Shouting your brand from the virtual mountaintops of every social media channel won’t do you any favors. Realistically, most businesses can successfully target most of their core audience on just one to three channels. Any more, and your efforts may become counterproductive.
When it comes to social media, it’s all about strategic selection. Consider these factors when choosing a platform for your efforts.
What Makes Sense for Your Industry?
For starters, indiscriminately bombarding the social media world is ineffective. For example, if your attorney or accountant started Snapchatting or posting artistically filtered pictures of firm members on Instagram on behalf of their firms, you might think twice about their professional gravity.
Second, as a business owner, you only have so much time and so many resources to devote to social media marketing. Narrowing your target improves the accuracy of your efforts — reaching your target audience when and where they’re active on social media channels — thereby improving your efficiency as well. Your business model and tactics will both influence which social platforms will yield the best results.
Evaluating Platforms According to Purpose and Popularity
Before you choose a channel, make sure you understand the reach and purpose of each. The more you know about social media channels, the better you’ll see that some are best for B2C businesses, while others are more appropriate for the B2B world. Here’s a rundown of the purpose and popularity of your top options, including user statistics:
- Facebook (1.55 billion): It’s no secret that Facebook is the juggernaut of the social media world. Assuming you’re a B2C company, a Facebook page isn’t optional — it serves as your social media headquarters. Facebook offers droves of targeted customers who can visit your page to browse products, message you, or chat with you and other customers online. Remember that a Facebook page needs updated daily and generally requires quite a bit of human and financial capital.
- LinkedIn (396 million): This is hands down the largest social network for businesses, yet many small companies fail to take advantage of it. LinkedIn is ideal for B2B companies, as they can find contacts, cultivate sales leads, and disseminate content to position themselves as thought leaders and industry experts. If your content and brand are serious and professional, they will fit in well with LinkedIn’s tone.
- Twitter (307 million): Twitter is more like Facebook in that both B2C and B2B marketing campaigns stand to benefit from a strong presence on it. Twitter is a great place to deliver breaking news to customers or link to content, such as your blog or a new website page. For B2C, Twitter is also an ideal platform for customer service, as long as you respond to disgruntled tweeters quickly and appropriately. For B2B, Twitter can help you cover all three pillars of Internet marketing: online brand strength, online reputation, and thought leadership.
- Instagram (300 million): The photo-sharing channel Instagram allows you to apply various filters to photos you upload from your smartphone. If you have a B2C goods-oriented business, Instagram is an easy place to share high-quality photos of your newest products. Look at whether Instagram’s demographics align with your target audience — according to a 2015 study published by the Pew Research Center, most Instagram users are female and 53 percent of users are ages 18-29.
- Google+ (250 million): According to TechTimes, Google+ is one of the most-used social media channels for businesses, especially for those engaged in B2B operations. Relationship-building is a key piece of success in B2B, and Google+ allows you to create a business page to connect with important contacts. Further, your Google+ content will appear in the search results of those in your circles, potentially giving it more exposure.
- Pinterest (100 million): If you could see your business generating high-quality visual content, Pinterest may be a smart choice. Visual content tends to go viral frequently. That means when you include backlinks to your website with your Pinterest pin, you stand to increase your site traffic considerably. Having your content pinned by only one highly popular Pinterest member could expose your image to millions of viewers.
Finding out Where Your Audience is Active & Where They’re Searching
While you’re almost always wise to join what Kissmetrics calls “The Big Four” social media channels — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ — you can’t just look at the number of users in isolation. It’s more important to find out where your specific audience is, and, more importantly, where they’re most active.
Facebook once again takes the cake overall, with 1.55 billion monthly active users and 1.39 billion daily active users. For B2C companies, numbers like those are hard to pass up as long as you consider the idiosyncrasies of your target audience. For instance, if you sell crafts, handmade jewelry, etc., you’ll likely find that your target customers are more active on Pinterest than Facebook.
Keep in mind that the utility of social media extends far beyond posting and sharing content — it also functions as a search tool. That brings us to the last question you need to ask in selecting a social media channel: “Where are my target customers searching?” According to Kissmetrics, millions of people search Google, Facebook, and Twitter every hour. The more active you are on these channels, the more likely your content is to appear in users’ search results.
Playing the Long Game
Remember, even with wisely chosen channels, you won’t see results from your social media marketing efforts overnight. Internet marketing requires you to play the long game and make long-term investments, but the benefits you’ll reap over time will repay you in spades. Make sure you put your time in as frequently as your channel and audience demand — that might mean tweeting every few hours, updating your Facebook page every day, or posting new content on LinkedIn every week.
In other words, finding the right social media channels for your business is only the beginning. The real work then begins. The key is to stay consistent and stay engaged. Because you’ve focused your efforts on the right platforms, your efficiency eventually will help you realize strong returns.