How to know which platforms to use for your business (+ how many!)
Because most of the clients I work with are start ups, I often get asked for advice on which social media platforms they should be setting up and getting active on. It's hard to give a straight answer to this, because there are so many variables in each business that would change my answer.
So below I have included some of these variables and things to ask yourself if you're a new business interested in getting set up on social media. Then below I'll go through the pros and cons of each platform too!
Questions to ask yourself before you decide...
Who Is my audience?
This is the first and most important thing you need to get straight before choosing a social platform to set up on. You need to be crystal clear on who your customer and target audience is so that you can consider which platforms they are likely to use, how they use them and when.
I've written in detail about how to find out exactly who your audience is using 'customer profiling' which may help - but below are some very basic examples:
Teen females age 16 - 21:
More likely to use Instagram than Twitter. Will use it to share selfies and everyday life, rather than curated feeds, professional photos or graphics; likely to be using late at night or after school/college.
Females age 28 - 35/young mothers:
Uses Pinterest as a virtual scrapbook to save tips and imagery on home/parenting/fashion. Also uses Facebook to connect with friends and share personal photos/life updates.
Where are my competitors?
Take a look at your competitors' websites and see which social media profiles they are linking to and go and have a snoop! I'm not saying that just because your competitors are on a platform means you should be... in some cases it's quite the opposite.
See what sort of things your competitors post (where and when) and look what kind of success they're getting. If they have a large engaged audience this could be a sign that you should try this platform for yourself and see if it works for you, but maybe a lack of an engaged would suggest you shouldn't.
OR a lack of an engaged audience could be down to what content they're sharing. They could be missing a trick! This is mostly up to common sense of evaluating this vs. who your audience is.
Read how to do a competitor analysis for your business.
Do I have enough resources?
Before you get excited to get set up on every social media platform, stop and think about how much time and resource you have to keep these updated successfully.
Social media marketing takes a lot of time doing research, watching analytics, sourcing imagery, scheduling and interacting. If you take on too much and don't have the resources to keep them all up to date, you could be spreading yourself too thin!
My recommendation is always to start out with just 2 (3 maximum) platforms and give them a lot of quality focus, growing them as much as you can and building an audience. Later if you find that this is working for you or you've got more time, you can always set up on other platforms - but it's better to manage 2 profiles really well, than manage 4 poorly.
About the platforms...
- Saturated with businesses competing
- Facebook controls 'reach', making it expensive
- Most users of all the platforms
- Sophisticated analytics tools
- Sophisticated targeting & advertising tools
- Very fast-paced (hard to stay on top of feed)
- Requires hours of scheduling
- Great for sharing articles
- Great for realtime & events
- Large potential reach
- New algorithms mean it's harder to get seen
- Time/resources needed to source imagery
- Second largest platform with lots of users
- Very visual & great for product advertising
- Easily targetable using hashtags
- Requires scheduling time to keep up with fast feeds
- Not that useful for 'local' businesses
- Highly visual and great for articles
- Large possible reach/share-ability
- High click through rates
I'll be launching a Pinterest marketing course in early 2017,
so click below to find out more!
So you'll notice I haven't included LinkedIn, Snapchat or Periscope (or other, smaller platforms) in this list. This is mainly because I haven't used these enough for marketing purposes myself to know how to advise on their use, but also because I usually only get asked about the above four options!
Google+ is a strange one and has caused many a debate in recent months over whether it's actually still relevant or not. There have been rumours that Google themselves have been slowly 'phasing out' Google+ due to its poor success.
Overall I usually don't recommend people spend time worrying about Google+ as one of their main social platforms, unless their audience happens to be male software engineers... for some reason they seem to be the platform's most active users! The debate is whether or not keeping it updated will help with 'SEO' for your website, but the answer is vague...I think the conclusion is basically 'yes, keep it updated' if you are a local business with a Google My Business page, and 'no, it's not necessary' for everyone else. You can read more into the debate here.