brand your ads, make them consistent. For example choose a specific color palette or a certain photographic filter. Finally be proud of your content. Make sure you have high quality pixelated photographs and high definition videos. Don’t settle for anything less. Just like Pinterest you can expand your reach. There is a whole Instagram community at your disposal. Use them. Plus you have all of Twitter and Facebook to also leverage. If you are visual marketer and want to take your business in a more creative direction, Instagram is right for you.
Advice for Businesses Owners
Now that you have read all of this, what do you think? Is Facebook still the king, or are there challengers to the crown? All of these tools can benefit your business in some way, shape, or form. It is up to you to decide how. The social landscape is constantly shifting and evolving. In a year or two there may be some new players and some of the up-and-comers may take that leap. That’s the crazy-awesome, sand-box of a world that we live in.