Simple Tips To Understanding What Social Media Platforms Are Best To Build Your Business And Brand

Running a creative online business requires being seen in all the right places but the online world can be confusing and time consuming to navigate. Just thinking about Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Periscope, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, Snapchat can make your head spin. Once you understand the different platforms and the basics of how to use each one, you will feel less overwhelmed and more prepared to step up your online marketing game. 

The two biggest mistakes being made across social media:

1. Not having a clear understanding as a business owner which platforms your target market is hanging out to properly position yourself as an expert. Just because Twitter has over 300 million active users each month doesn't mean its the best platform for YOUR business. Its better to master 2-3 platforms where you know your target market will drool over your content than it is to spread yourself thin trying to use ones that don't make sense for your business or brand. 

2. Trying to use the same content the same way across each platform. Each social media site is unique therefore you can't market on Instagram the same way you do on Facebook. 

So let's talk about each platform and the basics of using each one. 

• Instagram •

I LOVE how the Urban Dictionary defines Instagram:

"Every hipsters favorite way to make it look like they take really classy pictures when really they are still using their phones. Yeah, you might look really cute/old school/vintage/retro, but it's still a cell phone picture."

Instagram is all about the cool photography. With endless filter options you can crop photos and make them look over the top stellar. I like to describe Instagram like opening your favorite magazine. Pictures are worth a thousand words and Instagram is the platform to tell a story through pictures. One of my favorite accounts to follow is Lisa Messenger @lisamessenger. Clean beautiful photos that take you on a journey and are always "on point" with her brand. 

American Express doesn't show you a picture of just a credit card laying on a cheesy background. They show you a picture of a card laying on a beautiful table at a restaurant taking you on a journey of eating lunch with friends and earning points when you use your AMEX card. {Makes you want to run out and grab lunch while earning points on your card doesn't it? #MarketingGenius}

Follow some of your favorite big brands. Study their photos. 

You don't need to be some high profile professional photographer so don't use that as an excuse not to be creative. You can use simple backgrounds and your cell phone with apps to create your own imagery. The key here with Instagram is simple, clean photos that will tell a story that will make your marketing and account stand out from the masses. 

Finding your target market on Instagram requires some simple research of popular hashtags being used by your ideal clients. 

• Facebook •

Facebook is a social networking site where friends and family gather to catch up, share pictures of their fur babies, children and interact on a social level. There are two sides to the Facebook marketing coin: personal pages and Fanpages. 

Personal pages should be kept personal. Heavy marketing of your products, business and services goes against Facebook's Terms Of Service. You run the risk of having your account shut down, especially with hard selling call to action posts {'message me to learn more" etc.} and links to company duplicated MLM websites. You can share your personal story and stories of others, taking people on a journey of the why of your work and what drives your passions. Keep your personal page casual, inspirational and social. 

Fanpages/business pages are dedicated pages for business owners to market their products and services. Create a fan worthy fan page and lead with value while using soft selling strategies to grow your page and funnel targeted leads, people interested in what you have to offer, to your blog where you can build relationships and monetize your content.

Fanpages are very beneficial because the page and content is indexed by Google meaning your page and the content posted to them can be found through a Google search unlike personal pages and Facebook groups. 

• Snapchat •

You've probably been hearing about the latest Snapchat craze. In a nutshell its a mobile app that allows you to send videos and pictures, both of which will self destruct after a few seconds of a person viewing them. 

Its a messaging app that once you take a photo or video, you can cadd a caption or doodle over the top of it and send it to a friend. Alternatively, you can add it to your "story", a 24-hour collection of your photos and videos, which you can broadcast to the world or just your followers. 

From a social level this app is great if this kind of thing is your cup of tea. From a business + marketing aspect you have to carefully consider 1. if this platform is worth the time and effort since the content does not last long and 2. is your target audience, the people who are looking for your products and services, using this platform? 

• LinkedIn •

This social networking site is designed specifically for the business community. The goal of the site is to allow registered members to establish and document networks of people they know and trust professionally.

A LinkedIn member's profile page emphasizes employment history and eduction. It can be a useful tool for the right business, especially ones that are focused on building local connections and networks. Profiles on LinkedIn are indexed by Google. While I do not personally spend time on LinkedIn as I find it hard to connect with my target market, I do have a fully completed profile that invites those wanting to connect with me to other platforms where I am more active like Facebook and my blog. 

