Select the right social media platforms for your business

With the amount of hype there is around social media, you’d be forgiven for thinking that every platform delivers marketing miracles for every company that joins. However, that isn’t strictly true. Yes, social media can do wonders for your brand – but only if you select the correct social media sites to deliver your business objectives.

Marketing via social media can be extremely cost effective but it’s also a time consuming activity if you want to engage fully with potential customers. For the sake of your schedule and your results, you must select the social media platforms that will work for your business and your target demographic.

What are your marketing objectives?

There are a number of potential goals for your social media activity. These include:

• Increasing your SEO rankings and building traffic on your website through social media integration
• Building a loyal community or following that you can use for market research purposes
• Increasing brand awareness or positive sentiment about your brand
• Converting social media followers into customers
• Influencing consumer decision making.

The objectives that you select will influence your choice of social media platform. For example, Facebook is better at driving traffic to websites and gathering consumer information than it is at improving SEO rankings. Twitter is ideal if your target market is hungry for frequent updates – for example, IT professionals or fashionistas.

Your overall objectives will influence the type of content that you need to share with your online communities, which in turn will largely determine which social media sites you use. Obviously, Pinterest and YouTube are completely visual but have huge audiences, if you think it’s more important to share tips and business guidance, Facebook or LinkedIn are probably better bets. In short, how important is storytelling compared with images or videos to your marketing strategy?

You should also consider the amount of time that you can devote to achieve your objectives. Twitter requires multiple posts each day in order to attract and maintain a following, whereas Facebook generally demands fresh items each week and YouTube works best on two or three new video posts each month. You also need to factor in time to respond to comments to ensure that you keep your community engaged. Never forget social networks are built on conversations, sharing and interaction.

Where are your customers?

Another important factor to consider is which social media platforms your customers use most often. For example, you may associate Facebook with young people but the majority of the site’s members are over 35. As you might expect, LinkedIn has an even older membership profile and ‘younger’ platforms such as Google+ are capturing a middle class audience of users around 25-34 and Pinterest and Instagram are reeling in more of the teenage and young adult market.

Your customer profile is obviously heavily influenced by the culture and image of your business. For example, if you want to establish credibility and authority, is Facebook really the right platform – or would LinkedIn or Twitter be more appropriate? The more informal social media sites are more suitable to having casual conversations with your community and encouraging them to interact with each other. Considerations for b2b and b2c marketing requirements should also be considered.

Other aspects that you may wish to analyse are the gender, income levels, locality and education achievements of user profiles across each social media platform. Aligning these with your customers is another way of ensuring that you market to the right consumer segment and maximise your conversion rates.

By analysing the key factors of culture, objectives, customer demographics and available resources, you will be in a better position to devise a social media strategy that will deliver results for your business.

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