Having a strong and active social media presence is pivotal for reaching a larger audience and reinforcing your brand image. There are five main social channels used for online marketing: Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, and Pinterest. These channels, while all extremely helpful in their own right, draw different users and can be geared for different marketing results. This post is meant to help you determine which social media platform is best for your business and how many you should have, with respect to the content that you produce and the audience you are reaching.
Creating a business page on social media is fun, but be wary of spreading yourself too thin. Taking on too many at once is a gamble, because you may not be able to put in the time each channel requires in order to see the results.
The number of social channels you should use for marketing your business depends on what you can handle, what you’re familiar with, and what your product or service is. You may want to start with one, and then add more in as you get as you become more comfortable with the first.
Another strategy is to get familiar with a few platforms at once, then funnel your attention down depending on which channel is getting the most traction. If you’re going to use this tactic, be aware of overloading yourself as mentioned above.
Finding the optimum number of channels is a process, and requires a bit of experimenting for every business. If upon completing this vetting process, you find out that you only one channel is worth your while, don’t worry! One platform is fine, and that may be all you need.
The answer to this question is variable for each company and depends on several factors. Below are some key considerations for choosing a channel for social media marketing.
The great thing about social media is that it provides a community for all. No matter how specific your niche is, you are almost guaranteed to find members of your target audience on social media. The goal isn’t to get them on social media; it’s to reach them on social media.
Don’t make social media marketing harder for yourself than it needs to be. The best social media channels are the ones your target audience is already using. So, before you begin to create accounts for your business, think about who your target market is. Are you mostly targeting tweens? Try Snapchat. Are you targeting stay at home moms with a craving for craft? Get on Pinterest. Are you targeting 28-year-old dog owners? Get on Instagram and hashtag #dogsofinstagram!
Most social networks offer statistics on their demographics. For example, you can see what percentage of users are men or women, what percentage live in urban or rural environments, age, and more. Look at social media analytics like Facebook Insights to narrow your search, but also do some of your own field research to make sure you are using the best channel possible.
If you have already started using one or more social media platforms, check out the analytics on your pages and posts. The numbers can help guide you toward which platform to focus more time on, and can also help you with getting actionable insights from experiments. To look at performance analytics, look at the analytics offered by the platform itself, as well as what behavior it is generating on your website, such as through Google Analytics. Google Analytics actually has a section that shows social network referrals, but you can also use tracked links to see which social channels are working best.
From an outsider’s perspective, each social media platform serves the same purpose: to allow for photo and video sharing alongside a written caption. This is not entirely true. Most social media platforms do have this feature, but each is uniquely designed to lend itself to its specific users and content.
The best social media platform(s) for your business will depend on the type of content you use for marketing.
Pinterest and Instagram focus on aesthetics. You can (and should) create a caption for your picture or video, but users on these networks are seeking visually appealing content. If you can generate engaging photos—whether of your products, end results, happy customers, or unique office culture, a visual platform such as Instagram, Pinterest, or even Snapchat might be a great option for you.
Any business can get creative and find a way to produce photos, it’s more a matter of how much time and effort is required for the photos to produce results.
Facebook supports both visual and written content. Whereas users on Instagram or Pinterest will likely skip over lengthy captions, Facebook users are expecting more text-heavy posts.
Facebook has become a hub for all things fact and opinion, which makes it the perfect platform for sharing your objective knowledge, opinions, and perspectives in posts. It’s also a great place to promote your blog posts and share links to other pages on your website.
If your business is progressive or has access to a high volume of information, procuring a presence on Twitter is your best bet. People come to Twitter to discover what’s happening in the world right now. Tweets spread like wildfire, which is why users take to Twitter to share information instantly and spread their message to the world. If your business excels in short but powerful messaging, or if you’re on top of current events in your industry, give Twitter a go!
Twitter also serves as a solid place for sharing links to blog posts and thought leadership pieces about your industry.
A proper marketing strategy involves a mix of content, so you are likely to find that a few different platforms at once can work together to convey your messaging. Content is not as black and white as these three categories, but they are meant to help you get a better idea on which platforms to look into if you’re just starting out.
What are the more successful forms of engaging with your customers and followers? If it’s connecting them with one another to build community, Facebook, with its groups and events, can facilitate this. If it’s exclusive treatment with loyal customers, Instagram direct messaging or Snapchat flash discounts would be great.
Related: Free Hashtag Handbook
The channel you focus most of your attention on is usually predicated by what kind of business you are. As mentioned above, channels such as Instagram and Pinterest highlight the aesthetics of a post. This is why visually driven industries like fashion, interior design, food, and even home improvement benefit from these platforms.
One of the best, and certainly the easiest way to determine the best social networks for your marketing is to look at your competitors’ social media activity. As you assess their social media presence, ask yourself questions:
The second question is especially important because many companies have a profile on every medium, but are less active on the ones that are not giving them results. Whether it’s driving traffic to their site or generating leads, there’s a reason they’re more active on one channel over another— so take note of their active profiles.
Engagement is crucial because it shows there’s an active audience. Engagement is not composed of the number of followers your profile has. Engagement measures the quality and relevance of your followers. Shares, likes, and comments not only help you to learn more about your target audience, but they are also promotions of your business. Having 200 followers who actively engage is a far better indicator to a potential customer than having 1000 followers without engagement.
Social Media doesn’t have to be difficult. Hone in on the channels that best allow you to showcase the uniqueness of your brand. Dedicate yourself to finding an online community within the application you choose, and you will see results.