Social media delivers a wide variety of benefits to businesses. It can increase brand awareness and exposure, drive traffic and help you be a part of valuable conversations with your customers and prospects.
On the flip side of that coin, social media can cause a lot of frustration for businesses and marketers. How will you respond to negative comments or reviews? Who will be responsible for posting? How often will you post? And – first things first – which social media platforms should you even be on?
When there were fewer social networks, that last question was significantly easier to answer. Many companies established a presence on all of the big social platforms and called it a day on that decision. But as new social channels began to proliferate, so too did the question of how businesses could be in all social places at one time and – more importantly – should they even try to be. Here are a few things to consider as you determine which social networks are right for your business:
Before setting up shop on a given social network, take time to consider what people do there. In other words, are they sharing recipes or resumes? LinkedIn's business and job-seeking focus make it perfect for a staffing firm, while a food manufacturer might have more success connecting with customers on Pinterest. Also consider the visual nature of each platform. While visuals are becoming increasingly important across all social channels, if your product or service lends itself well to photo or video, a platform like Instagram or YouTube would be a great place to devote some of your social energy. However, don't be afraid to think outside the box on how you could showcase your brand visually. FedEx and GE are two companies where great visuals aren't necessarily the first thing that come to mind, yet they consistently share captivating photos and videos on Instagram.
The size of a social network doesn't matter as much as fit. When you compare Snapchat's 100 million daily active users with Facebook's more than 1 billion active daily users, it may seem like a no-brainer where you need to devote your efforts. But if the demographics and expectations of Snapchat users suit your brand better, you're better off being there. Also keep in mind that more users often means more competition for attention, so you just might find better opportunities to make solid connections with your audience and stand out on smaller or more niche platforms.
Pay for Play
Twitter and Instagram's recent announcements that they are launching algorithmic timelines has many users up in arms, as was the case when Facebook first made the same change. On Facebook, brands have realized over time that an algorithm-based news feed makes it difficult to reach potential and even current followers organically. To compensate for this lack of reach, many companies invest in Facebook advertising in some form or fashion. Be sure to factor this "pay for play" aspect of some social networks into your overall social strategy. If you don't have the budget to engage in social advertising, or simply don't choose to, that could help determine the platforms you choose to be on and how much time you spend on each.
Newer Doesn't Mean Better
The more popular social media becomes in our personal and professional lives, the more we will continue to see new social platforms develop. While some of these new additions to the social media landscape will be a perfect fit for your brand, others won't bring much value. As marketers, we always want to remain on the cutting edge and use the newest methods to communicate with our audiences, but newer isn't necessarily better in the social media world. Give yourself the freedom to experiment with new social channels, but remember that the social networks that have been around for years have stayed around and popular for good reason.
Finally, keep in mind that choosing social networks for your business doesn't have to be an all or nothing decision. Your company can have a presence on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Google+ and Pinterest, and you don't have to devote equal energy and effort to each.