Social media has begun to grow tremendously throughout the business world. A simple video on YouTube can now cross the globe in less than a day. Though companies have begun to test the social media waters, there are countless that have not yet tapped into its true potential. The few that have been able to tap into its potential cannot deny the beneficial impact that social media has on any business.
A main problem that many businesses run into when using social media for the first time is not acquiring the basic knowledge about the tool they are utilizing. Social media encompasses all “forms of electronic communications (as Web site for social networking and micro blogging) through which users create online communities to share information, ideas, personal messages, and other content (as videos).” There are hundreds of forms of social media, but as of today, there are only a few that should be put in the spotlight: Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Studies conducted earlier this year found that one in every 13 people across the globe were on Facebook. This number demonstrates the true potential that social media possesses. It is one of the first media forms that connect the globe under one source. Some believe that it is not here to stay, but these numbers tell another story.
These three channels play a significant role in the social media world. The next step in exploring them is understanding how to make use of them in a successful manner. This can be done by asking four simple questions:
►What should be posted?
►When should it be posted?
►Which channel should be used?
►Who is the target audience?
After answering these questions, one will be able to employ its full potential.
With the creation of social media came many new words and phrases, which are used to explain each action performed. So, before answering those four questions, let us first touch upon a bit of vocabulary needed when using social media.
The first word frequently used is “posting.” Posting is when someone posts information on to a site such as YouTube, Facebook or Twitter. After the information is posted to a particular site, it is usually available for the public to view or in the social media world, for friends, viewers or followers to view.
“Friends” encompasses the people that have liked your page on a social media site. “Viewers,” on the other hand, are the amount of people who have watched a video on YouTube. Lastly, “Followers” are those following the content being posted on a Twitter account. The information that is posted to the site will then appear in a “News Feed.” A News Feed is a location where information can be gathered and viewed. Many users will choose what they want to see on their News Feed. For example, on Facebook, a News Feed is the place where a User’s Friends will see updated Posts, such as photos or videos in one central location. The importance of a News Feed is if more people Comment or Like a Post, it will result in the increase of views it receives. This is due to the fact that when a Post obtains more attention, it stays in the top of a News Feed for a longer amount of time compared to if it were to not receive interaction. In addition, if Facebook Friends interact with the Posts, it will also appear in their Friend’s News Feeds, resulting in a domino effect. This interaction in social media has a different name in each of the channels, in Facebook this would be called “Likes;” on YouTube, it would be “Views;” and on Twitter, it is called “Followers.” Receiving this attention to Posts is the main objective of all of the social media tools.
Now that we have covered a few vocabulary words, let us start answering the four questions listed above. The first being, what content should be posted? Social media enables users to connect with their consumers on a personal level, which is an important aspect to remember when posting content. Instead of posting information purely about the business, it is a good idea to post amusing topics, such as a daily joke or an entertaining video clip. This enables the viewers to connect with a particular business on a personal level; it shows them that the company is human. It places a face to a business instead of just a name. In addition, when individuals enter these sites, they are not searching for information that is hard to digest, but instead, entertainment or material that is quick to review and take in.
Not only does social media have the capability to grow awareness, it can also create a brand image for a company. For example, Norcom Mortgage posted a video on YouTube of the Norcom team volunteering by aiding in the building of a home for Habitat for Humanity. This enabled the company the ability to display another side of their usual business. It displayed compassion and dedication to creating a better world. Though this is not directly marketing mortgages, it is marketing Norcom has a company. A primary piece of social media is connecting with the consumer on a personal level.
The next question one must ask when launching their social media efforts is, “When should it be posted?” to each separate channel. Each channel has its own peak viewing time, which is extremely vital when posting content. The reasoning behind this is because when posting content, one wants the highest amount of views on each post. If no one is viewing the posts that are being posted, it would defeat the purpose of using social media. Each channel has a different peak time to post. When posting to Twitter, it is best to post between 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. during the weekdays in order to reach the largest audience. On the other hand, when posting to a Facebook page, the largest audience can be reached from around 11:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. This is an important aspect of social media because posting when there is heavy traffic encourages interaction.
Interaction then results in the growth of the overall page, which is the main goal in social media.
The third question that should be considered is, “Which channel should be used?” Twitter only allows entries under 140 characters. This is extremely important when deciding what to tweet. It is meant for small concise messages. Twitter is a tool that enables users to keep their followers informed on news about the business or industry. Facebook, on the other hand, has the ability to hold much more information. Lastly, there is YouTube, which is vastly different than that of the other two. Although they differ greatly, it is important to remember that they are all equally important tools.
The final question that should be asked is, “Who is the target audience?” This question can be answered thousands of different ways, but when answered correctly, it can greatly help a business prosper. For example, when selling mortgages, the age group is roughly 25-45. This means, as a business, the content you display should appeal to this demographic.
Social media is going to continue its growth in the business world. It is a department, which is user-friendly, but has limitless possibilities. In order for businesses to keep up with the competition, it is going to be a tool vital to your repertoire.
Ryan Kelly is marketing coordinator at Avon, Conn.-based Norcom Mortgage, responsible for graphic design, advertising, social media channels and e-mail marketing. He may be reached by phone at (860) 899-2734 or e-mail [email protected]