With such a wide array of different social media platforms available, it can be difficult for the modern business to narrow down the most relevant social media channel that's best suited to their audience. As a business owner or digital marketer, it is important to streamline your social media strategy, and in 2019, it is essential for you to focus on social media platforms that are appropriate for your business.
Making it work
Being successful in social media marketing isn't a case of posting to every social network and hoping for the best. It is about choosing the right social media platforms for your business. Ultimately, every business wants to generate leads and brand awareness, but research and understanding can make the difference from an unsuccessful post to a successful one.
Social media marketing is important for many reasons. The most common-use cases include:
- Driving brand awareness
- Improving customer satisfaction and support
- Generating new leads
However, to see the best results, you must know where to publish your content and understand which channels will deliver the desired outcome. A sophisticated, strategic approach to social media marketing means that you should resist publishing your content anywhere and everywhere.
Now, it's time to find out how to choose the best social media platform for your business.
How do I choose the best social media platforms for my business?
Choosing the right social networking platform for your business doesn’t need to be hard, but it also isn’t always easy.
Often, digital marketers will start by creating social media pages on the top social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. They then begin distributing their content with the expectations of high reach, interaction and customer loyalty. Seeing as these are some of the biggest social networks out there (Facebook itself is projected to reach over 42 million users in the UK by 2022), surely utilising the most used platforms means your posts would reach the correct audience, right? Unfortunately, that’s not the case.
Each social network has its own purpose and its own unique set of users, and within that, a unique way in which these users communicate. Here is a look at some of the key differences between the most popular social networks.
Instagram is heavily image-based and focuses on enticing the user through a visual appeal. This means it’s important to ensure relevant, high-quality imagery is used, and that other details, such as the profile picture, represent the brand in an attractive way.
On the flip side, Facebook is more text-based and focuses more on family and friends. Imagery is less of a focus here, as Facebook puts more of an emphasis on interactivity. It offers features such as polls and recommendations.
Twitter is more short-hand text-based and more global than the likes of Facebook - posts generally reach users outside of your home country, family and friends circle. Attractive text and the ordering of sentences play a key role here, but so does imagery. Twitter is almost a mix of Facebook and Instagram, as it offers interactive elements like polls, but also performs well with strong images and short-hand videos.
When deciding on which social media platform is best to use for your business, there are 3 questions you should ask yourself:
- Who is my target audience?
- Are we a B2B, B2C or both?
- What is the goal - to generate leads, drive brand awareness, or something else?
- Time to develop your social media strategy.
Choosing your target audience
The big misconception businesses have in regards to social media marketing is that they assume their audience are actively using all of the popular social media platforms.
During the course of developing your marketing strategy, take a moment to think about your target audience. Google Analytics can be a great tool for this. Its audience analytics can provide in-depth data about the type of people who visit your website. Information can include:
- Location - country, city
And more. This information can be used to quickly decipher who your audience is. With this information in tow, you can create custom audiences within Google Analytics, allowing you to create sub-audiences and begin to work out if different areas of your website have different target audiences.
Once you have figured out who your target audience is, you can look at the user demographics of each social network in isolation. Using freely available studies, you’ll be able to see the demographics of the platform you plan on targeting. As an example, Snapchat is more commonly used by millennials, while Facebook is becoming more of an older-generation network.
With your target audience defined, now it’s time to define where your business sits within its industry.
Is my business B2B, B2C or both?
Once you know your target audience, it's time to look at whether your business is: B2B, B2C or both.
For B2B, a more professional social platform, such as LinkedIn, may be ideal as it focuses on connecting businesses and professionals together. If your business is B2C, then the more traditional social networks like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest could be better options for your business. Likewise, if you're both a B2B and B2C business, then a mix of both types of platforms (e.g. LinkedIn and Facebook) could work best.
Let's take a look at an example of a B2B and B2C business making the most of social media.
Lindleys Autocentres is a Nottingham-based car garage that caters towards traditional consumers who need MOTs, car servicing and tyres. They also offer B2B services, such as fleet services and tyre health checks for businesses.
In the examples above, there's a clear, defined purpose for each social network. Lindleys Autocentres are using LinkedIn to target businesses and professionals within a particular field, whereas Facebook is being used to target consumers.
With that said, a B2C business is more likely to focus on traditional social networks. Take Rise & Recline for example - a national manufacturer of riser recliner chairs. They've done their research and have found that their audience is mainly those who are in later life, as well as looking for new furniture. As such, they focus on Facebook and Twitter, with their content matching the needs of their audience:
In the final stages of working out which social networks are right for your business, it is important to consider what your goal is. For some businesses, particularly large brands, social media is often a way of providing customer service. For others, it's to generate leads.
If your business is looking to generate leads, Facebook and LinkedIn are strong options, with both offering features to get your message across. Features include images, links, call-to-action buttons, among others.
However, if you're looking for brand awareness, then it could be a mix of the top social networks, including Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn, all of which place your content directly into the feeds of your followers.
Or if your business wants to offer it as a medium for customer service, then Messenger (with Facebook) and Twitter may be more suitable options. Messenger makes it simple and easy to offer customer support through a live chat-like interface with the power of instant messaging, whereas Twitter encourages users to contact businesses privately through messaging.
Types of social media content
After having decided upon your target audience and the social media platforms for business that you are going to use, it is important to then look at the type of content you will post. This is almost always made up of a mix of photos and videos, but think more creatively - quizzes, competitions, and more can all help to engage your audience.
Rise & Recline show that it's not just about promoting your product - it's about appealing to the needs and interests of your audience, and therefore building your brand in the minds of your audience in a positive way.
Examples of social media content
- Polls and quizzes
- Games (e.g brainteasers)
- Blog posts
- Short-form text
Having a mix of content helps to keep your social profiles relevant. Users don’t want to see the same posts over-and-over again, nor do they want a constant stream of text posts.
A variety of content plays a key role in the success of your social content. It’s a good idea to define a rule of thumb on how much content you want to post of each type. You could pick 3-4 types of content you would like to focus on and give each type a percentage to work with, for example, you could do 20% of posts as blog posts, 30% as images, 25% as short-form text, and so on.
With the above guide in play, you will be well on your way to success on social media. The only step left is to deliver content that meets your target audience's needs. Now your content marketing will be complemented by a strong social media strategy.
Above all, ensure your social media accounts portray your business in the way you want it to be. Brand can play an important factor, as users begin to recognise your content.
On a final note - don't settle for the social media networks you choose at the start. New networks and services are always appearing, the digital world is ever-changing. Keep abreast of the latest social media networks, as a newcomer may be perfectly suited to weave into your overall digital marketing strategy.