These days we hear so much about tweets, followers and posts that social media can quickly become overwhelming. It has inundated every curriculum relating to starting, growing and running a business but is it really that important?
Yes. Social media is without a doubt vital to any company in today’s economy. It is becoming so increasingly important that it’s starting to look unprofessional if a company doesn’t have a Facebook or Twitter account.
In addition to the two dominant platforms, there is a secondary group of social platforms emerging in the professional world; Snapchat, Instagram, Pinterest and Tumblr. Yes, Snapchat. The app best known for teenage selfies is now making its way into the professional realm.
- Snapchat: An app that lets users quickly send temporary videos and pictures to one another. Snapchat has recently developed a feature called “My Story” which lets users subscribe to an account, essentially allowing information to be more easily dispersed.
- Example: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, username: LACMA_museum, has established a successful presence with their creatively captioned images. Being the most informal medium, Snapchat success typically requires a good amount of wit and creativity.
- Instagram: An app that lets users post photos and videos. Unlike Snapchat you’re not sending media to other users, you’re only posting. Instagram relies exclusively on visuals. There’s no place to post business information, hours, prices; it’s all about engagement.
- Example: National Geographic, username: natgeo, has reached great success. Posting photographs by award-winning photographers on a social platform made for pictures leaves no question why they have nearly 43 million followers.
- Pinterest: A website that’s created a name for itself regarding instructional-based posts including recipes, do-it-yourself projects, and other crafts. “Boards” allow users to categorize their posts. These boards are created by the user and typically range from professional all the way to goofy.
- Example: Salesforce, username: salesfroce, is the company behind one of the largest customer relationship management systems. They’re a seemingly straight-laced company that engages followers with posts ranging from Silicon Valley Trends to Salesforce Office Style.
- Tumblr: A website that acts like a mixture of a social media and blogging site. While accounts vary far a wide, fashion and media groups are most dominant. While it relies on visuals, Tumblr is information heavy as well. It’s a great platform if you’re creating original content, whether it be articles, infographics, or videos.
- Example: The Huffington Post, username: huffingtonpost, encompasses a wide range of what Tumblr offers. They go with a simplistic blog look and use a combination of photos and links to format their page. Compare that to Glamour’s Tumblr, which is very stylized.
Every social platform has a specific use and it’s important to analyze which ones are necessary for your business. Companies are too worried about presence on every platform instead of being focused on two or three quality accounts. Stop concerning yourself with what other companies are doing and critically think about what works best for yours.
BlueGrace Logistics, a small business in the Tampa Bay area and client of the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida, has demonstrated expert use of social media. They’ve taken the time to develop their Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube platforms. One might think, how can a shipping company devise 2-4 tweets a day? It takes time, effort and creativity.
It’s no secret the more platforms a company’s on, the harder it becomes to manage. Depending on the size of a company, social media is now important enough to warrant hiring a distinct employee. Create a plan that will address how often and what you will post.
Three things to remember when creating posts:
- Original content trumps all. While it’s okay to repost links and articles, original content makes a social media page much stronger.
- It’s okay to be goofy on social media. Of course the ultimate goal is to grow revenue but you can still have fun with it. Use social media to let your personality shine.
- Be visual. Most social platforms lend themselves to multimedia more than text. While traditional writing can still be effective, work on incorporating photos, links, and videos into posts.
Bobby Bishop is the Marketing Intern at the Florida SBDC at University of South Florida, and a graduate student in the Digital Journalism & Design master’s program at University of South Florida St. Petersburg.