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Social Media 101 - Understanding the basics

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Posted by Jim Emmerling

Nov 27, 2017 3:05:48 PM

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One question we get asked the most by businesses in the Pittsburgh market is what social media platforms they should use to advertise their business.

The truth is that it is not a one-size-fits-all answer. Every business is different. Goals are different. Audiences and clients are different. Your social media strategy should be uniquely positioned to meet your goals and success metrics.

So, I wanted to take a few minutes to lend some very basic advice on when each of the platforms might be a good fit.

Facebook

I find that local Pittsburgh businesses whose average customer is over the age of 30 see the best results on Facebook. If you’re going to be effective on Facebook, you should be willing to supplement your organic posts with a budget to boost your Facebook posts as well as run ads to drive traffic.

Facebook has been doing some interesting things lately, and unless you have a good reason not to be, this should be either your primary or secondary network.

Instagram

Instagram is one of the fastest growing and most intriguing platforms out there. It’s great for lifestyle products, inspirational content, or if you’re creative with an eye for aesthetics. Experts say that Instagram demographic ranges from teens to those in their early 30s, but I think you’re going to see it go the way of Facebook where it will cross generational lines.

Over the past few years, I think Instagram has been the most innovative platform, and though I was originally skeptical, it has won me over.

Snapchat

I went to talk to my younger employees about this one because I don’t use it.

Here is what I’ve gathered. Snapchat is the platform that they use most often, but they use it differently than they use other social media. Since Instagram launched their Stories feature, Snapchat has once again become their communication platform of choice, but not for a traditional social media experience.

At this point, I recommend you sponsoring Snapchat filters for your events, but take a wait-and-see approach to the platform. It’s been known for being innovative. We’ll see if they continue the trend and can keep pace with the Instagram/Facebook machine.

Twitter

Twitter boasts a lot of users but most of them don’t actually post. They follow.

Effective Twitter use involves tweeting 3-5 times a day at least, and that’s usually too much for most businesses to take on until social media becomes second nature. There is a wide range of ages on Twitter and the average income of the users is higher than Facebook which could make it attractive if you can commit.

Twitter has the biggest learning curve and it can be pretty steep. If you have a strategy that you’re willing to follow through on, I think Twitter is a great place to have conversations and solve people’s problems, but you have to commit.

LinkedIn

I think LinkedIn is one of the most underutilized and underappreciated social platforms. Some of my team disagree, but I have seen some of my most authentic engagement and connections here. Maybe it’s a generational thing. I’m not sure. What I know is that if you use it, it works.

Almost every professional I know already has a profile on this platform, so you might as well use it. One difference to pay attention to is that LinkedIn is not driven by your company profile. It’s driven by human beings connecting with other human beings. That means each person on your team needs to be active and personable if your company is going to get any traction.

One last closing thought. I’m not sure that it matters which platform you use as long as you commit to it and are active. That means you have to engage with other people’s content, not just put out your own and leave it. It means you need to try to solve problems and be responsive. It means you have to have a personality that can come through in the content you post.

There is no better way to raise your brand awareness than on social media. You just need a plan and then get it done.

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