“If you make customers unhappy in the physical world, they might each tell six friends. If you make customers unhappy on the Internet, they can each tell 6,000 friends.”
When you hear successful people giving so much importance to having an online presence, such as the founder of one of the largest e-commerce companies, you have to wonder; ‘Am I utilizing the internet effectively to market my business?’
How Does a Social Media Presence Affect my Business?
With more than 3.6 billion users of different social media platforms, it is one of the most important and can become an effective online channel for your business. With more than 90% of small businesses already on Facebook, 30%-35% referral traffic is being driven from various social media platforms. Social media plays a vital role in your online traffic. It is being increasingly integrated with online advertising and SEO, helps build a community around your business, and dramatically expands your reach. Social media can also help you tell an engaging story about your brand and change customer perceptions. Still, with so many popular social media networking sites now, you need to know where your target audience is for your effort to give a good ROI.
Decisions, Decisions, Decisions
It can be challenging to decide which channel to pick and use, especially when there are dozens of online platforms that you can put your business on.
To name a few:
These are the top 5 social media sites that have captured a vast majority of online traffic share. So these should be the best ones to market your business on, or not? Here is how you can answer that question quickly!
Defining Your Audiences and Goals
Where Are You Getting Your Business?
To effectively use any social media platform, you should know your audience first and foremost. For this to happen, you must first decide whether you are a:
- Business-to-business company (B2B)
- Business-to-consumer company (B2C)
- Both B2B and B2C
We all know and understand that not everyone scrolls their social media for buying things, so unless you know who your customers are, you will struggle to capture them from the wrong platform.
What Are Your Goals and Objectives?
Moving forward, you need to determine why you are shifting to social media platforms. Are you looking to reach out to new customers, grow your audience demographics, find out which demographic is especially susceptible to your product, and increase brand awareness? Or is it because you want to give your customers another way to reach out to you to share their suggestions. Do you want your customers to be able to provide feedback, address concerns, or do you need to identify new and rapidly-evolving customer needs? Or do you wish to learn about your customers’ changing tastes and preferences so you can increase sales and boost traffic to your site?
These are the types of questions you need to ask yourself so your objectives are clear as it will help you decide the most efficient social networking platform.
What Platforms Is Your Audience Already Using?
The only reason anyone would want to invest in social media marketing is to get in touch with the target audience.
Around 60% of LinkedIn users do not use Twitter, and about 15% do not use Facebook. A business could lose out on hundreds of thousands of dollars in lost time and resources if your target audience is not using the same platforms you are utilizing. There are several ways you can find where your audience spends most of their online time. No one will advise you to choose a platform where your clients visit once in a blue moon.
Analyzing this can be as simple as conducting a customer survey to ask questions such as what social media sites customers (both existing and potential) are using, which online influencers they follow, and where they get their information. After deciding who your business caters to, you can target the right audience and focus on the platforms that only they use. Now you know where to put your precious business resources, so you are not wasting time and money on outlets your potential customers seldom visit.
What are You Going to Be Posting?
Another critical question you need to ask yourself when deciding which social media platform will be best for your business is what kind of content you will most likely be posting.
If you plan on promoting your business’ podcasts, it is almost next-to-useless spending money on creating YouTube videos. Knowing the type of content you will be making is necessary to narrow down your options, such as:
- Longform: Content that is 5000+ words;
- Case studies: Your data that you have compiled;
- Blogging: Ideal for nurturing relationships with your readers.
Once you have decided who you want to target and which goals you want to pursue, you have created an audience persona or their profile in simple terms. After the process mentioned above, you should be able to answer the following questions:
- What is the age group of your potential customers?
- Are you targeting a specific gender, or is your product/service gender-neutral?
- What is the average income of your target audience?
- What hobbies do they have?
- What are their interests?
- What problems do they have, or what are they expecting from you?
- Do they use traditional means of information, or are they more tech-savvy?
As every social media platform offers its unique selling point, all of this will help you decide which one is most suitable for you and your business. Once you have gathered all the relevant information about your business and determined your target audiences, you can begin with shortlisting two or three platforms that will best cater to your interests.
