Social media is a way to actively engage with anyone around the world, as long as they have Internet access. It’s easy and free. You don’t have to schedule meetings, pay for hotel rooms, put on make-up, buy an expensive suit, or prepare a long presentation. This makes it one of the most far reaching and frugal mediums to use for your business.
I’d argue the 2 biggest social networking websites are Twitter and Facebook. So how and why should your business use these networks?
Facebook started as a way for college kids (and only college kids) to connect from across the world with a certain level of anonymity. Launched in February 2004, it’s hard to believe that 8 years later it’s become the benchmark for other networking sites in features, design, and popularity. Not only this, but Facebook has breached their initial college-aimed user base and now has 800 million users, almost three times the population of the United States, and that number has nearly doubled number since 2009.¹ This means one in every nine people on the planet are on Facebook.²
However I think the most interesting thing about Facebook is that 20% of their users are over 54! That includes nearly 5% of over 64 year olds!³ Considering my experience with adults, and the Internet, this is pretty remarkable. (You try answering the question, “What is a website?” asked by your 75 year old grandpa.)
Why Facebook for your business?
Facebook is the ‘standard one’ for businesses. By this, I mean it’d be foolish in today’s industry for any business in any niche to not have a Facebook page. Especially with a 20% age group of 54 and older. I’d wager most 15-25 year olds are less interested in connecting on Facebook for business, networking, or professional reasons and more interested in that cute profile picture and what your relationship status is. A business can get away with only being connected to one social network, and Facebook is that one. If a business is not connected to any social networks, it could make them appear out of touch with modern marketing standards.
How should your business use Facebook?
- Offer promotions, run contests, and keep on engaging.
- You don’t have to post every day, but at least once every 2-3 days.
- Give away prizes for people sharing your account.
- Comment on people’s posts and offer interesting information that isn’t only relevant to your business.
- Brand your Facebook page as your own.
- And whatever you do, don’t become this guy.
3 pointers for your business’ Facebook
- Find out if your competition has a Facebook page. See how it looks, what they use it for, what information and pictures are available on it, and who and how they are engaging.
- Pictures, pictures, pictures. In the old days, print ads were a medium for distributing visual information about your business. And it cost money. Breaking news: Facebook is free!! And you can add as many colorful pictures as you want!
- Offer exclusive deals, savings, and contests to your fans. People love free stuff. They also love a chance to make their voice heard.
An example scenario: You own a travel agency. You run a contest on your travel agency’s Facebook page where people can post pictures of their latest vacation, booked through your agency, and then your company chooses the best picture! The winner gets glorified for their great photography skills and maybe wins a t-shirt, stickers, or % off their next trip.
Another example scenario: You own a tattoo parlor. You post on your Facebook page, “First 5 people to like this post get a $10 gift card!” or “Post a link to invite your friends to like our Facebook page get a $5 gift card!” These kind of incentivized promotions really excite people, especially when the pressure is on!
The downside of Facebook
People can and will hide your News Feed, even if they still “like” your page. This means don’t spam them and try to post interesting things, or risk being hidden from their feed. Also, be prepared for the onslaught of Facebook apps and games. Join my farm! Sign up for my mafia! Feed my digital hamster!
Why Twitter for your business?
Twitter is my personal favorite social networking site, and has a few unique features Facebook doesn’t. Unfortunately, Twitter comes in a lot lower on the popularity scale, with 200 million active users⁴ versus Facebook’s 800 million. I’d almost label it a glorified chat room. It’s great for starting and having ongoing conversations with people, and what’s more social then a conversation? Plus it adds a more public element to customer service, and people can see how you’re engaging your customers and how you handle problems.
You can tweet once every hour on Twitter and not be considered spammy, versus Facebook where this would be considered too much. This means your name, your icon, and your tweets are seen more often in people’s feed, constantly reminding people that you exist. If you tweet interesting enough things, and have enough followers, the word will spread and more people will find out about your business.
