Ever since its early days in the 1990s, social media has become an integral part of our days. Almost 3.2 billion people now use a social media platform, an increase of 13% since last year. For business owners, social media offers an unparalleled opportunity to interact with customers. But not all social media is made equal. Picking the right social media platform is critical to your business’ success. Being on all the social media platforms might not be the best strategy – especially if you cannot dedicate the resources to focus on each of them.
As a start, let’s run through the different social media platforms currently available.
In the first quarter of 2018, Facebook had over 2.19 billion monthly active users. It’s one of the most popular and well known social media platforms and is a very popular option for businesses as a result. Facebook offers paid advertising as well as organic posting. It’s paid advertising offers good targeting options. However, the organic reach of posts is under constant threat from Facebook’s algorithm changes. Many proclaim that organic reach is pretty much dead at this point, so if you want exposure on the platform, you’re going to need to pay for it.
YouTube is a video sharing network which has over 1.5 billion users. Video is growing in popularity as a marketing tool, so YouTube can make sense for some businesses. Indeed, some people have built businesses off the back of the platform (beauty vlogger Zoella, for example). However, over 400 hours of video are uploaded to Youtube every minute. Cutting through the noise needs a lot of time and resource investment. If you’re determined to make it on YouTube, you’ll need some video kit, a strategy, and to have something unique to teach audiences.
Whereas YouTube deals with video, Instagram believes that a picture paints a thousand words. Users share images of their lives in a newsfeed, along with time-limited ‘stories’ of their day and short videos. Instagram usually works best for businesses which directly target consumers. It also works well if you have a highly visual product and can promote a certain lifestyle around it. It’s usually not enough to post pictures of your product. Instead, you’ll need to share varied shots of your business and the lifestyle you’re promoting through it. Getting your Instagram right will usually require investment in a dedicated Instagram strategy that looks at your post regularity, the type of images you share, filters, your stories, and your hashtag use.
Twitter used to be the social media platform where you’d share updates on your day in 140 characters or less. Since November 2017, it expanded its character limit to 280. Brevity is still king on the platform. It’s ideal for short updates on your business, from product announcements to behind-the-scenes snapshots. Twitter works for both business-to-consumer and business-to-business audiences.
Pinterest offers users the ability to share and save ‘pins’ on online boards. Users can sort pins according to different interests. It seeks to provide inspiration for users, and that makes it extremely powerful for some businesses. Like Instagram, Pinterest is image-based. If you want to excel on it, you’ll need to invest in some good images. Infographics also do well on the platform. It’s particularly good for businesses marketing directly to consumers.
LinkedIn is well known as the social media platform for work. It has approximately 467 million users. Generally speaking, LinkedIn is good for businesses that target other businesses. But with a bit of clever thinking, business-to-consumer companies can also take advantage of it – especially if they are seeking investment or partnerships. LinkedIn offers the ability to create company pages and send updates from the business. However, it also works well for thought-leadership and growing senior employee’s profiles. The paid advertising option is worth exploring as well. It doesn’t just allow ads in newsfeeds, but you can also send sponsored InMail to your target audience.
Snapchat is a mobile messaging platform that allows users to share videos and images about their lives. Those messages disappear within a few seconds. 187 million people logged onto the platform every day in late 2017. It has a younger demographic compared to other social platforms and that makes it attractive to businesses that target Millennials and the generations after them. Because of its format, Snapchat offers more candid and natural posts compared to other platforms. It can be seen as more genuine and in-the-moment.
There are other social media platforms that businesses can explore. Weibo is a popular social platform in China. There’s also Reddit, Vero, and Musical.ly, amongst others. It can be worth exploring some smaller social networks, especially if they closely match to your business’ niche.
Your audience comes first
When choosing which social media platforms to publish on, start with your audience. Work out what platforms your target customers spend their time on. Also consider how much time and resources you can commit to a platform. If your resources are limited then only go on one or two platforms to begin with.
Once you’ve chosen your social media platforms, make sure you always review their performance. Social media networks always change their algorithms and requirements. What previously worked on one, might not work in the future. Likewise, don’t assume that what works on Twitter will work on Facebook and vice-versa. You need to create content that is optimised for each platform.
Social media is a valuable tool for every business. But it needs to be done right. You need to learn the nuances of each social media platform and determine what works best with your audience. Through social media you can reach a wider audience than ever before. Don’t discount it and don’t be scared of it. Be open to its many opportunities.
If you need some help with setting up and managing your social media then let us know. We offer a range of social media services across all the major platforms including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn.