With 2.8 billion people using social media by the end of 2016, brands continue to make social media a priority in their marketing efforts. While social media marketing is an excellent promotional tool and tactic, some businesses go about it the wrong way.
Brands and businesses of varying sizes make the mistake of attempting to be active on allpopular social media networks. In theory, being on every platform means you have the potential to reach more possible customers. However, this leads to poorly used budgets, lackluster content, and a low return on investment.
Instead of spreading yourself, your content, and your marketing budget too thin, identify which social media platforms are right for your strategy. After all, not all social networks will deliver the marketing results you desire.
Follow these steps to find the best social media channels for your brand.
1. Identify Your Social Media Goals
You won’t be able to narrow down your social platform choices without understanding why you are interested in using social media.
Social media can be used to accomplish a multitude of marketing objectives. Brands use social media marketing strategies and their respective networks to:
- Increase qualified leads and sales
- Engage with their target audience
- Provide on-the-spot customer service
- Distribute branded content
- Build a community of loyal brand followers
- Promote product discounts/offers
- Drive relevant traffic to a company website
The promotional possibilities with social media are endless. However, without documenting your goals, you won’t know which social media platforms can help you achieve them. Before launching into a full-fledged social strategy, identify what you want to accomplish via social media.
2. Understand Your Industry
Some social media channels work better for certain industries than others. For example, visual platforms such as Instagram and Snapchat are ideal for industries such as hairdressing, culinary businesses, and the arts. On the other hand, professional platforms such as Twitter and LinkedIn are perfect for B2B companies looking to make connections and share information.
Take a look at the social media platforms your competitors use. This will help you get an understanding of which channels your brand should consider using. Also, note the social media content tactics your competitors are executing. Having knowledge of your competition’s social media strategy will guide you in creating your own by highlighting the opportunities and weaknesses your brand can take advantage of on those particular networks.
However, when analyzing your competition’s social media strategy, also pinpoint which channels they are not using. This could lead to a potential opportunity for your brand to occupy an unused position in the social media market for your industry!
3. Know the Purpose of Each Platform
Each social media network has an intended purpose. Writing on behalf of Search Engine Land, Jason DeMers broke down the various social media networks into their proper categories:
- Image-Based Platforms: Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr
- “Kitchen Sink” Platforms: Facebook, Twitter
- Video Networks: Vimeo, YouTube
- Professional, Business-Focused Networks: LinkedIn
- SEO and Authorship Platforms: Google+
- Location-Based Networks: Foursquare, Yelp
- Niche Networks: Reddit
When determining which networks to leverage, you need to understand the individual platform’s purpose and how it relates to the content you will be sharing. For instance, a restaurant would do well on the following networks:
These networks would allow the restaurant to respond to customer reviews, provide menu updates, share enticing pictures of food and beverages, and provide helpful information to customers. It wouldn’t make sense for the restaurant to put their time and efforts into a LinkedIn profile when the platform is meant for professionals looking to make meaningful business connections.
On the other hand, a marketing agency should use LinkedIn to connect with potential clients and video channels such as Vimeo to produce and share informative videos as part of an inbound marketing campaign.
Think about the content you plan to create and distribute and use this information to help choose the appropriate social media platform for your strategy.
4. Go Where Your Audience Is
Ultimately, the best social media platform(s) for your business is the one your audience uses. It’s not a wise use of your marketing resources to create a strategy for a social channel your audience is not active on. For instance, if the majority of your target market prefers to use YouTube, you wouldn’t dedicate your time to developing an in-depth LinkedIn strategy.
Wondering where your audience spends their time online? Use this extensive guide from SproutSocial documenting the demographic data for each social media channel. You might be surprised at what you find! Perhaps your target market uses an entirely different social media network than you first believed.
Based on their research, SproutSocial reported the following overall breakdown of adult social media usage:
- 79% of adults use Facebook
- 32% of adults use Instagram
- 31% of adults use Pinterest
- 29% of adults use LinkedIn
- 29% of adults use messaging apps
- 24% of adults use auto-delete apps
- 5% of adults use anonymous apps
Also, consider your audience’s interests with regards to your industry and the type of content you plan to share. This will help you not only select the right network, but develop a comprehensive social media strategy.
Quick Tips for Developing a Social Media Strategy
After determining which social channels your audience uses most, combine this knowledge with the previous steps to discover the social media platforms that will work best for your company. Remember to consider your industry, the purpose of the social media platform, and your brand goals to determine which social media networks to leverage.
Once you’ve decided on a few social networks to pursue, you need to put together a social media strategy. This social plan must:
- Accomplish your documented goals
- Portray your brand in a positive light
- Resonate with your intended audience
- Attract new fans and potential customers
With this in mind, use these quick tips to create your social media marketing plan:
Research the Platform
Before crafting a strategy, you must have a working knowledge of the social media networks you intend to use. Take the time to learn about best practices, the types of content that work well, and how the particular advertising and native analytics tools work within the platform.
Understand What Your Audience Wants
As humans, we use social media to be—you guessed it—social! The last thing we want is to see a sudden ad or piece of blatantly branded content in our feeds. Understanding what content your audience wants to interact with is the key to a successful social media marketing strategy.
Does your audience prefer to watch videos or read articles? Would they rather receive promotional discounts or engage in a conversation? Each audience and industry is unique, so do your research and act accordingly.
Create a Plan You Can Stick To
Instead of trying to do it all on social media, draft a social media marketing plan you can commit to. When you aim too high and create content for a multitude of social media channels, chaos can happen. This often leads to a business abandoning their social media pages.
The sheer amount of work required to launch, monitor, and regularly update a social media profile on one platform alone is taxing—now imagine the work necessary when you attempt to have an active presence across all 7 categories of social networks!
It’s perfectly fine to select one or two channels and only focus on those networks. If these platforms allow you to craft quality content, respond to customer inquiries in a timely fashion, and stay within your marketing budget, then so be it!
Discover the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Strategy
Have you found the perfect social networks for your marketing plan? Excellent! Share with us which platforms your brand intends to use in the comments section below.