Okay, this one’s for all you grannies out there. Just kidding. Or am I? Everyone should know how to use social media, even if it’s just to keep up with the grandkids. For businesses, however, an online presence could make or break sales. Here’s a rundown of the most popular platforms, tips on how to use them in your strategic marketing, and companies that kick butt on the interwebs.
Facebook. From humble beginnings, Facebook is now one of the biggest sites out there, and companies are capitalizing on its networking and advertising potential. Bonobos is a men’s clothing company that has garnered over 377,000 likes. How? By posting colorful images, special deals, company updates, fashion advice, and—perhaps most importantly—by responding to user comments, which makes its fans quite happy.
Twitter. 140 characters or less is a tough box to fit into, but that’s where some of the wittiest and most pithy content is born. Companies use Twitter to promote their product, but it’s no fun when it’s slammed in your face. Taco Bell is one of the best companies on Twitter; it promotes customer participation in shaping its brand, replies quickly, uses an irreverent tone, and is Johnny-on-the-spot with cultural references. It’s silly, but its 1.59 million followers prove that it works.
Tumblr. Tumblr remains the realm of the unknown for far too many businesses. The site is mainly populated by millennials sifting through content and searching for text, photos, quotes, links, audio, and videos that interest them. Denny’s—a chain of diners—realized its potential and hired a youngster to handle its Tumblr blog. Its posts are simple and funny. It capitalizes on obscure memes that only a Tumblr audience would understand, but the attempt is not desperate or fake. It has become a sassy dynamo with a penchant for weird gifs. The results speak for themselves; users submit “asks” such as “Meet me at a dennys parking lot for a fight” (danaki96). Denny’s responds: “meet you…at…an us parking lot ? but howw.” Your blog doesn’t have to be devoid of capitalization or punctuation, but if you engage the audience, they will play nice.
Instagram. Instagram is not just for selfies or pictures of your cat. It remains, however, an all-visual site. Followers don’t want to have product images shoved in their faces all day, so companies have learned to post unique behind-the-scenes content. Sharpie’s Instagram sets a stunning standard. Almost every photo it posts is fan-submitted art drawn with the company’s markers. Not only is it beautiful, it drives consumer participation.
Pinterest. On this image-collecting site, usefulness and inspiration reign. Some people could spend all day pinning content to their Pinterest boards, saving anything from recipes to beautiful pictures. Southwest Airlines maintains 20 boards, each with a distinct topic: Destinations, Tips for Travel, From the Window Seat, Our Fleet, Vintage, and more. It sparks users’ wanderlust, provides tips, and keeps its customers informed (and entertained).
LinkedIn. For a more formal online presence, LinkedIn is the place to be. While it is mainly a networking site, companies can make pages and gather followers, too. Mashable, an online media site, posts articles, company information, branded content, and job opportunities. Followers can even connect individually with Mashable employees.
Now that you know about the biggies, go make use of these social media sites! Remember your audience and make your content interesting to them. Stiffness and formality reads as fakeness, so just be real. It sounds hard to do in an online world, but these examples prove that it’s possible.