This week’s social media for small business segment is an introduction to the 3 primary platforms – Facebook, Twitter and YouTube – that are integral to a strong social media engagement strategy. We will discuss some basic concepts, and then look at how these 3 platforms differentiate from one to the other. Our focus is how we approach these tools. The most important lesson to learn in social media marketing is that we are not simply concerned with transmitting our own message, but listening to the needs of consumers and allowing them the freedom to participate in our strategy. So let’s start by listening to what others have to say.
Humans are social beasts – we LOVE to engage in shared experiences and emotions, as well as seek out others with whom we have commonality. This is the bases of why clubs are formed, associations built, and social events organized. They create opportunities for us to meet new friends and build our professional networks. The tools of communications technology have now made that basic human trait 1000% times more easy, spontaneous and contagious. We plug into our devices – lap-tops, iPhones, etc – which are networked through the web, which allows us to use social media to engage and interact from anywhere, at anytime, on a global scale. This is the heart of social media marketing – a highly sophisticated interface that broadcasts quick simple messages and approvals across a large population of like-minded users. From a marketing perspective, small businesses can leverage this basic concept, by generating, contributing to, and encouraging conversations that reflect a business’s brand. Let’s look at the details of how that can be accomplished.
We will focus on 3 primary platforms; Facebook, Twitter and Youtube. They have gone beyond critical mass, are used globally and have a very wide demographic of users. Personal friends of mine, who are well into retirement, use Facebook to communicate with their grand-children. That alone should tell you something; Facebook isn’t just for teenagers anymore. The more these 3 platforms are mentioned on TV, in the press and on the radio, the more individuals sign-up and the more powerful the platform becomes as a communications tool.
Facebook is the big one, and is being designed more and more with advertising in mind. There is also a considerable amount of privacy built into the platform, and users tend to manage relatively small groups of friends; a much closer circle that is more centric to their out-of-facebook lives. In other words, what goes on in the real world, is planned, organized and later de-briefed on Facebook. From a marketing perspective, this is very healthy, as the interactivity of users is going to transmit back to a smaller, but more relevant and select group of people.
Twitter is an entirely different beast. Officially, it is known as micro-blogging, and is primarily used by publishers and organizations as a way to contribute relevant news, information and press-releases to their network. For subscribers, Twitter’s value comes in the form of receiving relevant information in a quick and timely manner. Where Twitter differs enormously from Facebook, is in the nature of how these networks are formed the quality of accounts that populate them. Twitter networks are much broader and focus less on individuals that personally know each other. There is a certain level of anonymity and a larger potential volume of users for a Twitter account, since the information is quicker and easier to publish, and following someone else’s information stream does not require their permission (unless it’s a private account, which is extremely rare). If Facebook were a private party at someone’s house, then Twitter is a singles bar.
YouTube is much more than just video. It incorporates many of the same social tools that exist in Facebook, is designed for the mass-sharing of content, both within YouTube and on external websites, and its high-level of popularity translates into a high probability of being found. Anyone can grab coding from a YouTube clip and add it to a website, blog, Facebook page, or even a web forum. Also, let’s not forget that YouTube is owned by Google, the world’s biggest search engine. YouTube content has the potential to rank in Google results, not to mention the fact that YouTube is considered by some a search engine in itself, having out-performed other engines like Yahoo! and MSN in recent history. For businesses, we want to keep in mind that consumers are using these tools to find products they are considering purchasing. We want to do as much as we can to ensure they find us and not our competition. YouTube becomes another piece of virtual real-estate on which we can park content that points back to our business and brand.
For businesses using these tools for marketing purposes, the name of the game is how we integrate all 3 platforms, to cross-pollinate content and re-transmit messages and unique pieces of information to a mass audience. Attract your base-audience, create content that is unique and informative, tell the world about it, then allow that audience to participate, contribute and comment. Now repeat, over and over again.
So here’s this week’s homework. If you haven’t already, sign up for each of the services mentioned; Facebook, YouTube and Twitter. Subscribe to 5 different businesses, that are relevant to your lifestyle, as well as 5 brands that are household names (Starbucks for example). Every day, for at least twenty minutes, log in to your accounts, and simply WATCH and LISTEN to what these businesses are saying and doing. Watch for what you like and don’t like about their content. Play with the buttons, read the comments users are leaving behind and add your own comments. The first rule in social media: “be a good listener”. If you want to play the game, get on the field and kick the ball around. Next week, we’ll take the next step, and look at contributing our own content, and building a community of our own.
If you would like more specific information on any of the topics covered in this article, please leave a comment below, or feel free to feel free to e-mail me directly at [email protected], and I’ll be more then happy to answer your questions.