Social Media and Business: A Guide for Getting Started

With so many enormous networks to choose from, the decision to establish a social media presence for your business requires a lot more than just signing up for an account and making posts. You must make the right networking choices to find your audience and take the time and effort needed to connect with them. The following is a beginner’s guide to choosing the right social networks for your business and using them effectively.


Facebook is commonly used by virtually every type of user, from business pages to event organizers to personal accounts. With over 1.65 billion active monthly users, it is rarely overlooked by businesses who hope to establish themselves on social media. Analyzing provided metrics will allow you to connect to more relevant users with Facebook’s paid ad options. Direct targeting can be accomplished using available page tools, helping you to connect to the right people.


While Twitter has made every attempt to seem as ubiquitous as Facebook, it simply isn’t. Still, Twitter’s 310 million active monthly users is nothing to sneeze at. In fact, Twitter can provide much more effective communication than Facebook because its users are actively seeking conversation and interaction. Twitter is a community for sharing and finding, while Facebook is more oriented toward connecting with friends, family, and selected interests. This means that users on Twitter are more likely to be engaged by and interested in attempts at advertising to them.


Instagram is an image based social media network, which allows you to post images with a small amount of accompanying text. Like Twitter, users of this network are actively seeking content to view and hoping that others will view their content. This means that Instagram’s 400 million active monthly users welcome cleverly done and engaging advertisements when presented as content. With a userbase of mainly young female consumers, not every business will find success on Instagram. It is an especially effective network for visual brands, such as clothing and makeup companies.


Pinterest is, like Instagram, an image based social network with a mostly young, female consumer audience. While it is slightly less popular than Instagram, with 100 million active users, brands who find or expect to find success with Instagram will likely be able to connect with more potential customers by utilizing Pinterest, as well.


Because of its focus, LinkedIn is often overlooked as a social networking opportunity for businesses. Some see it as a place where the unemployed and unqualified trawl for unsuspecting employers. Others simply don’t understand how a business-oriented network could be effective. It is a mistake, especially for B2B companies, to overlook LinkedIn. Its 433 million active monthly users share content from other networks and websites and connect to businesses and employees through the network, making it a perfect environment for business-focused networking.


Unlike Twitter, YouTube has managed to make itself nearly as popular and pervasive as Facebook. With over one billion users, YouTube is a network that every business should consider using. Some businesses post advertising videos to YouTube and use them in campaigns, while others use the network to create relevant video content that will inform and intrigue potential customers. Often, some combination of these two methods is most effective.


Like users of many social networks, Reddit users are actively seeking content; however, advertising and marketing on Reddit often gets a bad rap. Commonly, Reddit’s 243 million monthly users will respond negatively to blatant attempts at advertising on the user generated content site. Still, they are delighted when presented with something genuinely interesting and relevant to the subreddit that it is posted in. When approached carefully and cleverly, Reddit can be an effective avenue for advertising, marketing, and networking with potential clients. Video games, developers, authors, publishers, magazines, artists, and other small or content-driven businesses seem to have the most success in generating a following because users feel engaged and interested in the content provided.


As mentioned, establishing a presence and engaging your audience on the social networks that you choose will take time, effort, and, in some cases, money. Attempting to establish your business on every available social network is not only wasteful, but will result in disparate effectiveness. If you overwhelm yourself with attempts at networking, you will hinder the potential connections that you are working to build.

To make the most of your chosen social networks, you have to choose the right ones. Wasting your time on the wrong social networks will put you nearly as far behind as using them all. So, how do you choose?

The most important factor when making your choice is where your audience is active. Just because there are millions of users on the social networks listed above, doesn’t mean that a single one is interested in your business. To discover where your audience is most active, do some research into relevant keywords to your business, then compare their frequency on different social networks. Depending on your type of business and the network that you are considering, demographics and other user-specific reports can help you to decide.

Your budget for your social media campaign will also affect which networks you choose. This budget should include both time and money because each network will require different amounts of each. For example, if you only have a few minutes a day for social media, you will want to choose only the options that will definitely be effective with minimal effort. However, if your social media coordinator is a full-time employee, you will likely want to diversify your options and experiment with potentially effective methods and networks.


Although social media is an established marketing tool, it is still fairly unpredictable and difficult to measure. When you begin to use your chosen networks, you will find that some methods work for your business, while others, which have made all the difference in social media campaigns that you’ve read about, do next to nothing for you.

Don’t be fooled by the recorded clicks, either. Your actual ROI determines whether or not your social media campaigns have been successful, so if hundreds of people are clicking, but nobody is buying, your methods or the network are not working for you.

To use your networks effectively, refer to the research done when selecting these networks. What sort of content made you decide that your customers would be here? What accounts and keywords? Using that information as an outline, you can create a social media plan with confidence.

Once you begin to implement your plan, pay attention to its results to find out if your initial plan only works in theory, not execution. Then you can decide if you should rework or abandon faster. If your initial plan is effective, use the results discovered to guide your future plans.

Social media can be unruly and difficult to navigate, but with the right research and the right plans, your business can go viral, too.


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