My clients, many savvy in their own right about marketing and digital platforms, often come to me asking about each new entry into social media. It’s a rapidly evolving digital landscape. Figuring out which channels best fit with your brand and how to leverage that for the best results isn’t a simple process. This month’s blog will help clarify how to make those decisions for your small business.
There’s not one business, small or large, that can’t benefit from the 2 billion consumers who make up 75% of all internet users globally. They use social media to research products, read reviews, voice their opinions, and share their choices with others. Let’s take a look at how to tap into this vast audience.
Navigating social media platforms
Social media is a dynamic part of commerce, changing and evolving constantly. The proliferation of mobile devices with improved screens and cameras has opened the door to video-driven content across all channels, but particularly YouTube, TikTok, and Instagram. Let’s take a look:
TikTok: A short-form video app, TikTok commands a user base of more than 1 billion worldwide. It empowers users to create and share 15-second videos across thousands of subjects. Its influence extends to celebrities and brands, making it a formidable platform for businesses to engage with their target audience.
Instagram: Known for the visual presence it creates for brands, Instagram offers users a place to share images, Reels, live streams, private messages and Stories. Instagram Stories alone attracts a staggering 500 million daily users. Among my clients, it is the fastest growing platform reaching the most users. We also mention Threads here, as it is an off shoot of Instagram, created by parent company Meta. The platform is a hybrid of Instagram and what Twitter once was with users having more control over what they see in their news feeds.
YouTube: This is the granddaddy of video platforms and the second-most used search engine on the internet, behind only its parent company, Google. Users upload, review, rate, and share videos on a global scale. More and more ambitious streamers have turned their channels into successful moneymakers by reviewing video games, streaming politics, and producing their own web shows. Its impressive monthly visit count of more than 14 billion users eclipses other major platforms like Facebook, Wikipedia, Amazon, and Instagram.
Facebook: Holding the title of the world’s largest social media platform, Facebook has a staggering 2.85 billion monthly active users. This giant in the field may be losing some of its luster, though, because with that many users, content is greatly diluted and its hard for brands and businesses to get traction unless they have some seriously fantastic content, or they pay for ads or boosts. One element of Facebook that still gets good attention is its Facebook Live streaming feature.
LinkedIn: What started out as a way to get your resume in front of prospective employers has evolved into a place where professionals gather to discuss their industries. By writing articles and joining pertinent industry groups, users can share their expertise and learn from their peers. The platform still is the place where hopeful employees search for job opportunities, as well, but profiles are much more than glorified resumes these days. LinkedIn’s user base exceeds 830 million worldwide. A distinctive feature is its Cover Story, allowing users to create 20-second personalized videos to make a lasting impression.
X (previously Twitter): It’s hard to determine where X fits into the landscape at the moment. The rapidly changing platform has been bleeding users for a while, and the purchase of Twitter by Elon Musk has markedly changed the platform. His rebranding to X has had mixed reviews and mixed results. Renowned for its real-time updates and networking capabilities, X still empowers users to employ hashtags and tag up to 10 accounts in a tweet. It boasts a global user base of 396.5 million monthly active users.
Clubhouse: This unique audio-based social network unites like-minded in club rooms for real-time conversations. The platform, originally only accessible by a very coveted invitation, grew rapidly when first launched in 2020—remember those days of finding any means possible to connect to others during lockdown? With more than 28 million downloads, Clubhouse still has an avid fanbase.
Snapchat: This platform is built upon the premise that nothing lasts forever, especially chats. Users share photos, videos and use the platform’s iconic filters to create content. The platform has grown from there, with multiple advertising options, including branded filters, geotags and more. There are 332 million daily active users.
Pinterest: Centered on image sharing, Pinterest resonates with a user base of 443 million monthly users. Its users are particularly receptive to product exploration, rendering it an ideal platform for brand engagement. My clients have successfully used Pinterest to improve search engine optimization (SEO) and gain brand awareness in visually dominant industries. However, creative content for non-visuals industries can be successful, too.
Reddit: A hub of informative content, Reddit’s users place their trust in its product information. Its diverse user demographics can make it a valuable platform for businesses.
Quora: With its question-and-answer format, Quora offers users a platform to seek and provide information. Boasting 200 million monthly visitors, it serves as a valuable resource for engaging with an audience.
Deciding which works for you
So, with all these choices, how do you determine which platforms will work most effectively for your business or brand? We’ve created this seven-step process to help you make that decision.
First, define your ideal customer. This is the first pillar of successful marketing. Your current customers may not be your ideal ones. Craft a list of all the traits your perfect customer will possess, and that’s the first part of identifying your target audience. Use this client persona to research their online behaviors and discover where they hang out.
Second, know and understand the different demographics of each social media platform. All have distinct user demographics. Align your target audience’s characteristics with platforms catering to their preferences. For instance, Instagram might be ideal for younger audiences, while Facebook resonates with older demographics.
Next, be a spy and analyze who the followers are on a competing brand’s channels. By examining the brands and influencers your target audience follows you will gain insights into their online behavior and what content will most appeal to them. You can also use social listening tools to help with your research.
The next step is closely aligned. Check out where your competitors are online and which platforms they are using. Look at their social media accounts and determine which platforms are performing best and attracting your ideal customer. This research can also fuel inspiration and clarifies which platforms hold priority for your customers.
Now, look at the personality of the platforms. You want to be on platforms that align seamlessly with your company’s image and voice. For example, if you’re a prestigious law firm with a strict corporate image, you may look to LinkedIn. If you’re a novelty company that appeals to all ages, TikTok might be the ticket.
Final steps in choosing a platform
When it comes to the final decisions, it’s time to consider your budget and how much time you want to invest. I sometimes get client inquiries where they want to post 3-5 times a day on seven platforms. When I explain the amount of time and money it will cost to create and manage that much content, they often reconsider. We then zero in on how to most effectively use the budget they have. And I am talking about both money and time budgeting. Spending just 10 minutes a day on a platform translates into around 6 hours a month. Do you have that time? Or do you have the budget to hire someone to take that on?
Finally, this one is one of the most critical steps. Measure the results! Identify the best time of day to post. Figure out which type of content got the most engagement. Try different styles of posts, content, photos, and videos to find your marketing sweet spot.
In summary, choosing which platforms to pursue requires an assessment of your target audience, platform demographics, business objectives, and budget. Each platform serves as a unique avenue to engage potential customers, offering businesses the chance to maximize your digital marketing impact. The essence of effective social media marketing transcends content creation, embracing the cultivation of meaningful relationships with your audience.
As you embark on this journey, keep in mind that the future of social media is dynamic and ever evolving, with new networks continually emerging. Prioritize thorough research before venturing into lesser-known platforms, ensuring that your chosen platform aligns with your brand and business goals. If you find yourself overwhelmed by this process, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team at AZ Media Maven. We’ve been managing social media for small business owners for more than a decade. Book a free consultation to discuss your company’s needs.
Remember, the power to choose brings with it the challenge of making the right decision. In the realm of social media marketing, this choice is a pivotal step toward achieving your business’s digital aspirations. By thoughtfully navigating the diverse terrain of social media platforms, businesses can position themselves to forge lasting connections, drive engagement, and ultimately succeed in a competitive digital landscape.
AZ Media Maven is based in Laveen, AZ, a suburban village in the greater Phoenix area. Owner Rose Tring has more than 30 years of journalism experience as an editor and writer, many of those years in business news. She created AZ Media Maven in 2012 to help other business owners succeed by effectively telling their stories through public relations and social media. Reach AZ Media Maven at email@example.com or call (602) 373-8371.