How to Choose the Right Social Platforms for Your Business (Part 1)

In some ways, social media marketing offers business owners unprecedented opportunity. Never before has it been so easy to reach so many potential customers without investing in expensive and far-reaching advertising campaigns.

But on the other hand, figuring out your social strategy can cause a few headaches, too. Who are the best customers to target? Which messages will they respond to? And, which social media sites should you be using in the first place?

Of course, these questions are all interrelated. One of the most important issues facing your business, however, is how to choose which social platforms to concentrate your time and attention on.

Today, we’re going to move you one step closer to finding the answers you need. Below, you’ll find a list of the major social platforms small and medium-sized businesses use to target buyers, along with their relative strengths and weaknesses:

Facebook – with more than a billion registered users, Facebook is well-known across many different demographics. However, most of Facebook’s biggest fans are people who log on to trade jokes, personal photos, and fun messages. To make any kind of marketing impact, you need content that grabs attention quickly. Otherwise, they’ll skip over your marketing and move on to something more entertaining.

Twitter – tweets are all about brevity, and there isn’t a lot you can say and 140 characters or less (or sometimes, in a single image). However, with the right kind of message you can achieve a viral effect that spreads far beyond your followers and into a much bigger audience. Twitter is also great for communicating directly with celebrities and influencers.

Google + – as a newer social platform, Google + is constantly changing and evolving. Some users swear by it, while others never seem to catch on to its features. What makes it important, though, is its integration into Google’s search algorithm. If you want to promote your business locally, it’s a good idea to have a strong Google + presence, complete with photos, reviews, and geographic keywords.

Instagram – because Instagram is all about images, it lends itself well to certain types of companies (like bakeries, resorts, clothing shops, etc.) and can do little for others (like insurance agencies, manufacturing companies, and so on). If you produce the kinds of photos people like to share, however, it can be a very powerful platform.

Pinterest – in a similar way, Pinterest is driven by images and infographics. The key difference here, however, is that women make up the base of core users, and collections are centered around distinct interests. So, if you have high-quality photos, and a strong female customer base, you might be able to reach your audience effectively through Pinterest.

LinkedIn – as the only popular social media site that’s devoted to business and networking, LinkedIn is perfect for getting in touch with executives and going deeper into an organizational chart. Plus, it has many groups and forums related to different industries and interests.

YouTube – although the world’s most popular video host is not a “social media site” by the strictest definitions, YouTube is part video distributor, part search engine, and part social platform. Regardless of how you think of it, you should probably consider uploading videos that have educational value to your customers.

Simply understanding what the different social media platforms are used for is a good first step towards figuring out which ones you should be using your business. In the next post – part two in our series – we’ll go a bit deeper and help you identify the social channels that make the best fit for your business plan.

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