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What is Social Media Marketing?

Social media has existed online in some form since 1997. Blogging and profile sharing sites like Myspace and LinkedIn gained popularity in the early 2000s, and by 2006 YouTube, Facebook and Twitter – the largest sources of social media in the world – were all operational. It’s amazing to think that online social media has been around for 20 years! It’s also surprising that businesses have only recently started to take advantage of this popular platform.

There are dozens of popular social networking and sharing sites to sift through, but the good news is that only a few have significant business applications. At BCW we suggest a combination of Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ for most businesses as a starting point. Each business is different, and what works for one may not work for all. Here is a brief guide to some of the most popular social media websites:

Picture Sharing Websites (Flickr, Instagram)

For most businesses these websites aren’t particulars effective marketing avenues. These sites are all about posting photos and exploring photos that other take. If you have a very visual product or services, (i.e. Photography, Art, Fashion, Design, etc.) Flickr or Instagram might be the way to go. Otherwise, focus your efforts elsewhere.

Video Sharing Websites (YouTube, Vimeo)

These site have gained in marketing potential, especially YouTube, in recent years. YouTube is the fourth most visited website on the planet. If you can provide quality video content, this might be a place to showcase your products or services. A YouTube account can also help your SEO and is owned by Google, which looks to make it even more important going forward.

Idea Sharing Websites (Tumblr, Pinterest)

These sites focus on users creating content and other users sharing that content. While this seems like it might be useful for businesses, it tends to focus more on social or hobby interests and doesn’t hold a lot of value for marketing.

Web Culture Websites (Reddit, Twitch)

The popularity of these sites cannot be ignored, but user beware with web culture sites. Without extensive knowledge of these communities, you’re likely to do more harm than good to your brand. These crowd cultures often revolve around attacking things they don’t like, so if not approached in the right way, your business could be the subject of ridicule and notoriety that you definitely want to avoid.

Professional Social Networks (LinkedIn, Google+)

LinkedIn provides a truly professional network, while Google+ is important for cultivating your businesses image on their search engine. These are sites that you will want to target with your business for the sake of presenting a professional digital image. Additional posting on these sites will boost credibility and potential customer engagement.

Social Networking (Facebook, Twitter)

Facebook is the king of social media and most businesses have some type of presence on the platform. Twitter is a growing marketplace, but without proper knowledge, can be difficult to use as a marketing platform. Regular posting to both platforms can help boost community standing, while accounts that aren’t updated frequently can hurt your business’ image.

With that knowledge in mind, you can start to decide what social media might help your business. BCW’s suggestion is to use a combination of three platforms for beginners: LinkedIn, Google+, and Facebook.

LinkedIn is geared towards businesses and potential employees as a way to make connections and find resources. A professional LinkedIn profile can create a great start to your digital brand. Added care can help you spread your brand with posts and other web influencing tools.

Google+ started as a competitor for Facebook, but struggled to find a hold on the marketplace. It now serves more like a Yelp/Facebook hybrid, where businesses are reviewed and interact with customers. A well maintained Google+ can help your standing with the search engine and allow you to communicate with potential customers.

Facebook has a lot of untapped marketing potential for small and medium sized businesses. With almost 1.5 billion monthly users, there is a real potential for reaching customers that you might not otherwise interact with. The platform is increasing their business offerings and a profile can be as simple, or as complicated as you want it to be.

At Beyond Custom Websites have a wealth of experience with social media and are ready to put it to work for you. Call us at (800) 900-0413 to see what we would recommend, and remember that any digital brand starts with a functional, beautiful website for potential customers to get information. The team at BCW can provide custom websites tailored to your needs that will present a professional storefront for your business and launch your digital brand.