What Social Media Works for Business?

I don’t think anyone has ever answered this question in the history of social media. So I’m going to take a crack at it. (Written in sarcasm font.) It is a legitimate question because the landscape of social media is constantly changing. The heavy hitters aka Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have established themselves as the go to platforms in the last few years but just because everybody is doing it doesn’t mean you should, right?

What about Pinterest, Instagram and Slideshare? Are they worth the effort? Can’t we just answer the phone and get on with doing business? What in tarnation is a hashtag? What is tarnation?

  1. (on social media sites such as Twitter) a word or phrase preceded by a hash or pound sign (#) and used to identify messages on a specific topic.
    “spammers often broadcast tweets with popular hashtags even if the tweet has nothing to do with them”

That clears that up. Now on to the rest of the post.


Via Hubspot

Via Hubspot

Let’s start with the 800 lb gorilla or the 1.3 billion user network. Basically 57%  United States’ population is posting cat videos for their friends to laugh at while they’re supposed to be working. While “lolcats” are a great service to mankind how does this work out for the business user?

It turns out that Facebook is an important piece of the marketing puzzle according to a Hubspot study.

  • 42% of marketers says it is critical or important to their business.
  • 73% of B2C companies got customers via Facebook; 42% for B2B.
  • 80% of US social network users prefer to connect to brands via Facebook.

Some other realities learned from the study include: auto-posting is not very effective, lead generation is difficult and the retail industry is most successful in acquiring new leads via Facebook.

If you are going to use Facebook, try to do so in the most effective way. Buffer has complied some stats that give us insight on what works best for engaging customers on Facebook. Think about utilizing some of these tactics on your next post:

  • Photo posts get 39% more interaction.
  • Shorter posts get 23% more interaction.
  • Using emoticons increases comments by 33%.
  • Question posts get 100% more comments.
  • 35% of facebook fans like a page so they can participate in contests.
  • 42% of fans like a page to get a coupon or discount.

Advertising has become a huge part of social media and Facebook is no different. This cuts through having to go out and find your target audience the old fashioned way via shares and likes. Facebook ads have gotten more effective, as well. As of the first quarter of 2014, clickthrough rates were up 160% from the first quarter of 2013. With this success the rates have also increased. During the 2013 holiday season the rates increased 120% over 2012. According to Adobe, 75% of the social media referral traffic to retail sites are being generated by Facebook Ads. So, Facebook is winning.


Via Buffer

Via Buffer

In reality, Twitter is more of an information network than a social media network. News spreads fast  through the 750 million users. If you’re a recognizable brand and you drop the ball, the entire internet will know in 1.3 seconds — scientific fact. As we all know, good news will not disseminate as quickly and your tweet about your awesome new product won’t spread at all … unless your Apple.

In order to get the most out of your business experience on Twitter there are some best practices to follow.

First of all make sure you have someone dedicated to the cause of tweeting. Make sure they know your business and that they are not a knucklehead. Also, establish your voice. This should be done across all your social media. People like to deal with people. So make it known who is managing your account. Follow people and companies that are relevant to your business and then engage with them. That means retweeting, favoriting and replying. Have a conversation but only 140 characters at a time.

Buffer also supplied some helpful info on how to tweet successfully.

  • Twitter engagement for brands is 17% higher on weekends.
  • Tweets with image links get 2x the engagement rate of those without.
  • Tweets with less than 100 characters get 17% more engagement.
  • Twitter’s fastest growing demographic is 55–64 year-olds.
  • Tweets with hashtags get 2x more engagement.
  • 6% of user-generated tweets that mention brands come from mobile users.
  • Twitter users who mostly use a mobile device are 181% more likely to be on twitter during their commute.

Twitter offers sponsored tweets as their advertising outlet. These ads show up on your timeline based on the information Twitter has gathered from your profile. You can choose to promote an account as opposed to merely highlighting a tweet. Also, a Twitterer can see ads based on their Twitter search. The latter has been more successful since it targets the exact phrase or word that a user searched. Reviews are mixed on whether or not Twitter Ads are effective. Buyer beware.


Via Hubspot

Via Hubspot

At first glance it would seem LinkedIn is the perfect place to have your business social media presence. It is the World’s Largest Professional Network with it’s 300 million users. Of course, a whole passel of that network is looking for a J-O-B.

Today, I received an email from LinkedIn evangelist, Karen Yankovich, stating that LinkedIn is 277% more effective for lead generation than Facebook or Twitter. This information was released in 2012 by Hubspot. Two years is an eternity is social media so that stat could have easily changed. The general idea is that people visit LinkedIn with a business mindset so the content from your business will perform better.

The main three ways to promote your business on LinkedIn are a profile, company page and groups. If you do not have a profile on LinkedIn absolutely nothing is going to happen. This is the gateway to LinkedIn Land just like any other social media site. Fill out your profile properly. Make sure you get a good head shot with a smile. Some of the profile pictures I’ve seen are troubling. Make an effort, people! I won’t go in depth on how to have a show stopping profile here, but there are plenty of resources for that. Just use the magic Google box.

Now you can create a company page. Your company page is completely separate from your profile. If you want your 500+ connections to know about groundbreaking insights your company has you will have to share it via your profile timeline. Only the company page followers see your company updates.

Groups can be a very powerful way to engage with potential customers. You can join up to 50 groups. Choose wisely. What groups are your customers most likely to be a part of? Once you’ve joined, establish yourself as an active member providing real knowledge. Become an expert voice that customers can trust.

Adobe CMO compiled some useful stats on LinkedIn that will help you understand the landscape better.

  • 47.6% of the users spend between zero and two hours on the network per week.
  • 10.5% spend more than eight hours on LinkedIn per week.
  • 64% of all social media visits to corporate website originate from LinkedIn.
  • The ten most-liked brands on LinkedIn are B2B.
  • 38% of visits to LinkedIn are via mobile.
  • The average CTR for ads on LinkedIn is 0.025 percent.

As you can see LinkedIn also offers advertising. That click through is not that inviting. They offer native advertising which is the new rage that allows you to post ads that look like regular content. Facebook and Twitter also offer native ads.

Which One Should You Do?

That’s the $64,000 question, right? There is not a simple answer of “This works for business and this one does not.” Each of these major social media players can be used effectively to generate leads, raise brand awareness and generally make more money. The real question is directed back at you. Are you committed to make it work? Take time to make a plan, set goals and follow through. Having a successful business takes commitment and social social media is a part of today’s business world.

Everybody is not doing it the right way. Opportunity! Someone else’s lack of commitment leads to your opportunity for success. Be the social media voice for your market that everyone has to listen to.

You may be wondering about Pinterest, Instagram and Slideshare as I mentioned earlier. Soon enough, my eager learner, soon enough. Keep your eye out for the next post.

Tweet at me: @mark_markets

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About the Author


Mark is a marketer and sometimes writer. He's trying to get better at that sometimes thing.

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