Choosing the Right Social Media Platform

Not every business thrives on every social network.

When choosing the social media platforms on which your business will focus, you first need a clear vision of who your customers are and what your business goals will be.

Once you’ve made these important decisions about your overall marketing and business strategies, you can successfully select the social networks that help grow your business. You will likely be able to see the benefits of all the platforms, but choosing one or two on which to focus your attention will help you have a greater impact with your core customers.

Unless you have unlimited resources, it is wise to be selective. Having a sub-par presence in a lot of places won’t help you grow as much as being active on just a few.

Here’s a brief overview of the most significant platforms and how to know which is right for your business based on the demographics of each channel. Every social media channel may not be the perfect fit for your business, but you should have a presence where your customers spend time online.

Facebook

Facebook is one of the most powerful social platforms in the world due to its sheer size and global access. It’s rare to find anyone today who isn’t on Facebook.

Unlike Twitter, Facebook is more selective in the content is shows, and users have power over what they see and share. With Facebook’s complicated algorithm, only the best content is seen by users. This works for and against businesses, depending on your willingness to create engaging and high quality content.

Almost any business can benefit from having a Facebook page. But remember, Facebook isn’t a place for selling. It’s an opportunity to draw back the curtain and let customers see the personality behind the business. Give your company a face and a voice that connects with fans. Share photos and videos of company events and your staff. If done well, your Facebook fans become loyal followers of your business and advocates of your brand.

Almost everyone has a Facebook account. It is the most popular social network by far. If your business has only one social media account, this should be it. However, it’s best to hold off using Facebook if you have limited time and/or staff members and you are currently undergoing a website. This is because it is best to initially invest time in your own site, as that will be the central hub of your online presence. Once that is established and you have more time to dedicate to the maintenance of a company Facebook page, this will pair perfectly with the new website.

Twitter

Unlike Facebook and other social media platforms where people often pick and choose the content they want to see and responses happen over time, Twitter is “in the moment.”

Think of Twitter as a large group conversation similar to text messaging. It allows people to have one-on-one communication with companies and personalities that are normally out of reach to the public. It is an incredibly powerful platform.

More than talking at your customers, Twitter is a place to hear what they have to say about your company, your industry and their experience. Listening is the most valuable piece of a Twitter strategy. Be prepared to respond immediately to good and bad feedback from customers.

If you have breaking news, updates, questions for your followers, or if you want opinions now or even need to announce a recall, Twitter is the way to reach out to people. It’s for the business that has things to say frequently and prefers to reach people directly.

Who makes up Twitter? Among 23% of Internet users, 25% are male and 21% are female. The most popular age group is 30-49 years old with a college degree and an annual income of $75,000+. If your target market falls within these categories, your business should have a Twitter account to engage with them.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a content-sharing service that allows members to pin or post photos, videos, and other images to their pinboards.

The site has a large and engaged female audience and can be ideal for businesses who have a strong visual identity. Food products, culture and health services and other visual businesses can benefit from the ability to share photos or videos and engage users.

Pinterest may not have the widespread engagement that Facebook or Twitter has, but it has a passionate user base. It is built to support businesses. All images are sourced to the original site and there are advanced options for direct e-commerce marketing. If you want to build a brand with personality, each board and image is linked to the business’ profile page and people can see the brand behind the photos or videos.

Pinterest is comprised of mostly females between the ages of 18-29 living in a suburban area making approximately $30,000-$49,999 per year.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is known for being the digital water cooler for professionals. Business relationships are at the core of building any B2B service and reinforcing significant personal connections.

It has replaced the Rolodex as the place to collect your past and current business connections. While you may not have everyone’s email address, you can easily send them messages through Linkedin, and people are expecting to receive business-related communications on the site.

Perhaps the most valuable service Linkedin provides is its private groups and discussions. Professionals in any industry or service area can collectively discuss interests, solicit advice, ask questions and answer questions. It’s a natural place to show off your expertise and build long-term relationships with potential business partners and customers.

Total users on LinkedIn are approximately half male and half female. The most popular age group is between 30-49 years old. Most are located in an urban area, employed, and making approximately $75,000+ per year.

YouTube

YouTube is a powerful visual platform and can be a catalyst for driving business.  It has become synonymous with homemade or company-made videos. It’s watched worldwide, and people post videos with hopes of going viral.

Video is one of the strongest marketing tools available and YouTube is the primary platform to bring this content to the world. But be cautious, with millions of people now using YouTube, the standard for content is high. People expect professionally shot, edited and produced videos from brands.

Like Pinterest, YouTube is most beneficial to companies that have a strong visual product or service. Videos that are popular are educational and entertaining. They show people how to do something, demonstrate your product or service, or introduce a new or benefit to working with your company over the others in your field.

Since YouTube is the world’s second largest search engine, it is important that your business has an optimized presence with keyword rich video descriptions to help increase search rankings. It is easy to tell the difference between genuine videos and those that are a scam, so businesses should not create videos just for the sake of hosting them on this channel.

Choosing where to focus your social-media energy and time can be challenging. Consider which platforms feel most natural to you and to the employees who will running the pages. A brand’s success on social media is determined by its willingness to share and respond to consumers as equals. Social media works best when you stay engaged daily.