Facebook has had a long reign at the top of the social media charts. But 2018 was not kind to it and its practices have led many to call for boycotts. Some users have quit Facebook altogether, which leaves marketers wondering what’s next for social media. It’s a ripe time for a new network to be built with transparent data practice usage and their customers in mind. It’s best to keep an eye out for new channels in case one of them could be useful for your brand. We recommend reserving your brand handles on emerging social networks just in case a network becomes big in the future.
But in the meantime how do you choose the best platform for your business?
As a business owner or marketer, you don’t have infinite time and resources to be everything to everyone. You can’t afford to be on every social platform, but equally, you can’t afford to ignore social media either. It’s more important to choose the platforms that work for you, your business goals, and your customer wants - and then to engage on them well.
So let's get started. There are thousands of social networks out there to choose from, but the good news is that you can start by narrowing it down to the most popular and most widely used platforms. From there, it’s all about determining which platform will give you the exposure you're looking for with the right audience, and figuring out which one will help you meet your marketing objectives.
Here are four easy (ish) steps to step you choose the right platforms for your business:
- Narrow down your choices
- Define your business objectives
- What platforms are your target audience using
- What content does your business create
Narrow down your choices
There are social media platforms out there for everything and everyone, including ones to connect people with shared interests, similar hobbies, comparable demographics, and much more. The point is that there are way too many social networking sites out there to ever have a presence on them all, and your time would be better spent focusing on the sites that get the most traffic. Of all the social media sites out there, the top ones in terms of monthly active users include Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.
Define your business objectives
There are many benefits to using social media, but it’s important to have specific goals before you move forward. For one, your objectives will help determine not only the social platform you choose, but also the content you create, the audience you target, and more. Here are some of the most common benefits of using social media that you might want to focus on:
- Improving your customer service offerings by providing another platform on which customers can reach out with complaints, questions, and concerns Identifying new leads and prospects who are similar to your best customers
- Reaching out to new audiences and new demographics who might be receptive to your products or services Increasing brand awareness and exposing your business to new people
- Learning about the needs, wants, and habits of your audience and customers. Increasing traffic to your site and boosting sales
What platforms are your target audience using
The entire point of social media marketing is to put you in contact with your best audience, so it’s not advisable to choose a platform where your audience doesn’t operate. Unfortunately, there's no Field of Dreams opportunity here where your prospects will start to use the social platform of your choice just because you’ve created a profile. Instead, it’s a much better idea to analyze which platforms your audience prefers and to seek them out on the networks they're already using.
There are a few different ways you can go about finding where your audience is hanging out online, and one of the most straightforward is a simple customer survey. Ask questions like what social sites they use, where they get their information online, and which influencers they listen to. Another way to get information about your audience is through the social media sites themselves. With platforms like Facebook, you can actually tell Facebook about your ideal customers, and they'll estimate the audience size for you. You can also research the demographics of different social media users thanks to the Pew Research Center for Internet and Technology to determine where your audience is most likely spending their online time.
What content does your business create
Different types of content work better with certain social media platforms, so it’s integral that you consider the type of content you like to create and that works best with your brand. Instagram, for instance, is all about the pictures, so it may not be the right choice if most of what you create is long-form textual content like whitepapers. The type of content you create will depend on a number of things, including your industry, your brand, and your target audience, but content types you may focus on include:
- Blog posts
- User-generated content
- Live streams
Once you’ve settled on the goals you want to achieve with social media, determined where your audience is already hanging out and decided what type of content works best for you, you can then go through and compare the different social media platforms to determine which one will best meet your needs. To help you decide, here's a rundown of the top platforms, what they're good for, and what a typical user looks like:
Facebook: This is by far the largest platform, with over 2 billion monthly active users. Facebook is good for lead generation, and its advertising platform can be highly customized to target very specific audiences. Facebook is also a good platform for building relationships, showing the human side of your business, and turning leads into loyal followers and customers. Many different content types are appropriate for Facebook, but the key is content that shows a different side of your company. Facebook (and Twitter) are both excellent for reaching large numbers of people, but it’s important to remember that there's also a great deal of competition.
Instagram: Instagram is for image-friendly businesses like restaurants, clothes and fashion, food, architecture, technology, designers, etc. Because of the dominance of the 18-29 age group on Instagram, businesses with that target market should also be on the site. Remember that Instagram users are all amateur-photographers, so you can’t just snap an image of your newest dessert and expect it to go viral. Put time and energy into your images and you’ll get far better engagement than otherwise. If you’re struggling for content for your Instagram profile, just think about making your business look awesome. Show the fun stuff you’re doing, how exciting and innovative your office is. Also pay close attention to current events and holidays, as Instagram (like Twitter) is closely involved into what’s trending.
Twitter: Despite being arguably the second-most recognised social media marketing platform out there, Twitter is fourth in usage. Twitter is the go-to platform if your business is about immediacy, and if you want to reach out to followers with breaking news, announcements, important messages, and other in the moment information. Most Twitter users are under the age of 50, and the type of content that works best on this platform is easily digestible textual content, such as how to articles, listicles, and quotations. Images perform better on Twitter than video, but text-based content still reigns supreme. We find Twitter works well for our hospitality businesses, B2B clients and for those with international clients.
LinkedIn: LinkedIn is typically the choice platform for B2B businesses, and especially if your goal is lead generation. This is also an ideal platform for editorial content, and it can help you establish your company as a trusted leader in your field, build authority for your brand, and engage leads through conversations. The demographic on LinkedIn is also different than other sites because there are more users between the ages of 30 to 49 than there are users under 30.
Pinterest: Images are the name of the game when it comes to Pinterest, and this platform is great if you're looking to drive sales because over 90 percent of users plan purchases using the platform. There are far more women on Pinterest than there are men, and it’s a graphics-heavy platform that lends itself to décor, food, art, fashion, wedding, travel, and other businesses that can leverage topics that produce beautiful and stunning photographs.
YouTube: YouTube is a video-sharing social media platform which allows users to upload, share and view videos. The content varies from individual user content to business user content, featuring TV clips, personal videos, Video logs (or “Vlogs”), music videos etc. Users who are registered can upload and share their videos, unregistered users can still view the videos but can’t upload them. YouTube is the second largest search engine. (After Google, of course).
- We could add Snapchat to the list but at this stage is it still not a platform highly utilised by kiwi businesses, and with limited time, resource and budget you need to focus on what will drive the strongest ROI. Connect with us if you want more detail on Snapchat marketing.
We've got a full breakdown of Social Media Platform Demographics HERE. And click through for the full Social Media Demographic Infographic.
So there you go! Social media is an indispensable tool for any business that wants to remain pertinent and gain exposure online, because not only can it connect you with prospects who are right next door, but it can also help you reach out to people all across the globe. Beyond that, social media is also an excellent tool for building brand awareness, finding new leads, generating more website traffic, getting to know your audience better, gaining insight into the shopping habits of your best customers, and even improving your customer service. The trick to choosing the right social media platform for your business is all about confirming the goals you want to achieve through social media marketing, figuring out what platforms your target audience is already on, and choosing a platform that matches with the type of content you create.
Unsure of the best course of action for your business on Social Media, connect with us today.