Have you noticed a sharp decline in the number of people who like and comment on your Facebook page posts? With increasing pressure to monetise since floating in May 2012, it looks like bad news for brands and advertisers on Facebook. A report showing how the organic reach of posts has dropped to just 6% of followers between October and February basically means for every 100 followers you have, only 6 of them will now see your posts. So if you want to continue getting your message out there, Facebook has very much become a “pay to play” network. As Facebook continues to choke organic reach with a tightening grip, we take a look at three of our favourite alternatives that are still free (for now!).
Key benefit: Unlike Facebook you get shown in the live feed of everyone who follows you
Great for: Sharing compelling or inspiring visual content
The fact that good imagery generally makes a larger and more lasting impression than text is reason alone to consider using Instagram as a promotional tool. This simple mobile app was designed for mobile users and it works by displaying a feed of photographs from every account a user is following (like Twitter, but with images instead of text). Because the user’s feed contains every photo uploaded by the accounts they choose to follow, your uploads have the same chance of being viewed as anyone else’s. Another particularly useful benefit of Instagram is the ability to use hashtags. Tagging your posts appropriately will help Instagram users to find content which is specific and interesting to them; boosting impressions and attracting new followers (which can be monitored by the use of third-party analytical tools). Once a user becomes a follower there’s a good chance they’ll regularly see your uploads, and when you combine this with the points mentioned above it’s easy to understand how Instagram can be used as an effective brand-building tool. From a business point of view, the app’s biggest opportunity is being able to build an attentive audience on a level playing field that’s devoid of paid advertisements and manipulated feeds.
Key benefit: Build trust and credibility in your area of expertise
Great for: B2B and inbound marketing
SlideShare offers businesses a new channel for sharing interactive and compelling content in the form of a presentation which can be embedded on a website, sent in an e-mail or shared as a link. It’s a refreshing way to show “thought leadership” in your field of expertise while building trust and credibility with your audience. SlideShare presentations are versatile and particularly well suited to B2B and inbound marketing where they can be used in the traditional sense or in more creative ways. It’s also possible to add a strong call-to-action or direct sales pitch while you have the full attention of your reader. The valuable stats provided by SlideShare help the platform to stand out from the crowd as it’s possible know how many people have viewed your slideshow, how many slides they got through and how many times the presentation has been embedded. Not only does this make it a lot easier to understand how users are interacting with your content, it also helps you to improve it.
Key benefit: Use the Google+ authorship tools to improve your SEO results
Great for: Any company who’s keen to integrate social with their SEO strategy
Described by Google as a “social layer”, Google+ allows users to arrange their connections into “circles”, making it easy to share and receive the right content from the right people. But as well as a social network, Google+ is an authorship tool which associates published web content directly with the person who posted it. This is becoming increasingly important in the world of blogging and digital marketing where the aim is to get as much of your content shown to the right people as possible. It’s becoming more common to see a thumbnail photo of a blogger or a Google+ page at the side of search results. Try searching “google+ authorship” in Google and you’ll see thumbnail images next to many of the results. These authors are taking advantage of increased click-through rates while boosting their own credibility and because the network is also integrated with Google’s search algorithm, it’s another factor which can influence the SEO performance of your site. In an attempt to provide users with a more personalised experience when using the Google search engine, content will also appear higher in the results if it has been posted by someone they are connected with on Google+. This is just one of example of how the network is integrated with SEO and another incentive to actively use it.
So there you have it: three free alternative social media platforms to Facebook. What’s important now you’ve gained a better understanding of some other tools is to weigh up the pros, cons and costs involved when shaping your own social media strategy. At the end of the day it all boils down to getting the best return on your investment and this is why we shouldn’t forget about paid Facebook advertisements completely. At the moment it can still be relatively cost-effective and it’s entirely possible to build an audience with just a little bit of time, effort and money. If you’d like to give it a shot we’d recommend experimenting with £5 or £10 at first – you might be pleasantly surprised by how far it goes... For advice on how to best promote your business with social media, fire us an e-mail and we’ll do our best to help!