Roadguide to Social Media
We've found over the course of designing hundreds of websites that clients will either be "Social media is all I need!" or "Meh. Social media is nothing to worry about." Some times their is that magical unicorn of a client that comes in understanding the advantages and disadvantages, but that is rare. In the end we all do our best to guide our clients down the social media path, suggesting this, not that and Facebook and Twitter, not Pinterest. Perhaps you yourself would like to understand this phenomena? Follow our guide to who's who, and what's what. *Warning: I am going to speak to you like you grew up painting on cave walls.
Facebook < The most popular girl at the dance
The behemoth of the social networking world, if you boiled it down Facebook is an online directory or phone book. Having over a Billion users this social network will be here for the foreseeable future. Facebook allows it's members a free mini-site, essentially. Each member can create their own profile page, upload photo albums, sell things in the marketplace and blog about the deepest thoughts to... well, no one really. That's where your friends come in! It wouldn't be social media without socializing. WHEN your friends create a page, you can request their friendship, yay. Reconnect with past or present friends, and sometimes people you want to befriend *(don't do that, no one likes that guy).
Don't run off and forget, you're doing this for your business. So before you try to look up that ex-girlfriend let's make a business page. Facebook, besides becoming the new digital phone-book for people, is the digital phone-book for thousands of companies. This is why your business needs a Facebook. The best part, it's free! Free online SEO value. Now, have your hundreds of friends share you business page to get likes. Post images of your products or services. Include your phone number, have a personality, make friends and lasting customers! Your customers will talk to you on your profile page wall, talk back. Build up your rapport. Go international.
Google Plus < It's like going to the gym. You do it for you so, hopefully one day, people will take notice.
Google came out with Google Plus a while ago. Oh, you remember those commercials. Even if you don't, you're not alone. Google+ was note well received, trying to ride in on the coattails of the already worldwide Facebook. Why do you need one? Because it's Google, the internet search overload. Create an account profile much like Facebook. Then, use that account to create your business page. Google owns online communities such as Google+ and Youtube. Google reads whether your account is tied to a website *(your business site). If it is, your search ranking goes up. Because it's Google...That's honestly the only reason. Google+ is ridiculously uninhabited. You probably won't find many personal friends on their, but the google plus button on your page can increase your search rankings *(SEO).
Twitter <Short. Little. Blurbs.
You'll notice as you set up your Facebook that your status is "What's on your mind...". Twitter is a truncated Facebook Status. Twitter cuts off you Tweets after a number of characters. But, this is good, short and sweet is good. Create your business page right off of the bat, finally. Your name should be your business' name so your fans can find you easier. Links are automatically shortened and there are literally dozens of photo sharing sites that integrate with Twitter *(we'll get into that later). Tweet out deals to your followers news feed and @tag users or #tag keywords to show up on more news feeds. The more you interact, the more you're seen.
Twitter isn't a necessity, but it is useful for those who have constant sales or promotions. It's also a great way to share product shots or new features at your business, such as construction progress on a new facility or post a new product you just got in.
YouTube < The forgotten viral medium
Besides several companies that utilize YouTube exceedingly well, the video host giant has been around longer than Facebook and is one of the most notable King-Maker among social media. If you're not an internet meme celebrity YouTube is your only way in. I'm not saying try to become the next viral video. YouTube is a Google Community, meaning your activity on here may boost your SEO *(Search Results). Post your television commercials or local news interviews on here for archival sake. If you're a service company, perhaps a tutorial on how to fix something around the house. If you're a personal trainer, post a quick tip video. The more you're out there, generally the more trusted your advice becomes. And always, always, link back to your website or contact info!
Pinterest <Look shiny... Look more shiny. Pin it harder.
Out of all these social media sites this is the one with the least social aspect too it. Pinterest is a Pinboard *(scrapbook) of images of things that are not yours. Products, Photography, food, craft projects. Many use them for idea boards for weddings and holiday decorations. Inspirational quotes and funny memes also make up a large amount of pins. So, how do you use this social media outlet. Although a lot of the users have ADD and jump around and create dozens of boards that never get revisited. Another portion of the users, however, share things within their friend groups so if you're in the food or luxury product fields then Pinterest can be quite a catalyst for you. Throw up an image from your page with a keyworded description, watermark of your logo, maybe a web URL? Capture an extra 10 visitors from that. Someone sees it and repins is, pushing it to the top of the keyword page, another repins, then repins, then repins. Soon you have some heavy foottraffic all from a well placed image.
Instagram <Purposefully shoving your photos through dingy filters
Instagram was bought by Facebook but primarily lives on Twitter. They currently share through their mobile apps. This is a snapshot app on your phone that allows you to geotag *(location tag) your photo and push the photo with a small message to Facebook and Twitter. Also, you can choose a filter to throw over your image, since you're technology is inferior to 70's Polaroid cameras. The only reason to have an Instagram account is to easily share images with your followers and friends on other social networks. Users can comment on your images. If users like or comment on your image it will hit their Instagram feed. Think of it like sharing your personal photo gallery on your phone with the world.
Foursquare <Tracking your physical foottraffic
Foursquare has been around for quite a number of years due to its solid gamification. Users earn badges for checking in with their phone's GPS. They can earn Newbie tags or Mayor badges. Foursquare makes a game out of going outside your comfort level and checking in at locations. Create your places geolocation before someone else does and give away free cookies or small prizes for checking in. After all, their check-ins not only allow you to see who actually walks into your store, but it tells all their friends the coolest place in town is your store or business.
Blog <The original, not-so-social media
Blogs are web pages that archive themselves over time, creating a library of thoughts, tips and tricks, depending on what you use your blog for. Blogger, owned by Google, is a free blog site, as well as Tumblr. Wordpress is a blog template CMS if you'd rather host your own blog. On Google, where content is king for SEO, a blog is a phenomenal way to gain more content authority and rise through the search rankings, what do you think our own blog is for? Blogs have been around close to the very beginning of the internet and have become less of a personal journal and more of a helpful site provided by businesses to help you with small problems and offer tips and tricks to save you headaches. Make your blog, link it to your site and write away. Be sure to respond promptly to comments and be sure to share it on your other social media sites so you drive traffic to it. After all, no reason to write if noone is going to read it.
StumbleUpon/ Digg/ Reddit < Share Buttons Galore
You've undoubtedly seen a row of colorful buttons with weird icons on them blazing their way across the page, begging you to click on them. Most of these are for public forum sites such as Reddit, Digg or Stumble Upon where the post is already sitting. Once you click the button their article gets another thumbs up and moves up the article feed. You could use these to push your business, but I suggest against it. Not only are they lost to a horde of faceless net users who don't care about your product or brand, most of them are not even close to potential clients and only wish to leave inappropriate comments on every post. My suggestion, unless you're a techie and know how to leverage the community in your favor, stay away from these sites.
LinkedIn <Keeping it professional
LinkedIn is a professional networking community. I could tell you this is a social network, but it is isn't. It's better to not share this with others. Just remember keep your LinkedIn professional and create your business page if you're an owner so that your employees can mark you as an employer.