In today’s world, it seems like pretty much everyone is on social media. Some people even make a living off being social media celebrities (aka Instagram models and the Kardashians). But what’s important to note is the number of businesses on social media. According to AdWeek, 88% of companies in 2018 use social media for marketing. In addition, in the United States, the number of adults that regularly use social media has been trending upward and it’s projected to only increase from here. With the benefits of connecting and engaging to potential customers through this simple method of inbound marketing, you cannot afford for your business not to be on social media.
But the question is, which channels do you need to be on? There are many social media channels, but the most utilized ones today are Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, and Snapchat. If you’re a large company, you might be able to take on all these platforms, but it’s a bit trickier for most businesses to determine where they will reach the most people who would be interested in their produce or service.
To analyze this, most people would go through the pros and cons of each platform and go from there, but an easier way to do it would be to ask yourself a few simple questions and use your answers to help make your decision. So here are the necessary questions you should be asking to decide what social media channel is right for your business.
What Type of Business Do You Have?
What are you selling? Are you a clothing retailer, a local food producer, a consulting firm? This will have a big impact on what kind of social media you should be using. For example, if you’re a small clothing boutique, maybe LinkedIn wouldn’t be the best choice right away. Instead maybe you would want to put more effort into Pinterest and Instagram, where much of the content is clothing and style related (just look at all of the “Instagram brands” that have popped up recently). In contrast, if you are community of lawyers and attorneys, then you’d probably be more in favor of Facebook and LinkedIn.
And just to note, you can be a company that does several different things, and in this case then have different types of social media would be a good thing, but you’d want to focus on having different content on different platforms.
What Are Your Business Goals?
This also fits into what type of business you have, but considering what your goals are as a company should also fuel your social media decisions. Is your primary goal to direct traffic to your website in order to sell a product, to connect with other businesses and professionals to grow your network, or promote your online publication?
If you’re a company like Etsy, who makes its profit by helping people sell products from individual designers, you would want to focus on channels that display those in an aesthetic way, such as Instagram. For a company like Enterprise Sales Forum (one of our clients!) who is a network of sales professionals, they would want to focus on LinkedIn for connections and networking. If you’re an online publication or blog, like The Financial Diet, then a way to help spreading your articles and create more brand awareness would be to make YouTube videos of some of your articles (great YouTube channel by the way, check it out here). Basically, you just have to assess what your primary end goals are for your company and focus on the social platforms that are the most likely to help you achieve that goal.
What Demographics Does Your Target Audience Fit Into?
A safe way to determine what social media platforms you should be using is to first look at who you’re trying to target and what platforms THEY use. While a lot of people use multiple social channels, there is a bit of differentiation between them based on demographics, primarily gender and age. As far as gender goes, women tend to use social media a bit more than men (73% vs. 65% in January of 2018), but the only real standout is that nearly 70% of Pinterest users are women, who tend to use Pinterest as a wishlist and for inspiration boards, as opposed to the much fewer men that use it mostly as a shopping cart. But for other social platforms the division between men and women is pretty slight.
Age, however, is a much bigger difference. In general, younger people tend to use social media much more, so the older your target audience, the less likely they are to be on social. But just because you have an older target audience does not mean you should ignore social media all together. Looking at the Social Media Report 2018, put out by the Pew Research Center, you can see that while 18-24 year olds tend use most forms of social, a large percentage of those 30 years and older use Facebook and YouTube, and to a lesser extent 30-50 year olds use Twitter and Instagram. So it is important to look at who you want to receive your message. If your audience is older, then maybe stick to more “traditional” forms of social media like Facebook, but if you’re trying to attract a younger audience, then focusing more on younger and growing platforms like Instagram and Snapchat would probably be the right move.
What Level of Engagement Do You Want?
Obviously one of the main points of social media is to share and connect with people, so therefore you would want to increase engagement between your business and potential customers. But something to note is that different platforms have different levels of engagement. For example, while 50% of active users on Facebook access the platform more than once a day, only 24% of active Instagram users do the same. BUT the user interactions with brand posts as a percentage of brands followers on Instagram is 4.21%, compared to 0.07% on Facebook. This is just something to note while making your decision.
What Resources Does Your Company Have?
Is your company big or small? How many employees do you have? Having a small company is not an excuse not to use social media, but with limited resources it’s reasonable that you should pair down the number of accounts you have. Remember, quality is better than quantity, so it is better to only have 2 different accounts and to put out a lot of really good content than to have 6 accounts and not be able to keep up with the workload. If you’re a small business you might also have the problem of not having a lot of resources to make the quality content in the first place. After all, not everyone can have a lot of in house designers to make beautiful content for social. If this is the case, then you should be a bit selective in what platforms you use.
Also note that there are a lot of tools out there that can help you create great graphics and videos without having to pay a lot of money or go through extensive training. Canva is always a great way to make quick, pretty graphics and check out this blog post about the top 8 resources for creating videos to promote content on social media.
Social media can be a bit intimidating due to the number of platforms and amount of information out there, but it is an essential part of any inbound marketing strategy. The best way to decide what social media you should be using is to ask yourself some critical questions and use your answers to make your decision. Something else to note is that this might change. Social media is fast growing and fast changing, meaning that what is popular today might not be tomorrow, and you never know what will be the next Facebook or Instagram. So it’s important that whatever plan you make is adaptable, just like social media itself.