What Social Media Platforms Are Best for My Brand?
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Social media is everywhere, and so is social media marketing. While social media can be a highly effective place for everyone from big brands to small businesses to engage their audiences, it can also be challenging to craft a program that drives real business results. So, in a world of limited time and resources, how do you know what social media platforms are going to bring the best return for your brand?
Start with Strategy
When it comes to achieving business objectives, social media is about more than cute pictures and snappy captions. Every effective social media program starts with a smart, focused social media strategy to define the channels and content that will perform best.
Know Your Brand
Your brand is the core of who you are, and so it should be your foundation in any social media marketing strategy. Think through and define who you are as a brand. What unique value do you offer? What is your brand’s unique voice? What personality does your brand have? Are you established or edgy? Exclusive or approachable? Developing a deep understanding of your unique brand identity and voice helps you not only to define yourself within your market but also to establish an authentic connection with your audience.
Focus on Your Audience
Good marketing is less about you and more about the audience. Social media is no different. That’s why it’s critical to have a strong understanding of the audience you want to attract. Mapping out your target audience in terms of both demographics and psychographics allows you to know not only who they are but how they spend their time and what interests them – a crucial advantage is choosing the right social channels and crafting the right social content.
Define Your Goals
To be achievable, goals should be well-defined. So, take some time to think through your specific objectives when it comes to social media. Are you trying to build brand awareness? Drive traffic to your website? Sell your products directly? Certain platforms are better and some things than others. If you’re going to choose the right social media channels to get where you want to be, then you’ll need to define the destination.
Match It with the Right Platforms
Once you’ve defined your voice, your target audience, and your social media goals, it’s time to evaluate which social media channels are the best fit for your needs. No social media channel can be all things to all audiences. Each one is a particular ecosystem with a unique character and varying user preferences and expectations. As you consider each social media platform, you should think about how it fits your target audience and goals as well as what kind of investment – whether dollars or time – it takes to succeed and how well the type of content aligns with your capabilities.
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Despite all the talk and all the changes, Facebook is still the largest social media platform in terms of its user base and therefore the largest single platform for marketers as well.
- What It’s About: Facebook is a visually oriented platform that allows sharing of a variety of different content types including photos, videos, links, and more in its news feed. It is community-based and engagement-oriented, lending to conversational and informational content.
- Strengths and Challenges: Facebook’s massive reach makes it a staple platform for many brands for both consumer and business-to-business targeted content. It is also one of the best platforms in terms of driving clicks and website traffic. Facebook has a well-developed ads program with strong targeting capabilities. And that’s a good thing as, due to the sheer volume of users and the monetization of the platform, it can be difficult to achieve reach on Facebook organically without paid media support.
Acquired by Facebook in 2012, Instagram is a visually based network with a strong focus on sharing photos and videos. Instagram’s user base has doubled to more than 2 billion in just 3 years, making it a focal point for consumers and brands alike.
- What’s It’s About: Instagram is focused on visual content first with a strong emphasis on creating and curating a compelling aesthetic. In addition to posting photos and videos with captions in the main Instagram feed, users post Instagram Stories, more casual content that disappears after 24 hours, as well as Reels, the platform’s latest spot for short videos.
- Strengths and Challenges: With its focus on visuals, Instagram is a great platform to showcase creativity and compelling imagery and video, and it is particularly strong in building engagement. Recent updates by Instagram allowing direct linking from Stories for all accounts have also made Instagram a growing source for website traffic. Instagram also introduced Drops, which creates a dedicated space for users to browse any shop products in the app, growing its e-commerce capabilities. Producing content for Instagram can be time and resource-intensive, given the generally high user expectations in terms of the visual quality. And, like Facebook, its massive audience base and increasingly competitive ads landscape can make it difficult to attain reach without paid media support.
Focused on news and in-the-moment updates, Twitter continues to be one of the most popular social media networks. Twitter’s audience tends toward highly educated and high-earning with one-third of users earning more than $75,000 annually.
- What It’s About: Twitter is the place to stay up to date and discuss breaking news, current events, and trends in real-time. Tweets are limited to 280 characters making quick and compelling content the order of the day. While visuals can help catch the eye on Twitter, visual content is not nearly as focal as on other platforms like Instagram.
