The Best Social Media Channels For Your Business? Find Out Here

“What are the best social media channels for my business to invest in?” I get this question a lot. There are so many social media platforms with new ones joining the conversation all the time. So where should you set-up shop?

This question isn’t as simple as it may sound. And my answer is never “start with them all and see what sticks.” Instead, I’d say: let’s look at these four factors and then decide.

  1. Why Social Media Anyway?
  2. Like with all great marketing initiatives, be sure to start with a plan. Ensure you have a strong handle on:

    • Why are you looking to build your social media presence?
    • What goals are you hoping to help or achieve by being on social media?
    • What are the key messages, themes, stories that you want to share on social media?
    • What kinds of conversation, communication, and/or feedback are you looking to collect from your followers?

  3. Who Are You Trying To Reach?
  4. You’ll also need a firm grasp on who your target customers are and where they are spending their time.
    If you have a stakeholder persona, that’s a perfect place to start to answer this question. If not, try to determine who your customers are in terms of:

    • Demographics: Age, gender, geography, etc.
    • Psychographics: What do they like? What are their hobbies and interests? What type of media do they watch/read/look up?
    • Watering Holes: Where do they hang out online and offline? What are the websites and platforms – social media & otherwise – that are most targeted to these people?
    • Social Media Usage: What are they posting, sharing, and liking? Who do they trust? What kinds of influencers, brands or companies are they interacting with (or not)?

    There’s lots of ways to find this out – market research, talking to your sales and fulfillment folks, competitive intel, even social media itself can help you better understand your target audience.

  5. Which Platforms Pose The Biggest Opportunity?
  6. The reality is different platforms were created for different reasons, cater to different audiences, and offer your business different opportunities. Before you decide that “you have to be on Twitter because everyone is on Twitter,” it makes sense to stop and review at least the most prominent platforms and how they can help you reach your goals.

    Here’s a quick look at some of the majors:

    Twitter

    Great For:

    • Extending your reach
    • Finding new customers
    • Building awareness of your brand and products/services
    • Listening to what’s going on in the industry and with target audiences
    • Collecting feedback
    • Joining & starting conversations
    • 1:1 interaction with members of your target audience

    Audience Profile (According to this 2016 Pew Research Social Media Update):

    • 24% of online adults use Twitter
    • Younger Americans are more likely than older Americans to be on Twitter
      • 36% of 18-29s who are online are on Twitter where only 10% of 65+ online adults are users
    • Twitter is also somewhat more popular among the highly educated: 29% of internet users with college degrees use Twitter, compared with 20% of those with high school degrees or less

    LinkedIn

    Great For:

    • B2B marketing and relationship building
    • Establishing thought leadership
    • Sales prospecting and lead nurturing
    • Attracting and informing prospective staff

    Audience Profile:

    • 29% of online adults use LinkedIn
    • Especially popular with college graduates and high income earners
    • 50% of online adults with college degrees are on LinkedIn, compared with 27% of those who have attended but not graduated from college and just 12% of those with high school degrees or less


    Instagram

    Great For:

    • Growing awareness of your brand and products/services
    • Building strong brand presence and positioning
    • Connecting and collaborating with influencers
    • Joining & starting conversations
    • Thought leader branding
    • Listening to what your target audiences like, want and care about
    • 1:1 interaction with members of your target audience

    Audience Profile:

    • You’ll find a higher percentage of younger users here than the other platforms
    • 59% of those 18-29 year old internet users are on Instagram nearly double the share among 30- to 49-year-olds (33%) and more than seven times the share among those 65 and older (8%)
    • More female users than male users (38% vs. 26%)


    Facebook

    Great For:

    • Reaching your audience in a highly targeted way
    • building awareness of your brand, products & services
    • collecting feedback
    • joining & starting conversations
    • 1:1 interaction with members of your target audience

    Audience Profile:

    • Everyone’s here! 79% of Americans now use Facebook
    • 62% of online adults ages 65 and older now use Facebook
    • women continue to use Facebook at somewhat higher rates than men: 83% of female internet users and 75% of male internet users are Facebook adopters


  7. What Are Your Content Capabilities?
  8. There’s nothing worse than an abandoned social media channel. Or a company that blasts the exact same messaging out to all of their social properties. It’s at best heavy handed and at worst disrespectful to your hard won followers.

    So before you commit to building a tribe on social media, take a look at your content creation budgets, capabilities, and capacity. Each channel requires a strategy and unique messaging (good news: the channels can work together if you create a strong social strategy from the get go and thoughtfully slice, dice, adapt and reformat content to best match the channel).

    Looking at the same four Social Platforms, here are my recommendations for publishing content that has impact. Whether you hire an agency with expertise, or look to DIY internally, which of these could work for your company?

    Twitter Content Recommendations:

    • Short & sweet messages such as key takeaways, inspirational quotes, pervasive myths, or impactful messages with links to the full story
    • News, offers, and contests – timely content that adds value or interest immediately to your followers
    • Visual content including images, videos, GIFs, and memes created to educate, engage, and inform
    • Interactive content that poses a question, asks for feedback or includes a poll
    • Relevant, interesting, curated content that you find valuable and think your audience will too

    • Expect To Post: 5 – 15 times/day

    Linked In Content Recommendations:

    • Start with your profile! This is a business network first, and a social platform second. Spend your initial efforts focused on ensuring your profile is complete, current, “readable”, and valuable
    • Specific, valuable content that speaks to the business need and value of your products/services and would be seen as helpful, new, and refreshing to this audience
    • Localized and fully customized content that speaks to key prospect pain points, consider strategically @ mentioning a prospect who this is especially created for
    • Contribute to group conversations with helpful, valuable insights and perspectives
    • Strategically curate and share content that supports your thought leadership and is valuable to the audience

    • Expect To Post: 1-5 times/week

    Instagram Content Recommendations:

    • A gallery of beautiful, thoughtful images, videos, and designs/illustrations that tell the story of your brand and sell possibilities, not products, features or benefits
    • Microcontent that links to the full story on other platform(s)

    • Expect To Post: 1-2 times/day

    Facebook Content Recommendations:

    You’ve got lots of options here! On this versatile platform, publish multimedia content that teaches, informs, entertains, and connects your brand to your target audience. Within that broad framework, I recommend that your content is:

    • Short
    • Visual
    • Varied
    • Relevant & timely
    • Memorable, shareable and viral worthy

    • Expect To Post: 1-2 times/day

In Summary

When looking to choose the social media sites that will help boost your business, start by investigating what platforms have the customers you’re looking for, engaging in behaviours you’re looking for, and that require the types of content you can create on a regular basis.

If you’re a large B2C company with a marketing team and a healthy budgets, maybe this decision is easy and you get started on many channels. If you’re a smaller organization or a B2B organization with a very particular audience you may choose to only invest in one channel (or maybe to forgo social media all together!). That’s ok too.

It’s better to have one or two robust, high engagement social media channels than to have a whole suite of abandoned, low engagement accounts with virtually no followers.

Key Takeaway

For social media success start with WHY, be realistic about your content creation capabilities, and choose your channels carefully.

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