Social Media – Unpacked
We’ve already talked about the ways in which social media can help build your business. Perhaps it’s time to take a step back for a moment, however, and actually have a look at what exactly we mean by social media and what each of the different platforms can offer.
Facebook remains the largest social network with the organisation reporting a total of 1.1 billion user accounts (including about 700 million ‘active’ users). It’s easy to establish a business page on Facebook, and once created, others can ‘like’ your page and everything you post on it will appear in their News Feed. It’s useful to share industry information as well as updates or specials about your own services. It’s fast, free and efficient. You can also include pictures to capture the attention of your readers.
Twitter boasts over 200 million ‘active’ users who each ‘follow’ others. Once you are following someone, all of their tweets (or updates) appear in your timeline (news feed). Tweets are limited to 140 characters, so you need to be succinct – which is one of the biggest benefits of Twitter and sets it apart from other platforms. You can use hashtags(#) when tweeting about certain topics, allowing others to search for that topic. You can attach pictures or links, but they aren’t easily visible to your followers, so Twitter is best for ‘sharing’ information about your services or specials or directing followers elsewhere (to your website, for example). Others can ‘retweet’ your tweet, which allows information to be spread quickly and easily.
LinkedIn is often seen (at its most basic) as the business-networking equivalent to Facebook. It reports more than 225 million users around the world. LinkedIn allows users to upload professional and personal details as well as business and product information. It serves as an online resume, for you or your business. It’s particularly useful for networking purposes (you can get a quick glimpse of colleagues or others’ professional backgrounds) or to promote your own business and services. Rather than ‘likers’ on LinkedIn, you have ‘connections’.
This offering by Google is essentially a video-sharing site visited by approximately 1 billion people each month. Once registered anyone can upload a video to YouTube, a process made even simpler by the advent of basic technology on smart phones and computers to compile and edit video clips. YouTube can be useful to provide business testimonials, advertisements or regular updates about your services and products. YouTube clips can be easily embedded and shared in other social media platforms.
Instagram is a photograph and (as of June 2013) video-sharing platform, which allows users to upload pictures, apply digital filters and share them with ‘followers’. Like other forms of social media, the use of hashtags(#) in the photograph’s description allows users to search and find photos about specific subjects or themes. Just two and a half years after its launch, in late February 2013 Instagram stated it had over 100 million active users. A image-based platform, Instagram is great for organisations and businesses wanting to ‘show’ their products or services.
Launched in March 2012, Pinterest now has almost 50 million users. You can join Pinterest as an individual or business. Once there you simply create boards (think: pin-boards) and ‘pin’ things of interest to your boards. Pinterest then allows the sharing of pinned items across users. It’s not just about images, but posts or articles can be pinned and shared, along with recipes and instructions. Users can follow others or their individual boards. Popular Pinterest categories include: food and drink; arts and crafts; fashion; and home decor. Because Pinterest is so visual it’s great for businesses or organisations wanting to promote images of products on offer.
Google plus still feels relatively new although it was introduced in 2011. It currently has about 300 million active users, and with the famous search engine behind it, it’s a useful network if you want to rank well in internet searches. Rather than ‘likers’ or ‘followers’ on Google+ you have ‘circles’.
Weblogs (known as blogs) are webpages updated on a regular basis. Blogs usually involve discrete entries (posts) in reverse chronological order. It was perhaps once easiest described as an individual’s online journal (or web-log); however since the advent of improved web publishing platforms (such as WordPress, favoured by Alyte) blogging has expanded to include multi-user sites (like online magazines) and is used by industry experts and businesses alike. Blogs can be stand-alone websites or features on business or organisational sites, and regularly updated (such as our Alyte blog ).
There are (of course) a myriad of other social media services, such as Foursquare, StumbleUpon and Flickr, to name only a few; but we thought we’d just share just some of the basics to see if we could tempt you!
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