When developing a social media strategy for your business, one of the first questions to identify will most likely be “Where do I begin?” With so many social media platforms out there, it can be a daunting task to determine which one best suits your business and its needs.
On a rudimentary level, there are about seven primary social media platforms: Pinterest, Facebook LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram and Google+. It would be unrealistic, and in poor strategy, to attempt to develop a presence for your business on every one. As opposed to having a poor representation on every platform, it is in your best interest to choose a few to develop. In fact, a report compiled by BI Intelligence backs up the idea of “less is more” when it comes down to platform presence, citing that some platforms are just not ideal for certain brands.
Use this as a quick guide to not only understand on a basic level what each platform offers, but to also decide which will be best for your company.
With 68 percent of users being female, Pinterest is a content sharing platform that allows users to “pin” photos and videos with direct links to the content’s source. Pinterest is especially useful for companies whose message or deliverables are highly visual. Much of what is “pinned” are recipes, fashion, DIY projects, home décor, and travel.
Being almost entirely driven by visuals, Instagram allows users to share photos and videos of either themselves or shared content. It also allows for users to “discover” shared trends and images through hashtags and categorization.
While Twitter also employs the hashtag, it is primarily, if not all, information-based. Twitter is perfect for businesses looking to contact customers directly with news, information, and questions or concerns.
By far the powerhouse of the platforms, you can rightfully assume that most of your audience will be on Facebook. A “neutral” platform because it combines text and visual, Facebook can be a great tool to connect with your customers. Originally intended and still used as a true social networking platform, Facebook is ideal for every type of business. I would recommend not leaving it out of your strategy no matter your message.
Another neutral, this platform allows and encourages both visual and informational content. It is especially useful in targeting and connecting with a specific niche group of people by utilizing its “Circles” functionality.
A visual platform, YouTube is strictly for sharing and connecting through video-based content. When used correctly, YouTube has the potential to make a large impact on customers, with the phenomenon of viral videos. If you produce something great and engaging, your customers will likely share it.
The professional networking site, LinkedIn is a great way to initiate and nurture connections in the business world. Users can join groups and discussions, primarily focused on industry and can also follow and connect with brands and businesses.
Visual vs. Informational
One of the major determining factors in deciding which platforms are best for you is the concept of visual versus informational. Most of the major platforms can be categorized by being based in visuals, text, or a combination (neutral.)
Is your company message and product offering more visuals, or is it mostly text-based? For instance, a chef or photographer would have much greater success with a strategy stressing Pinterest and Instagram over a dry cleaners who implements the same strategy.
On the other hand, perhaps you are an IT provider or research-based company with content that is heavier on information. Utilizing Twitter to spread new information as it happens can help your brand demonstrate industry expertise, while posting an image on Instagram most likely will not be very relevant.
Match Your Audience Demographics
While understanding whether your business is visual, informational or a combination is an important step, you also want to determine your audience. Who are you trying to reach? Understanding your demographics is key in developing a social media strategy. Start by understanding your customers’ age range, location, interests, and habits. Then take this information and apply it to the demographics of the proposed social media platforms. For example, if your target audience is men in their 40s, incorporating Pinterest may not be your best option.
Determine Your “Sales” Goal
Lastly, in determining the best social media platform for your business, you want to decide your “sales” goal. Is your goal to increase brand awareness and customer connection? Or are you actually trying to sell a specific product? The answer will greatly determine which platform focus and strategy would be best for that specific campaign. Depending on other factors, platforms that mostly thrive on social connecting, for example Twitter, may not be your best resource for the sale of a specific product; however, they could be great for building brand awareness.
With so much content out there, the task of grabbing and keeping the attention of customers and potential customers is only getting harder. If your business has great content but it is in the wrong place, not only will it be ignored, you will also start to lose credibility. Content in the wrong place can come across as irrelevant and “salesy.” Implementing platform identification as a part of your social media plan is just a start but a necessary one. Want more? Check out our latest blog post, Marketing Your Business for Rapid and Sustainable Growth.