You Don’t Have to Be Everywhere: How to Pick the Right Social Channels for Your Business
It’s 2016. If social media isn’t part of your marketing plans, you’re missing out on several audiences ready and willing to advocate for your brand. But where do you start? Whether beginning completely fresh or analyzing your current online presence, the landscape of social media platforms is intimidating.
Rule No. 1: Don’t take social media management lightly.
Remember: If you want to be on every popular social channel, you’re going to need a team of specialists (or an agency) to help. Social media used to be the thing the summer intern ran; now, it’s a fundamental building block for any business.
It’s your online billboard to the world. It gives your brand a human element and a much-needed voice. It creates long-lasting relationships with repeat customers, and turns unhappy naysayers into grateful promoters. When your business is open, it’s a customer support system. When you’re closed, it’s still a customer support system. Social media never sleeps, so when an online crisis happens at 2 a.m., you have to be sure your business is equipped to handle it.
Do. Not. Take. Social. Media. Management. Lightly.
Picking the right social channels starts with knowing how much your business can handle. If you’re online everywhere and under-staffed, your social channels will perform poorly. Your team needs to know the ins and out of every platform and understand high-quality content is the only way to grow fans or likes organically.
Rule No. 2: Know your target audience and your goals.
Have you completed a creative brief equipped with persona guides and target audiences? Great! If not, please stop reading this and go help your brand. Knowing your target audience and goals will inform which social channels your business needs to adopt. Let’s break down a few of the top social media platforms:
Facebook is by far the most popular social media channel on the planet. More than 1.6 billion people use Facebook daily, so no matter your target audience, they are most likely on Facebook. Some pundits argue Facebook’s popularity and oversaturation is the exact reason why a business should look elsewhere. Thanks to Facebook’s ever-changing algorithm, it has become increasingly difficult for businesses to build loyal audiences organically. Business pages should expect only 2 percent of their audience to see posts without boosting them with ad dollars. Facebook has primarily become a “pay to play” social channel.
Alas, it’s still the most important social channel for most businesses. It’s the best platform to build brand awareness, thanks to the overwhelming number of active users, and it provides the most encompassing form of free analytics (Facebook Insights).
Twitter and Facebook share similar user demographics, but they are completely different platforms used for completely different purposes. Twitter is the best social platform for real-time engagement. In just seconds, you’re able to jump into conversations with people all across the world. By performing active social listening with programs such as Sprout Social, Hootsuite or even Twitter advanced search, you’re able to track relevant keywords, phrases and hashtags. This is the easiest way to build an organic following, find loyal brand advocates and distinguish your brand as a leader in your industry (with a humanized voice, no less).
Instagram & Pinterest
Instagram and Pinterest are for brands with great visuals. If you don’t have creative assets (or the ability to create them), you probably shouldn’t bother trying to maintain either channel. However, if you’re in the retail or food industries, look no further; this is where you need to be. If you’re trying to reach a younger demographic, Instagram makes a lot of sense; more than half of its users are between 18-29.
LinkedIn is all about networking and keeping up with appearances. If your business is looking for connections or new hires, then it makes sense to be active on LinkedIn. This network is the CEO in a suit who really appreciates a good handshake.
Snapchat is the fastest rising social media platform in terms of popularity and revenue, and it’s incredibly popular with the younger crowd --- millennials account for over 70 percent of users. Snapchat is best used for behind-the-scenes content users can’t get from other outlets. With Snapchat filters, geofilters and editing options, it has also become one of the most creative channels around.
However, if you want to run a strong Snapchat campaign, you will need to have someone dedicated to it full-time. Snapchat is best used in-house. If you’re using an agency to handle your social media efforts, it will be hard to get consistent, high-quality material. However, if your company hosts or attends events frequently, an agency would be a great choice.
Rule No. 3: Set a budget for paid social media advertising.
Everyone, especially small businesses, must have a budget for social media advertising in the age of “pay-to-play.” Facebook isn’t the only platform that has recently changed its algorithm to make it harder on businesses. Instagram and Twitter now showcase more popular and relevant content at the tops of feeds, as well. Your posts likely aren’t getting as much engagement as they deserve. That’s where a little ad spend comes in handy. A monthly budget can help you decide where you want to spend those ad dollars, which will also determine how many social media channels are right for your business.
If developing strategy and budgets seems overwhelming, it’s because it kind of is (see: Rule No. 1).
Social media can be your best friend or your worst enemy. It’s up to each business to decide which role it will play to attract fans, followers, leads and sales. It’s time to take your marketing online. Being active and engaged on social media is crucial to the success of your business.
Founder & President, Candor
Karen has 30 years’ experience managing reputations in Oklahoma. In 2012, Karen founded Candor. She is a former television news reporter and a skilled media and crisis communications coach known for providing candid counsel. The firm has served more than 100 clients in various industries including healthcare, education, technology, retail, nonprofits and more.