It would be pretty audacious of us to think we could dictate which social media platforms you should use, wouldn’t it? We don’t even know what industry you’re in, who your target audience is, or what types of content you’re looking to post. There are a lot of questions we would need to have answers for before we would even consider telling you which channels you should be making use of.
So, in the interest of not sounding bossy and not wasting your time with trite aphorisms better suited to an anonymous Twitter account your aunt follows, what we will be offering today is a run down of the big five social platforms including basic demographic information, some potential benefits to creating a presence on the outlet for your startup, and a quick example of a company that has that channel knocked. The idea is to get you thinking about your own needs and how each channel might be able to support you, your goals, and your startup marketing efforts.
LinkedIn: B2B Networking Champ
Standing tall atop the B2B segment of social media is LinkedIn. If you’re a B2B service provider, or even if you just have a strong need to network in the early days to get the word out, this is the place to be. Some general statistics:
- 590 million active monthly users
- 70% of users are outside the US
- Primary age cohort is 30-49
- Most are college educated and make over 75k/year
The potential benefits are myriad. Being the single largest B2B network in the world makes it easy to find the right person within the right company to reach out to. Whether you’re looking for a logistics partner or a chain of stores to stock your widget, chances are there’s someone in the right department at the right company on this platform. Start following them, leave comments on their posts, engage them in conversations, then when the time is right you can make your pitch.
Who’s got it knocked? Dell. By making excellent use of the fact that LinkedIn allows product listings on company pages, Dell keeps their followers up-to-date on their latest offerings. They also have a great way of using strategic polls and other offers to collect contact information, then using that to make exclusive deals available only to their LinkedIn audience. Another aspect of their page that Dell uses to fantastic effect is social proof, in the form of reviews from other sites scrolling through a widget on the sidebar.
Twitter: Social Support
Another social platform with a heavy international presence is Twitter. With their recent expansion of character count to 280, double the initial limit, more and more companies are expanding their presence on the channel as it’s become far easier to get their messaging across. By the numbers:
- 330 million active monthly users
- Nearly 80% outside the US
- Primary demographic is 18-29
- Fairly even spread across education level and income
What Twitter is proving itself at being outstanding for is a customer service presence. Companies can use the platform to respond to customers comments, address complaints, and offer solutions right on the platform where their audience is voicing these concerns in the first place. We will make one suggestion here: if you plan on following this trend and creating a customer service account, be sure to keep it separate from your primary corporate account to avoid confusion. Keep the @ABCco account for general updates, etc. and use @ABCsupport for these interactions.
Who’s doing Twitter right? Wachovia, that’s who. We love this example because it defies expectations. A bank? Doing Twitter right? Most definitely. They’re using their feed to share financial advice, update customers on company happenings, and respond to even the most difficult concerns and complaints quickly and professionally. And by using a public forum, they’re showing that they value transparency and want to be sure everybody knows their priority is with their customers.
Instagram: The Visual Social Network
You know the saying, “A picture is worth a thousand words?” Well Instagram has become one of the world’s largest social networks on the power of that idea:
- 1 billion active monthly users
- 71% of those users are under 35
- Primary age bracket is evenly split between 13-17 and 18-29
- Leans heavily toward female users
You already know the power of visuals in advertising your startup. Having images, graphics, and even short videos is crucial to your success. And Instagram is where you can share those visuals to garner new followers, increase your organic reach, and interact with your audience.
Tentsile is a company that makes what they call “portable tree houses” in the form of hanging tents. Their product lends itself to being used in beautiful locations, and Tentsile uses that fact to great advantage. Their Instagram account is full of professional pictures of their tents in some of the most picturesque locations in the world. But they don’t stop there, inviting their customers to submit their own pictures of their tents wherever in the world they’re using them for inclusion in their feed. This brings home how new customers could be using their own tentsile, and helps them see how the product could take their own adventures to the next level.
Facebook: The Godfather of Social Media
We’re honestly not sure what more we can say about Facebook.
- 2.3 billion active monthly users (that’s a quarter of the world population!)
- Primary demographic, well, adults. Roughly 18-49
- 68% of the worlds adults who report using social media use Facebook
Basically, if you have a target audience, you’ll likely be able to find them on Facebook. The number one benefit is pretty obvious here, reach. They have been improving their business pages recently, and the feature set is indeed impressive. Product listings, on-page ecommerce capabilities, customer polls and custom mailing list segmentation are just a few. If you can think of something to do on your Facebook page, there’s likely a feature supporting it.
One of our favorite companies here is Zappos. This mega-retailer keeps it traditional in one sense, dropping them a Like is their priority. But they also mix it up with exclusive deals for followers and they connect their Like button to various opt-in settings for continuing the conversation and offering visitors a chance to be featured on their homepage by sending in pictures of themselves with their Zappos box.
Pinterest: All About the Product
By the numbers:
- 250+ million active monthly users
- 175 billion pinned products
- Primary demographic is 18-49, evenly spread
- Leans heavily toward female users (41% to 16%)
- Leans toward the well educated and well-to-do
Got something tangible to sell? Pin it. This combination of social network and virtual corkboard is changing the ecommerce landscape. 61% of users say they bought a product after seeing it pinned. Focusing less on the image quality, like on Instagram, and more on the ability to easily click from your Pinterest board through to your web store will make it seamless for your audience.
Once again bucking expectations we find Oreck. Yes, the vacuum cleaner and industrial cleaning manufacturer. Oreck has multiple boards on Pinterest, each with a different focus on something other than their product. One is for “Furry Friends” and highlights their followers' pets, while another is all about interesting flooring patterns and styles. What these boards share is an unspoken connection to the simple fact that dogs shed and floors look better when they’re clean. This subtle nod to the companies product line is enough for Oreck to garner quite a following here, while not smacking anyone in the face with pictures of vacuum cleaners.