Social media is an important cog in any inbound marketing strategy. Your interaction on social media is a key part of both the attract and delight phases of your sales funnel. With 80% of people beginning their research online, it makes perfect sense to be on social media and interacting with these people who have plenty of questions that are just begging for your expertise. Later on, after these prospects have filtered through the funnel and become customers, social media also helps these new customers share their experiences which starts the process over with someone new.

There are truckloads of social media platforms out there and diving into everyone of them would prove to be a colossal undertaking. It can quickly become overwhelming to try and determine which ones are worthy of your time and money investment. When attempting to choose your optimal social media network(s), you’ll need to take a step back and examine just who you want to reach in order to identify those networks that offer the most exposure and will best serve your needs.

Start with personas

When starting any sort of inbound marketing strategy, you should start by identifying your customer personas.

Who is your dream customer?

Paint a picture of your ideal customer. How old are they? What is their income? What are their hobbies? What kind of car do they drive? Ask yourself all of these questions and once you’ve established a criteria, it will be much easier to match that face up with a particular social media network.

What is your industry?

In addition to the main social media networks that we’ll get into below, there are also some industries that have their own specific social networks. Doing some good old fashioned research can help you dig those out. Remember, Google is your friend.

Google makes it so much easier to prove my husband wrong.

The Big 4

To give you a better idea of what you will be up against, let’s break down the major social networks, starting with the big 4. These are the 4 social networks that will apply to most businesses.

  • Facebook – Just about every businesses should be on Facebook. It’s easy to use and it’s great for businesses of all sizes – from the mom ‘n pop shop to enterprise and corporate level companies. Facebook also owns the largest user base amongst the big 4 and has great targeting abilities.
  • Twitter – Also very popular, Twitter is a microblogging service that allows you to post short text based messages. Twitter is great for reaching large audiences in a quick and dirty fashion.
  • LinkedIn – LinkedIn is a professional networking site based around your professional career. LinkedIn is useful for keeping business contacts and B2B networking.
  • Google+ – Kind of the forgotten stepchild of social media, Google+ has a much smaller active user base than the other Big 3, but since it is a Google product, it offers a lot of SEO benefits that can directly influence your search engine rankings.

Other Social media platforms to consider:

  • Instagram – Facebook actually owns Instagram so it integrates nicely, allowing you to take photos, edit them and post them. Instagram is great for businesses that want to show off a great product with use of visuals.

Hey Courtney, Instagram is down. Can you just describe your lunch to me?

  • Pinterest – Although Pinterest is usually considered to be a network for crafty women, it’s also another great visual based platform for businesses. Pinterest is a great place to show off creative solutions with quality visuals.
  • Foursquare – With Foursquare, users can check in when they visit an establishment. Naturally, this would mean that your business would need some sort of physical location to take advantage of, but some businesses also offer rewards to the person who visits the most, for example.
  • Vine – Taking Instagram a step further, Vine allows users to upload and share short looping videos. This is great for posting quick video responses or even just showing what you’ve been up to.

The above are just a few of the more popular options off the endless list of social media networks that exist today. As mentioned earlier, you can even get into industry specific platforms like Yelp for restaurants and service based businesses or Houzz for the interior design and remodelling industry, for example. No matter what networks you choose for your inbound strategy, make sure that above all, your messages serve a purpose by serving your customer personas.

Helpful is the new viral. Be Helpful.

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