It’s no secret that online media is one of the most powerful marketing tools for your business. Delivering an impactful message is crucial to converting potential customers into sales, but it’s also important to know who those online audiences are and what they’re looking for at that time. One of the biggest factors in that discovery process is where they’re digesting information.
Your audience is most likely not the same across each platform, so your content shouldn’t be either. Each online platform offers specific benefits and features that differ vastly, and it’s important to understand the difference so you communicate with your audience in a meaningful and effective way.
“Every social media platform is like a different room in your restaurant where you would seat different types of customers. But everyone is coming to one house, and that house is your brand identity.”
– Shawn Walchef, owner of Cali Comfort BBQ
“Every platform has a unique audience,” said Cali Comfort BBQ owner Shawn Walchef. “Every social media platform is like a different room in your restaurant where you would seat different types of customers. But everyone is coming to one house, and that house is your brand identity.”
Here’s a closer look at some of the most important social media channels with tips and best practices for each.
Let’s say you just opened a small juice shop. You sell a variety of juices, acaí bowls, smoothies, grab-and-go salads, and wraps. While your main business is juice, your goal is to build a brand that supports a well-balanced, healthy lifestyle.
As a highly-visual platform, Instagram is your brand’s best friend. When it comes to the juice shop example, this is where your customers eat with their eyes. Mesmerize your audience with perfectly arranged smoothie bowls and brightly colored juices. Showcase recipes with step-by-step videos that give your audience a behind-the-scenes glance at the freshness and quality of ingredients in each cup. You can use Instagram stories to give your customers live video content, daily updates, and raw footage that will help tell day-to-day stories about your brand.
“Some of our most impactful content is short videos on Instagram, in the form of Reels and IGTV. It’s important to post different forms of media (audio, video, words, images) online in order to find audiences who engage with that type of content,” said Walchef.
While food- and beverage-based businesses tend to be easier to photograph, there are still a number of creative ways to visually show off your business—whether you’re a landscaper or a real estate agent. Share before and after photos of the different projects you’ve completed, images of your friendly staff and branded attire, or pictures of how your business is working closely with your community.
“Whenever you push yourself to step out of your comfort zone and you conquer a fear, it’s always a good thing.”
– Carrie Morey, owner of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits
While going “live” on Instagram can be intimidating, it’s a great way to engage with your audience. “I had been fighting the requests from my marketing director Tarah to do it for about a year,” said Carrie Morey, owner of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits. “I kept saying, who in the world wants to see me cook? It just is not something that I felt comfortable doing. Then I thought just four or five people were going to show up. Nobody wants to see this. But everybody has really seemed to really love it. Whenever you push yourself to step out of your comfort zone and you conquer a fear, it’s always a good thing.”
Due to its visual elements, Instagram is perfect for brand building. Build a feed that is visually pleasing and fits with the overall aesthetic of your brand. Take photos that are professional, clean, and have good lighting. There’s no need for a fancy camera—play around with professional photo-editing apps and adjust the lighting and color schemes. A great place to start is Vsco, a free photo-editing app that lets you adjust exposure, contrast, and saturation, as well as apply various pre-designed filters to help make your feed look cohesive.
Instagram is also typically ideal for younger audiences. Out of total Instagram users in the United States, 25 to 34 year olds make up 33.1% and 18 to 24 years olds make up 22.8%, which means the tone of your messages and captions matter. Think conversational versus promotional. Instagram is more casual than most business platforms, so write content and use hashtags that are friendly, conversational, and authentic to showcase your brand voice.
One of Facebook’s most useful features is Facebook Groups, where individuals can communicate about shared interests and interact with each other. Facebook is great for creating a targeted business audience and offering them customized, impactful messaging.
Take the juice shop, for example. Instead of using your Facebook business page to blast your audience with the same content as Instagram, use it to build a community and help people who are trying to pursue a healthier lifestyle. For example, maybe you’re promoting a special juice cleanse and offering discounted juices. Build a Facebook group where individuals participating in the juice cleanse can contribute their own experience, share success stories, and support each other.
Twitter gives you 280 characters to write a tweet, which is considerably shorter than any other social media platform. It can be tricky to use Twitter to tell longer-form stories about your brand, so it’s usually better to keep it short and sweet. Sharing industry-relevant news, sales promotions, new product releases, or random thoughts can be a great way to differentiate your Twitter account and use it to your advantage.
The health and wellness industry is a $4.5 trillion business and has grown even more throughout the pandemic. With the juice shop example, this is where you can contribute to larger industry conversations, share articles, voice an opinion, ask questions, and add a humorous, conversational voice to your brand. Use your Twitter to establish expertise. Do you think the quality of your ingredients are superior to other brands? Support your claims with facts, research, and industry-related articles.
“As a business owner you need to establish your own voice on the internet,” said Walchef. Not just about your business, but speak about yourself and share behind-the-scenes content on your personal feeds.”
LinkedIn: Build your professional network
This is your platform to establish expertise in your field and follow other leading industry experts. This is also where you can connect with other like-minded businesses and forge relationships with other partners or sponsors. While the majority of other social media platforms are business-to-consumer (B2C), LinkedIn is more heavily geared toward business-to-business (B2B). Use your LinkedIn to build your professional network, establish credibility, and stay up-to-date with other established experts in your industry.
Continuing with the juice shop example, showcase your knowledge of all things juice, health, superfoods, and fitness. Maybe you’ve done a lot of your own research on the benefits of superfoods, and you write a blog article to share.
The Yelp platform houses over 224 million cumulative reviews, and consumers are constantly searching pages and reviews to find the next business to support. The demographics of this audience stretch far and wide, but the biggest identifying factor about Yelp users is that they have high intent to buy.
A study from SurveyMonkey found that 97% of people spend money with a business they find on Yelp. This means that your business presence on Yelp and the message you deliver is important when it comes to securing customers.
The key to a successful Yelp Business Page is ensuring it is accurate, complete, and informational. Consumers visit Yelp and peruse a number of businesses before choosing where to spend their money, so be sure they can find what they need to know about your business. Make sure your hours are updated, your business location is accurate, and all of your available services are on display.
You can show off your brand and personality in the “From the business” section, which contains areas for your specialities, history, and owner/manager intro. Add an unlimited number of photos to give potential customers an idea of what they can expect from your services or products. Attributes add even more detail to your page, allowing you to share info like “dog friendly,” “women-owned,” or “curbside pickup.” Tip: All of these features are free to set up and use.
There is also a suite of paid tools available if you want to upgrade your page even more. Yelp Connect allows you to share updates with your personalized audience, tailored just for your business. Make it easy for people to learn about weekly specials, see Happy Hour deals, or get a discount with a fully customizable Call to Action.
Returning to the juice shop example, be sure all the business information on your page is updated so customers know when they can stop in the shop and what they might want to order. Use the reviews to your advantage too—when customers praise your quick service and fresh juice squeezes, reply to their review and thank them. If someone has a subpar experience, reply publicly, and try to make it right. This gives you a chance to win that customer back, and it will also showcase your great customer service to other potential guests.
You can also manage your account on the go via the Yelp for Business mobile app, which gives you full access to all business features even when you’re away from your computer. Set up push notifications so that you can quickly and easily see and respond to new reviews, customer messages, and more.
Knowing that Yelp users are typically very close to finalizing their purchase choice, the more you inform them about your business and what you can provide, the more likely they’ll choose you.