Despite the hype around social media, there are lots of reasons that contractors might be tempted to avoid it altogether for business use. It takes investment in terms of time and, increasingly, money, as platforms tighten their algorithms to restrict the reach of business posts. It’s easy to get wrong, and it’s hard to do it really well when you don’t have a dedicated social media team in-house. But equally, not using social media could be a wasted opportunity for contractors. Our advice? Use it, but use it smartly. Don’t spread yourself too thin, and target one or two key platforms that best fit the needs of your business and get you in front of the right audience. In this guide we take a look at four of the most popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. We’ll look at which platforms are most suitable for which types of content, and the types of client they will allow you to connect with, to help you kickstart your social media strategy.
In just over 15 years, Facebook has gone from being a site where Harvard University students could rate the attractiveness of their fellow classmates to the biggest social network on the planet.
Audience: With over 2 billion active users, Facebook has by far the widest potential reach of any social media platform – over a quarter of the world. It’s the biggie that everyone and their uncle (literally) is on – so it’s likely your clients are too. 1.5 million users are active on the site daily, so its use is both widespread and frequent. Facebook works well if your business is aimed at a large and broad audience, but its advertising features have clever tools that can let you target extraordinarily specific demographics if you’d like to, meaning that niche businesses shouldn’t overlook it either.
What type of content? Facebook began with text-based “status” posts, and it is still short, snappy content that works best here, often accompanied by an image or video. The more shareable, the better, as this will expand the reach of your posts. So think funny, interesting, unusual or shocking.
- Facebook has an “audience insights” tool where you can easily track the reach and click/conversion rates on your posts.
- People are comfortable using it daily, and the audience are already there so you don’t have to work as hard to attract them.
- It’s pretty much standard nowadays for a business to have a Facebook page.
- Recent changes to the algorithm have made it harder and harder for business posts to be seen without you paying for them. If you’re not paying Facebook to “boost” your posts, you could be creating a lot of content that no one will see.
“Micro-blogging” platform Twitter started off life giving users just 140 text characters for each “tweet”. Now these short, text-based messages are often accompanied by link sharing, images, animated gifs and short videos.
Audience: Twitter is most popular among social media users in their twenties followed by those age 30-49, so if your clients are mostly millennials, it’s worth considering. Men are more likely to use Twitter than women, particularly in the UK. Twitter users are more likely to have high incomes and be well-educated compared to other social media platforms.
What type of content? Despite Twitter having recently expanded the character limit on its tweets, punchy content still works best. It’s all about making content that people want to share – or “re-tweet”. Humour tends to do very well on Twitter. It’s also great for having conversations, so if you want a 2-way dialogue with your customers, Twitter is the very best place.
- Fast-moving and responsive to real-world events and current affairs, allowing you to tap in to what people are talking about right now through the “trending topics” – this can be really useful if news breaks that relates to the service you provide or your area of expertise.
- Allows you to listen to and learn from clients and potential clients – many larger businesses offer specialised customer service accounts on Twitter for this reason, but contractors and freelancers can also make use of this on a smaller scale.
- Because it’s so conversational, Twitter needs regular monitoring. Many a business has seen a social media crisis develop rapidly on Twitter, and there’s no way to be sure this will happen inside office hours.
Also owned by Facebook, Instagram is an image-based social media platform where users share photographs and graphics accompanied by captions. Instagram stories allow businesses to make great use of short bursts of video.
Audience: Instagram’s user-base is steadily growing. Its audience skews much younger than Facebook, making it ideal if you work with young adults or trendy brands. It’s also more popular with women than with men, so if the majority of your clients are female, Insta might be the best way to talk to them.
What type of content? As it’s all image-based, Instagram works best for businesses with a strong visual emphasis. If you’re in design, illustration, media, architecture, photography or similar, Instagram is a natural home for your main social media presence.
- It’s one of the more stylish social media platforms and, done well, can make your business present attractively to clients.
- It has a fairly targeted audience who tend to be quite social media savvy and are happy to engage with businesses and make business transactions online.
- It can be more time consuming than other platforms as you’ll need to produce and edit beautiful images and/or videos.
- The accompanying text to your images might not always get read, so you’ll need strong visual communication skills.
- As with Facebook, algorithms can hide your content even from people who have chosen to follow you.
LinkedIn is a social network specialising in business and recruitment connections.
Audience: Business and career-driven types, especially professionals. A high percentage of users are university graduates and most are of working age.
What type of content? Shameless self-promotion, usually! LinkedIn is the one social network where it’s okay to give yourself massive props for having delivered a project, impressed a client or sealed a deal. You can also give something back by “endorsing” people you’ve worked with for their skills.
- If you work business to business, as most contractors do, LinkedIn can connect you with thousands of potential clients.
- It’s also great for following up connections made in person at events like conferences and expos, or reigniting old professional networks that you may have fallen out of touch with.
- There’s perhaps less room for creativity in your marketing here. Your cat video, no matter how amusing, is not going to play well to the LinkedIn crowd.
Remember, using social media does come with risk as well as reward. You should always obey media law when publishing things online, even if it’s just a short tweet. Luckily, Kingsbridge’s comprehensive insurance package for contractors and freelancers includes cover against liable claims as part of your professional indemnity insurance. If you’re not sure that your insurance policy is up to date, why not give us a call on 01242 808740?