Choosing the right social media channel for your business can help you avoid wasted time, effort and money. While every social media channel has something to offer, for businesses it is important to identify the right social media channel and focus all their efforts behind it. The golden adage- Quality trumps over Quantity every time holds true. Your social media strategy should define your choice of the right social media platforms.
Ask yourself these questions before you choose the right social media channel.
Question 1. What are your social media channel objectives?
Social media is a promotional channel much like all other media and marketing channels that you might have. You should therefore be clear as to what you expect to get out of your social media channel. If you cannot explain how a particular channel will help you achieve your objectives, then you are more likely not to reach it and therefore you should not select that channel.
Let’s look at 2 key reasons why most businesses are present on social media channels:
Increase Brand Awareness
If you’re social media channel objective is to increase brand awareness, select platforms that have the potential to grow to large audiences. Check out the audience demographics of the channel to determine whether you have sufficient current and future prospects in them. A good way to determine this is to use the social media’s advertising option to understand their user demographics and psychographics.
Increase Lead Generation
If you’re looking to generate customer leads for your business, check out whether the social media channel usage pattern lends itself to lead generation or whether it is a medium which lends itself to brand promotion. Again use the social media channel’s advertising platform to understand what kind of filters you can apply to their user base in order to reach out to your most relevant prospective customers.
Question 2: What are your Target Audience’s favorite social media channels?
Yes, I can hear everyone say Facebook! True- by and large everyone uses Facebook but if you’re audience are younger teens, you may be better off using Snapchat as your preferred social media channel than Facebook. Similarly you will find many users being more comfortable and using Twitter far more regularly than Facebook.
Understanding who your customer is and how they use their time socially on the net can go a long way in helping you establish the right social media channel for your business. Another example is that of Pinterest. If your audience is largely women, you may be better off using Pintrest than Facebook.
Using a social listening tool like Sprout Social will help you to conduct an analysis of your current followers. They’ll provide you with age, gender and location data for your current social audiences, which will help you to decide which social channels are worth maintaining, and which aren’t.
If you haven’t chosen any channels yet, or you would like to expand into previously unexplored platforms, the Pew Research Center has conducted an analysis that outlines the key demographics for a number of social media platforms.
While gut feel is great and sounds macho, it’s best to go with data to make your decision.
Question 3. What social media channels is your competition using?
Chances are , if you’re going up against a more better established player, some of the research might already have been done by them. Use this intelligence to scale up faster. Check out their social media channel presence- which channels are they in, how active are they in each of their channels, how engaged are their customers in each of the channels. This will provide you with a baseline against which you can plot your own social media channel strategy.
Again, you can use social listening tools to ascertain which brands in your industry have the most extensive reach & largest influence on social media. For ex: Buzzsumo
will let you analyze your competitors’ top performing content in terms of social shares, as well as which content formats and lengths best engage users. You will also be able to see social channels from which they get the most shares.
Brand watch Analytics lets you monitor your competitor’s social media output across Twitter and Facebook, & also allows you to track any mentions of them across internet. There are myriad social listening tools that you can use to carry out such competitor analysis, so whatever you choose, make sure you have thoroughly researched the tools available and are fully aware of your options.
Question 4: What kind of content are you capable of creating?
Often the kind of content formats that your business is capable of creating will determine the choice of social media channels. It is all very nice to say that YouTube is your preferred social media channel. But if you are not capable of generating high quality video content in regular frequency then its best to forget about being present on YouTube.
Each social media channel lends itself to different content formats. Slide Share is great for Presentation based format, as Tumblr is to strong visual imagery. If you’re looking for short crispy formats stick to Twitter for older audiences or SnapChat for younger audiences. In order to compete with SnapChat and other younger video audiences, Facebook recently introduced Facebook Live. It remains to be seen if the Facebook user audiences embrace this wholeheartedly or not.
Facebook remains one of the most popular social media channels that businesses tend to use and rightly so, but how you use Facebook will strongly determine the ROI you will get out of it.
In terms of content format the key content formats are Textual, Visual or Video based. If Infographic is your thing, then Pintrest is the right social media channel for you. If Blogging is your content format you might want to consider LinkedIn and Medium as your choice of social media channel.
If you identify content formats that you want to prioritize within your social media strategy, you will find it easier to make your final channel choice.
Question 5: How many social media channels can you manage?
In our experience, the ideal number of social media channels a small business owner can potentially manage is 1. Unless of course, there is a dedicated social media executive or outsourced social media team who is responsible for managing the various social media accounts.
Managing a social media channel is hard work- you need to create regular content for it, you need to have it posted on a set frequency, you need to drive followers for your channel and most importantly you need to engage with your followers. If you are not doing all these, you’re largely wasting your social media efforts.
Devoting time to social media is therefore as important as investing money behind it. Some of the tasks of managing a social media channel can be automated using tools like Buffer