If LinkedIn is a platform you want to learn how to use more for your business and brand, Viveka Von Rosen founder of Linked Into Business provides a ton of info and training for LinkedIn and is one of my personal trusted resources. 

• Pinterest •

This was a platform that I discounted for a long time. I viewed it as the place where hobby junkies where hanging out to geek over home decor and recipes but once I learned the power of Pinterest for business owners, I sat up and took serious notice. Now it is one of my main go to platforms to build my brand and drive traffic to my blog. 

Pinterest is a highly unique platform with its culture of planning, sharing and purchasing. People go to Pinterest to plan and create visually appealing virtual "dream boards" and with one click they are able to buy those items. Content on Pinterest is long lasting due to the evergreen nature of pins and consumers are in a warm fuzzy ready to open their hearts and wallets "buying" mindset.

If you are blogging, Pinterest is a MUST. It is a traffic driving force to be reckoned with and definitely worth the time, energy and money to learn how to use properly.  I spent a year struggling to figure out this platform and leverage it from a business perspective. I knew I needed to stop wasting time researching and find a trusted source for quality training and in doing so I went from 10 followers to over 2,000 and Pinterest is now driving over 80% of my traffic. To say its been a game changer is an understatement.   

• Twitter •

Twitter is a social networking news wire platform that enables users to send and read short 140-character messages called "tweets". The most important takeaway for this platform is that it is probably the most cutthroat platform where your content disappears the fastest. 24 minutes on average disappear fast. 

Twitter is a platform that you look long and hard at before spending the time to learn and master it. Is your target market there? How can you interact with them? Can you create the right content, short valuable bursts of info to engage with them? 

If after careful research you decide this platform is definitely worth diving into Jen Lehner is a trusted Twitter rockstar. Visit her blog and check out her Twitter courses.

• Periscope •

Periscope is a live streaming video mobile app purchased by Twitter in February of 2015 and has been all the rage since its official launch on March 26, 2015. Periscope enables you to "go live" from your mobile device anytime, anywhere. Its like your own "on the go" broadcasting system streaming video and audio to viewers who join your broadcast. 

Once the broadcast is over, the replay is available for 24 hours. After that, the content is removed from the app but don't fret, each broadcast can be saved to your mobile device and published online just like any other video. 

If you are looking to take your Periscope game from drab to fab, Kim Garst has a FREE Periscope 101 Jumpstart Guide than can give you all the deets. 

• YouTube •

If you have ever watched a video, you are familiar with YouTube, a free video sharing website where you can not only watch videos but create and upload your own videos to share with others. It was created in 2005 and is now one of the most popular sites on the Web with visitors watching around 6 BILLION hours of video every month. 

YouTube ranks up there with Pinterest in that the content that you create is evergreen and indexed by Google. When you upload a video to your YouTube channel it can be found and watched over and over and over. Its a powerful platform for driving traffic to your website/blog. You need a gmail account to create your own YouTube channel and upload your own videos.

It may take pushing yourself out of your comfort zone to get comfortable recording videos but well worth it to take your business and brand to the next level.

Building a business does not have to be overwhelming when you know how and where to strategically spend your time to connect with the right audience and provide value rich content that will connect with your tribe on a personal level and keep them coming back for more time and time again. 

• Bonus #RockYourBiz Tip •

Ensure that your social media accounts are centered around YOU and your personal brand. One of the worst mistakes I see online comes from those in the direct sales/network marketing industry who are creating accounts centered around a company and brand that is not their own "Susie Jones, Independent Rep With XYZ Company" or "Susie XYZ Company Jones". Build YOUR online brand, not someone else's. Use your authenticity to build quality relationships. Always lead with #TheBrandOfYou.

Were these social media tips helpful? Do you have a better understanding of how to use each platform to attract your tribe and grow your online community? If so, leave me a comment would love to hear from you and I would be so grateful for you to pay it forward and share with other creative women in business.

P.S. Are you struggling with social media to build your business and brand? Learn more about The Creative Gristmill mentorship community. Would be honored to you! xo

April Williams is the Creative Momista and Soulpreneur of 2 boys + whimsical wavemaker + creative expressive + Texas country girl + branding junkie who loves green mint tea + horses + fuzzy socks + surrounding herself with high achieving amazing women + peppermint anything + the color red + cozy coffee shops. She is a business coach for creative women in business and founder of Creative Brandista™.

Imagine. Create. Inspire.