If you own a company or a marketing practitioner, then it’s a no-brainer: your business’ presence should, by all means, be felt on social media platforms. Every entrepreneur and marketer worth their salt understands the importance of having an online following to promote their products and services.
There may be a long list of social media marketing secrets in circulation online, but the main thing to remember is that having a successful social media marketing strategy lies in understanding which platform works best with your brand.
Top 3 things to consider before choosing which social media platforms to use for your business.
You should be able to identify three key factors, so you do not end up wasting a ton of resources (time is money, and money is time!) on the wrong platforms.
1. Identify the nature of your business
It matters whether your company is a Business-to-Consumer (B2C) operation or Business-to-Business (B2B) enterprise. Perhaps it is a mix of both. People still really do not use social media to buy things.
Social media users are generally at the topmost layer of the sales funnel, meaning they are mostly there just to see what’s up—this translates to them being at the very first stage of the buying process: awareness.
B2C companies have added visibility on platforms such as Facebook and Instagram. You could take advantage of this by visually engaging your customers with on-brand content like targeted blog links or visual assets such as photos, short videos, or GIFs.
B2B companies, meanwhile, will reap great benefits from building personal connections with existing and prospective customers via LinkedIn. Lead gathering methodologies like publishing regular blogs, industry-relevant whitepapers, case studies or ebooks, should be cross-promoted on social media.
YouTube is also useful for both B2C and B2B when it comes to increasing Google rankings. Posting the right content on YouTube increases the authenticity of your brand because it encourages viewers to interact with you and share it on their own social media accounts.
2. Know your target market
Small-to-medium-sized businesses will get the best value for their social media marketing budget if they gain a genuine understanding of their target clients. Knowing your target customers’ profiles is the first step in accurately telling where you can find them. An accurate profile will help you optimize your strategies.
Spreading yourself too thin by trying to be in all social media platforms all at once at the start is a rookie mistake that wastes valuable resources. You want to be as specific as can be when it comes to profiling your target demographic so that you can maximize your digital marketing and advertising efforts and make your budget work for you.
Some of the data you should gather include your target audience’s gender, age range, location, average income, educational attainment, the challenges and problems they face and how they intend to solve them, level of technological aptitude, and relevant interests outside of your product or service offerings.
Having accurate data on your target market will give you the right insight into where your ideal clients spend most of their time online. Through diligent research, you will get to choose the right social media platforms where you can consistently run targeted ads to reel the right customers.
This way, the money you spent on running campaigns with targeted content will be taken full advantage of and make the biggest impact. Your campaigns will be seen by prospects who are looking for what you have to offer, increasing your conversion rates as they are turned into paying clients.
Search engine Google often gets the best return of investment in targeting content in most cases, and for other instances, photo-sharing platform Instagram or social media giant Facebook might do the trick.
3. Identify your goals and objectives for being on social media
Knowing what makes your target market tick is just one part of the equation. Once you have all the data you need, you will have to identify what your goals are for your prospective clients. This will allow you to choose the best social media platform based on your client’s social demographic profile’s engagement rates on every platform.
Companies use social media for two main reasons. The first one is to gain brand awareness to foster a friendly relationship with their target market. Other businesses use their social media platforms to supplement customer support.
Setting up an account for any platform is pretty easy, and you can even build your business’ social media presence with your smartphone, but you will be faced with varied creative content marketing challenges that will depend on the goals and objectives you set.
For example, social media management platform Hootsuite, a B2B company, uses Twitter for dedicated customer support where they encourage users to tweet them for how-tos and answers.
Meanwhile, those that operate in the travel industry or hospitality, such as hotels or restaurants, may benefit from having Instagram accounts to advertise their offerings using visually compelling photographs, Instagram stories, or short clips. For instance, Airbnb showcases lovely photos of their property listings in their main platform Instagram.
A guide to the seven most useful social media platforms
Now that you know of the top things you should consider before choosing which social media platforms to concentrate on, here is a handy guide on the seven leading social platforms that you can use to help get your business off the ground.
With a total of over 2.23 billion users online, Facebook is indeed the leader of the pack when it comes to engaged users. Here comes the tricky part: figuring out how those individual users are using Facebook. It is mostly used to keep in touch with friends and family, by virtually all genders and age groups (mostly women, which makes up 53% of its total user base).
For all its many features that cater to brands and businesses, one thing remains certain: Facebook is an excellent channel for building relationships with your existing market base.
If you are looking to acquire new leads for your business, it might not be the best out of the lot because of its low organic reach and vast user population. But if your goal is to establish a following and nurture your relationship with them by keeping in touch with regular content (1–3 posts a day), then it can work wonders for building and maintaining brand loyalty.
With over 326 million users, it is a fantastic platform for building brand awareness through industry-relevant news, press releases, customer support, or to get in touch with potential brand ambassadors. The platform is also widely used for real-time updates, and a lot of companies use it in combination with offline engagement efforts like events.
Twitter has also popularized the use of hashtags, which organizes conversations. With a simple search of a hashtag, you can keep your thumb on the pulse of your target audience so that you can create tweets and join in on popular topics. With the right, timely tweet crafted around a popular hashtag, your brand can be discovered by news outlets that often use the platform to search for trending stories.
Viewing content on YouTube does not require an account, so it is truly one of the most powerful search engines and social media platforms. To date, it has over 1.9 billion users, but its reach goes well beyond that number because of the eliminated need for sign-ups.
Putting out quality content can be time-consuming and expensive, so it is best used by brands that can truly reap benefits from being there, such as service industry businesses. How-to videos and tutorials are huge on YouTube, as users often search for step-by-step guides to solve a variety of problems.
Instagram is extremely popular among the young ones, mostly aged 18–29 years old. With over 1 billion active users, the image and video sharing platform is one of the fastest-growing social media channels. It works exceptionally well for more visual-based brands that are in the food, hospitality, retail, art, or beauty industry because it depends on images to spark conversations within the community.
There are over 250 million Pinterest users as of writing, which is dominated by middle-aged, female users. It is also a visual-based platform that allows users to save content by “pinning” images to their organized virtual scrapbook.
Pinterest is mostly useful for driving traffic for blogs and ecommerce retailers. Custom images are required, and photos with high engagement rates include style ideas, do-it-yourself craft projects, and recipes.
With a large user base of people aged between 25–54, LinkedIn is a popular platform for older audiences that are searching for jobs or those who are looking to expand their professional network. This makes it a popular choice for B2B lead generation and recruiting companies and is a good channel to establish your brand as a thought leader in the industry.
Vigilance and consistency, always
Social media ecosystems can change in the blink of an eye, that is why you should always be up to speed when it comes to current best practices, trends, challenges, and upcoming platforms that are making waves in the digital sphere. It takes a perfect blend of timing, luck, and some digital analytics science to identify which platforms you should focus on.
You can leverage social media to grow your business exponentially by taking note of how active your target audience is in your chosen platform, how they use social media, and creating a consistent social media content strategy that allows you to maintain a steady stream of content to keep them engaged.
Infographic created by Clover Network, a credit card processing company
Author Bio: Chris Legazpi
Chris is a Content Writer at Globe myBusiness Academy and a contributing writer to various business and finance blogs.