Social Media Platforms: The Pros and Cons

If you follow our previous blogs, then I think I’ve made it pretty clear during this time that you’re unlikely to just randomly stumble on the perfect mix of social media channels and content – it is something that takes time and will require your attention.

That said, in true Time Saving Heroes style, I have pulled together some quick fire bits of information about various platforms to help you make your decision.

Facebook

Started in 2004 Facebook has the benefit of being a real powerhouse in the digital world. As a result they are a real leader when it comes to innovation and listening to their users. Incidentally, reports indicate there are 1.65 billion active users of Facebook per month, so there’s a good chance your audience will be logging on at some point.

Thanks to how long it’s been operating it’s likely that most people will have a personal account, which means it can be a great place for someone to launch their business presence from. Business pages operate in much the same way as personal pages, and are all pretty intuitive. New features and options are always being added, and you can now include live video and information on particular products and services.

However, over the years Facebook has become more of a pay-to-play space, with businesses being subjected to an increasingly complicated algorithm for generating reach. If you don’t have a lot of money to spend on targeted ad’s or don’t want to constantly test out best posting times etc then Facebook may not be for you.

Equally, if your primary audience are teens or millennials, then you may find that they are starting to head elsewhere these days. Younger audience appear to be preferring to use Instagram and Snapchat instead.

Twitter

Slightly younger than Facebook, Twitter still has a wealth of experience and lots to offer. However, while it is growing as an ad platform, the algorithm timeline means you are likely to end up experiencing the same drop in reach as counterparts do on Facebook.

That said, it is a fantastic platform to use if you want to provide instant updates and keep people involved and up to speed with a particular event or product launch. The one drawback may be that user numbers are stalling compared to other networks, and those who are new to the platform don’t necessarily hang around.

Instagram

When you think of Instagram, you immediately think of photos – which makes it a fantastic place to go if you have a visually appealing product to sell. Great content can gain almost instant traction and huge levels of engagement, helping you to reach your audience.

However, as with other networks, algorithms are likely to have an impact on future performance, and increased advertising is sure to see organic posts falling when it comes to reach.

LinkedIn

The oldest social network site of the bunch, LinkedIn is the go to place for professionals, and entirely dominates this space. It is a fantastic place to make genuine business connections and seek out thought leaders in your industry.

However, low numbers of users are actually active (in comparison to other platforms), and as such you often need to post content multiple times to ensure it is seen. The down side is that LinkedIn can become very time consuming, though the rewards for genuine interaction and relationship building are undoubtedly worth it.

 

Pinterest

My personal problem with Pinterest is how addictive it is, but then, that is kind of the point. From a marketing perspective it is a great place to target women, even though it is starting to gain more traction with male audiences.

The ability to add a Buy Now button is fantastic for direct commerce, however, it is essential you have quality photographs of products, and may need to spend money on a commercial photographer. The site can also be a bit confusing at first, and does not lend itself well to those who want a quick-fire way of reaching people.

 

Snapchat

As mentioned previously, Snapchat is becoming increasingly popular with younger audiences, so if this is your target, you’d be daft not to consider this platform. However, it can take some getting used to and the downside is that it can be very hard to track the actual performance of snaps, so you’re never quite sure whether what you’re doing is working.

While content curators are moving in to this space, and will continue to do so, it’s fair to say that Snapchat does still have quite the reputation for being a sexting app.

Where are your customers?

When I start working with a new client on their social media one of the things I ask during my fact find is “what platforms do your customers use”. Usually I’m given one of two answers:

1.      I don’t know

2.      All of them

Depending on the mood I’m in I might start asking how many of their customers use QQ, We Chat, Baidu Tieba, Viber, Kiwibox or Skyrock. If I’ve had coffee and am therefore slightly less sarcastic, I may just explain that “all of them” does not simply mean Facebook or Twitter.

In fact, there are so many social networking sites it’s impossible to really keep a handle on a comprehensive list of what’s available. “All of them” is never a realistic answer.

With that in mind then, I ask again, where are your customers when are they online? Chances are you won’t know the actual answer (unless you are stalking them) but you can take an educated guess.

Facebook remains the most popular platform, closely followed by YouTube, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest.

Some people may have accounts on a variety of different networks, but most will favour just one or two. Personally I live on Facebook (to keep in touch with friends and share sarcastic posts) and Pinterest (great for Home Ed ideas and knitting projects). Professionally I prefer Twitter and LinkedIn because it allows me to share information quickly, and interact with others who have similar interests.

