An introduction to our new series on choosing the most effective social media platforms for your business, that will get you the best engagement online.
We all know that social media is one of your most powerful marketing tools. Through social media, you can interact directly with your customers, build strong relationships with them, drive traffic, and gain exposure with new audiences. You can harness the power of social media to generate leads and sales or position yourself as a leader in your industry.
But, the social media landscape is constantly evolving, with new platforms emerging, new tools and features being added, changes to algorithms being made, and the latest trends going viral. To achieve your goals, you need to stay up-to-date with these changes and continuously look for ways to engage your audience.
The key is ENGAGEMENT
Businesses, big and small, must continually invest a great deal of time into developing content, driving engagement, and monitoring performance. How can you tell if your content is effective and engaging? Are there better or more efficient methods? How could you improve your current strategy?
Just like a million other small business owners and entrepreneurs, you’ve probably asked yourself the same questions. The key is ENGAGEMENT – it’s the one element of social media that doesn’t and won’t change. Engaging with your audience offers a competitive advantage that helps you build and maintain a strong customer base, which can then lead to purchases, referrals, new business, new audience members, and other business goals.
“It’s a dialogue, not a monologue, and some people don’t understand that. Social media is more like a telephone than a television.”
Amy Jo Martin, Founder and CEO – Digital Royalty
Finding the right fit
Remember that each social media platform is different in its audience and functionality, and not every platform will be the right fit for your business. The first step is to identify which ones are the right ones for you.
We’ll focus on these 7 social media platforms (in no particular order of popularity):
There are three key points to consider when choosing your social media platforms:
- Identify who your market audience is.
- Find out where they’re hanging out on social media.
- Discover what will get the most engagement from your audience.
What else to consider when choosing a platform
You should also consider how much time you have to allocate to managing multiple platforms, to ensure each platform is given the necessary attention.
Use Google Analytics and other analytic tools to see where your audience is most actively engaged. Analyzing this type of information can help you tailor content to draw them to your platforms.
Sign up to several platforms to identify how your audience prefers to interact with content. Then pick two or three platforms, at the most on which to feature. It is better to engage on a few channels really well, than several badly.
It’s a good idea to research your competitors. See which social media platforms they’re active on, to guide you to where you can find your audience.
Key questions to ask yourself
When deciding which platforms to use, ask yourself these two questions:
- Does the platform relate to your business needs and goals? For example, if your primary goal is to sell directly through the social media site, you’ll need a platform that has those capabilities or features. You’ll also need to consider the audience and choose a platform where people are shopping and buying.
- Which audiences does the platform serve? For example, there may be differences in preferences between retirees and millennials. You need to identify your target audience and make sure they’re engaging with relevant content on the site.
Breaking down how engagement can work for your business on these 7 social media platforms
Facebook is the most used social media platform in the world, by a long way. With a business account, you have access to useful in-depth analytics. You can use Facebook to join groups, and while groups are not meant for advertising, they are great source for interactive content and conversation starters.
Facebook is primarily used by individuals to build new relationships and stay in touch with old friends. This makes Facebook a good platform for building the loyalty of your existing customer base and authority in your field. The downside to Facebook is, with such a large following, it may be hard to reach a new audience, and reach may even be limited within your own networks.
If you’re trying to acquire new business, Facebook might not be your best option, but if you’re building a dedicated following of clients and you need a way to keep in touch with them, this is a great choice.
Twitter is great for short updates, engaging with followers and sharing links to blog posts. On Twitter, you can share short tweets (240 characters or fewer), videos, images, links, polls and more. It’s also easy to interact with your audience on this platform by mentioning users in your posts along with liking and retweeting tweets.
Twitter is an excellent platform to build brand awareness. However, if your business is highly visual or does not have a strong or unique on-brand voice, this may not be the social media platform for you. Many businesses use this platform to handle customer service because customers who are also active on the platform will seek out companies to express concerns or share praise.
Twitter utilizes the hashtag, which organizes conversations around a word or phrase. By searching hashtags, you can learn what people are talking about so you can craft your tweets to take part in popular conversations. If you have interesting content and can voice that content in an engaging way, Twitter is a great tool for quickly spreading the word. Twitter can offer insight into which topics are trending, and is often used to provide real time updates to an audience. Hashtags help boost posts, and if a user with a lot of followers retweets you, your content could go viral.
