As a business owner, you’re probably aware that social media should play a role in your digital marketing strategy. But which platforms should you invest your time in?
There are many social media platforms to choose from. In fact, new social platforms hit the internet regularly, which can be overwhelming for business owners who are trying to keep up. The good news is that you don’t have to. When it comes to using social media to promote your business, accrue followers, and increase brand awareness, there are only five major platforms to consider. Those are:
Should you create profiles and attempt to publish on all of these platforms? Absolutely not. As counterintuitive as it may seem, if you try to tackle managing accounts and publishing content on all five of these social media platforms, you will cause the adverse effect of diluting your brand and weakening your digital presence.
Ensuring that social media marketing works for your business will depend on choosing the right platforms. Each social media platform offers users a different experience. Each platform provides brands with advantages and disadvantages. And each social platform must be carefully analyzed for its business marketing potential. In this article, we will assess the major platforms listed above to help you determine which ones will best serve your marketing goals.
In order to reach your social media marketing goals, you must first get clear on what those goals are. Social media goals can range widely from one business to the next. Some companies strictly use social media platforms to sell directly to consumers. Others choose platforms that will enable them to collect thousands of followers, because building general awareness about their brands is their greatest goal. Company owners who want to promote their B2B businesses might expect their social media marketing efforts to result in gaining podcast subscribers and website visitors since those are their two biggest conversion channels.
What are your social media marketing goals? Your answer will depend on the following factors, so first ask yourself:
● What type of business do you own?
● Who are your clients or customers?
● Which social media platforms do they spend the most time on?
● What type of information do you want to impart to your targeted audience via social media and what would be the best content form to communicate that information to them?
Let’s take a look at each question, the possible answers, and how your particular answer will inform your social media marketing goals.
The first major differentiator is whether you own a B2C company—”business-2-consumer” company—or a B2B company—”business-2-business” company. The industry in which your company operates is the second major differentiator. B2B companies that operate within the manufacturing industry, for example, will have very different social media marketing goals than B2C companies that operate as pet supply stores, golf & country clubhouses, or 24-hour diners. Certain social media platforms will serve B2B companies better than B2C ones, while other social media platforms will benefit retailers more so than restaurants, all of which we will examine further in this article. For now, simply identify the nature of your business.
This question goes much deeper than what meets the eye initially. The answer we’re looking for is all about customer demographics, customer interests, customer favorites, customer “pain points,” and the list goes on. You really must know who your customers are if you want to engage them online using your social media content. Do you have a digitized Point-of-Sale system at your retail location? Are you using Customer Relationship Management software at your hospitality business? Do you have a customer loyalty rewards program in place at your quick-serve diner? Any of these software tools can tell you exactly who your clients and customers are. Simply review and analyze all of the valuable customer data that has been historically recorded. You can access this data via the reporting function of the software.
We admit, if you already knew the answer to this question, you probably wouldn’t need to read this article in the first place. Obviously, you want to focus your social media marketing efforts on whichever social platforms your customers spend most of their time. That being said, determining which platform your current customers—and also your potential customers—spend the bulk of their time on isn’t as straightforward as it should be. Answering this question will require research, but the good news is that there are several independent websites that have conducted this kind of research already by comparing user data from one platform to the next. Not to mention that any social platform that is a publicly traded company has to provide key demographic information as part of their financial reporting transparency obligations. Check out Facebook’s Investor Reporting website.
In terms of identifying and reaching your social media marketing goals, this is the most important question you will ever answer. Social media is all about interaction and engagement, which means that you must understand what kind of content your customers want to find on social media in order to provide them with content that will effectively engage them. For instance, if you own a holistic dentistry practice, your customers are probably concerned with the toxins that are known to leach out of dental fillings and implants, and the dangers that mixed metals are suspected to cause in the human body. The dental materials you use, as well as your services, are toxin-free. So, how can you communicate this information to your potential customers, quelling their fears while educating them at the same time, all while using the most accommodating social media platform to relay your message?
As you can tell, a great deal of thought goes into figuring out what kind of information your customers are seeking online and which content form will be best to communicate that information to them. In the next section, we will look at each social media platform to help you understand how using it could benefit your business and to also help you eliminate the platforms that are less likely to serve you, your customers, and your marketing goals.
