A decade ago, convincing business owners to see the value in social media marketing often felt like pulling teeth. Time, cost, and content were key concerns that kept many from making real investments in digital media.
Now, thankfully, the mentality has shifted away from “do I HAVE to do it?” to “How can I do it most efficiently and effectively?”
Which leads to the next important question; which platforms will produce the most return on your digital investment?
The primary channels most businesses consider are Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Snapchat, and YouTube, which all feature their own abilities, pros & cons, and typical users.
While every situation and platform is different, here are some common things to consider when deciding which social media to use for your business.
- Who will manage it, and how much time do they have?
Whatever platform(s) you decide on, it’s a good idea to determine who will spearhead the efforts of each one, how much time they have available to devote, and who might be the backup to each platform. Each site requires a different level of effort to be effective, but nearly all require constant access to notifications, the ability to respond to comments and/or reviews, and a high-quality camera, camera phone or video camera.
You will need to set aside time for social media management into the daily schedule for each admin or risk it being dropped to the bottom of the priority list.
- What is already out there?
If your business isn’t brand new, it’s important to know how people are already interacting with your brand online. For example, when people check in to a place on Facebook, or list an organization as their employer, a “dummy” community page can be automatically generated. Since duplicate pages should be avoided, it’s best to claim any existing pages and cultivate them into one unified presence, or page, per platform.
- Who are you trying to reach?
Understanding your target audience(s) is critical to picking which platforms will bear the most fruit from your labor. Each channel has a varied base of users who use them in specific ways. If you’re targeting businesses or professionals, LinkedIn is likely the right choice. Parents of college students are more likely to be found on Facebook, while their kids have largely abandoned it. Handy-people or creatives favor Instagram and YouTube, and depending on your goals, Pinterest shouldn’t be overlooked, either. (It may have helped inspire this blog!)
It’s also helpful to consider where your existing customer base is. If it’s substantial, these users can help amplify your efforts and grow your presence more quickly than if you started completely from scratch.
- What are your goals for social media?
Whatever path you choose, you should have a basic understanding of what you want to get out of your marketing investment, and how you’re going to measure success. Is it greater name recognition of your business in a specific location? A higher number of requests filled out on your website? A higher volume of calls? It could also be to establish yourself as an online expert in your field. Understanding why digital marketing is important to your brand will help motivate you to cultivate it.
- What are you trying to say?
Everyone loves to talk about themselves, let’s be honest. But on social media, talking about your business exclusively is not always the best route to take. While you have a message to promote, you’ll have to find ways to convey it through content that provides value to your target audience. If you repair small engines, providing how-to videos on YouTube could help you become established as the local expert on engine repair. If you offer a non-tangible services, spotlighting a happy client could be a fun way to tell people what exactly you do without sounding too promotional.
- Don’t try to do it all.
It can become a full-time job trying to keep up with videos, tweets, Instagram stories, and Facebook events. If you don’t have those kinds of resources, pick one or two of the most relevant channels for your business to focus on, make a plan, and set aside the time to make them shine. If there are others you want to have a presence on, make sure your information there is updated, and share the most important content at least monthly to keep things looking fresh.