Social media today has become a huge influential factor for many companies around the world. Companies which stick faithfully to more traditional marketing techniques risk drastically reducing their exposure – especially to a younger audience who live almost entirely online.. And this is because they are missing the one important piece of information that is relevant to contemporary times, that most people have shifted to an online world.
Conversely, some businesses that do invest in a digital marketing strategy make the mistake of placing most of their focus on creating a beautiful, user-friendly website and investing their time and money on paid search engine marketing (SEM) and organic search engine marketing – known as search engine optimisation (SEO) whilst neglecting the social media side. Whilst we admit that creating and initiating pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns and working on SEO is a must – social media is just as important, if not more in some cases. A good impression is not only important to stand out from the crowd, but serves to build trust.
Remember that trust is important especially in our time, and the more transparent a company is, the better the chances of it being trusted by customers. If used well, social media can help you achieve this sense of trust, and people usually tend to look up a company online before getting in contact with them. Therefore, having an active social media presence such as on Facebook account for instance, where you are constantly posting new content and replying to messages for instance, is already a positive indicator.
It’s not the first time we have come across dead pages with poor information about a company and slow response time when sending a query over a message – and this leaves anything but a good impression on people – let alone help build trust. Businesses which fail to populate their pages with useful information and keep users engaged with their brand result in less and less trust.
It is for all these reasons mentioned above that businesses investing in a digital marketing strategy need to make informed decisions on which media and channels to reach their audience, and commit to them. They need to make sure that once they do choose their main channels of communication, they need to devise a proper strategy to keep the page alive, and post relevant and useful content to its audience.
Who needs a social media strategy?
Everyone needs a good social media strategy – big and small companies. Start-ups who do not devise a proper social media strategy, opting instead to “wing it” only send out completely wrong messages to users – there is nothing users hate more than irrelevant content. Even established companies that have been around for long periods of time, for instance 20+ years, and who have established a name for themselves, need to adapt to the times.
Some of these companies think that their position is secured and get too comfortable in the line of competition, thinking their brand is too strong to be empowered by start-ups or small businesses. But then they are proved wrong in the direst of ways. Even the largest of businesses are at risk.
Take Starbucks for example; the coffee chain had reported disappointing U.S. sales growth for the first few months of the year as customer traffic stalled, and it tempered its profit forecast for the year.
They then introduced their famous “Unicorn Frapuccino”, and many videos started circulating on social media of people trying out this bombastic, colourful drink, that despite its appearance, had many consumers actually admitting that the shake tasted horrible.
Yet the hype kept growing and the differing opinions only helped to drive insane traffic to their stores. Needless to say, that at the heart of it all, Starbucks was taking advantage of the content that was being circulating as well as creating their own, to drive engagement through social media, namely Facebook and Instagram.
Starbucks admitted that the success of this colour-changing beverage which was introduced for a limited time, proved the proficiency of its social media strategy. In fact, Executive Chairman Howard Schultz called the drink “the most stunning example of our understanding of digital and social media and Instagram.”
Starbucks introduced the Unicorn Frappuccino in a recognition of online trend of food and drinks channelling the mythical creature, promising that the drink would change colour and flavour with a swirl of a straw. This shows that not only did they turn to social media to promote their latest drink, but were initially inspired to do so after observing what was trending online, and decided to ride that wave.
And it worked.
So, what can we learn from Starbucks’ achievement?
Starbucks is now contending to a changing landscape in which shoppers are increasingly migrating online. Despite the consumer shift that may hurt some of their current clientele, the coffee chain claimed that its digital efforts, including its mobile app, will only ensure further growth.
This serves as a testament that traditional marketing is definitely no longer the efficient route to take, and that a proper social media strategy should form part of any business’s digital marketing strategy.
Starbucks understood their audience and how to target them – they considered trends and understood how to use them to their advantage… and this is exactly what every business must do.
The world is full of competition, and like the English saying goes, “there are plenty of fish in the sea”, and there are certainly plenty of other companies that can win over potential customers from you.
However, as stated previously, devising a proper social media strategy takes time, and a lot of factors need to be taken into consideration. A good social media strategy needs to be implemented with a careful understanding of the company’s needs, goals and outcomes as well as taking into consideration what works best for what industry/business.
Which brings us to our next question:
How do we devise a proper social media strategy for a business, and where do we start?
First things first, we need to do our research, to understand what works and doesn’t work when it comes to social media in the country we are targeting, in our case, the Netherlands.
Remember that in every country trends differ, and one way to learn more about a country’s trending platforms is by looking at statistics – which is exactly what we are going to do now. We need to understand what platforms our targeted audience is on before we can start making plans.
2017 Social Media Statistics in the Netherlands
According to an article published on Emerce, showing social media statistics from 2005 to 2017, Whatsapp remains the top most widely used user network in the country with 10.9 million total users. While many still argue whether Whatsapp can actually be considered as a social media network, we cannot ignore its massive growth. As such, the app is not used for business purposes, but we might never know what the future holds for this company.
The 2nd most widely used network is unsurprisingly Facebook, 3rd YouTube, 4th LinkedIn, 5th Twitter, 6th Pinterest, 7th Snapchat and – interestingly – last is Hyves – which saw its end in 2014.
So, what do we take from all this information?
Understanding What Are the Best Social Media Platforms for Your Business
Facebook Continues to Beat Its Rivals
Against all odds, Facebook still maintains its position at the top, and remains business’ best choice of medium in the Netherlands as in most countries. This comes as no surprise, as the platform continues to grow in popularity each year – both with users and corporations.
In 2016, 800,000 users joined, and nowadays Facebook has 10.4 million monthly users. Worldwide there are 60,000,000 Facebook pages online and 4,000.000 active advertisers.
