Choosing the right social media channels for your business

Social media platforms have evolved and have taken the whole digital realm of a business towards more visibility and user appraisal. It is rare to find a business which is not using at least one social media channel nowadays. There are several questions that arise at this point revolving around not only utilising a social media platform for your business, but how to know which one(s) to chose for your particular business? With a multitude of options it is hard to know which way to go; LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest or all of them. Yes, we understand it can be quite overwhelming sometimes, but nevertheless it is advisable to choose the most important social media channels for your business and make a well informed choice in doing so. Let’s get started and take a stroll through the various factors which would propel you towards choosing the right social media channels for your business.

Target

Define and consider what your objectives would be

Placing an interrelation between the social media platform and your business objectives is a good start. These platforms exist as independent and complementary entities, each accomplishing a unique goal. If you hit a deadend as to being able to explain why you have chosen a social media platform and do not know anything concrete as to how it would help you, you are probably barking up the wrong tree and shouldn’t worry about using it. While you are at it, it’s worth your time to consider any untapped opportunities. This may involve a little tactful consideration and observation. Are you a business to consumer (B2C) or a business to business (B2B) player? Let us consider brand awareness to be a thing you would like to accomplish. You should definitely go for large and well established platform like Facebook or LinkedIn, instead of experimenting with something new and lesser known. One of the most impressive functions of platforms like this is ‘paid promotion’, researching the various advertising options available on a platform will give you a nice insight as to how the promotion will fare and how it will reach your target audience. A platform like Facebook and its advertising options are reputed to be extremely effective, seeing that millions of businesses around the world use it daily. If you have your mind set on lead generation for your business, a platform like LinkedIn is likely to be your best mate. It’s generally understood as a super effective lead generating social media platform, whether it be cascading through updates, feature stories or joining groups and interacting. All this is from a purely B2B perspective. The cost per action is also quite a bit lower when put beside a Google Adwords campaign for instance. We know for a fact that Facebook and LinkedIn experience a slight delineation here. But a platform like Twitter on the other hand is comprised of a diversified audience. Its users range from young teenagers to business magnets and hot shot celebrities. Medium and small businesses use Twitter quite rampantly, to target both consumers and businesses alike. Some businesses might require a lot of imagery and visual depiction, like if you would run a fashion label or even a flower shop. Instagram and Pinterest are potential considerations for you to go with since these platforms command massive audiences of all types and effectively reinforce the concept of user engagement through pictures, photo stories and ideas, such as pins on a Pinterest boards. Your business would also not want to feel left out of action and at times want to indulge in explainer videos, company prologues or broadcast interviews, which leads us to Youtube. It is the world’s second largest search engine and the world’s largest video platform.There are 5 billion videos watched on YouTube every day! YouTube’s a social media video platform that can be extremely beneficial if visibility is one of your objectives. For video content that is short and has a young target audience, do consider Instagram, Periscope, Vine or Snapchat. If the video is long and is quite fluid and universal, Facebook, Twitter and YouTube can generate plenty of engagement.

Audience

Where are your competitors hanging out?

Once you’ve had a look at how the target audience is faring and where, you can now get a glimpse into the hideouts of your competitor’s social media dens, helping give you a good reference of the industry activity and what you should be doing. An insight into what sort of content your competitors are posting and when it is scheduled plus the reactions or engagement users have will educate you to things you can replicate or enhance within your strategy. You can re-visit social media monitoring tools like BuzzSumo or EpicBeats, which give you content ranking, number of shares, optimal length and format for being user friendly and engaging. Also, data on social media channels from which maximum shares are generated for a particular type of content is present. Brandwatch is another tool which allows you to monitor your competitor’s Facebook and Twitter social media output. It also allows you to track any mention of your brand’s name across the internet. Facebook has an interesting feature in its insights overview section called ‘Pages to watch.’ This feature allows you to study the performance of similar pages in your industry. There are an array of options available for you to utilise in terms of social media listening and monitoring to enhance your marketing strategy.

Huloo Competitor Watch

Where is your target audience hanging out?

As popular marketer Seth Godin says, “marketing is a contest for people’s attention.” This is where you find out if you are hanging out in the right area or not. For example, if a major portion of your target audience are women who are into fashion, it makes sense to party on Pinterest rather than Snapchat. Snapchat is one of the most popular social media mobile apps with a very young user base, mostly teens and millennials. It allows you to make your mobile phone a very effective market weapon, since all of its messaging service are mobile based. According to a Harvard Survey, 70% of snapchat users are female. Video campaigns can be run with target objectives specific to the data mentioned above. In order to help you decide, it’s generally considered industry standard to accumulate data from social media analytics and study it to craft a strategy. The process of being well informed about social media demographics will ensure you tap into the right sort of people; defined as target audience, which automatically implies a higher conversion rate. Establishing and identifying your target demographic and where they spend time is an important way to ascertain the most important social media channels to utilise and invest in. For example, the average Facebook user is under 30, attends/attended college and earns about $50k. This sort of information will help you decide upon why you choose a particular social media channel versus another. You do not want to make the mistake of assuming that the most popular social media channel is where your target audience is. For instance, imagine you are a brand that is targeting millennials with engaging visual content that would connect well with them, although Facebook is the biggest social media network, Snapchat would likely work better for you here. It is often joked among marketers that social media needs to be treated like a telephone and not a megaphone. This is important because you will gain an insight into your fans, their habits and the magnitude of engagement and likes. Sprout Social is a great social media monitoring tool to help you keep track of your socials. Social media monitoring will also help you in deciding upon which social media channels to keep maintaining as you roll forward. It can be a little intimidating to explore unchartered territory especially when you don’t know the map. Huloo has conducted critical market research into social media demographics and have uncovered some good oil on people and their desired choice of social media platform. For example, did you know that Pinterest has 31% of the internet’s adult audience and 44% of them are women? Stuff like this will give you a great insight into which channels to choose or respond to in a certain manner. In a nutshell all your strategies while choosing a social media channel should rely on demographic data, not trends that are in hype.

