Choosing the Right Social Media Channels for Your Business

Today, there are dozens of popular social media sites (not to mentions literally hundreds that are less popular). Amongst all the noise, there are currently a handful of them that are the most popular. While hyper-focused social media platforms within your niche are great for reaching a few like-minded and dedicated fans, when building your brand you ought to be using at least a few of the heavy hitters.

There are two strategies most businesses employ when starting to look into social media. Either, “let’s do all of them!” or “we’ll figure it out later.” These both cause problems, for obvious reasons.

Not every social media channel is appropriate for every business. Demographics, content style and methods of delivery all vary greatly from platform to platform. The primarily middle-aged female audience of Pintrest combined with it’s visual-heavy presentation makes it perfect fit for a flower arrangement or candle company. On the flip side, a dentistry office would likely have better luck spending their time on other platforms.

As a general rule of thumb, most local businesses should strive for 3-5 relavent social media accounts. Obviously this takes some manpower and planning, and isn’t something most companies can just jump into. Starting with one, and ramping up from there, is often the way to go if you’re not in a position to hire a dedicated social media manager or have a plan in place to source the work of posting out to your employees (though if every person in your 20-man department spends 2 minutes tweet once a day for the company, you’re well on your way to a good social presence!). One is better than zero, and with over two-thirds of the modern world using social media today, zero doesn’t cut it anymore.

To help you get started, here’s a brief overview of several of the current most popular social media channels you should be using. I’ll be touching on:

Facebook – often the best place for a business to start with social media.
-A large, versatile and easy to use platform that uses a combination of video, pictures and text. -Facebook can be used by marketers to target customers in any industry.
-Easy to engage with highly-targeted demographics.
-Generally used to build long-term relationships with customers, let them know about news and promotions, and answer comments and questions.
-Build a community on Facebook. Let people know who’s behind your logo.

Instagram – highly visual platform that generally rewards quality over quantity. A great fit for apparel and fitness, and for personal brands.
-Useful as an attention graph.
-Uses #hashtags. Spend some time learning them if you want to leverage attention.
-All about those visuals. Your latest online banner ad isn’t going to cut it here.
-A higher percentage of your followers will see your images here than on platforms like facebook due to different algorithms .
-Highly focused niche markets.
-Unrivaled engagement from followers (often more than 50x as much engagement perper post vs. Facebook).
-Limited length of videos, so actively building a brand story is more difficult on Instagram.

LinkedIn – networking for professionals.
-Largely used for business to business communication.
-Great way to build out your connections in the business world. Think of it like an old-fashioned rolodex.
-Consists of more service providers than manufacturers or retail stores.
-Not a very visual medium.
-Show your company as being transparent. Ask and answer questions, and let your field expertise show.

Pinterest – picture based search engine. Built around wish lists, dream boards, and planning.
-Users make specific boards for unique topics,such as “hairstyles to try” or “kitchen remodel ideas.”
-Useful for infographics, lists and quick quotes.
-Has “amazing shopability” for people who want to buy the things they’re actively dreaming about and researching. Impulse purchases for unique items that fit user’s needs will do well.
-Great as a content and idea sharing platform for topics that are popular or trending on it. Weddings, decorating, fashion and food are all great.
-A predominantly female audience.
-Make sure you speak through images and feelings.

Snapchat – everyday storytelling and content for a generally young audience.
-Posts disappear over time, mimicking the form of natural conversation.
-Good way to broadcast everyday content to build personal connections.
-Posts don’t have to be perfect, and “day in the life of” style content works great here. This is one of the best platforms to have employees help with content creation.
-Fantastic engagement with Millennial audiences.
-Great way to tell an ongoing brand story and build a creator-viewer relationship.

Twitter – fast, loud and busy.
-Fast paced platform. Get your point across in 280 characters or get out.
-Built to easily facilitate ongoing conversations between users.
-Post hard and often. Casual, time-to-time use will get your message lost in the crowd.
-You can mention specific users so networking, customer service and fast-paced engagement are easy.
-Great platform for listening and testing. Test content in short form here, and spend time polishing the pieces that do well for other social channels.
-On the go, bite-sized engagement. Direct access to opinions and news as soon as you need.

Social media is the lens through which we now view the web. Look around next time you’re in public and tell me it isn’t affecting everyone around you. You don’t have to know everything about it to start making it work for you, but you have to jump in sometime. So pull out your phone, open up an app, and get connected.

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