With an every-growing range of social media platforms popping up, it can be hard to know which ones can benefit your business, nevermind what each of them even does! Here we take the mystery out of social media with definitions for the top 9 platforms, and the pros and cons of using them for your business, particularly small to mid-size businesses and those in the building and remodeling industry.
Unarguably the most popular social media network around, Facebook is more than one billion users strong. Facebook connects people of all ages with their network of Facebook friends, allowing them to see recent content posted to their page. Businesses can create their own pages to post messages, or engage readers by asking questions or running contests for free. They can also opt to use Facebook advertising, which pops up on the side of a user’s page.
Pros: Since almost everyone is on facebook, this social media tool should be at the top of your marketing list.
Cons: To keep your business in front of users, you must post regularly — so keep your page active or it won’t be an effective tool. Posting text alone is not as effective as posting text with photos.
2. Linked In
LinkedIn is a longtime business-oriented social networking site that has grown to over 70 million people worldwide. Launched in May 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking and recuriting, with minimal interaction.
Pros: If you’re looking for more professional followers or want to connect with individuals who you might be able to work with later, it’s good to have a LinkedIn profile. The site helps to build professional relationships and collaborate with experts in the field.
Cons: LinkedIn isn’t necessarily going to drive business your way and isn’t a format for advertising your business. And though there is a large base of users, many people aren’t very active once they sign up.
YouTube is a well known online platform for posting videos. Individuals and businesses alike can post a video about almost anything, and viewers can share the video on other social media platforms.
Pros: Sharing a video with your potential clientele is a great way for them to view you in a more personable light and see you as an expert in your field. Offering short “how-to” video clips makes them more share-worthy, and creating an “about-me” type video allows people to get to know you better.
Cons: Videos on YouTube need to be short and attention-getting. Creating a video can sometimes be time-consuming or expensive. YouTube as a whole is cluttered and the large quantity of videos continually pushed at viewers means some may not be considered appropriate by your audience. Plus, overall effect on sales can be hard to track.
This is a newer platform, but quickly earning trust. Its clean, simple interface makes connecting with friends, family and business associates easy. Though similar to Facebook, it sets itself apart by allowing you to share in limited groups, rather than with your whole set of friends.
Pros: Ease-of-use and uncluttered environment.
Cons: The extensive competition from other well-established social media platforms means it’s highly likely you are already reaching these users elsewhere.
Twitter allows you to shout-out short 140 character text messages called “tweets,” and read the “tweets” of others. Only registered users can post messages, but anyone who chooses to follow you can view them. Messages are posted chronologically on viewer timelines, and also collected in categories with other messages on other social media platforms that are marked with designated hashtag titles.
Pros: Twitter is a very popular platform, probably second to Facebook. And since all updates are posted in real-time on Twitter, you can send out posts with greater frequency.
Cons: At only 140 characters, Twitter doesn’t allow you to say a lot. It’s also easy for users to miss your message since everything is posted on their timeline chronologically. And again, many of these same users may be following you elsewhere.
People are drawn to visuals, and Pinterest is a format that lets users effectively organize and “pin” photos or images into folders of your choice. Featuring crafts, art, fashion, interior design, decorating, building projects, DIY ideas and more, Pinterest has become a mainstream platform for idea-collecting. You can also post images of your own projects and hope they get re-pinned by other users for greater exposure.
Pros: A visually-appealing way to share information with followers that are often creatively inclined and like beautiful things.
Cons: A strong percentage of users are there to find inspiration for DIY projects, rather than find a business to work with.
Similar to Pinterest, but intended specifically for the home industry, Houzz was founded in 2009 as an online image-based community for interior design, home improvement, and all things home related. Builders, remodelers, and designers can post images and comments, and the 16 million users (mostly homeowners) can save those images in their own look-books to refer to. Additionally, the site hosts articles written by home design experts, as well as product recommendations and a user forum.
Pros: This highly visual sight allows builders and remodelers to put their work directly in front of the right target audience. A search engine gives homeowners the opportunity to seek out potential remodelers in their own area. And the site can function as an excellent website accent, with an easy way of posting lots of images for potential clients to see.
Cons: Since the site is worldwide, many users are collecting photos as reference only, and will not necessarily look for (or even be in the vicinity of) the remodeler or designer who posted a photo they like. And your profile rating is stronger when you answer user questions, which can be a time-draining activity with little benefit.
Instagram is an app, not a website, meaning it’s loaded directly onto your phone in order to be used. Intuitive and fun, Instagram is simply meant to let you take a photo on your phone, enhance or stylize it (think color effects or frames), and then share it back with the Instagram network, or on other social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Pros: Fun and easy to use. A great way to post an “attention getting” image for your business that may be more eye-catching because of added effects.
Cons: A mobile experience only (i.e. use it on your phone) that is popular with a younger audience. Not very helpful if you don’t have a lot of visuals to post for your business, or if taking eye catching pictures is not your strength.
Also a photo messaging app, Snapchat allows phone users to take photos or video, add text or drawings, and then send their photo or video message (called “snaps”) to a controlled list of other snapchat users. These “snaps” are set by the creator to display for only 1 to 10 seconds, and then disappear.
Pros: The disappearing “snaps” set this app apart as unique and exciting, bringing a fast-growing user base, especially the 13-25 year old crowd. Businesses with a younger audience have successfully used this platform as a creative way to launch coupons or special offers.
Cons: Snapchat is not a great way to effectively communicate information. And with a young user-base, it’s not the most effective tool for businesses that are trying to reach homeowners in particular.
With this newfound understanding of social media, take some time to review your options with your marketing team and decide what the most effective ways to reach your target audience are. Social media is here to stay, so efficiently utilizing your marketing efforts means being smart about how much time and energy you pour into it, mixing and matching the platforms that are a good fit for your specific business.