At this point in the game, social media has become a part of our daily lives. Almost 70% of Americans are on social media and that number continues to grow every year.
With so many people spending their time on social platforms, it’s crucial for businesses to join in as well.
By using the social media channels where your current customers and potential prospects already choose to spend time, you’ll be able to boost brand awareness, engage them with interesting content, and earn their trust as a relevant brand.
But with the plethora of social platforms out there, it can seem like a daunting task to tackle all of them. Creating engaging social content is a challenge, and the thought of taking on the myriad of mediums is enough to make many small business owners throw in the towel.
If you’re using social media for your business, you can relax — there’s no reason to be active on every single social platform. The key to success is maintaining a consistent presence on the select channels that appeal to your target audience.
Before you decide which platforms to use, you should take a step back and look at your company’s unique position and objectives.
You can narrow down your options by evaluating these four elements: your goals, audience, content type, and ads.
What is your main goal? Do you want to boost brand awareness? Encourage active engagement? Provide product updates? Answer customer questions? Drive traffic to your website?
While this is by no means a comprehensive list of potential goals, think about what you’re trying to achieve and make sure that the social platform(s) you choose are going to help you reach that goal.
What age is your typical customer? Are you a B2B or B2C business? If you are focusing on social platforms where your target market isn’t spending their time, you are wasting yours.
What kind of content do you want to post — Video? Photos? Text? How frequently do you intend on posting — Weekly? Daily? Multiple times a day?
While you want to create an engaging experience for your audience, don’t set yourself up for failure by committing to a content type that you can’t create or a schedule that is too aggressive for you to maintain.
Do you want to run ads? Some platforms give you options ranging from simply boosting posts to executing complex targeted strategies.
How much do you want to spend? The cost of advertising varies from platform to platform, but a highly targeted campaign on the right platform might be worth a higher cost if you’re sure to reach exactly the right demographic.
Once you’ve determined your audience and objectives, you’ll have the tools to identify which social platforms are perfectly suited to help you reach your customers and your goals.
While there are many options, you should make sure that the social platforms you choose are a good fit for your business goals, target audience, content type, and ad preferences that you’ve identified.
No doubt, you’ll be familiar with some (if not most) of the platforms on the following list, but you might not have considered how they could be used for business. Consider the benefits and disadvantages of each platform as you evaluate which ones line up with your ongoing business strategy.
Facebook was introduced in 2004 and quickly established itself as one of the top social platforms. The most widely used social platform today, it also allows you to share a variety of content types.
Instagram launched in 2010 and has since grown into one of the largest social platforms in the world. Businesses can use it to share visually engaging content.
Twitter launched in 2006 and is now one of the leading news and social networking sites. It’s ideal for businesses wanting to update and engage with their customers and prospects in just a few characters — 280 to be exact.
YouTube is the top social site for videos and is now owned by Google. Businesses can take advantage of YouTube by posting helpful videos and embedding them throughout their site or on other social platforms.
LinkedIn launched in 2003 and is a great way for businesses to network, look for new employees, and post relevant industry and company information.
Pinterest launched in 2010 and is a visual social platform that serves like a digital scrapbook. Businesses can use the site to highlight highly visual content like photos, illustrations, and infographics.
Snapchat, released in 2011, is a popular multimedia platform for businesses to showcase timely content. The platform’s format of shared images and videos that disappear after a short period of time promotes daily user engagement.
Since 2004, Yelp has functioned as a local search service powered by crowd-sourced reviews. While it isn’t a place where users necessarily go to interact with each other, it is a platform where customers can interact with and reach out to your business.
Even if you’ve evaluated your business goals, target audience, content type, and ad preferences, you might still be stuck — and that’s okay. Here are a few tips to get you started:
It is worth mentioning that the list above is by no means comprehensive. While we think that these few platforms might be key for most businesses, your niche audience might be found on other platforms like Periscope, Tik Tok, or Reddit, to name a few. In fact, by the time this is published, there will probably be a few more new platforms to consider!
No matter which social media platforms you choose to use, what really matters is that you focus your efforts on creating quality content that will engage your customers.
You are the expert on your unique customer base, so you’re in the perfect position to determine which social media channels will allow you to connect with them best while fulfilling your business goals. Go forth and be social!