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Choosing a social marketing platform

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It can seem like a jungle out there when it comes to social media, with a variety of platforms offering a great opportunity to maximise the reach of your marketing and improve your SEO. With a potentially global audience and search engines taking social media mentions into account, your business can’t afford to overlook these free channels.

Choosing which platforms you invest most in can be a difficult decision, and really there’s enough to consider that I could write individual blog posts on the merits and drawbacks of each platform. However, to make things a little easier for you, I’ve put together a brief overview of the main platforms to help you make a decision.

Facebook has by far the largest audience with one billion active users (October 2012). It’s great for starting conversations as it allows your fans to reply to your status updates and comment on your images. Unfortunately, Facebook uses EdgeRank to determine the visibility of posts and, as a marketer, there’s nothing you can do to influence this beyond posting content which people interact with.

Twitter is an information network which allows you to post updates in up to 140 characters. These posts can be re-tweeted by people to their own feeds, spreading your message to their followers. It’s an art to provide valuable information with such a strict character limit but, with a bit of practice, you’ll be tweeting your heart out.

Google+ is an online information sharing network based on integration of all Google’s services. It’s important for SEO because Google search uses the platform in an attempt to make search results more relevant. Google+ can feel a little impersonal as you can’t send messages to any one individual, but establishing your brand on Google+ now is a huge opportunity to beat the competition.

LinkedIn is a professional networking site where you can build a business profile and collect followers. It’s proving to be a useful networking and recruitment resource for businesses. Individuals can tag their areas of expertise and businesses can search for these tags to find specialised employees. However, membership is tiered and you may not find exactly what your looking for with the limited search provided by free basic membership.

YouTube is a video sharing site which allows businesses to format and brand their own channel. YouTube is somewhat overlooked as a resource by businesses but last year had over 1 trillion views worldwide. If a picture speaks a thousand words, how much can you convey about your business in a video? Producing video content can be time consuming and expensive, so ensure your clips are easy to keep updated.

Pinterest is an image sharing site where you create boards and then ‘pin’ images to them, a fantastic resource for industries where visuals are key. Other Pinterest users can then re-pin your images, so it’s a great way to spread brand awareness. The browser ‘Pin It’ tool makes it easy to share items from websites on Pinterest and no doubt contributes to the platform’s growing popularity.

Instagram is an image sharing and social networking site. The mobile app allows you to create and edit photos, and then share them with your friends, attracting a younger audience than Facebook. However, it has recently received a lot of negative press resulting in a slightly uncertain future for removing its integration with Twitter and announcing dubious changes to its terms and conditions.

Tumblr is a microblogging site and image sharing site popular with under 25s. The Tumblr app makes content more accessible for mobile users so you can catch your followers on the go. Towards the end of 2012 Tumblr had significant issues with outages and unplanned downtime, but hopefully these issues have now been resolved.

Trying to maintain a presence across all the different channels is time consuming, so it’s really important to carefully select a few and manage them efficiently. You’ll find it easy to organically grow your social presence in the channels which are best suited to your business.

If you’re still not sure how to start, we have beginner’s guides to Facebook and Twitter and our friendly Support team have lots of great social media advice. How does your business use social media? Let us know by leaving a comment below.

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