Social Media Marketing 101: How to Choose the Best Social Media Platforms for Marketing Your Business 

Most businesses already know the value of having a presence on the most popularly used social media platforms. Social media marketing has the potential to reach a broad audience; target specific customers based on their interests, demographics and location; showcase your businesses’ offerings, content and culture; and serve as an extension to your customer service model. That said, many businesses that attempt social media marketing on their own, quickly realize that getting the most out of Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn requires a far more complex approach than posting cute cat memes and TGIF gifs. 

We see a lot of businesses launching pages on more than one platform only to abandon ship due to limited interest, resources, direction and time. When businesses come to us, it’s often because they’ve attempted to manage their social media accounts themselves with little success or consistency. They know it’s something they should be doing, but, without a strategy, they feel like they’re spinning their wheels and wasting time. 

The first conundrum is managing how business owners view their social media marketing–their expectations–and how they measure their social media’s effectiveness in their overall marketing mix.  

For Starters, Social Media Marketing is Not: 

  • A replacement for other marketing activities: including PPC, SEO, blogging, email marketing and traditional advertising. No, no, no! Social media marketing is, however, a way to support those other tactics–everything must work symbiotically towards achieving the same set of business goals.  
  • Always the best way to drive traffic to your blog, website or storefront: Social media is a great way to cross-post your business’s news and blog content, but only 20% of your content should be promotional. The rest should be content curated from other pages, interesting industry information and pictures that showcase your business’s people, community and culture. You’ll quickly find that your promotional posts will get far less organic traffic than content you share unless you pay to boost them.  
  • A free alternative to other expensive marketing tactics: While much of the content you share on social media is free to post, even reaching your page’s followers is becoming increasingly difficult as social media platforms like Facebook become more crowded by business users, seek to monetize their offerings, and operate on algorithms that penalize the organic reach of overtly promotional content. Social media has become a ‘Pay to Play’ arena if you want to do it well.   

3 Steps to Choosing the Right Platform(s) for Your Business 

Resist the get-me-that-shiny-new-thing temptation of being on every social media platform that’s trending, and instead start out by selecting one or two platforms that prove the best fit for your business and social media marketing goals by considering the following: 

#1 Reaching Your Target Audience: 

Each social media platform has a different demographic, albeit with varying degrees of overlap.  Which ones you choose for your business should depend on who you want to reach.  

  • Twitter caters to the business set, predominantly college educated who readily want to converse.  
  • Facebook’s core users are older. Think Baby Boomers wanting to build relationships with brands while maintaining relationships with friends. Younger users exist, but don’t use the platform as frequently and often post via another social media platforms–Instagram, for example–that automatically shares the post from its platform.  
  • LinkedIn also caters to the business set. It spans age groups from recent college graduates looking for their first job, to the older CEOs running Fortune 500 companies.  
  • The majority of Instagram users fall into the 18 to 29 year-old age range (59 percent), while the next largest group represents a 30 to 49 year-old range (33 percent).  
  • Pinterest proves most popular to women across all age ranges.  
  • Most SnapChat users span the Millennial to Gen X generations with heavy emphasis on the younger users. 
  • YouTube’s channel variety make it popular with a wide range of users spanning all ages. A 13-year-old is almost as likely to visit YouTube to watch their favorite band’s new video; whereas as a 51- year-old DIYer is visiting to watch a ‘how to’ on roof repair. 

Facebook nets you the widest audience since 80 percent of adults use it, according to a 2016 study by Pew Research Center. You’ll find a vast divide between it and other social media platforms. Instagram garners 32 percent of users; Pinterest, 31 percent; LinkedIn, 29 percent and Twitter, 24 percent. 

#2 Showcasing What Your Business Has to Offer: 

In addition to considering which social media platform caters most to your target demographic, it’s wise to also consider which social media platform offers the best fit for showcasing your products and/or services. For example: 

  • A retail business that sells appealing products would benefit from being on a platform that focuses primarily on imagery, such as Instagram and Pinterest. 
  • A restaurant or bar could benefit most from being on Facebook or Twitter. 
  • A SaaS software company that appeals to end-users would benefit from being on Twitter and using YouTube to offer new end-users a virtual tour of how to use their software. 
  • A manufacturing company of B2B products would benefit from building a presence on LinkedIn and using YouTube to demonstrate their products and successful customer case studies. 

The best results come from targeting ideal social media choices for your business type and communication needs.  

Text, Links and Multimedia: 

The bastions of text communication include Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn. Twitter focuses on short posts called tweets which fall under micro blogging. It recently lengthened posts to 280 characters. You can include links and attach photos, videos or animated .gifs.  

Facebook also began as a text oriented social media platform. As it grew, it added photos, videos and apps to the post options.  

Google+ copied Facebook, but offers Google integration. LinkedIn focuses more on individuals and business-to-business networking. It functions as a resume, networking and recruitment site with industry-focused discussion groups. 

Photos and Imagery: 

Instagram and Pinterest focus on photos and imagery. Companies with catalogs, seasonal collections, or graphic-oriented services find these two choices handy. On Instagram, users post photos (or short videos) with a caption or blog-length post attached. Pinterest lets users create collections of photos already posted elsewhere online. Users “pin” the photo to their collection. Pinterest stores the existing location of the photo and any explanation or descriptive tag the user appends. There is no point in using either platform unless you can commit to procuring pictures of your products, people and culture that are worth sharing. 

Video Content: 

Instagram, SnapChat and YouTube revolve around video posts. Instagram added video and live video support during the mid 2010s. Its live streaming video lets viewers live chat and comment on the video post while also allowing the video-poster to chat back while live. SnapChat features short videos focused on updating friends and followers on your current activities. It offers funny filters to liven up posts.  

YouTube, the venerable founder of vlogging, or video blogging, only allows video posts. Users can include a video description and respond to comments viewers leave below each video. It also allows the creation of multiple channels. You can establish your YouTube channel by collecting videos that are related to your industry and products, but you should also commit to creating some of your own. This can be done formally–with a video editor and videographer, or more casually, via your iPhone. It depends on what is most suitable for your business.  

#3 Your Resources: 

Anyone can open a page, but it takes ongoing and consistent effort to build a presence on any social media platform. And each platform has its own rules, etiquette, content-types and best practices to succeed.  

Before choosing the social media platform for your business right now, ask yourself whether you can commit to the content, monitoring and engagement requirements of each. There’s no point starting up a business account on Instagram unless you are committed to producing product and brand-relevant imagery on a consistent basis, or launching your YouTube channel unless you can keep it updated with industry relevant videos that your target audience would appreciate.  

Each platform takes time and not only requires you to commit to posting your own content, but to also share content from other pages and engage with your audience and alliances. Social media scheduling tools such as Hootsuite can certainly help–and so does having a social media strategy–but there will come a time when your best tactical move will be to delegate your social media activities to a social media professional.  

Invest in Getting the Help You Need 

Social media marketing is like any other marketing channel that came before it in that it too requires a specific set of tactics to attract and engage your target audience and build your brand presence. Often, hiring a social media marketing professional is the best investment your business can make to get the most out of your social media marketing and ensure it amplifies your business’s other marketing tactics.  

McAllister Marketing is a team of marketing professionals specializing in how to make online marketing strategies that include SEO, PPC, email marketing, content marketing and social media work cohesively with traditional marketing and your internal customer service model.  

We’re super easy to work with and serve as an extension to your inhouse team. Reach out to us today if you’d learn more about how we can help you your grow your business and customize our services to your specific needs.  

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