With close to 200 social media platforms to choose from, and some sources saying you need to know more than 75 of them in 2020,1 how do you know which ones are right for your business? Where do you even begin?
Below are six tips for picking the best channels for your business, whether you’re just getting started or you’re looking to expand your existing presence. The important thing to remember is when you’ve selected the channels you want to pursue, pick one and get it up and running successfully before you open another one. If you try to launch multiple channels at once, your chances of success diminish. A lot.
Start with your audience
Audience is absolutely the most important factor when choosing a social media platform. Nothing else really matters, not even size, if your audience isn’t active on the channel.
Facebook, for example, has more active users than any other network, but if your audience hangs out on Snapchat, that’s where you need to be.
That said, Internet users have an average of eight social media accounts, so you should definitely consider other factors when determining where you want to have a presence.
Consider your company
Your products and services, your brand personality, your business type…they should all influence your channel selection. Highly visual brands, like graphic designers and artists, should explore DeviantArt, Dayflash, and Instagram, among others, while large B2B enterprises should definitely have LinkedIn at the top of their list.
But channel choices aren’t black and white either. Many large corporations have a visually stunning brand presence that shows well on Instagram, like Apple. Similarly, creative operations are still businesses, and they can benefit from what LinkedIn has to offer. Some channels have broad appeal, like Instagram, while others are more niche, like DeviantArt. You just need to weigh what makes sense for your business and understand that what your company does impacts the options available to you.
Research your competitors and others in your industry
One of the first steps I take when developing a social media strategy for a client is to conduct a competitive analysis. Among the many insights such an analysis provides are:
What platforms they’re using
What’s working/not working
How engaged the audience is on each channel
While you shouldn’t do something just because a competitor is, it’s useful to see what others in your space are doing, so you’re making an informed decision.
Align with your overall social media marketing goals
The reasons you’re on social media in the first place will also impact your decision. If you want to share content and engage with your followers, there are several networks that will work depending on the type of content you share. However, if customer support is a top goal for you, Twitter and Facebook should be on your consideration list before Instagram.
Understand the different platforms and their uses
Each social media platform has its own personality and ways of communicating. Twitter is great for conversations and trending topics, while LinkedIn is good for sharing professional expertise and company information. Snapchat was the first to introduce disappearing posts, but Instagram Stories are equally ephemeral.
Spend some time understanding the channels you’re considering and make sure you know the communication protocol. This will not only help you pick the best platform(s) for your company, but it will also help you avoid communication faux pas.
Keep in mind your available resources
As I noted in my post on how much time it takes to manage social media, social media is a commitment. You need to tend it, nurture it, give to it what you’d like to see come back to you. If you only have one person who can devote five hours per week to social media, you’ll want to limit your channels to one or two. If you have a full-time person, you can have several channels.
Just remember, social media will greedily soak up all the time you have and still make you feel like you’re not putting enough energy into it, so before you open a new channel, ask yourself if you have the resources necessary to be successful.