Social media platforms are numerous and complicated. This creates a lot of confusion for business owners- it’s not unusual to hear comments such as ‘I’ve got someone managing my Facebook page, but I don’t see any results from it’ or people asking ‘is LinkedIn working for you?’ or ‘I started a Facebook account as I’ve been told that it will help with my website ranking.’ or ‘what is Google+?’
Is there one simple answer to these questions? It depends. If you are a large organisation, being on multiple social media platforms and listening to the conversations may not be a problem. However for most small and medium businesses, this is a luxury and even though social media is here to stay, most businesses have to be selective about whether they should engage in digital marketing on social media and if yes, which ones and how. This is a huge topic and in this article, I will address the key social media platforms so you can determine whether they would be right for you and your business.
• My products are used in a business situation or by businesses (e.g. business coach, ERP systems, marketing)
• I want to attract individuals already in business or entering or changing employment
• My company provides a service that is intangible to businesses – e.g. accountancy, outsourced IT services
• My client base is relatively small or specific
• One of my aims using social media is to generate leads and sales for my company
If the answer is yes to most of these questions, then LinkedIn may be the answer for your business. In a survey conducted by Content Marketing Institute, 62% of B2B marketers say LinkedIn is the most effective platform for them, with Twitter and SlideShare close behind. From the various social media platforms used, LinkedIn is the platform that I have seen sales conversion for a large number of businesses.
• My product or service is usually for personal use rather than for businesses e.g. fashion, travel, entertainment, community groups
• We have a large volume of customers and our target market is reasonably broad e.g. retail, food
• One of my intentions of being on social media is to start creating a revenue channel
• I like to invest my resources in what I know has worked for others
• I have the resources and budget (internally or externally) to manage the content and respond in a timely manner to this social media channel.
If you answered yes to most of these questions, Facebook may be the best social media platform for your company. It is a fact that Facebook is currently the unbeatable heavyweight of social media platforms. The key here is really about HOW to use Facebook effectively rather than just having a presence on it.
Note: you can still use Facebook advertising even though you may not have a Facebook page.
• I’m able to write interesting to the point snippets
• I am ready to become ‘the person’ behind the brand e.g. celebrities, founder/ creator
• I don’t mind my life becoming more of an open book
• I am willing to dedicate time daily to manage this channel.
• My target market is international
• I intend to use this channel to offer some exclusive promotions or specials
• We’re able to manage a fast pace/ fast response channel ) In an American Socialbakers research, it was found that 59.3% of customer questions are asked on Twitter, compared to 40.7% on Facebook.)
• Celebrities and influencers are part of my target market
If you have answered yes to most of these questions, then you’re fit for Twitter! From my experience, I know a number of businesses that have successfully managed to get their products or services to celebrities and opinion leaders using Twitter.
• I am more interested in engaging with my followers and not necessarily for direct revenue
• I enjoy taking photos and sharing them with others
• I trust a handful of staff to take pics that are within the brand guidelines
• I have staff that are happy to run the social media platform outside business hours
• I want to attract new followers and expose them to my brand
• My target market can be global e.g. online business
• My product or service translates well in photos or readily available to be photographed e.g. fashion, visual merchandising products
Instagram is a great way to create a community that wants to know what’s happening behind the scenes of a brand. So, if you are on this platform, make sure your photos are real rather than staged. This is a great choice of social media platforms to build brand ‘love’ with a large group of individuals.
• My products or service translates well into photos (eg. architecture, landscapers, fashion)
• One of my goals is to drive traffic to my website or drive awareness of my products
• I have lots of original photos, graphic design or images to express my brand
• I have the resources and discipline to regularly upload images on a weekly basis
• My target market is mainly women
• My products are for personal use rather than for a business
Pinterest is a fast growing medium and people spend a lot of time on the site. Numbers from Statista, as shared by Mediabistro show that users spend more time on Pinterest (1:17 minutes) or Tumblr (1:38 minutes) than on social media platforms such as Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and Google+ combined. Again, this is a platform where I have observed conversion to sales if used properly.
• My target market is young or early adopters and I know they engage in more than one social media platform
• I am willing to be at the cutting edge of social media and learn from trial and error
• Our goal is to engage with our customers rather than to sell to them
• My product is for personal use or benefit rather than for a business
• I am creative and have lots of ideas that will appeal to a younger audience
This is a relatively young channel and there are not many tried and proven case studies yet. However, for the few companies that have ventured into Snapchat they have done it well, the returns can be great as it is not cluttered by many brands yet.
• We have the skills to create videos or already have a library of video
• We have the necessary resources and budget to create interesting video clips
• Our products or services are suited to interviews, Q&As, product demos or tips
Youtube is the next biggest search engine after Google. So if the videos are right, and the right tricks are done, then it is a good way to get your brand out to a wider audience.
These are the main social media platforms widely used today. While some social media platforms will come and go, some of the ones on this list can be a good investment of your time if you choose wisely.