February 09, 2015 Marketing and Sales

When you're busy running your business, it's impossible to find time to be active on every social media outlet out there. Narrowing down your choice to just a select few platforms will allow you to focus your efforts and get the best return on your time investment.

So how do you choose the best social media platform? Here are three steps to determine which platform is perfect for your business.

Step 1: Identify your audience 

The first step is to identify who your audience is. You want to be as specific as possible, since it will make your decision easier. Write down the answers to the following questions:

  • Who is your typical customer?
  • How old are they?
  • Are they male or female?
  • What is their income and education level?
  • What are they interested in outside of your product and service?

Use the answers to these questions (and any other pertinent questions that may relate to the business or industry you’re in) in order to help build out a profile of your audience.

Step 2: Define your goals

Once you know your audience, you need to define goals for that audience. As a business owner, your primary goal will likely be to drive sales by attracting customers—yet, there are other creative goals for social media. While some brands use social media to drive brand recognition and to develop friendly relationships with potential buyers, others use social media for customer support.

For example, on-demand media company Netflix uses the Twitter handle @Netflixhelps to address customer service issues. Not only does it free up their phone lines, but it gives satisfied customers an opportunity to promote their brand. 

When it comes to creating your social media goals, brainstorm a list of both typical and unusual ways social media could work for your brand.

Step 3: Find your audience

Now that you have your audience profiled and your goals defined, it’s time to find your audience. To do this, you’re going to determine which platform your audience uses by looking at the demographics of the users on each platform. You’ll also want to consider how active your audience is on that platform. For example, while young Facebook users may have profiles, they’re more active on Instagram.

Besides demographics and engagement, you’ll also want to look at how individuals use the platform.

Below is a guide to some of the major social media platforms to help you find your audience.

Facebook

Facebook reports over 1.3 billion users—that’s larger than the population of China! With all that noise, it’s important to remember how individuals use Facebook: to build relationships and keep contact with old friends. This makes Facebook a good platform for building the loyalty of your existing customer base.

The downside to Facebook is that it may be hard to reach a new audience; due to its large population, your posts have a limited reach—even within your own networks.

As you assess Facebook as a potential platform, carefully consider your business goals. 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 option for your business.

Twitter

Twitter is an excellent platform to build awareness for your brand. 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. Why would you do this? Because Twitter can offer insight into what topics are trending, Twitter is often used by news outlets to find stories.

Since Twitter is often used to provide real time updates to an audience, many brands combine Twitter with offline engagement, such as events.

Pinterest

Pinterest is used for “scrapbooking” or, in other words, saving content by “pinning” photos to a virtual bulletin board. Female users dominate the Pinterest demographic. Some of the most common pins are recipes, style ideas, striking photographs, and DIY crafts.

Since Pinterest is a visual-based platform, you'll need strong graphics to engage users. Successful business use of Pinterest has been linked to strong retail sales.

YouTube

Although YouTube boasts 1 billion users, its reach extends far past that. You don’t have to sign up to be a user to view content on YouTube.

As a result, YouTube has become one of the biggest search engine platforms. Many of these searches are for “How To” videos. Service industry businesses who can offer this type of content work well on this platform.

LinkedIn

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. People use LinkedIn to search for jobs and to network professionally. As a result, the platform is useful for B2B lead generation, general networking, as well as recruiting employees.

Instagram

Instagram is one of the fastest growing platforms, especially among a young audience. Like Pinterest, Instagram relies on photos for conversation. As a result, this platform works really well for visual based businesses, like art, food, retail, and beauty.

Because it’s a growing platform, there’s less noise than Facebook. This means the platform is useful for generating leads because your reach is wider.

Google+

Google+ is known for an older male demographic. This platform works well for businesses in the software, engineering, and design spaces.

Because the platform is linked to Google Search, it carries more weight in driving traffic to your website. Thus, you should consider the use of Google+ if your goal is search engine optimization.

 

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