If I had a penny for every time someone asked, “Which social media platform should I use for my business?”
Let me just say, I would have A LOT of pennies. As a social media marketer, it’s one of the questions I most often get asked.
And every time, my answer always is: that depends on your business.
Probably not the answer you want to hear, I know, but there’s something to be said about my answer.
While you may sell the same products as your competitors, every business has its own uniqueness, and therefore, the channels that are best for your business might not be best for your competitor.
In order to help you understand which platforms to use, I challenge you to look at the bigger picture through these three steps.
Step 1: Examine Your Business Goals
What kind of budget can you afford, and are willing to spend? Answering the big ‘b’ question will determine a feasible amount of time that can be dedicated toward utilizing each channel on a monthly and annually basis.
What do you hope to achieve in the short-term (less than six months) and long-term (more than six months)? Be realistic here. If your budget is $100 a month, achieving a goal of generating 1,000 followers in the first six months is typically not going to happen. If you’re in a niche business where education is a constant, generating $10,000 in sales through social in your first year might be more realistic than generating six figures.
Step 2: Learn Where the Fish Are Swimming and Set Up Camp
Where are your customers and prospects? If they are not on Twitter, it would not make sense for you to use that channel. Fish where the fish are. Don’t waste your time with an empty pond.
But how do I find out where my customers and prospects are?
Ask! Ask your customers in person or over the phone. You could even send them a survey via email.
Search applicable channels. Observe what prospects are talking about via search. How badly do they need your products? What are their pain points? Monitor keywords that are relevant to your brand. Here are some tools to use.
Before you can complete this step, you must know your audience. HubSpot suggests creating buyer personas.
Step 3: Get a ‘Socucation’
You don’t need to become an expert on social media. There are social media professionals out there who already have that covered for you; you just need to learn enough about some of the top social media channels in order to make an educated decision (You should, however, have expert knowledge on your business). Small Business Trends cited Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr, Flickr, and Reddit as the top 10 social media sites.
Assuming your business is new to social media, here’s an overview of the channels that I’ve seen businesses in the business to business (B2B) and business to consumer (B2C) spaces have the most success with in 2015.
Active users: 1.55 billion, on average (September 30, 2015)
- 66 percent men (Internet users)
- 77 percent women (Internet users)
- 82 percent are ages 18 to 29
- 79 percent are ages 30 to 49
- 64 percent are ages 50 to 64
- 48 percent are 65 years of age or older
- With how popular Facebook has become, it’s hard to find someone who is not on Facebook. Your customers and prospects are likely there.
- Amazing Insights that help users understand what the best times to post are, how many times each tabs were viewed, when the page generated new followers and how many, along with much more.
- Powerful targeting via organic (unpaid) and paid posts.
Related Article: Post Like a Pro: Social Media Tips for Every Small Business
Paid via Facebook Advertising
Active users: 100 million active monthly as of September 17, 2015
- 16 percent men (Internet users)
- 44 percent women (Internet users)
- 37 percent are ages 18 to 29
- 36 percent are ages 30 to 49
- 24 percent are ages 50 to 64
- 16 percent are 65 years of age or older
- People go to Pinterest to buy, giving marketers a nice bang for their buck. The average amount spent per order is higher than other major social media channels: $50.
- Pinterest is one of the largest sources of traffic to Shopify stores.
- Promoted Pins and hashtag popularity offer even more ways to reach an expanded audience.
Registered members: more than 400 million
- 26 percent men (Internet users)
- 25 percent women (Internet users)
- 22 percent are ages 18 to 29
- 32 percent are ages 30 to 49
- 26 percent are ages 50 to 64
- 12 percent are 65 years of age or older
- Linkedin was built as the ‘business social media channel.’ People go to Linkedin to do business. Consider it virtual networking.
- It’s typically easier (than with some other channels) to build authority and relationships thanks to Linkedin personal profiles.
For even more statistics, including data on additional social media channels, visit Pew Internet.
Related Article: Social Media Marketing for Startups: 5 Rules For Success
Before you dive in, be advised: using social media for business (when done correctly) is not a small undertaking (even when just using one channel). It’s much more than throwing up a random post here and there with a photo. There’s creative copywriting, engaging graphic deployment, market research, monitoring, etc. that are all a must in order to see efforts reach their true potential.
At the end of the day, social media could make all the difference in barely making to exceeding sales goals. Do your research on the channels where your customers and prospects are and if and when you decide to commit, jump in full force, be willing to accept change, take risks, try new things, and always put your best foot forward. Here’s to your success