These days, the most effective marketing tools at our disposal are social media platforms. Their usefulness is no longer in doubt and everyone knows that social media is a crucial part of staying relevant and visible.

While social media is absolutely useful for exposure, knowing which platforms to choose for your business can be a bit tricky. You might think ‘why not all of them’, but you’d be very wrong, first of all because having a social media presence requires time and effort and if you’re pouring those into a platform that isn’t right for your business, then you’re just wasting time and resources.

We’ll be looking at a few social media platforms and the steps you should take to figure out which ones are right for you.

Facebook

At this point Facebook doesn’t really need an introduction. With over 2 billion active users each month, over 60% of which are Americans, it is by far the largest and most popular platform of them all.

It’s great for lead generation and its advertising tools can be customized to target very specific audiences. Apart from lead generation, Facebook is also excellent for connecting with your audience and showing the human side of your business, growing your following.

Facebook is great for many different types of content and as I mentioned, it’s all about showing a different side of your company to the large number of people on the platform.

Twitter

Twitter is great for easily digestible text content and it is excellent if you’re looking for immediacy and a way to quickly reach out to your followers with announcements or important messages and such. It’s also great for one-on-ones with followers who are either looking for help from you or are just quickly mentioning something about your company.

You can also use images and videos in your tweets, but the main focus is always text, generally kept short and sweet.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is usually a great choice for B2B businesses and is especially useful for lead generation. It is first and foremost a business platform and is ideal for editorial content, which can be of great help in establishing you as a trusted leader in your company’s field, as well as building your brand’s authority.

The demographics differ a bit from other platforms since it is business oriented, with most people on there between the ages of 30 to 49.

Pinterest

Pinterest is focused on images and can be great if your company sells products, as you can use it as a sort of promotional platform for your products.

It’s worth noting that most of its userbase consists of women and generally the businesses that thrive on Pinterest are focused on food, art, fashion, travel, weddings, decorations, handmade products, and others of this nature.

Instagram

There are a billion active users on Instagram and while it is basically a photo sharing platform focused on socializing, it can be a great driver for your business.

It is considered a great platform for engaging your audience, especially if you are focused on younger people, since its visual and simple style is more appealing to younger generations than others like Twitter, for example.

Instagram can be used to grow a loyal following, show people compelling photos that can capture leads, and highlight your company’s mission and goals.

Now that we’ve taken a quick look at some of the most popular platforms available, let’s go over some questions that you should be asking yourself and steps that will help you determine which are best suited for your company.

  1. What is the nature of your business?

Are you running a B2B (business-to-business) or a B2C (business-to-consumer) business? Facebook and Instagram are usually great for helping B2C companies gain visibility and interact with customers. For B2B, LinkedIn would probably be the best way to go, as it can target potential clients and establish personal connections with them.

Regardless of the type of business you are running, YouTube can also be great for sharing product videos, reviews, comparisons, promotional videos, testimonial videos, announcement videos, and so on.

  1. What is your target audience?

As a small business, you can’t afford many failures, so you need to make sure you advertising budget is focused on your company’s core audience.

It goes without saying that as a business, you need to invest time in understanding your audience and where you can find them. Being active on a network doesn’t make much sense if the people you’re catering to aren’t using it.

For example, if you’re primarily trying to reach out to 50-year-old women, Instagram probably won’t help you and you’d likely be better off using Facebook or Pinterest.

When evaluating a social network, also look at your competitors and influencers within your niche to see if and how they are using it. If you find a lot of relevant content that seems to resonate well with users on that platform, that’s probably a good sign that there are potential customers you can reach through it.

  1. What are your client demographics?

How old are your clients? Are they male or female? Does geography make a difference? These are all questions you should have answers to before choosing a social media platform – or, to be honest, just in general.

Know your audience, know what every platform is about, and make an informed choice to be present on your audience’s platforms of choice.

  1. What are your competitors doing?

This one’s pretty simple; once you’ve done the research into your competitors and know who they are, check to see on which social media platforms they are present.

More than that, also look into the type of content they are publishing, how often they are doing it, how many people engage with their content, and overall, how many followers they have on each platform.

Engagement on social media platforms is crucial, because this tells you that there’s an active audience there. How many likes or followers a company page has is irrelevant, what really matters is how many likes, shares, and comments their content is getting. Tens of thousands of followers don’t mean much if they’re not active and interacting with your brand.

