It’s no secret. Social media is one of the most powerful marketing tools in your toolbox. No matter the size of your business, from a one-man construction company to an up-and-coming tech start-up, finding customers and building a community on social media has a direct and tangible impact on sales and profit.
According to Sprout Social, 71% of consumers are more likely to buy after a positive social experience. What’s more, social media is one of the best ways of distributing content and building engagement.
But while social media is a great marketing asset, none of us has time to be active on every platform. It takes energy and resources to grow a community on social media. Putting everything into boosting your reach on all the major platforms is impossible.
Even more so for small businesses, where team members often take responsibility for more than one role. You might be head of marketing, dealing with the accounts, and handling PR too, for example. So, prioritizing the social media initiative that’s most likely to be a success is a smart move.
Consumers interact with each social media platform in a specific way. Each platform is unique. As a result, businesses have to learn to use each one slightly differently. You can’t duplicate all content for all platforms. Instead, implicate a different strategy for each. This is why it’s better to master one or two social media platforms than settle for average engagement on all of them.
So, which social media platform should you focus on? Which is the best fit for your brand? And what are the best practices for each one?
Here are 5 things to think about when making your decision.
Social Media Marketing for Small Businesses: What to Consider
Who is Your Audience?
Choosing the right social media platform will mostly come down to who you’re trying to target.
- Who is your audience?
- When you established your buyer personas, did you identify your user demographic?
- If so, what social media platform do they typically use?
- What kind of content resonates with them most?
If you’re not sure, here are some statistics to help you determine which platforms your users are likely to engage with regularly.
- While Facebook has a lot of users (around 1 billion daily users, in fact), and most people have a profile, not all these users are active, especially among younger generations. Plus, people don’t always use Facebook to engage with businesses. They’re more interested in building relationships or staying in contact with friends and family. That said, it’s a versatile platform that works for many types of content and reaches people of all ages. If you already have a dedicated following, Facebook is a great place to keep in touch with them and build loyalty.
- Twitter users are typically between the ages of 25 and 34 and 33% have a college education. Indeed, in the US, where the platform is most widely used, it has a demographic that is more educated and wealthier than the typical US average.
- Instagram is a rapidly growing social media platform. 46% of the UK population have an Instagram account, and it is used by more women than men. Most are aged between 25-34 years old. Around 80% of users are looking for inspiration from the businesses and brands they follow.
- LinkedIn is a popular platform among older audiences. Among US users, 37% are aged 46-55 years old, and 34% are aged 36-45 years old. Slightly more men than women use LinkedIn. 45% of LinkedIn users are in upper management.
- Pinterest is a female-dominated social media platform. 45% of female respondents in the UK said they were Pinterest users, compared to just 27% of males. And 8 out of 10 users are mothers. Plus, nearly 80% of Millennial women and 40% of Millennial men use the platform for inspiration.
- TikTok is one of the most popular platforms among very young consumers, particularly those aged 18-24, who account for 8% of the platform’s ad audience. 65% of TikTok’s UK userbase are female.
- YouTube’s video content is a big hit with young adults. In fact, 62% of all YouTube users are aged 18 to 24. Of these, 52.6% are female and 47.4% male.
You can also use social media analytics to get an insight into who your audience is on each platform. Use these audience demographics to learn more about your users and help you decide whether they align with your target buyer. This will allow you to determine which platform to focus your resources on.
What Do You Plan to Use Social Media For?
While many people consider social media a means to simply gain followers and therefore boost sales, you can use social media platforms to achieve many different goals.
In fact, being clear about your targets is essential to avoid falling into the trap of flooding your followers with posts that aren’t useful and don’t achieve tangible results. When it comes to social media, publishing is only part of the equation.
That said, most brands use social media to increase brand awareness. Others will also be focusing on increasing community engagement and fostering customer interactions—replying to comments or encouraging shares and likes.
For retail businesses, for example, using social media to find new customers is often paramount, but for non-profit organizations, engagement with your followers is just as important as generating leads. That said, if users are actively engaging with your content, they are much more likely to convert later on.
Meanwhile, for travel and hospitality businesses, social media can be a great tool for reputation management, boosting customer satisfaction by replying to comments and answering questions.
Indeed, you could use social media as your go-to customer support resource. If customers ask you questions on Facebook, for example, you can provide quick and personalized responses. This will also free up your phone lines.
If you frequently host events, Twitter is a great tool for providing real-time updates to your audience. And if you’re looking to recruit new employees or find new team members then LinkedIn is the best option.
What Kind of Product Are You Selling?
Each social media platform is best suited to a different kind of product or service. Trying to sell clothing on Twitter, for example, while ignoring Instagram, is a fool’s errand. Here are some examples.
- Facebook is a versatile platform where brands and businesses selling various different products can all do well, provided they use it effectively. Because of its chat functionality, Facebook is a great platform for brands or businesses that rely on strong customer support.
- Twitter is another good platform for brands that are customer service oriented. Twitter is a popular place for people to share opinions about a brand. Unhappy customers, in particular, like to make complaints on Twitter so responding in real time is a smart move. It’s also a good platform for businesses that prioritize thought leadership, with lots of opportunities to share insights and opinions.