When it comes to deciding where you should focus your attention you need to think about what you have to offer, and what interactions you are looking for. If you’re a handyman is it worth posting videos showcasing your skills or offering top tips for simple DIY? If so, YouTube could be a great channel for you, followed by Facebook so you can share your videos.

I used to do a lot of work with a wool shop in Devon who started posting simple video tutorials on YouTube for basic knitting patterns. Knitting newbies would see the video, get inspiration and then be directed to their online shop to purchase the materials they needed. Sales went through the roof.

If you sell products that are visually pleasing then Pinterest may seem like the most logical choice; however, the audience for this site still has a huge US bias, which is great, as long as you can ship there. It might well be that Instagram is a better option instead.

Do you want people to like and share your content, or do you want them to interact? Do you want to start conversations and debates, sharing information and knowledge, or do you want people to passively digest your message? Again, a lot of this will come back to how much time you have.

These are all things to think about before just jumping in to a particular platform because everyone else is there.

If you’re avoiding social media because of this, then you’re missing the point

The vast majority of the people who follow this blog are business owners (usually SMEs), and as such I imagine this post will resonate somewhat.

This week I had a meeting with a potential client who wanted to find out more about the services I offered.  Initially they were interested in content for their website, but conversation drifted to social media.  They immediately admitted they could see the upside, but the thing that worried them the most was this – what if they (i.e. their customers) took to social media to complain?

It’s entirely plausible that I’ve been doing this for too long because honestly it took me a while to understand what their problem was.

We all know that customers sometimes complain. Occasionally they complain for apparently no reason – some people just can’t be helped. No, it’s never nice to be complained about, so I get that; however, every complaint is an opportunity to wow.

Ah, but a complaint on social media could go viral they tell me.

Yes, I acknowledge, it could. However, you have 15 followers and sell a niche product, the chance is slim. And if it happened, your business would probably benefit from the publicity.

It’s not really worth the risk though, they argue.

Harumph.

Let’s cut to the chase here. Your customers will not complain because you are on social media. If they feel strongly enough to complain, they will find a way to do so.  This obsession that somehow a complaint on a Facebook page is going to destroy your business is simply ridiculous.

How did customers used to complain?  In person. The law of Sod would also dictate they’d wait until your store was at its busiest before they did so. The result? Other people would hear.

You know what impact those complaints have on your target audience? Nothing – provided of course you handle it correctly.

Online complaints are no different.

If someone complains on social media, and you address it courteously and in a timely manner, you will always come away looking better.   As a result, social media is not a thing to be feared. It is an opportunity to be embraced and one we really don’t think you should miss.

 

If you are concerned about how to keep on top of your interactions we offer a management service to take the hassle from you. Alternatively, we are always happy to provide advice if you have a specific concern when it comes to customer service.

Please get in touch by calling our hero hotline: 0161 883 2024, emailing lu@timesavingheroes.co.uk or messaging us via Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

 

 

An open letter to the Door to Door Sellers of LinkedIn

Hi

I hope you’re having a great day.

My day was going great until I got an invitation to connect from you. I admit I didn’t recognise your name so I went to your profile to see if I could find out anything helpful. It turns out we have various mutual connections, and for me, that provides you with a degree of legitimacy.

So, I accepted.

I’d barely clicked “accept” before I received another notification – you’d sent me an InMail.

Now, I’m a fairly realistic individual. I know I’m awesome to be around and am generally a good person, but even I know nobody is waiting with baited breath to get in direct contact with me. The speed with which that message comes through would give most people whiplash, which tells me one thing; you’re a salesperson.

Yes, I know we’re all “salespeople”, in the strictest sense of the word – why else be on LinkedIn in the first place? However, you’re one of those salespeople.

With trepidation I open the message and yes, there it is, the generic sales pitch.

Sigh.

Within 60 seconds of accepting your request I have already removed you as a contact. OK, so it’s a minor waste of my time, and a constant source of irritation but in all honesty, I just feel sorry for you.

Despite the fact you think you’re a hot shot with your 500+ connections, I assure you, you’re doing LinkedIn all wrong.

If you have to send a generic pitch to every single new contact without actually reaching out first, then there is something wrong.

