If you’re like most business owners, you’ve had to acknowledge the benefits of social media. After all, an incredible 90% of marketers have said that social media is important to their businesses.
With well over 200 social media channels, how do you choose the right channels for your business?
I’ll try to help you answer that important question by providing an overview of 10 of the most popular social media channels and then some general questions to ask before making your final decision.
Launched in 2004, Facebook has become the social network with more than 1.86 billion monthly users. What makes Facebook for businesses is that it’s used by nearly all demographics and allows you to connect and engage directly with your audience.
Brands can use Facebook to keep their audience updated, share a variety of content from photos to videos, create groups and events, and can develop ads based on the demographics, location, or interests of their target audience.
Overall, Facebook is an excellent platform to build your online presence and spread brand awareness.
Twitter has over 300 million monthly users since launching in 2006. It’s often used by brands to directly inform their customers of upcoming events, sales, and business updates, such as a new product launch. It’s also a great platform to interact with industry influencers or receive the latest news within your industry. Because of its live updating feed, Twitter is extremely fast-paced, which means you may need to be more active on this channel than any other channels.
Because tweets are only 140-characters long, Twitter is ideal for delivering a concise message to your target audience. It’s also an effective platform to establish brand loyalty and handle customer service.
Unlike most other channels, LinkedIn is strictly used B2B. It’s comprised of some 100 million monthly users to make professional connections, as well as to reach potential clients and prospective employees. Because of this, businesses don’t have to be concerned about creating an attractive personality and can use LinkedIn to sell their products or services through useful, direct, and to-the-point content.
Yes. Google+ is alive and well. In fact, this platform has around 110 million monthly users. While this channel never took off as expected, Google+ has become an appealing platform for B2B firms and bloggers. What’s unique about Google+ is that it’s professional, yet casual. This allows businesses to create and share fun contacts like photos and videos.
The biggest advantage with Google+ is the SEO superiority it provides – which is evident since it’s a part of the Big G. Including a link to your website in your Google+ posts can boost your brand’s presence in search engine results.
Created in 2005, YouTube has since been acquired by Google and has an impressive one billion users. In fact, regarding monthly users, YouTube is the second most popular social media channel in the world.
Obviously, this channel is a video platform. Businesses can use YouTube to create instructional videos, give your audience a behind-the-scenes glimpse of your brand, post webinars, and share interviews or speeches.
This mobile photo-sharing app was launched in 2010 and since become a part of Facebook. It’s always one of the most exciting channels as it’s become the third most popular social network with 600 million monthly users. Don’t write-off this channel because it’s a visual platform.
Photos make up 93% of the most engaging Facebook posts. And, it’s been actually used by SEO companies, speakers, graphic designers, accountants, and fitness coaches to tell their brand’s story.
Many businesses overlook this channel since it’s primarily a new site. However, it’s the fifth most popular social media channel in the world. When used correctly, businesses can engage with their most passionate audience members to promote news, for an upcoming product launch or marketing campaign.
Pinterest is another visual platform that launched in 2010. It has around 150 million monthly users and has been dubbed “the world’s catalog of ideas” since it allows users to create digital pinboards for inspirational DIY projects – which can help increase your brand’s visibility and awareness. It’s especially helpful for businesses that are in the food, travel, fashion, and interior design industries.
Launched in 2011, Snapchat has become one of the fastest growing mobile apps with 200 million users. Like Instagram, Pinterest, and YouTube, Snapchat is a visual platform. The difference? The content disappears several seconds after being viewed. It’s being used to increase brand awareness and engagement in a fun, creative way – especially if your target audience is Millennials.
Although this is considered a “blogging platform,” Tumblr has become one of the most popular social channels with 115 million users. It’s the perfect platform to interact with your niche — particularly if your target audience is Millennials. Tumblr allows brands to cut loose and have fun with content like GIFs, videos, quote, and audio clips.
Questions to Ask When Choosing the Right Social Media Channels For Your Business
What are your social media strategy objectives?
This is arguably the most important question that you should ask since each channel delivers different results. For example, if you want to increase your brand awareness or enhance lead generation, Facebook is tough to beat. However, if you want to connect with other professionals and influencers then you may want to consider LinkedIn and Twitter.
What channels do your audience use?
This question should make your decision slightly easier. After all, if your target audience are Millennials, then it would make sense to focus on channels like Snapchat.
If it’s primarily women, then Pinterest would be a safe bet. It wouldn’t make sense to devote resources to a channel where your audience doesn’t hang out. A good place to find out these demographics would be via the Pew Research Center and to actually talk to your audience.
What channels are your competitors using?
This is just as important as knowing where your audience spends their time online. By examining the channels where your competitors are you can determine what strategies are working and what’s not. A tool like Buzzsumo and Brandwatch Analytics can provide insights on how your competitors are performing on social media.
What kind of content do you want to create?
If you prefer to author white papers for professional purposes then LinkedIn should be your go-to channel. If you want to create visual content then Instagram, Pinterest, and Tumblr deserve your attention. To make this decision easier you should think about what kind of content resonates with your audience best, what type of content you enjoy creating, and what your strengths are.
Which channels are emerging and declining?
It wouldn’t make sense to spend time and money on a channel that’s on it’s way out. For example, Vine is essentially finished, and some speculate that Twitter, Google+, and LinkedIn may also be in trouble.
On the other end of the spectrum, if you embrace an up-and-coming channel before it becomes mainstream who can gain a competitive edge over your competitors. For example, right now, Snapchat and messaging apps like Facebook Messenger and Whatsapp are all the rage.
Which channels can you delegate and scale?
If you’re the founder of a small business, an entrepreneur, or freelancer you’re most likely the one handling your social media channels. But, you need to think about the future. There may come a time when you have to hand over the reigns to someone else.
While automation can make scheduling posts and responding to customers easier, consider channels that are easy to scale and that are delegation-friendly so that your business can maintain an authentic voice.
How many channels can you manage or afford?
You don’t have to limit yourself to just one channel. However, if you don’t have the time or resources to handle multiple channels then you’re going to spread yourself too thin, Again, automation makes it easy to schedule posts in advance across multiple channels.
But, that may not work for all channels. While an infographic could be posted on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter, it obviously wouldn’t work on YouTube. In that case, you would have to produce a separate piece of content.
The social media scene can be overwhelming when first starting out. That’s why it’s generally recommended that you at least consider joining the “Big Four.” Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ to start. But, don’t neglect less-used and emerging channels like YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, Reddit, and Tumblr.
Check-out niche sites that only your target audience uses. A simple Google search, such as “social network for gardeners,” can help you identify these channels.
Ultimately, you want to examine your industry, location, target audience, personal style, and budget when selecting the best social media channel for your business.
What social media sites have you found to be the most useful for your business?