A couple of blog posts ago, I talked a bit about the major reasons why your business needs to be active on social media.
Aside from being a means to instantaneously reach out to your target audience regardless of their (or your) geographic location, social media also increases your online presence and visibility, helps you deliver better customer service, and greatly reduces your advertising costs.
Simply put, there are way too many advantages that stem from your business being on social media for you to not give it a shot.
Unfortunately, there’s only so much time you can spend on social media platforms, which is why you need to think about which among the dozens of options are worth signing up for. Of course, you could always sign up for all of them and just get a social media manager to worry about keeping them updated for you. That would solve the time allocation problem, wouldn’t it?
Still, as a business owner, you certainly understand the importance of being efficient in everything you do. What I mean to say is, if a particular social media platform isn’t well-suited for your brand or your objectives, you’re better off junking any plans to hop aboard and focus on better options instead. Besides, you only really need a couple or so online pages for your brand – there’s really no need to overdo it.
To make sure that you won’t be wasting time on the wrong platform, here’s a step-by-step guide to evaluating which social media channels are the best for your business.
1. Familiarize yourself with the features and benefits of each social media channel.
Each platform offers a different set of benefits and advantages, depending on the kind of business you’re in. Take a look at some of the most widely-used social media platforms, and why you might want to take your business there.
Arguably the most popular social media channel in the world, Facebook currently has over a billion active users every month. Facebook also has a built-in analytics tool, Audience Insights, which allows you to identify and characterize your fanbase – you’ll be able to gather information on their gender, age, location, and other important factors.
Facebook is the perfect social media site for your business if you’re looking for a channel that allows you to surgically target your audience – by narrowing down your market and ensuring that the right people see your ads, you’ll definitely be putting your marketing tactics (and budget) to effective use.
A fast-paced stream of updates in 140 characters or less, Twitter is the social media site of choice for Internet users who want to stay up-to-date on the latest news and information about trending topics. Most Twitter users belong to a younger demographic.
Twitter’s format also encourages a much more fluid exchange of information between users, especially between Twitter “celebrities” and their followers. Twitter is your best bet if you’re looking to establish yourself as a thought leader in your industry (or if your business is highly dependent on quick and topical updates).
This social media platform serves as one of the most powerful business portals for professionals who want to connect with people in the same field or industry. It’s also great for job hunters (or employers/recruiters on the lookout for great candidates).
Consider the type of audience on LinkedIn – individuals who are likely to be educated, serious about work, and deeply invested in the corporate world.
This platform gets a lot of attention from professionals in the engineering and tech fields. Google+ is handy in the sense that it greatly benefits from social media optimization.
Plus, Google+’s Circles feature is handy for keeping track of and categorizing your contacts. (I suppose the only challenge here is finding enough active users who might want to connect with your brand – the same kinds of people on Google+ are likely to be on Facebook as well, except the latter has a much wider network of users.)
Instagram & Pinterest
If your business relies heavily on attractive designs and eye-catching visuals, join Instagram or Pinterest (or both).
The main differences between the two lie in their typical users (Instagram users tend to be from the younger/teenaged set, while Pinterest attracts more crafters and food lovers) and general feel (while Instagram tends to go for the more authentic, “off-the-camera” approach with its filters and whatnot, Pinterest’s layout lends itself well to infographics and offers). Nevertheless, both platforms are handy for businesses who reach out to their customers (B2C).
If you plan to produce a lot of video content, then go and set up a YouTube channel, pronto. YouTube attracts users of all kinds, so don’t worry about not finding enough of your target audience – instead, focus on optimizing your content so that your potential customers can find you and see what you’re all about.
2. Determine how much time, effort, and resources you’re willing (or able) to devote to social media activities.
Remember that getting your Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn profiles up and running is only the first step – and that an inconsistently updated social media page can be just as bad to you as not having any social media pages at all. You should only take on what you can manage; if you can’t commit to posting content, updates, or even just shared posts from other accounts, then you might as well focus your efforts elsewhere.
3. Find out where your target audience really is.
Think about it – the main reason why your business needs to be on social media is because you’re aiming to reach as many people who are likely to convert as possible. If you don’t take the time to really get to know your target market – specifically, which social media channels they favor and frequent – your messaging will fall on deaf ears, and your social media efforts will go to waste.
Ultimately, what matters is that you find a social media platform or two that you can consistently update and monitor. Take advantage of the power of social media as a tool for disseminating information, and see how it’ll benefit your business.
Liz Azyan is interested in the ways new kinds of social data and technology introduce challenges and opportunities to society. Get involved with Liz’s latest project here.