This approach is exactly the same as the person who attends a physical networking event and spends the entire time collecting business cards and talking at other people. These people don’t get invited back for a second time, and people avoid their calls. The rest of us, who have mastered the art of conversation and relationship building talk about you when you’re not there, and warn other people to stay clear.

The simple truth is we should all treat our connections like gold. The people you spend time with, whether that be in real life or the virtual world, should be your tribe. They have your back, they cheer you on, they support you and you can learn from them. They are not simply people to sell to and then spit out once you’ve got your pound of flesh.

Spamming people on LinkedIn (and yes my friend, that is exactly what you are doing) is the modern day equivalent of traditional cold calling. I’m not naïve enough to think it doesn’t work, occasionally. For every 20 people that ignore you, one might bite and with your relentless enthusiasm you may well close a deal one day. However, I assure you there is so much more to gain by playing the long game and actually remembering to be social when using social media.

LinkedIn is a fantastic platform to build relationships, whether that be from scratch or to enhance existing ones. The only way to do that is to take your time, be useful to others and always be considerate and respectful.

If you can’t manage that, be quiet. And stay the Hell out of my inbox!

Why you shouldn’t hashtag all the things

As you would expect a large part of my professional life is spent online. I’m either writing or reading blogs, or interacting with a wide variety of people via social media. (occasionally I also do “proper” work, but I avoid it as much as possible). As a result I see a lot of the good, the bad and the ugly when it comes to content and digital marketing.

One of my personal pet peeves, the sort of thing that makes me disappear in to a corner and bang my head against a wall is over enthusiasm when it comes to hashtags.  No doubt you’ve seen the sort of posts I’m referring to.

#Your #statusupdates #look #so #cool #with #your #hashtags #saidnoonever

Today one particular post has sent me over the edge (it contained 18 different combinations of essentially the same tag) and it’s time to call a Hashtag Intervention.

What is the purpose of a hashtag?

Once upon a forever ago the hashtag (#) was simply referred to as the pound sign.

For musical types, you may even have referred to it as the sharp sign.

Personally, it’s always been the noughts-and-crosses board, but I accept I may be in a club of one there.

Regardless of what the sign means to you, when it comes to social media the humble # has been elevated to supernova stardom. Now it is used to draw attention, organise and promote content.

Twitter started using hashtags to make it easier for users to find, follow and contribute to specific conversations. If you wanted to find out what the latest news was in Manchester, you would simply search #Manchester and you’d have access to everyone who had used that tag.

#Simples.

How to use them

Whilst many people will know what they are, and even what they’re meant to do, few seem to really understand how to use them.

Here then are my top tips to ensure you’re making the right impact:

  1. Be specific – whilst there are some rules when it comes to using a hashtag, the reality is you can pick anything. With an endless array of options it serves to be focussed. If you are selling products for newborns, don’t imply rely on #parents, instead try to attract #NewMums or #newborn #baby to really hit your target audience.
  2. Consider the platform – although you can now use hashtags on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram etc it is important to bear in mind the platform you are using. For example, Instagram tags will tend to focus on the content of a picture whilst on Twitter tags are used to engage in particular conversations.
  3. Don’t go too long – hashtags need to be memorable, and more importantly, readable. Hashtags count as characters, and if they’re too long to type, people simply won’t bother. Equally, too many words strung together and it becomes impossible to read clearly. #ItsNotACaseOfGoBigOrGoHome
  4. Maintain a balance – posts with more hashtags then general words are meaningless. It’s true that the more hashtags you use, the more users you are likely to reach as you tap in to more searches and conversations. However, your content becomes impossible to read as it doesn’t actually contain anything worth reading. My advice is don’t exceed more than five tags per post. And ideally, keep it lower than that.

As always, if you need any advice, tips or help when it comes to curating content or posting on social media, the team at Time Saving Heroes are on hand to help out. Give us a call on our hero hotline: 0161 883 2024, email hello@timesavingheroes.co.uk or get in touch via Twitter or Facebook.

 

 

 

 

How much time do you have to get social?

Social media is a fantastic marketing tool, not least because it is entirely free (though, as with many things, there are ways for you to spend your money). However, while it doesn’t necessarily carry a financial cost, it will take up a lot of your time if you let it.