Each social media platform has a fluctuating number of daily users, and depending on the specific demographics of those users, your business could have access to a very deep pool of potential customers if you choose to market your company on those platforms. But is it better to be a big fish in a small pond, a small fish in a big pond, or a fisherman who casts the widest net possible? Only you will know what is best for your business. Here is the social media platform information you can use to assess which platforms will be right for you.
A veteran social media platform that has been around longer than the others on this list, Facebook is by no means passé. Yes, there are newer, more trendy platforms out there, but in terms of ideal user demographics and the ability to connect businesses with new customers, Facebook remains an excellent choice for social media marketing.
● Over 2 billion active users visit Facebook daily
● The biggest demographic on Facebook are male users (19.3%) and female users (13.2%) between 25 and 34 years of age
● 75% of social media users with an income of $75k or more are on Facebook
By using Facebook as part of your social media marketing strategy, you will be able to attract users and gain followers organically. Simply posting content regularly, using relevant hashtags, and replying to comments as they come in will do wonders for gradually building brand awareness and converting visitors into customers over time.
But that’s not all Facebook can do for your business. What makes Facebook one of the best platforms for B2B and B2C companies who ultimately want to increase revenue is its targeted digital advertising platform.
Between running PPC advertising campaigns and selling goods to customers from the platform itself, Facebook has helped to transform a lot of companies into eCommerce powerhouses, and it can do the same for your business.
Bottom line, Facebook is an excellent platform for B2C companies that want to post micro-content to increase brand awareness, gain followers, stimulate social engagement, and convert followers into customers.
Founded in October of 2010, Instagram hit the social media scene and instantly won over a multitude of users across the world. More so than any other social media platform, Instagram is all about the visual. As the ideal platform to post photos, images, graphics, and viral memes, Instagram has taken over and dominated the social media marketing space for businesses who sell products that “give good photo.”
Instagram really isn’t a listening and learning platform. In terms of fostering conversations, it pales in comparison to Facebook, but that doesn’t mean this platform is any less valuable. In fact, Instagram can do what Facebook can’t, which is present the beauty of life in a visual format with no distractions such as written commentary, website links, random polls and surveys, and other chaotic options that tend to be presented on the average Facebook feed.
● 200 million+ Instagrammers visit at least one business profile daily
● 70% of shoppers use Instagram to discover new products
● Instagram’s potential advertising reach is 928 million users
If you’re already convinced that including Instagram in your social media marketing is a must, you aren’t alone. That being said, Instagram tends to benefit businesses in the B2C retail consumer goods space where the primary customer demographics are teenagers and young adults.
Bottom line, Instagram is best for B2C retail companies, especially when those companies primarily sell on an eCommerce platform.
The social media platform, Twitter, was launched back in 2006 and frankly, most users did not comprehend its potential for about ten years. Once upon a time, Twitter had a primitive look, Tweets were referred to as Updates, and Followers were referred to as Friends. Most Tweets were basic if not random, and because Twitter lacked the visual components of Facebook, as well as the number of characters one would need to write a paragraph, many users were initially confused about how they were going to use the platform to connect with friends.
● 77% of Americans who annually earn $75k or more use Twitter
● 80% of Twitter users are affluent millennials
● 71% of Twitter users say they use the social platform to get their news and stay informed
The last statistic sums up everything you need to know about Twitter. Twitter is an information-spreading platform that serves news outlets and organizations that either cover or contribute to current events. Twitter tends to be politically charged and entire debates can unfold within a single thread of Tweets.
That being said, certain business owners can get a lot out of using Twitter for their social media marketing. Since Twitter is a real-time social media platform, every Tweet you post is equivalent to sending a group text message to the entire world. Currently, a Tweet can be up to 280 characters, which allows you to make a complex point, and because you can also share website links, Twitter is an ideal platform to drive traffic to your business blog or YouTube channel where visitors can gain even more information from you.
Thanks to hashtags and the immediacy of the platform itself, Twitter offers businesses a way to engage with their audiences in real time, having complete conversations. Your business can also take advantage of trending topics on Twitter by retweeting and commenting on whatever is going on in the world.
Bottom line, Twitter will serve B2B and B2C businesses that want to spread information, comment on current events, and elevate their professional authority within their industry. If your company serves a specific community, has a non-profit mission, or interconnects with the world of current events, then using Twitter as part of your social media marketing strategy could greatly benefit your business.
