When it comes to social media, everyone seems to have an opinion on where your business should be visible. The fact is, there's not just one right answer; there aren't any cookie cutter solutions when it comes to social exposure. In other words, it's not about choosing social media outlets good for business, it's about choosing the right social media platforms for YOUR business.
The first thing to understand is that choosing the platform isn't about where you do or don't like to spend time. Social media marketing follows the same rules as more traditional marketing: Go where your customers are. It's not about you - it's always about them. To accurately identify where your customers are hanging out online, you'll need to understand a few things about your business:
1. Who is your target audience?
This may seem like a common sense question but until you have thoroughly identified who your target market is, you can't expect to find out where you can engage with them on social media. Diving into your target market means you need to understand a number of nuances like their demographics and buying behaviors as well as any other indicators that define why your product or service is meant for them. Once you can identify these factors, you can dive into where those folks are spending their time.
According to a new Pew Research Center survey*, for example, Facebook and Youtube are the most popular hangouts online for most Americans. However, almost 80% of 18 - 24 year olds are more likely to be found on new platforms like Instagram and Snapchat. However, even though a platform like Facebook is used widely across a range of demographic groups, certain platforms do have different appeal in some specific subsets.
- Pinterest is considerably more popular with women
- LinkedIn is popular with college graduates or households with high incomes
- Platforms like WhatsApp are popular with Latinos in the United States, perhaps in part due to its popularity in Latin America.
At minimum, you need to understand the gender, ethnicity, age, income, education, and living environment (urban, rural, etc.) of your target audience to begin your social media platform selection process.
2. What is your objective online?
When you go into your kitchen, you choose a pan and utensils based on what your end objective (what should the finished dish be?) is. The same holds true for social media. You need to understand what you hope to accomplish. Some common objectives may be:
- Increasing customer loyalty
- Allowing for feedback from clients
- Increase engagement
- Driving traffic to your website
- Showcasing products and services
- Conducting market research
- And of course, a combination of any of these
Each platform will have things on this list that it will allow you to achieve well and yet there are others on this list that are not a good fit at all. Pinterest and Instagram are both very visual platforms. YouTube is great for tutorials since it's in the video format. Taking the time to figure out what your objectives are is critical to sourcing the best platform for your needs.
Warning! Don't be fooled by phony numbers! One word of caution we always share with our clients is that bigger doesn't necessarily mean better. Numbers of likes do not necessarily translate into more engagement. Be sure to watch for engagement trends (like, follow, share) that then lead to higher revenue. If 10,000 people like your page but no one is buying - something needs to change.
3. How will you achieve your objective?
The final step in this decision-making process is to assess your ability and resources to carry out your social media mission for each network. Plenty of people follow their friends and family on Facebook but that does not make them a social media marketing expert.
- Do you understand how to properly compose a post (and it is different for each platform!)?
- Do you know the best times and days to post content?
- Do you have content (the RIGHT content) for sharing?
- Do you have the time to commit to a consistent strategy?
- Do you have the tools and expertise to evaluate metrics?
These are just a few things to consider as you narrow down the field of choices for social media platforms for your business. Once you've established the who, what, why, where and how of your social media strategy, you're on your way to establishing your business and its brand online in a powerful way.
Understandably, this can be a complex process yet it's one that you have to do the right way or you will find yourself disappointed. We understand how confusing the social media landscape can be and we're here to help. BT Web Group is here to bring our expertise in social media marketing and trends forward so that you can focus on doing what you do best! Our team is here to walk you through our process, making sure you understand each piece along the way. We'll help you identify the right platforms for your business and then create the customized strategy to help you achieve your business goals. To set up your complimentary social media marketing consultation, give us a call today.
* Social Media Use in 2018, Pew Research Center, http://www.pewinternet.org/2018/03/01/social-media-use-in-2018/
Holly Kile - Marketing Assistant