Backpack with contents

What sort of content are you contented with?

There are numerous content assets out there to choose from based on how they would compliment your business. Are you a B2C company with an awesome product to sell? Ideally, you would like to promote or post visual content like photographs etc, meaning Pinterest is going to be a place you would want to frequent. Shopify brags that about 93% of users use the platform to help themselves make a purchasing decision. Visual appeal is quite the by-product of using a platform like Pinterest. Instagram allows you to craft a visual brand story around your business while Tumblr is also oriented towards imagery but to a predominantly younger crowd. It is a pretty good idea to publish editorial articles on LinkedIn as this serves the purpose of placing your business as an industry ‘thought leader’ or authority. LinkedIn has a publishing platform that caters to about 300 million users. Medium is another great publishing platform which has a very high readership from college students at about 95%, with 43% of them earning paychecks larger than 6 digits. The moment you prioritise and determine your content assets, the final choice of social media channel selection becomes quite easy.

Huloo Twitter & Instagram

Can you manage multiple channels?

Do you have time to manage multiple social media channels and keep an eye on omnichannel analytics? There are tools which can make this easier for you: Social media scheduling tools like Huloo, Buffer and Hootsuite will allow you to schedule your posts across various mediums like Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and LinkedIn. The same post can be mixed and matched across all the platforms or edited accordingly. This sort of automation in terms of consolidated scheduling and analytics across multiple channels is a pleasant step forward, meaning a huge amount of time is being saved and the goal is then to not sit forever looking at the graphs. That’s why we created Huloo. Although this allows for addition of multiple channels to consider managing, it is great to start small, instead of a small start. Try picking out a few social media channels to get a grip and score a presence within them before adding another one. Time and budgets are two important entities that need to be invested as appropriately as possible.

Work

Fitting Social Media Channels into your workflow

Workflow alignment is perhaps one of the most popularly overlooked parameters in considering the utilisation of a social media platform, which naturally results in a mediocre efficiency and inconsistency in terms of performance and post-ability within any social media channel. Your internal workflow really does matter when choosing a social media channel because that is the core of your business which allows you to conduct everyday activities, appoint time and allocate resources oriented at maintaining interdependency. Put simply, it means considering your business’ physical activities on a daily basis to appropriate time and resources for your social media marketing endeavors. Let us see how this needs to be aligned with the platform you choose. Say you are an opticals label and you would like to run a social media campaign where your staff would take photographs of walk-ins who try on your glasses. And let’s say you use Instagram as a social media platform to run this campaign. This is a great idea and quite complimenting in nature to your business but is your workflow aligned? First off, you need your staff to be familiar with taking moderately good photographs on their mobile devices. Furthermore, let us assume you your staff can post directly to Instagram from their mobile devices. Some important questions to consider would be revolving around your brand’s consistency, tonality and relevance in hashtags - to name a few. You will notice that certain platforms would not really demand you to be absolutely critical about content - a particular image or post - while some do. The parameters to consider would be as such, you would not need to write exhaustive descriptions and narratives about the images you post on Instagram but when you post an image on Facebook, it is recommended to have moderate to critical description directed towards the image. This is where you need to weigh your options before choosing them, do you have the time and if you do, how much? Do you have the appropriate resources so that your everyday activities are not greatly interfered with? And lastly, how complimentary is that particular social media channel for your business? In a nutshell you need to consider if your time in the real world is going to permit you to accomplish your digital objectives or not, if yes, then ascertain which is the most suitable social media platform to operate from. We hope this helps you choose the right platform for your business’ social media needs. Do you think we missed out on something worth mentioning or do you have a finding of your own to share? We would love to hear from you! Huloo is your best friend for managing multiple social media channels, try it out to take the burden off your time.

Summary

It is important to maintain a clear understanding of the objectives your business needs to achieve and then analyse your options. For brand awareness popular platforms like Facebook and LinkedIn will do the trick. You can target both consumers and businesses alike using Twitter. For photostories and expressing unique ideas you can use Pinterest and Instagram. For long videos and visibility in terms of multimedia, YouTube is an amazing platform. Generalising a target audience and its location is crucial in framing your decision of a social media platform(s). The same goes for your competitors, the key is to not leave any terrain untapped and at the same time to not waste time in unnecessary terrains. Feasibility and requirement would determine whether you should use multiple channels of social media to start with. It would be good to get a grasp of compatibility in your work schedule before you lock a social media platform as your choice of operation.

Further reading

Further Reading Here are some links to social media platforms and their descriptions of their functionality and utility. Facebook YouTube Twitter LinkedIn Instagram Pinterest Snapchat