Making the Best Business Use of the Three Types of Social Networks
Social networks and social media in general are still booming, and any business person or entrepreneur worth their salt knows that establishing an effective presence across the space – and not just on a single network – is a great branding and marketing opportunity that should not be missed.
What most people have finally come to realize as well is that posting the same content across of all of these networks – let’s call it the ‘Hootsuite set it and forget it’ mindset – is not an effective way to build a great social media presence at all. However, with so many social channels out there, it can be hard to know just what should be posted where for the best effect.
In actual fact though almost all social networking sites can be funneled into one of three distinct groups; personal networks, content sharing networks and shared interest networks. A balanced social media marketing plan makes use of all three, but just what kind of content is most effective for use on each ‘channel type’? Here are some pointers to get you started;
For Personal Networks
Examples: Facebook, Instagram, Google +
The personal network is the oldest type of social networks, they really go all the way back to the old news groups that existed when the likes of Mark Zuckerburg were still in elementary school and had no plans (yet) to shape the world with their visions of social networking. These personal social networks have a single central purpose; to help you stay connected and engaged by sharing important moments and updates with ‘friends’. And for a business on a personal network that is how you should think of your followers, friends, not prospects to be pitched to. So as a business how should you approach such an intimate arena? Here are some suggestions:
• Be positive. Keep your shares upbeat and positive. Research study after research study has demonstrated that doing so boosts engagement significantly.
• Remember the KISS principle. As in ‘keep it short silly’. The most engaging and appealing updates are those which tease something, but do not give it all away at once.
• Think Visual. Visual posts – those with images – and/or video, consistently outperform those without.
• Let your personality shine through. Every business needs to have a recognizable voice. Make sure yours is heard and is heard consistently.
Content Sharing Networks
Examples: Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Redditt
A content sharing network tends to be the best place to introduce yourself – and your business – to a wider audience and to begin the organic growth of your reputation as an expert in your field.
The best content sharing strategy for these networks is to mix both professional and personal content to give people a rounded look at just who you are. Some suggestions:
• Facts and figures: Interesting statistics are a great way to pull in readers. They are even more engaging if presented as an infographic instead of s sheet full of numbers.
• Tag relevant people. If you get into the habit of tagging other users who are relevant to what you are posting it can be a real engagement booster.
• Use hashtags, but with care. Some people go hashtag crazy on Twitter. Don’t. Use them, but only when they are truly relevant.
• Include your call to action. What do you want people to do. Click a link to read your latest blog post? Retweet a particularly interesting factoid? On a content sharing network it is perfectly acceptable to use a clear CTA, so make sure that you do.
Shared Interest Networks
Examples: Linkedin, Flickr, Meetup
These are the networks that are most like those newsgroups of yesteryear as they are primarily driven by personal and professional interests and a desire to share knowledge rather than to promote a thing. Businesses can still make great use of them though as they are an excellent way to brand build and position yourself as a go to source of knowledge and expertise in your field. How best to do that? Here are some ideas:
• Be actively inquisitive. Shared interest networks are, as previously mentioned, all about learning. Asking intelligent questions is an excellent way to demonstrate your commitment to that as well as an excellent way to network and open up dialogues.
• Share your knowledge. Just as important is that you share the special knowledge you have to impart that others can learn from. It does not always have to be directly business related. For example, if there is a big event coming up in your hometown something as simple as sharing a list of great restaurants with out of town attendees will be greatly appreciated and remembered.
• Be willing to take it offline. Many people use a social network like Linkedin to help boost their careers in general. Going back to the restaurant list; why not also offer to meet up with some of the people reading your posts if they are in your industry? It is a great way to achieve that one thing that many people struggle with but is still so essential; face to face networking.