As the new year welcomes personal and professional goal-setting, you may soon find yourself revisiting your organization’s social media strategy. An important step in developing those plans is to decide which social media platforms you’ll be active on for marketing purposes.
There are many platforms to consider. Be choosy! You’d rather be strong on one or two platforms than weak on many. Otherwise you’re wasting your time. Think about the personnel your organization has available to create content and moderate each online community. If you have a large social media team, you may have the means to be active on all of the popular social media platforms with little concern. But expecting a single employee to manage too many sites on their own will stretch their attention thin, and cause the quality of your social media presence(s) to suffer.
Where is your target audience spending their time online? People of varying ages or interests typically frequent different social media sites. Below is information about a few of the most common social media sites, and some of their characteristics you should keep in mind before including them in your social media strategy.
With more than 1 billion active users, Facebook is the only platform I suggest all businesses be active on universally. Despite what you’ve heard about younger users flocking from it, every age group is well-represented. It’s almost become more important to have a Facebook page than a phone number. And even the tiniest budget can turn promoted posts into one of the most efficient and precisely targeted tools in your advertising toolbox.
Facebook is packed with features, and is constantly innovating. Whether you’re posting photos and videos, or your content leans heavy on the written word, you can still be discovered on the site.
Twitter was long the second-place platform behind Facebook, and it was common to see brands present on both. But it’s actually losing users in the face of new competition from sites like Instagram and Snapchat. The main problem is that it has become a fire hose of information, and it’s difficult to have your short, 140-character “tweets” seen among so many others. I haven’t completely given up on Twitter yet. But I suggest you prioritize it last on your list of social platforms if you only have the resources to be effective on a few.
Instagram is my personal favorite social media platform. Your feed is full of photos and short video clips that the site allows users to apply vintage-like image filters to. It’s one of the fastest growing social media sites, and hashtags and location tagging make it so easy to have your content discovered. And since it was acquired by Facebook, it’s also quick to add new features and innovate. It started simply as a photo-sharing site, but later added video, direct messaging, live video, and recently a “stories” function (that for better or worse imitates Snapchat).
It’s a highly visual platform, so it’s effective for promoting attractive physical products. Food, clothing, cars, and sports are all subject matter that would perform well.
Think of LinkedIn as an online résumé that also allows interactive communication. The site bills itself as a professional social network for job seekers and business people. It has a news feed function similar to Facebook’s, except the content tends to lean more towards business, careers, training, and professional development. You can also create a business profile and publish to LinkedIn as your organization.
LinkedIn is more effective in promoting education/training opportunities, financial services, or other professional products. You probably don’t want to spend time promoting your restaurant or clothing store here.
The self-destructing messaging app reaches 41 percent of all 18 to 34 year-olds in the United States, EVERY DAY. Accessed only on mobile devices, Snapchat users share photos and videos with overlaid text and graphics to a list of recipients of their choosing. Buzz around it being the “sexting app” is overstated, though that element is present (but private). It’s difficult to grow a following on Snapchat since there isn’t an official discovery feature. But brands with strong existing social channels can promote their new Snapchat accounts there. There are also fun promotional opportunities with paid “on-demand” geofilters.
Snapchat is highly visual in the same sense that Instagram is. Food, fashion, and activity are appropriate subject matter. But no one is going to Snapchat to learn about going back to school for a master’s degree.
Its live nature makes Snapchat difficult for some marketing departments to adopt. Almost any other platform makes it possible to pre-write content, and pre-shoot photos and videos for approval by managers and department heads. Keep in mind that Snapchat content MUST be created/posted live and in-the-moment.
Pinterest is sort of a virtual pin-board that allows users to upload, save, and sort images—known as “pins”—that link back to a supporting URL. More than 80% of Pinterest users are women. Much of the user-pinned content consists of recipes, arts & crafts, fashion ideas, home decor, and more. The site offers business profiles that provide greater analytics on pin performance. If your company sells a product that can be cooked with, worn, or used creatively in some way, Pinterest might be the place for you.
Happy new year, and good luck in your 2017 social media marketing endeavors!