What makes this platform so popular?
Perhaps one of the predominant reasons is because the platform is constantly changing and updating – creating new features and starting up new trends lest it hits a plateau. Over a short period of time, Facebook has made significant updates to its ads, introducing slideshow options, and other features. It also introduced Facebook Live, which enabled events to be live streamed, to which millions of people across the world could tune in to.
They also introduced a new function called Instant Articles. This function enables publishers to create and share interactive articles on Facebook;
“Publishers of any type, anywhere in the world can deliver an incredibly fast and immersive reading experience for people on Facebook.”
Facebook claims that with Instant Articles, there is 70% less chance for readers to leave the article – on the contrary there is 20% more articles being read.
Therefore, Facebook seems here to stay – at least for now. Its position is well secured – mostly because it reacts quickly and makes changes even quicker – and does not seem like it will change any time soon.
Video is Today’s Best Form of Content
If there’s anything that we can learn from YouTube’s growing audience, especially after receiving extra 300.000 monthly users in the Netherlands, is that video is the new in-demand form of content.
People are more inclined to watch a video than read a short paragraph. Moreover, YouTube videos can then be shared to other social media platforms as well as websites, which created endless possibilities of it reaching wider audiences.
At least 1,7 million use the platform on a daily basis in the Netherlands – that’s 31% more than last year – which makes it ideal for any business to advertise on.
430,000 Dutch Users are Active on LinkedIn Every Day
Last year over 100,000 new users signed up on LinkedIn, raising the number of monthly users to 4.3 million.
This could be attributed to the transformation the site underwent as well as the launch of a number of features such as the vacancy overview which enables users to quickly see if they have any connections to people working with the company on the job posting – or connections to people who have a similar position – so that they can immediately reach out to them.
LinkedIn is definitely a platform to be on especially if you are a B2B company, for various reasons. First of all, any professional companies should have a profile on LinkedIn as many look up your business on LinkedIn before getting in touch with you. Secondly, it is definitely a great platform to connect to other businesses and to recruit employees with the skills you are looking for.
Instagram Continues to Transform and Grow
In the Netherlands, the number of Instagram users increased from 2.1 million in 2016 to 3.2 million in 2017, with an increase in daily use for people aged 20-39 year olds.
Like Facebook, Instagram is also upping its game. Last year, instagram introduced its own business tools. It also launched the Stories feature which works very similar to the stories feature on Snapchat, i.e. a picture or video posted disappears after 24 hours.
This year, the platform released a feature whereby users can create a mini album in one post – users could select up to 10 images or videos from their camera and edit them with the app’s built-in tools before sharing. The photos/videos could then be viewed by swiping left/right in the order they were selected.
Is Twitter Dying?
Last year Twitter suffered a 10% drop in the total of daily users, particularly the youth; compared to 2015, 48% of teenagers between the age of 15 and 19 stopped using this platform. However, this year things are looking a little brighter with the total amount of users in the Netherlands remaining at 2.6 million.
Therefore, although the number of daily users was on the decrease, the total number of users seems to remain the same. For a time, there were rumours that the platform would soon meet its end, however it does not seem that it has anything to worry about for now. In 2016, they added a quick reply option like GIFs and short videos, and the character limit was changed to more than just 140 characters.
The question remains though as to whether these changes are enough to keep the platform standing.
Are Pinterest and Snapchat Worth Investing in?
Pinterest is threatening to surpass Twitter as the platform has grown from 2.0 million to 2.4 million users in the Netherlands – that’s 20%! And the daily numbers have also gone up by 14%, totaling to 381,000.
This platform works very well for many kinds of businesses due to its endless possibilities; be it retail or service. Pinterest offers many opportunities for businesses, and judging from their swift amendments and future plans, we see great things happening for this platform.
Snapchat became popular among the younger audience in Netherlands in 2016, and the number of Dutch users continued to rise to 90% in 2017. The total users increase to 1.9 million, with an average of 50.5% that continue to use the app daily.
Why use this platform you might ask? Well, for starters, it is a great way to keep users in the loop with “in the moment snaps”. Moreover, the newest development within Snapchat is the option to make Snapcodes for whatever website that you fancy. By doing this, you can easily guide the 960,000 daily young users to your website.
So Which Social Media Platforms Should Your Business Use in the Netherlands?
This, to an extent, depends on the nature of your business. It is useless having multiple accounts with very poor and irrelevant content.
It would be much more beneficial to have a few platforms that would make sense to use in your case, and make sure that they are top-notch and that you invest the proper money and time to understand how you can use the platform in the best way possible to ensure ROI, and how you can increasingly engage with your targeted audience.
Having said that, it is almost impossible for any business to skip out on having two fundamental accounts: Facebook and Instagram. These two, for various reasons, are both very strong platforms on their own, and also work very well together. In fact, they complement each other so much that Instagram’s business profiles and users need to first have a Facebook account to be able to have a business profile on Instagram. This says a lot – and we foresee greater things happening with this perfectly-matched pair.
Whatever social media platform you decide to use, you must keep in mind that regardless of the increase in use of social media, trust is somewhat on the decrease.
What does this mean to marketers?
This means that they need to adopt a different perspective – one which is smart and carefully thought out – a strategy that is substantiated with data, and one that promotes relevant content targeted at the right audience. Simply being present on a social media platform will not do anymore – this is what distinguishes a successful company and a successful campaign from a failed one – it is now increasingly about the people.
Everything we do is for the people, so we need to reverse our strategy from allowing users to reach us – to making sure that we reach them – in the most efficient manner possible. And this takes time and commitment – understanding your audience is a journey.