Let’s face it, most entrepreneurs and startup founders don’t have the time it takes to maintain a super active social media base. Even though there are lots of ways to market your brand besides social media, it doesn’t mean social networking should be entirely neglected or ignored.
So how can busy people condense the time they spend posting to social while still reaping some of the benefits? One of the keys to success is to understand which platforms are the most relevant for entrepreneurs today. Social networks come and go, so it’s important to understand which ones are being used today and for what purpose so you know how to make the most of your social media marketing approach.
Here’s a brief rundown of the hottest social networks going into 2016 and when to use them.
While Instagram has obvious appeal to photographers, it is also extremely relevant for startups and entrepreneurs in terms of visually reinforcing brand identity and connecting with followers by offering behind-the-scenes snapshots. Startups can take a cue from big corporate brands like Nike, the most popular brand on Instagram, and entrepreneurs should study how celebrities like Kim Kardashian, the celebrity with the most Instagram followers, use the platform.
In both cases, the Instagram strategy boils down to using visuals to document the process of achieving something, rather than just the results. Think of Instagram as a tool for furthering your personal or professional brand with images and offer viewers a glimpse into your lifestyle.
To maintain a respectable Instagram reputation, aim to post a minimum of 3-5 times per week. Keep the Instagram caption short and sweet, and be sure to utilize tags to get optimum exposure. This is one platform where tag stuffing is totally acceptable and almost necessary to get more views.
One last note: your photo quality needn’t be professional-grade, but it should be decent, lest you end up being BuzzFeed shamed a la Martha Stewart.
Twitter has two main benefits for entrepreneurs. The main benefit is receiving the most up-to-date breaking news as it happens, and the second is using Twitter to get an instant pulse on how people react to a large event.
Wondering how most people are reacting to the latest Game of Thrones episode, or if an outrageous rumor is true? Generally, Twitter will be your best guide to uncovering the truth. In addition to researching news, Twitter is the absolute best online networking tool at events, conferences, and trade shows.
Referencing the event hashtag can help you gauge the overall reactions and feedback of event attendees. Additionally, Tweeting at influencers or high profile individuals at the event generally elicits a higher response rate than sending them an email, making it a great medium for getting introduced to people at events. While the benefits of Twitter on a daily basis are certainly debateable, you absolutely want to be using Twitter when attending any events.
The merits of Facebook as a useful business platform vary largely. Some entrepreneurs swear by it, while others see it as a waste of time. Regardless of which camp you fall into, there are two aspects of Facebook that seem particularly useful and relevant to entrepreneurs and startups.
The first is the use of the Facebook personal network. Never forget that even your casual, non-business related Facebook contacts are still a network that can produce word-of-mouth marketing or personal referrals, both of which can be extremely valuable. With this in mind, be sure to keep your personal Facebook friends updated with your major business-related accomplishments. Keep these announcements in plain speak so that even your non-business savvy friends can appreciate it, and limit this activity to major events only so you don’t end up blocked or unfriended.
Another part of Facebook to take note of is the group function. Facebook Groups seem to be thriving thanks to their ability to connect specific sets of people and provide an open or closed forum where members can highlight their expertise, or ask for help and advice from other professionals. Your rate of participation is completely up to you, but using Groups can be a great way to generate leads and connect with others in your field. One of the most useful and active Facebook Groups for entrepreneurs is Chris Brogan’s The Secret Team.
Long heralded as solely a recruitment tool, LinkedIn has been making big changes to its platform by giving professionals more reasons to log in besides looking for new jobs. At the very least, entrepreneurs should have a filled out, up-to-date LinkedIn profile since it now serves as a legitimate online resume of sorts.
Other parts of LinkedIn that can be beneficial are LinkedIn Groups and Pulse. LinkedIn Groups functions very similarly to Facebook Groups. Simply search for and join groups relevant to entrepreneurship and startups and use these groups as a forum for connecting with other like-minded pros.
Pulse is a relatively newer feature of LinkedIn that still seems a bit under the radar. An award-winning news app, Pulse News was acquired by LinkedIn and the two became fully integrated in November 2013. Today, Pulse can be easily accessed through your LinkedIn profile and it offers a trove of fresh opinion pieces on a variety of topics, mostly in the business realm. Engaging with articles by commenting is generally a pleasant experience, since every comment is tied with your LinkedIn account, and most people keep the feedback on a helpful, professional level. Perhaps best of all, anyone with a LinkedIn account can publish articles to Pulse with the chance of going viral and getting lots of exposure on LinkedIn. In terms of frequency, checking Pulse on a near daily basis to gather professional opinions on trending topics can be a great way to gauge reactions. Posting to Pulse can take some experimentation, but if you already blog regularly, try replicating that content to Pulse to see if it has any traction.
To wrap up, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are the four hottest social networks for entrepreneurs today. While it is important to regularly maintain these accounts for the sake of social proof and networking, it’s not necessary to be glued to them 24/7 as long as you understand which aspects of each network will give you the best return on investment. What do you think? Which social networks are you using for entrepreneurship today and why?