Weighing Different Options
Analyzing each of these social networking sites’ pros and cons will help make the final decision between just a couple of options from the big five. We can take it platform by platform:
The first thing that anyone will tell you to know about Facebook, of course, is the unbelievably extensive reach it has. For the record, Facebook has nearly 3 billion active monthly users, which is by no means a small number. Half the world is connected by Facebook, which means your business has more eyes than any other platform.
Interestingly, the same thing is its downside: with many pages, ads, and content vying for attention, Facebook demands attention in turn. It would be best to have a dedicated team to interact with your followers and users to convert them into leads. Of course, it also does not help if you are a B2B marketer or the fact that Facebook is notorious for throttling organic reach anyway (sources estimate it at lower than 10%, usually in the 7%-2% range).
On the plus side, however, your content is most easily shareable on Facebook as compared to any other platform – a whopping 37 times more than posts on LinkedIn and ten times more than on Twitter. It is competitive, sure, but it pays off!
LinkedIn picks up where Facebook falters. With Facebook’s low ratings for effectiveness when it comes to B2B marketing, LinkedIn steps in. A survey by the Content Marketing Institute and Marketing Profs found that only 30% of B2B professionals marketing through Facebook thought it was useful, against a staggering 66% approval for LinkedIn. On the other hand, it also has the lowest users out of all these social media platforms, and interaction can be steely. However, if you are a person-to-person kind of professional, your business can easily thrive on LinkedIn with reasonable conversion rates for leads.
While Instagram is the youngest of these platforms, it might also have the most youthful user base – and it is also the fastest-growing – which is just the right thing your business might need. Facebook owns Instagram, which makes cross-platform marketing super-easy. Of course, following from LinkedIn, you immediately pick up on the realization that Instagram does not have many professional networkers or serious buyers. Additionally, it is a visual platform: knowing how to navigate, organize, and effectively utilize Instagram is a whole new art on its own (though easily learnable, richly rewarding, and one that pays off with time).
Pinterest, similarly, relies on strong visuals and the knowledge of infographics. The target audience switches to more interested and focused consumers – mostly female – who are knowledgeable about what they want and keen to follow up on what they find out.
There is a high level of longevity and engagement, and your posts (“pins”) do not get fall off the bottom of people’s timelines, nor do they get drowned out in a sea of content. For the right people, Pinterest is the exact right thing. However, it does get its fair share of criticism with the type of pins that it attracts that you tend to see everywhere, but that is a whole new discussion and debate outside this article’s scope.
Twitter: just the name itself can conjure up some feelings in a person depending on what topics they are passionate about or what they care about in their day-to-day lives. Twitter is fast, Twitter is snappy, and Twitter is accessible! The retweeting element lets a lot of the work be done for you instead of chasing a specific goal; you have to make sure you bring your most engaging content and version of your brand. Finally, Twitter also allows you to build a brand image or persona more consistently. Users love interacting with businesses who seem to have a “personality,” something any brand could always use more.
Social media is the place to be if you want to have your finger on the market’s pulse at large and your customers. These are the five major social media platforms for marketing your business. Crafting a strategy to target the right audience on any one of these will translate into direct sales for your business, and at the very least, increased interest and more eyes on your brand with an expanded social media reach.
Effectively running these social media platforms requires planning and dedicated resources, as well as a proper structure. However, there might be some trial and error involved in the process, and you might have to slog through a little competition before you can gain some traction, no matter which platform you choose. Each of them has its risks and rewards, and the more you stay in the game, the more you learn and pick up and start to apply.
It can be tricky picking just one social media platform to focus on, as your business’s values and the approach that the social media platform in question requires might not align. It might seem even more challenging to manage multiple social media platforms at once. The proper desk tools can easily manage all social channels in one place. Asking yourself some questions, and brainstorming on them, can help you narrow down what you need:
- What type of content will sell your brand the best?
- What social media platform is your target audience already using?
- What do you want your target audience to know about your brand/business?
Ultimately, your business cannot afford to be off of social media. It is cheaper, more prominent, and more lucrative than ever before. Social media ads are more cost-effective and a better investment than running ads somewhere else – such as search engines – but only if done right, with maximum skin in the game.