We often hear questions like these:
- “What social media platforms should our company use?”
- “Where should we focus our social media efforts?”
- “What social platforms make the most sense for our business?”
These are great questions, and I’m glad to hear people asking them. It’s much better to be strategic about where you focus your social media efforts than to just be everywhere. And, that’s always my first piece of advice.
You don’t have to be everywhere. A focused strategy on one platform can be much more effective than a scattered focus and scarce presence across multiple platforms.
And, notice I said “focused strategy,” because that’s an important step in determining what you want to accomplish through social media. Your goals and objectives – and what content you have to publish – can help determine where you need to have an active presence.
You want to be where your targeted audiences are. Rather than trying to be everywhere in hopes of reaching as many potential customers as possible, it makes more sense to know (and focus on) where your most likely customers are.
So, how do you find out where they are? Universal demographic information on users of each platform is available through general research. You can find Pew Research Center’s Social Media Update for 2016 here, which breaks down the user demographics of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest and provides interesting insight, such as:
- Women are more active on Facebook and Instagram than men are.
- The sexes are fairly equally active on Twitter.
- Men are more dominant LinkedIn users than women.
You can also find demographic information that identifies users by age, education, income and other qualifiers.
Your content may also determine which platform you should use. When developing your strategic social media plan, you should identify what type of content you have to publish. This will also help determine where you can be successful.
For example, if you have a product to sell, try Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest, as they are very visual. Users expect to see and engage with photos and videos on those platforms. However, if your “product” is your expertise, LinkedIn and Twitter are more appropriate platforms to publish and push expert insights and in-depth content.
It’s OK to try new platforms. Experimenting with social media can be a good thing, but it’s ideal to venture into one platform at a time. Take time to dig into and check out the tools that are available within the application. Build out a strategy specific to that platform, utilizing the tools available and classifying the content you could publish there. Set your goals and objectives for using the platform and monitor results as you go. Once you feel confident about your approach, then try another.
It’s important to monitor, analyze and adjust. No matter what platform you are using, it’s essential to monitor and analyze success – which will be based on your individual goals and objectives for each platform – and make adjustments, as needed.
You may find that you get very little engagement on one platform while another is blowing up. This could signal a need for a shift in focus, with more attention going toward the more active platform. Or, if you know your targeted audiences are on the less engaging platform, maybe a change in strategy for that outlet is in order.
Regardless of what social media platforms you utilize, there are a few overall guidelines to ensure success.
- Consistency is key. Maintain a proactive approach to social media efforts by creating a content plan, which outlines what and when you will post on which platforms.
- Keep it real. Even when your content has a promotional nature, it can be authentic. Remember that real people use social media to connect to other real people.
- Be both strategic and spontaneous. As much as I’ve pushed having a strategic plan in place for your social media efforts, spontaneity can never be lost on social media. While it’s good to have content planned, don’t miss the opportunity to be “in the moment” on any social platform.
- You may have to pay for it, so budget for it! Sometimes, you have to pay to ensure the reach you want on social platforms, but if you use the appropriate platform for your business and have engaging content to share, it will be worth the spend to ensure it gets in front of your targeted audiences.