LinkedIn has had a slow evolution in terms of joining the ranks of well-known social media sites. Considered the world’s largest professional network on the internet, only in recent years has LinkedIn been regarded as an authentic “social media” platform. It wasn’t until LinkedIn provided newsfeeds and the ability for users to post blogs and other content that it joined the ranks of social media. Initially, LinkedIn was used strictly as an employment-oriented online platform that connected professionals and aided job seekers in obtaining the best positions on the open job market.
● More than 70% of LinkedIn users are from outside the USA
● 90 million LinkedIn users are senior-level hiring managers and 63 million are in decision-making positions at their companies
● LinkedIn makes up more than 50% of all social traffic to B2B websites & blogs
LinkedIn is an interesting social media marketing option. While it doesn’t have nearly as many users as Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter combined, it has far more marketing potential than you might think. If you own a B2B company that does international business, you really can’t afford not to be on LinkedIn.
One of the biggest benefits of using LinkedIn is that you can be a big fish in a small pond. Unlike Facebook and Instagram that have crowded newsfeeds, there are fewer users on LinkedIn to compete with. And the users who actively use LinkedIn have specific goals in mind, such as connecting with relevant businesses, reviewing the resumes of qualified professionals, and gaining insights about their industries by reading newsfeed articles.
If you use LinkedIn to the fullest, which includes publishing posts regularly and updating blog articles to your business profile, you can potentially build massive awareness about your brand in a relatively short amount of time. And best of all, because LinkedIn isn’t crowded with consumers, you don’t have to advertise on the platform. Simply post regularly and use relevant hashtags, and you will reap the benefits of advertising without spending a dime thanks to LinkedIn’s algorithms.
Bottom line, LinkedIn is best for B2B companies that can commit to regularly publishing informative blog articles. If one of your social media marketing goals is to elevate your brand’s expert standing within your industry, then using LinkedIn is for you.
Last, but certainly not least, is YouTube. YouTube exclusively offers video content, though some channels publish audio-only files with a static image that fills the video field. When an internet user wants to watch video content, YouTube is the social media platform they go to, hands down. In this sense, YouTube has virtually no competition, not even from Vimeo. If you’re prepared to create professional-looking video content, then using YouTube for your social media marketing could prove more effective than all other platforms combined.
● 73% of U.S. adults use YouTube and 89% of YouTube users come from outside the USA
● The number of channels earning six figures per year on YouTube grows by 40% every year
● YouTube is the second-most visited website in the world after Google
In order to publish video content on YouTube, you will have to pick an account package that’s appropriate for your business size. Owners of startups can first use YouTube’s free publishing services and then when you grow, you can upgrade to one of their paid service options. The best part about YouTube, and there are many, is that the platform itself is a search engine. When you correctly categorize your channel and videos, and add hashtags, users will be able to easily find you. YouTube also provides analytic tools to help you gauge video performance.
YouTube can provide your business with an additional stream of income if you gain enough subscribers to your channel, which is something that other social media platforms simply do not offer. Bear in mind that there’s a significant delay on payouts, but once you earn the minimum dollar amount, which triggers the automated payment process, YouTube will email you an alert.
What kind of video content should you publish on YouTube? The answer will have to do with what your specific customers want to see. But here are a few ideas to get you started:
● Webinars, Tutorials, and How-To Videos
● Candid Customer Testimonials
● Q&A Videos
● Trailer Videos
● Stats Videos
Bottom line, when it comes to which social media platform businesses should use to publish video content, no platform compares to YouTube. Whether you own a B2B or B2C business, if you want to reach a massive audience using video content, then you must publish on YouTube, period. You can also take clips of your videos to use as micro-content teasers on Facebook, Instagram, and other social platforms as part of your strategy to drum up interest and drive traffic to your YouTube channel.
Hopefully, this article has helped you refine your social media marketing goals and aided your decision as to which social platforms to invest your time, money, and efforts into. The real trick is to pick only one or two social media platforms to focus on, rather than attempting to manage every platform under the sun.
Want personalized, hands-on social media marketing assistance? FTx 360 offers social media marketing services to B2B and B2C businesses of all industries. Our team of marketers specialize in both macro and micro-content, and know how to make the most out of each social media platform so that you gain a growing audience and provide your customers with the information they want most. Contact us anytime to find out how FTx 360 can benefit your bottom line without breaking the bank.
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