The latest buzz in marketing circles is around social media, and you may have had some experience of using some of the platforms.

Social media apps

  • Facebook - the most well known social media platform, allowing visitors to connect with friends and family, and share a variety of media.
  • YouTube - a video sharing site, with comment and subscribing functionality
  • Twitter - a ‘micro-blogging’ site which allows users to share updates of 140 characters or less
  • Instagram - a photo sharing site, similar to Twitter but for images rather than text
  • LinkedIn - a corporate social media site, hosting a ‘directory’ of individuals and corporates in business.

There are many other applications, such as Snapchat, Pinterest, Vine, Google Plus and Tumblr. Each platform has it’s own community, and the content that may be appropriate for LinkedIn may not be for Facebook, and vice versa is fast becoming a field of it’s own, with various experts promoting their services to help your business take advantage of these platforms.

Whilst these services are undoubtedly of benefit for some businesses, my advice is to become an observer of those networks you don’t know about, so that you can learn the culture of each network.

It’s also important to keep up to date with the changes on each platform. For example, on Twitter it was commonplace to receive an automated message (DM) every time you followed a new business.

Nowadays, this practice is frowned upon. Many platforms have also moved towards paid advertising, which allows you to either sponsor posts or place adverts in your contacts news feeds.

The targeting available through these platforms, using the information entered by the users themselves, is very specific and can be used with great impact.

A question that I’m commonly asked at workshops is whether a business owner should post on social media sites as themselves or as a business. Personally, I’ve adopted the view that people engage with people, and as such I have an active personal profile alongside my business profiles.

Many brands have successfully introduced personality into their corporate feeds, with Tesco’s and Sainsbury’s being two examples of companies that have a human feel to their Twitter feeds.

Another common question I am asked surrounds the volume of posts, and the types of posts. Each platform has a different level of acceptability in terms of post volume.

For example, Twitter tends to be rather fast paced, and to be visible it is best to post several times per day. Conversely, the news feed on LinkedIn is far slower and this volume of posting would be frowned upon.

Broadly speaking, I look towards a simple rule of thirds when it comes to posting - one third being my own original content / updates, one third being replies and interaction, and one third being the sharing of other material that I believe my followers would appreciate.

By Carl Reader, author of The Start Up Guide and The Franchise Handbook