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The Business of Mongering: Choosing Social Media Platforms

Social media is now a major part of marketing, no matter what your business type is. Social media can be important for building brand awareness, engagement, and for getting out messages about happenings and products quickly to the people who will care most. But with limited time, it’s hard to create the content that will draw in followers. That means you need to decide which social media platforms will serve you best. Below is info about some of the major social media platforms that will help you to decide which ones are right for you.


What it’s good for – Reaching a large audience. Facebook has a vast number of users across demographics. It’s also one of the most diverse social media platforms in terms of the type of content you can post. Links, images, hashtags, videos, they’re all allowed. 
What to watch out for – Facebook has strict rules about contests and sales, and if you don’t follow the rules, Facebook can boot you. Be sure to get to know the terms and conditions before you start posting. Also, the Facebook algorithms for how your content reaches your followers are shrouded in mystery. A post might get to only 5% of the people who follow you…or could reach 50%. It’s hard to know what content you post is going to go the distance.


What it’s good for – Conversations with your customers. The ease with which you can have a back and forth conversation on Twitter by using a @handle or a #hashtag makes it a great way to expand your customer serve realm. It’s like text messaging, but without needing to know the person’s phone number. 
What to watch out for – Twitter is so huge and so fast-moving, it’s easy for an ill considered off-the-cuff remark or a typo to go viral. Because of this, it’s best that Twitter is handled by someone who has good editing skills and who is talented at thinking fast on their feet. Don’t hand it off to an intern and hope for the best.


What it’s good for – Appealing to women using beautiful photos. Pinterest’s audience is overwhelmingly female (5 out of every 6 Pinterest users is a woman). Fortunately, since women are still the primary shoppers for their families, this is good news for businesses that make or sell food. If you have a talented amature photographer in your office, Pinterest might be a way to win new customers. It’s also a great way to direct traffic to your website if you offer things like recipes. 
What to watch out for – Pinterest is all about the images, so it can be hard to gain brand awareness using it. Your URL and company logo won’t be visible to most people who browse your pins. You can try to work around this using watermarks, but in general, you’ll just get fewer repins.


What it’s good for – Building up your SEO and telling the story of your business. For small businesses especially, blogs are important. The difference between your shop and the mega-mart down the street are the stories you tell your customers, and blogs are a way to get those stories out there. In addition to exposing the people behind the business, blogging also increases your ranking on search engines. Fact: the more pages and posts you have on your website (including blog posts), the better you’ll do in SEO. 
What to watch out for – Blogging is time consuming and poorly written blogs or blogs that are off topic can hurt your brand. Writing a good blog post, one that fits your brand, tells a story, and has good photos accompanied by well-written text, it’s not something that you can dash off in a few spare moments. Because of this, it can be hard to maintain a blog, especially during busy seasons (such as the winter holiday season). Unfortunately, the busy seasons are when customers most want to hear about new products, events, and deals.


What it’s good for – Demonstrating products. Say you’re selling a special cheese. Say this cheese is $30/pound. Perhaps the cheese is the result of high-quality milk from heritage breed goats that are allowed to range free and browse on the leaves of fruit trees. Maybe once the cheese has been made, it spends months being tended by a skilled affineur. All of these events go into making this cheese special and delicious, but all of them are invisible while the $30 price tag is right there in front of your customers’ eyes. Videos are a great way to capture the behind-the-scenes value that a product might have. They’re also a way to demonstrate products (such as sharp knives or non-stick muffin tins) that customers can’t test out before purchasing. 
What to watch out for – Like blogging, a good video takes time and effort to put together. Also, be aware of the music you use in the video. Music copyrights last a very long time, and even an old song might not be legal to use if the recording was made recently.


What it’s good for – Networking and hiring. If you’re a growing business, it probably makes sense to have a LinkedIn page so you can easily reach out to potential employees before you need them. LinkedIn is also a great business to business tool that allows you to network with distributors, makers, and marketers who might be able to collaborate with your business in ways that will benefit you both. 
What to watch out for – Unlike many social media platforms, LinkedIn hides many features from non-paying users. Also, LinkedIn won’t help you if you’re just looking to expand your customer base.

Photo Credit: ePublicist via Compfight cc

Amy Scheuerman

Amy Scheuerman—culture's former web director—spent eight years in North Carolina where she developed a love of barbecue and biscuits before moving up north to get a degree in nutrition. She now works at the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.