Studying your competitors can always provide good insights and is definitely something you should be doing before choosing social media platforms.

  1. What industry are you in?

Not all social media channels work well for every industry. For example, industries that are more visually driven like fashion or cosmetology are typically better suited for social networks which rely more on imagery than text, such as Instagram, Pinterest, or Snapchat.

Other industries, such as software or tech, for example, have generally seen more success on Twitter, where the companies can curate content and pull users to their websites.

  1. Do your business goals align with the platform’s offerings?

Choosing what platform to focus on also means understanding what your social media goals are.

For example, if you want to enhance your customer care, Twitter would be a great choice. As mentioned earlier, it is a great platform for customer feedback. If you are in the travel and hospitality industries, Instagram will likely be a great choice for as you can showcase your offerings or properties in a visually compelling way.

Once you’ve answered all these questions, you should have a pretty good idea of where to focus your time and resources. To sum it up:

  • understand how each platform works, what type of content they are best suited for, and what their userbase demographics are;
  • know who you are targeting, understand their needs, know where they are;
  • study your competitors and see what’s working for them;
  • choose a platform based on the type of business you have and whether the type of content you want to share is suitable for that platform and its userbase.

  1. Which channels are already bringing in traffic?

If you’ve already gone ahead and created accounts on several social media platforms and have been active on them, you can go ahead and look at your analytics to see which of the platforms brings in the most traffic.

If you’re seeing some good results from some of these platforms, it may be worth focusing more on them over others. At the same time, check which posts are the best performers for insight into what potential strategy you can use in the future.

  1. Which platform is a best fit for your content?

Many brands tend to make the mistake of not considering the type of content they intend on publishing when choosing a social media channel.

Content that performs well on Twitter won’t necessarily translate well to Instagram, so let’s take a quick look at which type of content is best for which platform:

  • curation – if you intend to curate content and share many links with your followers, Twitter and Facebook should suit you well. Posts on these platforms include thumbnails, snippets, and other features you can use to highlight them. LinkedIn can also be a great choice for B2B companies.
  • company news – depending on your niche, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are great for content-heavy posts, webinars, and events. Instagram stories, on the other hand, are great for announcing upcoming product launches or highlight limited releases in a visual manner.
  • videos – if your social media strategy is video driven, you have many options available. YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram offer robust features for video content.
  • images – social media is ruled by visuals, and I don’t just mean videos. Over 70% of online marketers use visual assets in their marketing strategies. The platforms best suited for photos or graphics are Instagram and Pinterest.
  • branding – many companies turn to social media for branding purposes. While your methods will vary depending on your content strategy, great visuals and photos are typically a big part of this. Instagram and Snapchat users are typically highly engaged, so these two platforms should be great for branding. Both of them also focus more on content rather than advertising.
  • lead generation – LinkedIn is clearly the winner for lead generation and B2B social media. If you’re serving customers, however, Instagram or Pinterest are likely the way to go. Studies show that over 90% of Pinterest users plan their purchases on the platform, with more using it to gather information on the products they’re interested in.

As you’ve probably guessed yourself, the best approach tends to be a combination of several social media platforms. Not only does this mean you will have a wider reach, but it also adds variety to the content you’re publishing.

Managing multiple social media channels, however, is no easy feat. Simply sharing a link across every social media channel won’t do it, you have to provide unique experiences on each platform.

Each platform should also have its own strategy, and it should include:

  • posting frequency & schedule
  • the type of content you intend to publish
  • your goals & objectives
  • an actionable growth plan

Once you start using a social media platform, organization is key. You have to constantly churn out content and engage with your audience, or you risk losing their attention. One of the biggest challenges businesses face when using social media marketing is keeping followers engaged. If you stop replying to Twitter mentions or Instagram comments, followers will notice this, they will feel less connected with your brand, and they’ll simply stop engaging with you and move on.

Final thoughts

Social media can prove challenging for a business, and choosing the right platforms, the right content, and the right strategies to use is no easy task. However, starting slow is perfectly fine. Use the tips from above and pick two or three platforms to focus on as you begin your journey into social media marketing.

Hopefully, this article has helped you get a better understanding of the most popular social media channels available to your company, the right type of content for each of them, and where you should focus your efforts based on your target audience and each platform’s demographics.