Choosing social media platforms
So why should a small business even bother choosing social media platforms? The number one reason: IT IS HERE TO STAY. Consumers are looking to social media to connect with and research brands more and more.
The challenge is choosing the right platforms for your business. The number of choices out there is staggering. You only have so many hours in a day so being active on all of them is not the best marketing approach. You need to focus your time and resources on those that will work best for your business.
How many depends on the time and resources you can commit to being active, engaged, and produce quality content. If you are DIYing your social media I recommend starting with one. Once it is growing in followers and engagement you can add another platform. I would not go beyond 3 platforms. Your content quality and customer engagement will suffer if you spread yourself too thin.
If you have the budget you can out source you social media marketing to an agency or hire your own social media manager. Choosing social media platforms is then only limited by your budget. There are agencies and consultants who specialize in both large & small business. A word of caution: be involved in choosing social media platforms. You need to make sure you are not wasting time and money on platforms that don’t fit your business.
The growth in the number of platforms has made this decision more complicated so I made it easy with 4 steps to follow.
- Define Your Target Audience
- Set Up Your Social Media Goals
- Define Your Social Media Style
- Identify Your Skills
1. Define Your Target Audience
Answer this question first: On what social media platforms is your target audience actively engaging ? You can post lots of quality content but if you audience is not there your valuable time and resources are wasted. Answer questions like what do are they doing while on the platform, who are they engaging with, and how do they interact with the platform.
If you have do not know who your target audience then read and follow the steps in my blog: https://www.jerrigailcreates.com/three-steps-to-define-your-target-audience/
2. Set Up Your Social Media Goals
Every business is on social media for different reasons and it can change over time. Goals tighten focus and help you measure success. Different platforms are better suited for certain marketing goals. It doesn’t mean you can accomplish other goals on them but it does give you a way to narrow the field. Here is a list of a few common marketing goals;
- Build a Community
- Attract New Customers
- Brand Recognition
- Nurture Existing Customers
There are many more. If you have set up your social media goals then read and follow the steps in my blog: https://www.jerrigailcreates.com/how-to-set-up-social-media-goals/
3. Define Your Social Media Style
Does the platform fit your personality? Success will only come if you show up consistently on the platform. If you don’t like it chances of you staying with it is slim. Consider the engagement style and posting requirements of each platform. Is a lot of engagement expected by users? Do users want comment type or direct message conversation? How often do you need to post? Do posts need to be personal?
4. Identify Your Skills
Do you have the skills? Each platform needs different content. You need to produce valuable and quality content to grab attention. If the platform requires lots of video but you find video difficult that may not be the best use of your skills. If it feels difficult staying consistent is difficult. Does it need lots of video or creative images? Does it need to be all original content or can you repost others? Research what type content performs best before choosing a social media platform.
Knowing the basics of a platform helps you in choosing social media platforms. To help you get started I wrote an overview of the 6 most popular platforms.
Still the king. Everyone knows it by name. It has the largest number active uses at over 2.3 billion. It is not niche, industry, or age specific. Compared to other platforms it is low maintenance. Posting once daily or 3 to 4 times a week is fine with fans. Most engagement goes on in groups and direct messages. The bulk of engagement is in groups where you connect with your community.
Two of its major uses are to build communities using groups and the promoting local events. Groups are very popular and brings those with common interest together. Here are just a few of examples of how to use a groups: a lead magnet for course, email lists, and nurture current customers. The events feature is an excellent way for business to promote local events they have going on.
One big draw back is the low percent of organic reach on Facebook page posts. You must pay to gain large reach numbers.
You have many posting options that work when it comes to Facebook. Text, video, live video, images, polls, and stories are available. Videos and interactive posts do well on Facebook.
YouTube is all about on demand video. It has around 1.9 billion users, where people view, upload, rate, share and comment on content. Each user has a channel which other users can subscribe too. It is not niche, industry or age specific. This requires at least one video a week. Engagement is limited and generally is response to comments. It is not required daily.
Tutorials, how-tos, and product showcases do well on this platform. It is good to way to attract new customers to your products or services. Many businesses partner with vloggers that already have engaged audiences. They will use and review products in a showcase format. If you have the budget this is a great option.
This platform is generally more time and equipment intensive compared to other platforms. It takes longer to produce a high quality video that an image. It is a big commitment so make sure you are ready for it.
