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Choosing the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business
Published at 17 November 2023
Love it or hate it, when designing a marketing campaign, the modern entrepreneur cannot rely on a website alone. Social media is key. More than 80% of every generation uses social media at least once per day, and 71% of consumers are more likely to make purchases based on social media referrals. Unfortunately, however, there isn't a one-size-fits-all solution for social media marketing strategies. It's essential to tailor your approach based on your target audience and company mission. This involves identifying the most effective way to engage, communicate, build trust, address your audiences’ needs, or entertain, considering their characteristics.
1. Identify Your Target Audience
Whether you are starting a new business or developing a marketing plan for your existing one, your strategy should always start with clearly defining who your target audience are, and hopefully you've been working on this since you began to carve out your business plan. While it’s feasible that both 20-year olds and 80-year olds might buy your product, they won’t respond to the same marketing, so you’ll need to separate your customers into different customer persona types and design your approach accordingly. A good place to start is by defining social media behaviours by age group, as different demographics tend to favour different platforms:
- Baby Boomers: Born between the mid 1940s to the mid 1960s. Primarily use Facebook and Google to research brands. Fun fact: Even though you might hold a stereotype of an older person berating a Millennial or Gen-Zer for ‘always being on their phone’, Baby Boomers are the age group most active on social media, spending almost two hours a day on Facebook and Instagram and sharing content more than anyone else.
- Gen Xers: Born between the mid 1960s to approx. 1980. Primarily use Facebook and Instagram. Gen Xers are 58% more likely than Millennials to click to a brand’s website because of a social media post.
- Millennials: Born between approx. 1980 to the late 1990s. Active on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and TikTok. 70% of Millennials follow influencers who, literally, influence their purchasing behaviours.
- Gen Zers: Born between the late 1990s to the early 2010s. Predominantly use Instagram and TikTok to research and engage with brands. Gen Zers are more likely to want to interact with brands and businesses on social media than any other channel, with 44% stating that it is their preferred medium of communication.
2. Define Your Objectives
The next step is to consider what you are hoping to achieve through social media. Defining clear objectives will help you select the right platforms and tailor your strategy accordingly.
Don’t make the mistake of thinking that making a sale is the only goal of using social media, there are other objectives which make a great contribution to your company success:
- Brand Awareness: Platforms like Instagram and Facebook are excellent for increasing visibility - important because it increases a company's perceived trustworthiness and reputation, making it more likely that consumers will choose your products or services over your competitors.
- Customer Engagement: Twitter and LinkedIn are great for fostering conversations and building relationships, again, necessary to build trust and enhance brand loyalty, ultimately influencing purchasing decisions.
- Sales and Leads: Facebook Ads and Instagram Shopping offer targeted options for driving sales, and while of course increasing revenue is the primary goal, be sure to measure and understand the associated stats to gain insights into your customer behaviour and preferences.
3. Assess Platform Features
Each social media platform offers unique features and tools for businesses. Assessing these features in line with your objectives will help you leverage them effectively:
- Instagram: Visual-centric, great for brand storytelling through images and videos.
- Facebook: Diverse audience, offers advanced targeting and advertising options.
- Twitter: Real-time engagement, ideal for customer service and timely updates.
- LinkedIn: Professional network, excellent for B2B marketing and thought leadership and the best platform for sharing written content.
- TikTok: A creative and engaging platform to reach a younger, diverse audience and drive brand awareness through viral video content.
- YouTube is a popular video platform with all generations, however younger generations prefer shorter video form - TikTok, Ig TV, Instagram story and Instagram live.
4. Consider Your Industry
Different social media platforms cater to varied audience demographics and interests, making them more effective for certain industries. By aligning with the right platform and getting your messaging on point, businesses can effectively reach their target audience, enhance engagement, and achieve their marketing goals.
- Instagram, with its visual-centric approach, is a powerhouse for the fashion, travel, and food industries, allowing brands to showcase their products and services through vibrant images and videos.
- LinkedIn, with its professional network, is a hub for B2B marketing, particularly for technology, finance, and recruitment sectors, facilitating thought leadership and industry-specific discussions. Great for sharing and promoting your blog posts to build authority in your niche.
- Twitter’s real-time engagement makes it ideal for news outlets and customer service-oriented businesses, enabling timely updates and direct communication with the audience.
- Pinterest, being a visual discovery engine, is particularly effective for home décor, DIY crafts, and recipe creators, as it allows users to explore and save creative ideas.
- Facebook, with its diverse user base, is versatile, supporting a range of industries from local businesses to global brands through targeted advertising and community-building features.
5. Evaluate Resources and Time
Managing social media requires time and resources. Evaluate what you can realistically commit to and plan your strategy accordingly:
- Content Creation: Platforms like Instagram and Pinterest require high-quality visuals, while Twitter prioritises frequent updates.
- Community Engagement: Responding to comments and messages is key on Facebook and Twitter.
- Analytics and Optimization: Regularly review performance and adjust your strategy on all platforms.
6. Stay Updated on Trends
Social media is ever-evolving. Staying updated on trends will help you adapt your strategy and stay ahead of the competition:
- Video Content: Platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels are driving the video content trend, and this is especially popular with the younger generations.
- Temporary Content: Consider ways to post content that is only accessible for a brief period, such as Instagram Stories or Snapchat Snaps, which disappear after being viewed or after 24 hours. This encourages more engagement and real-time interaction from the audience.
- Social Commerce: The integration of shopping features on Instagram and Facebook is changing the way users shop online.
Choosing the right social media platforms for your small business is an important strategic decision that can significantly impact your brand’s online presence and customer engagement.
There are few other areas of business that change so frequently, and will require you to measure, assess and adapt as continuously, however if you stay on top of the trends and evolution you’re business will reap the rewards!