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How to choose the right social media platform

December 7, 2017

When it comes to social media, being selective about where you spend your time can be crucial to ensuring some kind of positive return on investment.

Given the limited cash flow and manpower available to a small business in its infancy, it’s important that owners are selective about the social media platforms in which they invest.

While each social media platform has different strengths, there are a few overarching guidelines one should consider before joining any social media network.

1. Focus on outlets where your audience congregates

Regardless of where might be popular at the moment, the most important deciding factor for choosing a social media platform is that it’s where your audience hangs out. Each social media platform has different general demographic tendencies, but it’s important to do some research into your audience to ensure that your particular audience is there before you invest in a platform.

2. Focus on what you enjoy

It’s important that you consider what kind of content you enjoy creating most, since you’ll likely be creating all of it in the beginning and you won’t excel at something you don’t enjoy.

3. Focus on what will scale

It’s also important to consider which type of content you can create with the least amount of investment, since if you’re planning on being successful with social, you’ll be creating a lot of content. Pick a type of content and a cadence that you think you’ll be able to maintain indefinitely, since social media is generally a longer-term play.

Snapchat

Snapchat is a video messaging app that creates videos and photos that are unable to be saved, creating a kind of “blink and you’ll miss it” engagement. For businesses looking to create deeper relationships with a generally younger audience, Snapchat is a great way to show behind-the-scenes footage, tease new products, or create buzz around events. However, Snapchat’s audience skews young, with nearly 40% in the 18-24 demographic and only 2% over 55, though that’s beginning to change, with more than half of its users signing up currently are 25+.

Live Video Streaming (Facebook, Instagram, Periscope)

Even though live video streaming is rolled into products like Facebook and Instagram, it’s unique enough a feature to be called out on its own. Originally Periscope, and now Facebook and Instagram, offer users the ability to stream video live to followers, allowing them to get a great look at whatever you’re doing right now. This can be used to great effect by businesses, from streaming events (performances, seminars, interviews, parties), to giving tutorials and how to’s, to sharing behind-the-scenes with followers.

YouTube

The original video juggernaut, with over a billion users watching a billion hours a video every single day, YouTube is an excellent opportunity for businesses to share their knowledge and personality with the world. In addition, being owned by Google has its benefits, with YouTube videos ranking great in search engine results pages, meaning videos with well-targeted titles and descriptions are a great way to be found by customers. Note, in order to look great, video can have a bit of a learning curve, so be sure you’re able to put your business’ best face forward when uploading to YouTube.

Instagram

For businesses that have an element that will look great in photos, like design shops, photographers, clothing stores, florists, etc., Instagram is a great way to build your brand. While it has great reach, with a community of 500 million, 59% of which check it every day and 35% multiple times per day, Instagram is less suited for driving conversions since it’s limited the ability to link from an individual post to a product page to paid placements. However, with a little practice, Instagram is relatively easy to do well, so if your product or service looks great, Instagram is a great place to showcase it.

Facebook

What can be said about Facebook that hasn’t been said before? Everyone is on Facebook, and though all the talking heads have been saying it’s dying among the young the fact is that nearly 80% of American adults use Facebook, including 88% of adults 18-29. For businesses, the name of the game is pay-to-play on Facebook since several years ago, in an effort to generate revenue, an algorithm change rolled organic reach of business pages to ~10% (or less), though many businesses are seeing success by creating Facebook groups which notify users of new posts by default. Just be careful not to abuse your group, as if you fail to provide value beyond advertising, your group won’t be successful.

Twitter

For businesses just starting up, Twitter can have a bit of a learning curve, as it requires constant maintenance. However, for building a network, especially among the B2B community, Twitter has a lot of advantages, with its most important being the ability to connect directly with peers and customers directly. Twitter’s become the go-to feedback loop for customers trying to reach businesses, so ensuring you’ve got a plan to respond to customer tweets is important. The key to Twitter, just like any other platform, is to provide value. Share 2/3rds other people’s content and 1/3rd your own to grow your network while avoiding the appearance of being just another spambot. Manage your stream using Hootsuite or Buffer to segment your followers and schedule your tweets for the week.