If you are planning to use social media then you are no doubt planning on building a loyal and engaged fan base. No matter how wonderful your product is, that doesn’t happen overnight. You will need to have great content, which will no doubt come in a variety of formats; blogs, jokes, photos, videos, reviews, infographics etc. These things don’t just fall out of the sky, you will either have to source them or create them yourself.

You then have to find time to post them, which in itself is time consuming before you even factor in the analytical research you have to do to ascertain what the best time for you to post to your audience is.

However, social media is not just about putting great content out there, you need to be on hand to interact and encourage interaction. How are you going to get your audience to comment, like and share? One way is to build actual relationships – that means commenting, liking and sharing on their content too. That, I am sorry to say, can’t be faked or automated (though, it can be outsourced, of course).

It doesn’t matter how much time you have, just be honest with yourself.

If you don’t have much then the simple truth is you need to make the most of what time you do have. There is no point in jumping in to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn if you can only spare five minutes per day on all three. You will barely be able to schedule a post, let alone build any relationships. It is vitally important that you don’t spread yourself too thinly.

Social media is not a competition, and simply because someone else (perhaps a competitor) is on certain platforms does not mean you have to follow suit. Especially if you aren’t going to do a very good job of it. You may actually end up hindering your chances and destroying your relationships and brand in the process.

For those that are new to social media within their business, and don’t have much time to spare, I strongly recommend sticking with what you know. If you are more likely to be found on Twitter in your personal life than Instagram, then stick with that.

You will already know far more than you may think in terms of how the platform works, who is on there, the best times to post, and the content that gets the most interaction. Use that insider knowledge already at your disposal to give you a leg up. You can always add more platforms as time goes on and ask your existing followers to follow you elsewhere too.

Remember, if time is an issue you can schedule posts in advance using things like Hootsuite (my personal favourite), Buffer or Social Sprout. Sitting down one day a week, or month and pre-loading content for your social network is a much better use of your time as you will be in the “zone” and able to concentrate on your voice and the message you are trying to put out there. You will then just have to find a small amount of time per day to engage with your network and comment in real time.

Stop saying Social Media doesn’t work

Despite the fact that social media marketing can boast positive ROI for up to 92% of businesses who use it, it’s still a largely underrated mode of getting your brand out there.

Last week I was at an Expo and it was a great opportunity to speak to a whole new market and make new contacts.  For some people, the second I mentioned that social media management and training was one of the services I offered, they switched off.  Just not interested.

Now, don’t get me wrong, that’s fine – however, I decided to challenge some of them to find out what their aversion to the big bad world of social was.  Here’s what I discovered:

# 1 It’s just a fad

No, really.  In 2018 we still have people who believe social media is just a “fad”.  I don’t mean to be rude or appear mocking but, really?!

This argument might have held a bit of weight in 2007 if I was trying to sell the concept of digital marketing, but ten years later I think we have to accept it’s not about to fizzle out.  Facebook has over 1.2 billion users, a figure that is actually increasing and all platforms are constantly evolving in order to keep their users happy.

There is an entire generation that knows nothing but social – people expect it!  I can buy the argument that maybe your target audience doesn’t engage with social media, and that’s all well and good, but please stop suggesting it’s not got longevity in it!

# 2 It’s free

Some people I spoke to seemed to think that digital marketing, specifically engaging with audiences via social networking sites, wasn’t worth it because it was free.

It took me a while to get my head round this.

Essentially, there is perceived value in paying for something; which conversely means if you’re not paying for something, it’s worthless.  When it comes to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and the like you can access free accounts, and assuming you’re not paying for any form of advertising, it doesn’t have to cost you a penny.

Of course, my argument was you could pay me to manage it for you so it does cost you something …

# 3 It doesn’t work

The people who had tried to engage with social media marketing in the past cited the fact they had poor results as a reason not to bother again.  On further probing it actually turns out that they were either buying followers, or didn’t have a coherent strategy.

Consider the former; if you are simply buying people to follow you, in a bid to look more popular than you are, then you can’t complain about the lack of engagement or interaction.  How do you know the people that have followed given a damn about your brand, product or service?  I have always argued it’s better to have 10 engaged and motivated followers than 100 people who have no genuine idea who you are or what you do.

With regards to the latter, without a plan you have no hope of achieving anything.  Encouraging people to interact with you takes time and/or money – and yes, it can take a lot of both.  You need to stop, think about your strategy, your audience, your goals and put the plan in to action.  If you do that, it really can work.