- Instagram is the ideal platform for retail businesses as it’s very visually led. Fashion, cosmetics, interior, and other lifestyle brands all do well on Instagram. Travel and hospitality businesses are also well suited to the platform. Just make sure to invest in high-quality photographs.
- LinkedIn is perfect for B2B products and services. It’s a great way to network and increase your industry contacts and exposure. You can also use LinkedIn to share your insights or information about new products or services.
- Pinterest is similar to Instagram in that it’s incredibly visual. High-quality photographs of aesthetically focused products do well on Pinterest. Travel and hospitality brands can also use Pinterest effectively.
- TikTok is known for its light-hearted and humorous content, making it a good fit for brands that want to capitalize on viral trends and don’t take themselves too seriously.
- YouTube is best suited to complicated or non-intuitive products and services that benefit from an in-depth how-to guide. In fact, YouTube is also one of the world’s biggest search engine platforms with most people searching for video guides and tutorials.
What Do the Analytics Say?
Once you’ve started using different social platforms, you can monitor your analytics to see how they’re performing. It will soon become clear where you’re having the most impact with your posts and which platform is the best fit for your particular business and goals.
So, what metrics should you look at when it comes to social media analytics?
- Engagement – this means the number of times an individual interacts with your post, whether it’s likes, shares, retweets, clicks, replies, follows, or favourites. You can work out the engagement rate by dividing this number by the number of impressions.
- Impressions – this refers to the number of times an individual sees your message.
- Visits – how many people visited your profile page as a result of your social post?
- Mentions – how many times was your brand mentioned on the social media platform?
- Followers – seeing how many people follow you gives a very clear indication of the success of your social media marketing strategy.
What Are Your Competitors Doing?
Finally, examine how your competitors are using social media. Which platforms are they using most? How successful are they? Are they getting a lot of engagement in the form of shares and likes? You can analyze their content and use this to help you decide where your social media efforts are best focused.
Bonus Tip: Make sure to Use Each Platform in the Right Way
For many brands, no matter their size, having a Facebook page is a given. Here’s how to make sure you’re using the platform effectively.
Don’t overload your followers with posts so you end up dominating their feeds. While your audience wants to hear from you and receive updates, bombarding them with information will have the opposite effect and turn them off your brand. More than twice a day, for example, is enough to irritate users. That said, posting only once a week is likely to reduce engagement as your followers will forget about you. Somewhere in between is a happy medium. Once a day is usually a good shout.
As for the content itself? Facebook posts should be casual, conversational, and light-hearted, but still, provide relevant information and value to customers.
Using Facebook to share behind-the-scenes content is also a good idea as it offers users a glimpse of your business they won’t see anywhere else. And mix it up. Share a combination of photos, videos, and stories. Respond to comments to encourage engagement.
With LinkedIn, posting on a weekly basis is a good way to boost engagement. You can also ask your employees to share your content, building brand awareness via their network, therefore minimizing the risk of oversharing.
All LinkedIn content should be helpful and professional and focus on your area of expertise and business knowledge.
Video also performs very well on LinkedIn so if you have the capabilities to produce high-quality video content, it could be a great way to boost engagement.
You can also use LinkedIn to share case study stories or give insights into your company culture.
Twitter content can vary a lot, from news about sales and promotions to industry insights or even jokes and amusing observations. To make sure your audience actually sees your posts amongst all the noise, don’t be afraid to post multiple times a day.
Images and infographics are also popular on Twitter while hashtags allow you to reach a wider audience.
The best Twitter marketing content is either inspiring or informative. A 2021 Statista study found that 82% of frequent Tweeters use Twitter for entertainment, so take this into account when choosing what to Tweet.
With Instagram, you have the option to publish either posts, which are permanent, or stories, which are only available for a short amount of time. Posts should express your brand identity and personality, as well as offer promotional content. Stories are good for driving engagement as you can use them to hold a poll or ask questions. They are a great way to share behind-the-scenes insights from your business too.
Posting once a day on Instagram is best practice, while you can get away with posting up to three stories a day, timed to coincide with popular viewing times for your intended audience.
On YouTube, ‘how-to’ content dominates. Users are looking for videos that demonstrate or explain something. You can make YouTube-worthy videos using just your smartphone. Short is best. Around 2 minutes is ideal.
You can share as much video content as you want and even reuse it on your website. Just make sure the quality is high and that you use keywords and catchy titles to allow your videos to actually get seen.
Pinterest users take advantage of the platform for pinning recipes, style and interior inspiration, DIY ideas, and other aesthetic-focused content. If your product has a strong visual element, then Pinterest could be a good option.
The best pins are vertical as many users use Pinterest on mobile. Combine with a descriptive copy to boost SEO and add context, while text overlay can also help reinforce your message.
Conclusion: Picking a Social Media Platform
Rather than using social media platforms to capitalize on trends or taking advantage of a platform because it’s suddenly popular, choose a social media platform that feels like a good fit for your brand. The best platform for you is one that aligns with your goals and unique product or service. This makes producing high-quality content more sustainable in the long term.
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