As your business enters the world of social media there are more than a few questions to be answered. But more often than not, the first we hear from clients is this: Which are the most valuable social platforms for my company?
The short answer: it depends. There is no one answer for all businesses. There are only social media platforms that are right for your brand and your audience. Social media is a very personal experience, and that’s true for brands as well as individuals.
With new platforms and tools popping up all the time, it can seem overwhelming to sort out where your business can find the most value. But don’t worry, with a bit of planning and strategy, social media for your business can be simple and impactful.
Get to Know Your Audience
It may seem obvious, but it’s also often overlooked in the excitement over shiny new platforms — you need to know who you’re targeting and what platforms they are really using.
You can put out great content day and night, but if you’re sharing it on a platform where your target audience isn’t spending time, you’re wasting valuable time, money, and effort. Demographics are a good place to start (and you can find a great overview on the demographics for top social platforms from Sprout Social here), but before your brand jumps into a new social platform you’ll want to do some detective work beyond just surface-level demographics. Look at interests, hashtags, and the details that will matter to your target audience.
Make a Match (With the Right Platforms for Your Audience)
Once you’re armed with valuable audience data, you’re ready to consider your platform options. Certainly the list of social media platforms is always changing (and Marketo’s done a pretty great job of outlining most of them here), but don’t let the length or changing nature of the list overwhelm you. It’s okay to start small with one or two platforms. You’d rather have one stellar presence on Twitter (for example) than seven mediocre profiles that span the social spectrum. And remember — always let your target audience be your guide.
Have an Eye for Numbers (and Analytics)
To know what’s working, you need to keep a close eye on the numbers. As we shared in our recent post on social media measurement, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram all have built-in analytics that make this fairly simple, Google Analytics can help you keep an eye on how much traffic your social program is driving to your site. By staying close to your numbers, you can quickly adapt when things aren’t working or ramp them up when they are.
Be prepared for the fact that this, sometimes means moving on from a platform that just isn’t working for you. In most cases, that early research can help you avoid picking a platform that’s missing the mark, but social media is an ever-changing space. So, if you’re missing the mark, it may be time to move on to focus on social ventures that are bringing in the results you need. Much of social is about experimentation, so it’s helpful to adopt that mindset going in.
Don’t Be Afraid to Keep Experimenting (Within Reason)
Once you know the rules it’s okay to bend them, just be smart about it. This doesn’t mean jumping on every new platform that pops up, but it does mean keeping your eye out for new opportunities. Every new social media tool won’t make sense for your company, but you want to be sure you don’t miss one with great potential when it comes along.
In social media, as in life, it’s impossible to be everywhere at once, and if you’re a small business trying to build awareness, it’s best to focus your efforts for maximum impact. So take the time to study which platform(s) might be the best fit for your business and let your audience be your guide from there.