There are many social media platforms to choose from, and for any startup company (or established company), it can be a daunting process to decide which platform is right for the business. “Most people and companies can’t be amazing on every platform; that takes a huge amount of bandwidth and resources. Instead of having a sub-par representation in a lot of places, be awesome on a few of them.” (Source: Levy). A company should not have an account on every existing social media platform unless those platforms will truly help the company meet the business’s objectives and goals. Companies should strategically decide which social media platforms will be the right fit, based on a few factors.
Where Do the Customers Live?
A company should establish a presence on the platforms that their customers use the most. This starts with through market research and gaining a true understanding of the target audience.” When you know your target audience’s age, occupation, income, interests, pains, problems, obstacles, habits, likes, dislikes, motivations, and objections, then it’s easier and cheaper to target them on social or any other media” (Source: Daoud). Once that level of understanding is established, then an effective social media strategy can be established. A company will know what channels to frequent, what tone to use, and what type of competition the audience will prefer. “These data-driven insights will ensure that your strategy, and the channels you choose, facilitate the most relevant, targeted approach possible, which in turn will increase your chances of conversion” (Source: Smith).
The Wrong Way to Choose a Social Media Platform
Don’t Follow the Masses
A company may think it’s a good idea to utilize a social media platform simply because there is a high number of users. Don’t. Sometimes social media platforms can be at risk for a high number of spam accounts, which can inflate the number of users for that platform. A company should perform in-depth analysis of the demographics of each platform, versus choosing based on which one has the most users.
Social networks, ranked by monthly active users:
- Facebook: 1.28 billion
- Google+: 540 million
- Twitter: 255 million
- Instagram: 200 million
- LinkedIn: 187 million
- Pinterest: 40 million (Source: Lee).
Looking at these numbers, it would appear that every company should be on Facebook in order to engage with a large number of potential customers. But, if the company’s target audience is not actively using Facebook, the engagement will be wasted.
Check out the Competition
It is also a good idea to see what platforms the competition is using and whether they are successful. “Checking how active your competitors are on social media, as well as how well their followers engage with what they post, will provide you with valuable insights that you can then replicate to guarantee success for your own strategy” (Source: Smith).
A Place to Call Home
Choosing the right social media platform to call home
Choose one social media platform to consider the home base. A company should use one platform as the central hub for all information related to the company, but the other platforms should amplify the overall social media strategy.
Best Use of Resources
The right resources for managing your social media platforms
Who will handle the company’s social media accounts? Will there be a team or one person handling it all? These are keys questions to ask to determine how many social media platforms the company can handle. One person handling 7 different platforms is probably not the best use of time or resources. Content and responses will be at risk of being sub-par.
“Growing your presence on social media takes a fair amount of time and money. However, different channels can cost you more than others. For example, creating and sharing videos on platforms like YouTube or Vine requires more of an investment than sending out a tweet” (Source: Rampton).
If the business is smaller and does not have the budget or resources to handle a large social media strategy, it is important for that company to choose platforms wisely. Choosing the most effective social media platforms will have a better return than trying to follow what competitors with a larger budget can manage. Automation platforms such as Hootsuite or Buffer can make the management process easier for a company that has a smaller budget or limited resources.
Conversation vs. Content
Social media should be used as a way to connect with the target audience. “You can also judge the value of a social network based on how well it fits your content and strategy. If you create content that your audience loves, you’re likely to find your audience on social network” (Source: Lee). It should not be a one-way interaction–always pushing content about the company to its followers. “A company should create a healthy balance between promoting content and conversation. Engage and interact with followers. Social media can be a great tool to build a relationship with the target audience.
When deciding the best social media platform for a company, it is not a one-time decision. A company should continuously assess the performance of the social media platform. Is it working? Is the target audience engaging with the content and interactions?
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