Especially when you are just starting out with online business and marketing online, there is the first question you need to answer: Which social networks should you be using, what results can you expect from them, and how can you get started for “quick” results. The question is not secondary – the various networks are very different and the results you can achieve are can be tremendously diverse.
So, the decision, which social networks you are active in should always be based on your online marketing goals. But to make the best decision about which networks you should use, you also need to be totally clear about what you can achieve with the various social networks – and what you need to get your efforts on the track to success, quickly.
Here are 5 of the most important social networks for online marketing, basics about how you can get started and what you can expect from them.
As always, we focus on the benefits of using the networks without paying for advertising. There is no question that you can push the benefits of the networks and even make them easier to utilize if you have the money to pay for it. However, even if you can invest some money in getting started with your online marketing, you should opt for understanding how the networks function first before you pay for advertising. Otherwise, you will likely be wasting money.
Although Facebook can present a huge opportunity in terms of traffic and new business, it is very hard to get started on Facebook without paying for your first visibility to gain fans and followers. That is one reason why you really need to understand Facebook and how it works if you don’t want to pay for you initial visibility and are not somehow getting your name seen by your target group outside of Facebook and then redirecting these targeted people back to your Facebook fanpage.
However, it still makes sense to always have an active Facebook fanpage, because Facebook is still the first social network where the most people from your audience will come looking for you.
Image Source: Tough Mudder on Facebook
A huge opportunity are often Facebook groups – and they are often unterutilized. Don’t try to simply shout your message or links to your website at group members, rather try to connect and build relationships. If you get that right, Facebook groups can be a very useful tool to push your online marketing on many levels: Get more fans, get more traffic, get more leads.
Twitter is an underrated social network for marketing. In terms of traffic and lead generation, Twitter should be a must for every online marketer. You can find an audience on Twitter for almost any niche. The processes to grow an audience – and with it traffic from Twitter – are straight forward. If you understand how to provide value to your target audience and get yourself in front of people from your target audience, your account and with it the traffic from Twitter will grow.
Image Source: Jeff Bullas
In addition, conversations and Twitter chats offer a huge opportunity to build connections and relationships through interaction.
The key to Twitter marketing success is (most of the time) tweeting valuable information for your target audience. Keep in mind that the lifespan of a tweet is short and that means you have to tweet a lot and schedule the tweets so that your account is always active. In addition, it helps if you get your Twitter account actively in front of others:
- Tweet other people’s content and mention their Twitter handle
- Create content that allows you to mention other Twitter accoutns, like lists of accounts or people from your niche or expert roundups.
- Like and retweet other people’s tweet
- Follow some Twitter accounts from your niche
For b2b or rather business contacts, LinkedIn may still be one of the most powerful lead generation networks. While LinkedIn may not be the best social network for directly selling stuff to your audience, you can still use it to boost your business. Getting in touch, networking and getting introductions to people from your target audience is an extremely powerful tool. Don’t always look for the quick buck, LinkedIns power is rather in the networking, recommendations, and introductions part of the networking.
Utilize the contacts that you have. Ask them for an introduction, ask them for feedback, consider a cooperation with contacts of people that would be willing to introduce you.
If you do have a budget for advertising, the new Lead Generation Forms may be worth a try to capture more targeted leads.
Image Source: LinkedIn
In addition to the social networking aspect, LinkedIn offers the opportunity to publish content. And while the traffic you can get from content published on LinkedIn may not be the biggest number of visitors to your website, the traffic can be highly valuable if you publish content aimed at your target group.
Instagram may not be the best of the social networks to drive traffic to your website or blog. The reason is simple: You cannot post clickable links to your blog posts in your updates on Instagram. The only clickable link is the website link in your bio.
However, Instagram is surely one of the best social networks when it comes to branding and brand exposure. I have seen high interaction and increase in follower numbers if you keep posting on a regular basis and make sure your posts are on target.
Image Source: Forrester Blog
Again, remember that reaching your target group is crucial. You can post the most awesome Instagram content that gets a ton of likes and engagement. But if your posts are not relevant to your target audience the followers, likes and comments on Instagram will not be as valuable as you want them to be.
Don’t post off topic just because you may get more followers and likes – these followers will not help you to grow your business.
Pinterest is a gem for online marketing that is still hidden for many. Bloggers find a lot of success with Pinterest for driving traffic and leads. But Pinterest is somehow hard to „get“ for people looking for social media success. Why? Because success on Pinterest for traffic and lead generation depends largely on the same mechanisms you know from getting traffic and leads from search engines (aka Google): Keywords.
That also means that engagement in form of commenting is of much less importance – Pinterest recently killed the like button. It is not even the number of followers that counts for success, making mechanisms like following people to get them to follow you back much less effective than on social networks like Twitter.
To be successful with marketing via Pinterest, you have to use keywords at various places on Pinterest: In your bio, in your board descriptions, and in the descriptions of your pins.
You also have to pin a lot and regularly. While the exact time of day when you post is not overly important due to the Pinterest Smart Feed, it still is very relevant to keep your account very active. –That makes scheduling for Pinterest also a must have for success – if you don’t have the time to spend all day on Pinterest.
Final Words on Choosing The Best Social Networks
It is not only vital that you know the basics about the major social networks for online marketing when you are starting out. You should also be aware of your options to expand on your social activity.
In addition to the above mentioned major social networks you should also research niche social networks where your target audience is active. Often the quickest results can come from smaller networks since the targeting may be easier and you may be able to get your first customers quickly.
However, when you are looking to scale your business via online marketing, these 5 major social networks should be first on your list of social networks you should be active on.
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Do you need help with choosing the best social network to distribute your content? We certainly did when we started out. We tried everything – at once. And nothing really worked until we found the perfect social network for our special situation – in our case that was Twitter, but your situation might be totally different.
We created our workbook “Choose Your Blog Distribution Channels” for people like you (and us 7 years ago.) We explain the differences and similarities of the various channels. We tell you what you can expect and what you should consider and guide you to an educated decision which distribution channels you should start with.
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