In the early years of social media networking (circa 2008), things were simple and straight-forward.
Facebook was for sharing stuff with people you knew, LinkedIn was for professional schmoozing, Twitter was for posting and discovering news and Instagram was a visual feast.
While these platforms still serve their initial purposes, they have really grown and diversified to allow for all kinds of digital marketing. So, how can you tell which sites work for your brand? And do you need a presence on every single platform?
Before your brand jumps on board with another social networking site, here are some handy questions you should be asking…
1. What can I do on the platform?
There are pros and cons to every platform, each with their own unique and wonderful strategic possibilities.
Twitter’s strength is in its outreach abilities. It can engage wider audiences who are talking about related topics and influence dialogue with interest-based communities. The use of hashtags can be extremely strategic in entering or owning existing conversations. And while you may be limited by the 140 characters, it’s a good opportunity to plant the seed of a story or idea.
While Instagram or Pinterest have no character limit, it’s all about the pictures on these platforms, making them better suited to brands that have a strong visual identity. Also, keep in mind that Pinterest is one of the highest traffic drivers on all social networking platforms, making it a potential goldmine for particular brands.
Facebook is the go-to of all platforms and is a blend of images and words. It’s all about building a community who loves interacting with your brand, and each other. From here you can gather user-generated content, drive traffic to your owned channels (website, sign up for email lists etc.), and leverage this brand love by transforming it into useful things for your business, e.g donations, sales. However, your posts won’t necessarily be seen by many people unless you pay – that being said Facebook advertising has some of the best ROI for things like this!
2. Who am I trying to reach? (Who’s on it and how do they use it?)
Each platform attracts different users. So where does your audience fit? If you don’t know, research your target audience by interviewing them, checking competitor brands and analysing online conversations.
Here’s who you’ll typically find on each channel:
- Facebook – If you’re online, then you’re probably on Facebook, but middle-aged women are particularly engaged.
- Twitter – Not as popular in Australia, attracts niche audiences, largely an adult demographic.
- Instagram – Only fully functional on smartphones, meaning its audience is likely to access it outside of business hours.
- Whisper – Attracts a younger audience, 70% are women aged 17-28.
- Snapchat – Also attracts a younger audience.
- LinkedIn – Professionals.
3. Is being on this platform the best use of my time and resources?
Social networking sites can do absolute wonders for your brand, but they should never be seen as a quick fix and a simple sign up won’t cut it! However, some social networking sites are more manageable than others.
While building a Twitter following generally requires frequent regular posting, your Facebook page may only need updating every few days.
YouTube is really only an option if you (and preferably cast and crew too) can commit to regularly writing, filming and editing original content. Meanwhile, Instagram and Snapchat let you post short, spontaneous footage and visuals that require less time than full-blown videos.
4. Does it fit in my budget?
As a business, it’s free to join most social networking sites, but there’s no guarantee that fee-free posts will reach their intended audience. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn have all introduced algorithms to ensure that paid content is seen over and above free posts, meaning that if you don’t pay to “boost” a post, even your most dedicated followers may not see it. So it is definitely something worth investing in.
5. Can this platform achieve my strategic objectives?
What is the one main action you want all users to complete, that is, what is a “conversion” to you?
- Is it a sale?
- An email sign up?
- A donation?
- A contact form submission?
- Brand awareness? Or building brand love?
Once you establish this, you can use social networking more strategically.
Some channels (like Instagram) don’t offer click-throughs from content, so their value is more in showcasing who you are and why you’re awesome. However, Instagram does offer targeted advertising (run via Facebook Ads Manager), so you can then leverage Instagram-love for clicks with a bit of budget behind you.
Remember: while building brand awareness or love might be step one, you’ll see much better ROI on your social media efforts if you tie your channel use back to the bottom line of your business – awareness isn’t enough on its own.
And whatever the social networking channel, it’s important to do your research before you jump on board to make sure it’s the right one for your objectives and your digital strategy.
Want to know which social networking platform is right for your business? We’d love to help! Get in touch by old-school email here!