Video is your only choice on this platform. The typical video is 3 to 5 minutes for attracting new customers. If you have an engaged following you can go longer and also create you own TV type channel.
Instagram has 1 billion users and is still growing. Because it is a visual based platform niches like fashion, art, travel, food do well here. Really anything with a visual aspect does well on the platform. The age demographic is roughly 18-35 (67%) with more than 50% being female. Newsfeed posts can be 5 days a week to once daily. Stories posts need to be daily. Engagement is often and very conversational. Forms of engagement are asking questions, polls, comments, and direct messages.
If you have a visual brand Instagram is a must do. Customers come here to connect with their favorite brands through stories and direct messaging. It is a great place to nurture your customers. Another benefit of this platform is using hashtags for discovery. Using the right hashtags extends your reach and engagement.
If you are the creative type who wants to spend the time to create unique and interesting visual content this platform works for you but if you struggle with creativity you might not want to be here. It requires lots of creativity.
It is an all visual platform with the use photos and video in a newsfeed or stories format. This is why those niches with easy photos opportunities do well on Instagram.
LinkedIn has 590 million plus users. It is the most professional of all the platforms so its niche is business and job leads. The age demographic is broad between the ages of 25 -54 and split evenly between genders. Posting is less frequent with 3 to 4 times per week. Engagement is typically responding to comments and not required daily.
Because it is a platform of professionals reaching the a business decision-makers is more likely than on other platforms. It makes it the best place to find business to business leads and become a thought leader. It is also heavily used by recruiters, businesses, and job seekers to connect. .
The challenge on this platform is users are not as active so you may have to reach out users. Those in the job seeking or thought leadership mode are the most active.
Posting articles with text headline and image still works because professionals do like a good read. Video is increasing in popularity on Linkedin and many are using to grab the attention of potential customers.
Twitter has 326 million plus users and is open to all industries and niches. It has a younger audience with 38% between 18-29. Posting 5 to 10 times a day is a must. It is a very chatty and news driven platform. Engagement is in the form of @mentions, replies, and retweets. If you want success here you must be chatting with users.
Due to the ease of interaction on Twitter many business use it for customer service. Customers will contact you with an @mention to resolve an issue or give a praise shout out. Retweets from customers will spread news about you. It is a great tool to quickly get information out. That said ,if you are going to use it you must watch it to catch any negative concerns. Because it is quick and easy platform for information influencers are made here and it is an easy place to connect with them.
Two draw backs are the short lifespan of tweets and the 280 character limit. Tweets come and go very quickly so that means more tweets. The limited characters means some times you must be a wordsmith to get all the information in the tweet.
You share your posts in 280 characters or less and can attach video, photo, links, polls, and more. Some type of image needs to be in the initial tweet but for responds and @mentions those are not necessary.
Hashtags started here as a way to search for tweets on certain subjects. They are still used for that purpose and in Twitter chats. Take advantage of Twitter chats to gain reach and connections.
Pinterest is another highly visual platform and has 250 million users. Users save (or pin) content in to boards to view later. It is niche driven. DIY, recipes, fashion, home decorating, beauty, photography, and self-improvement do well on here.
Age is not specific here but gender is. Pinterest users are 80% female. You must pin at least 5 to 10 per day. These can be pins of other content. It works much like You Tube as a search engine for users so engagement is very minimal.
Pinterest is the HIGHEST driver of website traffic of all the social media platforms. If you want website traffic this is your platform. Bloggers should take full advantage of Pinterest regardless of niche.
You must have custom images on your original content to grab attention. This can be time consuming and you need a creative flare.
Posts are an image or video with a url and generally come form a website. Rich pins are useful because extra information, like product details and maps, can be added to the pin.
Choosing social media platforms: Wrap Up
If you what to see the top 6 in a visual format check out this infographic from Angie Gensler that was posted by Andrew Hutchinson via Social Media Today blog. https://www.socialmediatoday.com/news/how-to-choose-the-right-social-media-platform-for-your-business-infographi/559386/
She has a different view on the posting frequency of each platform but that is ok. Frequency is really about testing to see what works for your audience so you might what to give hers a try.
Remember, the above are not the only options when choosing a social media platform. Snapchat and Tik Tok are gaining young users daily. We did not discuss the message platforms like Messenger, Whatsapp, and Wechat or the article platforms like Reddit and Tumbler. The number of users on platforms is not important. It comes down to where your audience is and what fits your business best.