- Strengths and Challenges: Twitter is all about conversation, making it a great place to interact and share quick updates and promotions. Given the character limits, you’ll need to optimize content specifically for Twitter. Twitter’s ad platform is not as well developed as the other major social media platforms, making organic reach the focus. To stay in the mix, Twitter demands a high frequency of posting and interacting.
LinkedIn is the place to be for B2B. Specifically focused on professional networking, LinkedIn has a powerful reach for building connections as well as careers.
- What It’s About: LinkedIn is specifically focused on business and professional networking. The LinkedIn news feed combines written content, articles, imagery, video, links, blogs, and case studies from both individuals and companies, all with a focus on professional connections, growth, and development.
- Strengths and Challenges: Because of its professional focus, LinkedIn provides the opportunity to share more detailed or technical information. It also has a strong international reach with only about 25% of its users based in the United States. LinkedIn boasts a high concentration of high-earning professionals making it a prime target for B2B advertising. However, the high value of the targets it provides translates into high ad costs as well. LinkedIn is one of the most effective ad platforms for lead generation, but generally demands the highest costs per click.
The short-form video platform that has taken the world by storm, TikTok’s popularity and growth in recent years have been unprecedented and propelled it quickly to a central place in the social media world.
- What It’s About: TikTok is made for short-form video sharing (15 seconds or less) with a big focus on trend culture and using its trending sounds. The TikTok audience appreciates authentic and original content that’s creative, inspirational, or entertaining with less focus on production value.
- Strengths and Challenges: TikTok has a strong command of younger audiences making it appealing to many brands. Because its content is short and casual, it doesn’t require a high production investment. However, trends move fast on the platform meaning brands must be agile and flexible to produce social media content quickly on the fly. TikTok’s ad platform is still in its fledgling stages and brands are still experimenting with how to reliably convert results.
Also based on video content but with a much greater range of formats, YouTube is the internet’s second-largest search engine behind Google.
- What It’s About: YouTube is the place for all things video, amassing untold user hours watching content ranging from entertainment to education. While users spend a lot of time on the platform, most users still claim to use YouTube for entertainment more than for finding brands or products, leaving marketers with work to do to realize results.
- Strengths and Challenges: With its strong focus on search, YouTube is a great platform to be found and boost your brand’s searchability online. Video can easily promote products or establish thought leadership to expand a brand’s content footprint, however video content can be time-consuming and expensive to produce and brands must strike a careful balance between entertainment and advertising.
With its visually based platform for sharing ideas and inspiration, Pinterest is also a powerful search driver. Largely known for an older, female-dominated audience, Pinterest has seen significant growth in both Gen Z and male users. The platform also boasts an affluent demographic as 45% of Americans with a household income over $100K is on Pinterest.
- What It’s About: Pinterest calls itself a “discovery engine” for finding ideas for everything from recipes to fashion, home décor, or party planning. Pinterest is formatted like a virtual pinboard, so visual presentation is focal for gaining interest and engagement.
- Strengths and Challenges: Pinterest is one of the most product-oriented social platforms with a variety of shopping features to allow users direct access to things they love. 70% of Pinterest users say that they go to the platform to find new products, ideas, and services that they can trust. Producing content that appeals to Pinners, however, can be time-consuming and require a lot of hands-on time to be successful.
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You’ve defined your audience and your goals and found the social media platforms that look to be the best match for both. So, what happens now? As you set out to craft winning social media content, there are a few things to remember.
- Stay focused. It may not be realistic for you to launch content on every platform. Instead, choose 2 or 3 core platforms that are a good match for your brand and your resources to get started.
- Prioritize quality over quantity. To be successful on social media, you’ll need great content that truly connects with your audience and that takes time. Keep the quality high even if that means fewer posts or platforms.
- Be consistent. Many social media users focus on high frequency, but consistency in posting is just as if not more important. Set a schedule you can stick to, whether it’s daily or twice a week, and keep to it.
Social media is a powerful marketing tool connecting brands with their audiences. With a smart social media strategy, you can find the right social media platforms to get your content in front of the right people at the right time and set the stage for growth and success to follow.