How to use Twitter for your business
How do you keep it interesting but still business relevant? There needs to be a certain level of professional representation. Twitter isn’t exactly a picture of maturity among social networks, and you’ll see a lot of over the top jokes. Make sure to keep your tweets representative of your brand.
Also, take an active interest in your followers and tweet at them. Engage them often! Ask them about their tweets, don’t always turn it around to your business. Behind your corporate Twitter, there’s a person, and it’s nice to know that. Tweet about what your employees are doing, what you’re eating for breakfast, where your next project is, or what your office looks like. Offer coupons, discounts and promotions – exclusive to Twitter – every once in a while.
And please! Don’t spam people with generic direct messages (“Thanks for the follow! This is our service! Talk to us!”). I hate those. Offer them discounts, run contests, give away prizes, and give your followers reasons to retweet your tweets. Discounts and coupons are the #1 reason people follow brands on Twitter, according to Mashable.com.
Pointers for your business’ Twitter
- Find out if your competition has a Twitter. Who do they follow? Who do they tweet at? What do they tweet? How often do they tweet? What do they re-tweet?
- Use free Twitter tools to find out how you stack up. Free tools like Klout.com, a tool that gives you a “score” on your social media influence, can be valuable for determining how well you are engaging and engage. It also shows you what topics you have influence in. Check out your competitions’ Klout score too. It might just be more important than you realize. Another tool like Favstar.fm shows you what tweets of yours are being favorited and retweeted. You might notice a pattern of what people like enough to star (favorite) or retweet. A great tool for determining who is following and not following you mutually is Tweepi.com. You can flush out the people who aren’t following you, follow people who are following you but you aren’t following them, and unfollow people who haven’t tweeted in months.
- Engage often, but don’t be spammy, and give people a good reason NOT to unfollow you.
- Show the world that there’s an interesting, funny person behind this twitter account, not some boring corporate drone who continuously tweets the obvious boilerplate information about your business.
- Tweet coupon codes and promotions.
- Tweet funny and interesting pictures and stories. You’ll know how well you’re doing by checking out your follower count.
- I sometimes find business tweets are drenched in the same shameless self promoting drivel that I don’t care to read every day. If you own the twitter handle, @WeFixWindows, you don’t need to keep tweeting “Got a broken window? Come to us for all your broken window needs.” We get it, you fix windows.
- And if you get a Twitter for your business, make sure you use it! As a rule of thumb, tweet once per day if not more.
- If you can, try to follow back your followers. They appreciate it.
An example scenario: If you run a pet shelter, tweet pictures of the animals! Tweet their names and their story (in 140 characters or less of course) and offer a special twitter discount for coming in to adopt if they saw the tweet! You’ll definitely have people in to see them!
The downside of Twitter
80% of Twitter users have less than 10 followers.⁵ They’ve either created the account and forgot about it, don’t now how to engage properly, or are spammers. It’s extremely easy to create an account and following people is as easy as 1 click.
So why engage with Twitter? It’s arguably the most popular social network for celebrities. And people do still use it, very actively. So engage with those who do use Twitter. Sure, you may get the spam accounts and unused accounts, but there are enough active real accounts to make a difference for your business.
Also you HAVE to tweet often, or your tweets will be lost in the feed. Facebook has an algorithm for ranking relevant and top stories for people, but Twitter has no such ranking. Your tweet can be completely gone in a matter of 30 minutes when your users follow hundreds of people.
To sum up, I’d argue Facebook and Twitter are both worth having for your business if you use them right. Facebook is critical, and your business can’t afford not to have one. Twitter is fun and more engaging, but if you aren’t going to actively use it at least once per day, don’t bother. I want to hear what you guys think about this! Facebook, Twitter, both or neither? And I leave you all with this really cool infographic on Facebook and Twitter.
Leslie Stewart is a Senior Graphic Designer at PepperJam. She has worked at PepperJam for 4 wonderful years and loves web design, coffee and unicorns. LinkedIn
Tags: facebook, social media, twitter