Choosing Your Social Media Platform

The classic million-dollar question for all new businesses: which social media platforms are best for my business? Unfortunately, there is no “right” or easy answer to a seemingly simple question. With so many different social media platforms to choose from, it can get overwhelming real fast when determining which one(s) your business should have a presence on.

Regardless of the type of business that you own, not having any sort of presence on any social media platforms is not a long term viable solution for success. There’s very few businesses that aren’t on social; most businesses consider social media to be a core part of their marketing strategy. So much so that 9 out of 10 businesses maintain an active social media presence. When done well, social media has tremendous benefits for any business: improve search rankings, drive website traffic, increase your conversions, and further your brand image/loyalty.

However, just because social media can have huge successes for companies, that doesn’t mean your business should be on every single platform. The reality is, it’s virtually impossible to have an active presence on every platform due to time and effort constraints, and it’s not recommended because it becomes that much harder to do every platform well. That being said, let’s take a look at some other key considerations when determining what social media platforms your business should be on.

social media infographic: Pinterest demographic is 68% female with 70 million users, Twitter is most popular in the US with 560 million users, Facebook has 1 billion users, Instagram recommends using hashtags with 150 million users, Google+ recommends building circles with 400 million users, LinkedIn is B2B with 79% of users older than 34 with 240 million active users

Where on social media can most of your customers be found?

It wouldn’t make too much sense to be on a platform where the majority of your customers are not on, would it? First, identify who your target market is and what social media platforms they spend the most time on. Each social media platform’s users’ activity varies by age, location, and gender, so it’s important to do your research. If you need some help figuring determining where your target audience spends the most time, there’s plenty of online resources such as Pew Research Center for key demographic information for various social media platforms.

What do you want to achieve?

It goes without saying that you should already have some key objectives and goals if you’re considering joining several social media platforms. Take a moment to really think thoroughly about what you want to achieve, and which social media platforms can help you achieve your objectives and goals.

For example, is your primary objective to increase your brand awareness and recognition? To increase leads? To drive website traffic? Depending on what your goal is, there are platforms that are more suited to support a particular objective over the other. Say your objective is to increase your brand awareness – it would make more sense to be on a platform that has a high monthly active users (Facebook) versus a new, niche platform (Pinterest). Platforms integrated with Google such as Google+ and Youtube is a great way to improve your SEO ranking.

How many can you manage well?

A general rule of thumb is 3-4 accounts that showcase your brand and highlights your business’ personality. It can be difficult to find the right balance between having enough accounts that will showcase your brand, but not so many that it becomes extremely time-consuming.

It’s perfectly okay to not be on all the big and most popular social media platforms – especially if you think they’re not 100% right for your business! Social media isn’t about quantity, it’s about quality – so, it’s ok be picky. It’s important to consider your bandwidth and how much time you can actually allocate to social media; luckily there are plenty of social media management and automation tools out there such as Hootsuite, Buffer, or SproutSocial that help automate this process and make it easier to manage. Having a social media content calendar with posts planned out in advance can also help to make your life easier and more organized.

What are your competitors doing?

It’s also important to take into consideration what your competition is doing on social media and where they have a presence. It’s a great baseline to make your decision, and it helps to see where the majority of your industry’s target audience lives on social as well. Typically, if a company very similar to yours has a presence on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, those 3 platforms are a good place to start.

But, just because they’re on certain social media platforms, it does NOT mean you absolutely have to be on them as well. If you discover an untapped market on Pinterest, by all means, get on Pinterest! Plus, there’s a huge advantage to being on a social media platform that your competitors aren’t already on – it means you have a much better chance of being the industry leader on that channel.

What type of content will you be creating?

Choosing what social media platforms to have a presence on will depend largely on what content you seek to create as well. Each of the big and popular platforms has its own “niche”, so it’s important to determine what you want to share with your target audience.

If your company is more visual, Instagram (image-based) or YouTube (video-based) might be the way to go. Or, if you are a B2B company and tend to share more longform content like whitepapers, eBooks, and industry updates, LinkedIn might be your calling.

On the same spectrum, consider what your brand voice is and how it fits within each platform. The ultimate question to ask when considering which platforms are best for your business: Does it make sense for my content and my brand personality?