Remember that with Twitter, it’s important to find balance. Many brands combine Twitter with offline engagement, such as events. Don’t just share your links or media; make sure you are also sharing a lot of interesting, relevant content from other Twitter users.
Pinterest is a purely visually oriented platform allowing users to save and display images or videos by “pinning” digital bulletin boards, which can be organized by category, e.g. a user might have a food board dedicated to pinning recipes. The platform also has a series of special types of pins called Rich Pins, which brands can use to add specific information to their pins, like product details and location maps. Pinterest is not the place to share information like your business hours.
Pinterest is best for niche businesses such as DIY projects, fashion, exercise, beauty, photography and food. That’s not to say that businesses outside of these categories can’t succeed on the platform, but it does make Pinterest an especially good marketing tool for businesses in those areas. As Pinterest is a visual-based platform, you’ll need strong graphics to engage users.
A good-to-know tip – Pinterest is dominated by a female user demographic.
YouTube is the second most popular search engine after Google, but its significance is more than that. Users do not have to sign up to YouTube to access and view content, making it the go-to for “How To’s”. Service industry businesses that can offer this type of content work well on this platform, along with lifestyle and educational videos.
YouTube is the best place to share high-quality video tutorials, educational clips, or reviews about your products to back up the text-based content on your website or blog.
With more than two billion active monthly subscribers globally, YouTube videos are a powerful tool that can help you reach a significant segment of your audience.
LinkedIn is the best platform for professional networking. What was once just an excellent place to post jobs and do general employee networking, Linkedin is now an excellent resource to share long posts with like-minded people. Linking the posts back to your website is a sure way to drive traffic to your website and get more leads.
Whenever possible, encourage your clients to leave a recommendation on your LinkedIn profile to boost the credibility of your brand. It’s a great place to position yourself as an industry leader and promote your business.
LinkedIn is designed to be more professional than other social media platforms and is geared toward businesses and professionals. Users create profiles that are similar to resumes, and companies can create pages that showcase their business. Because LinkedIn is a professional platform, it’s the best place to post job openings and information about your company culture.
You can join industry-specific LinkedIn Groups to ask and answer questions, which can help you establish brand recognition and bring users to your company page and website. Like on Twitter, it is best to have a mix of original and shared content on your page, so commit to creating polished, professional content related to your business.
LinkedIn has the distinction of being the most utilized platform for older audiences. It boasts the largest users among ages 30-49. LinkedIn is also unique because it has a narrow focus.
TikTok is a relatively new platform where users create and share short videos. TikTok is mostly popular with the infamously discerning Generation Z, so it can be difficult to strike the right tone to be successful as a business on TikTok. If you want to create a TikTok account, make sure you have a keen understanding of your brand and how that translates to TikTok specifically. Look at how other businesses are tackling it before you try it yourself.
TikTok is known for its short-form videos that are between 15 and 60 seconds long. Because of its young demographic, TikTok is a useful platform for targeting the 18-24 age group. Use engaging video-based content, leaning towards comedy and entertainment, to create relevant brand awareness.
Like Pinterest and Instagram, TikTok is best for visual-based businesses like art, food, retail, beauty, and some service industries.
Like Pinterest, Instagram is a visual platform and relies on photos or videos for conversation. As a result, this platform works really well for visual-based businesses, like art, food, retail, and beauty that use photography, unique designs, and selfie-style live videos, talking directly to their audience.
Instagram is a popular platform for businesses that focus more on creating content. From Instagram Live to Instagram Stories and Reels, there is no shortage of tools businesses can use to promote their services and products on the site. More artistic niches tend to excel on Instagram, so it may not be the best fit for your business, if your business does not have strong visual content to share.
You can easily showcase your business’ latest products and services through posts and Instagram Stories or Reels, making the social media platform an excellent tool for lead generation.
Instagram is worth considering if you are running an e-commerce store. It has a helpful check-out feature that empowers your clients to view products and complete their purchases without leaving their accounts.
Next time we will take a look at how to craft a social media profile that is optimized for engagement.