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Grow Your Business Social Media

Social Media for Business: 2016 Marketer’s Guide

Social Media for Business: 2016 Marketer’s Guide
Credit: Gonzalo Aragon/Shutterstock

Social media networks are fantastic resources for businesses of all sizes looking to promote their brands online. The platforms themselves are free to use, and they also have paid advertising options specifically for brands that want to reach even more new audiences. But just because your business should be on social media, that doesn't mean your business should be on every network. It's important that you choose and nurture the social platforms that work best for your business so that you don't spread yourself too thin.

If you want to create a successful social strategy, you need to familiarize yourself with how each network runs, the kinds of audiences you can reach and how your business can best use each platform. We profiled the top social media platforms so you can learn more about them and market your business better.

Facebook is the biggest social network on the Web, both in terms of name recognition and the total number of users. With more than 1.55 billion active users, Facebook is a great medium for connecting people from all over the world with your business. And Facebook is not only the biggest network, but it's arguably the most versatile one. In the 12 years since it launched, Facebook grew from a simple website where college students could keep in touch into a multifaceted Web and mobile social platform where anyone can connect with not just their friends and family, but also with celebrities, organizations, businesses and more, thanks to the Pages feature.

Considering that Facebook has a wealth of options for any type of organization, it's a great starting point for your business, regardless of your industry. You can use it to share photos, videos, important company updates and more. Additionally, Facebook can be more low-maintenance than other social networks — whether you post several updates a day or only a few a week won't make much of a difference in terms of what your fans will think of you. To find out more about Facebook for business, check out our guide.

Editor's Note: Looking for information on social media marketing for your business? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partner will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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Twitter is another social network where you can post mostly anything. With Twitter, you can share short (140 or fewer characters) text updates, along with videos, images, links, polls and more. You can also easily interact with other users by mentioning their usernames in your posts, so Twitter is a great way to quickly connect with people all around the world. (The platform has more than 320 million active users worldwide and is one of the top 10 websites in the United States.) Because of its wide reach, Twitter is not only a great way to market your business but also an effective channel for handling customer service. For example, if you maintain an active Twitter presence, customers who are also active on the platform will seek you out to express concerns or share their praise.

If you have interesting content, Twitter is also a great tool for quickly spreading the word. Retweeting and sharing other users' content is incredibly simple, hashtags help boost posts, and if a user with a lot of followers retweets you, your content has the potential to go viral. But with Twitter, it's important to remember to find balance — don't simply share your own links or media; make sure you are also sharing a lot of interesting, relevant content from other Twitter users and from around the Web so your audience doesn't think you only care about what your business is doing. Check out our guide to learn more about using Twitter for business.

This platform consists of digital bulletin boards where users can save and display content they like in the form of pins. Users create and organize their boards by category. So, for example, as a personal user, one might have a board dedicated to food, where they pin recipes; another board dedicated to photography they find interesting; and so on. Pinterest is very visually oriented (every post has to be an image or video), and like Facebook, it is also fairly low-maintenance in terms of post frequency. However, keeping your boards organized and search-friendly can be time-consuming.

Pinterest is also more of a niche network than Facebook or Twitter, so it may not work for everyone. Pinterest's users are primarily women, and popular categories on the site are DIY projects, fashion, exercise, beauty, photography and food. That's not to say that businesses outside of these categories can't succeed on the platform, but it does make it a great marketing tool for businesses that do work in those areas. If you can find ways to connect your content to Pinterest's audience, then go for it. The platform also has a series of special types of pins called Rich Pins, which brands can use to add special information to their pins, like product details and even location maps. There are plenty of cool ways to use this platform to your advantage, and you can read more about them in our Pinterest for Business Guide.

Instagram, like Pinterest, is a visual social media platform based entirely on photo and video posts. The network, which Facebook owns, has more than 400 million active users, many of whom post about food, art, travel, fashion and similar subjects. Instagram is distinguished by its unique filters and photo and video editing options. This platform, unlike the others, is almost entirely mobile (there is a Web version, but you can't take photos or create new posts on it, and other functions are limited as well).

Instagram is another platform where more artistic niches excel, so again, it may not be the best fit for your business, depending on your industry. If you want to succeed with Instagram, it's important that the person running your account has a good eye for detail and has at least basic photography skills, so that the photos and videos posted to your account are high-quality. And don't be discouraged if your industry is underrepresented on Instagram; if you can find the right hashtags to latch onto and can post intriguing photos, you will most likely make it work. To find out more about using Instagram for business, read our guide

Tumblr is arguably the most difficult social media platform to use as a business, but it's also one of the most interesting networks. Tumblr allows several different post formats — including text posts, chat posts, quote posts, audio posts, photo posts and video posts — so you're not limited as to what kind of content you can share. As with Twitter, reblogging (reposting other users' content) is very quick and easy, so if a user with a lot of followers shares your content, it's possible to go viral fairly quickly. However, what sets Tumblr apart more than anything is its audience, which is less like a pool of users and more like one big tight-knit community full of smaller subcommunities.

Tumblr currently hosts more than 200 million blogs, and the majority of these blogs are run by young people (half of Tumblr's visitor base is under age 25). But this means that businesses that don't cater to young people's interests or aren't relatable to young people in some way are not poised for success on the network. The good news is, there's a subcommunity or fandom for almost every niche and interest you can think of, so a successful marketing campaign is possible if you use Tumblr correctly. You can learn more about the Tumblr community and how to use Tumblr for business in our guide

Editor's Note: Looking for information on social media marketing for your business? Use the questionnaire below, and our vendor partner will contact you to provide you with the information you need:

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