There are a lot of social media channels out there, but just because they exist doesn’t mean that your business should be active on it. Companies can sometimes spend way too much time, effort, and advertising budget on social channels that just aren’t right for them.
Social Media Channels: Where to Begin, Anyway?
With so many social media channels in existence today, it can be difficult to decide which selection or spread might be the best one for your brand. Here, we’ll list some of the most popular social media channels in 2019 with businesses, and (more importantly) discuss how they work to best for businesses.
The classic. Facebook has been around long enough at this point to boast friendships on it lasting — at least — ten years. As far as social media networks go, Facebook can proudly label itself the gold standard of the social media community, because its primary goal is just that: building a community.
Any business that wants to see any life at all online quite simply needs to have a presence on Facebook. Through ads, mentions, and engagement to a full-blown marketplace, Facebook has skyrocketed in relevance since its inception. Over the years, Facebook’s explosion has created a myriad of opportunity as well as risk. The biggest risk for businesses, though (beyond not creating and maintaining an active profile) is relying on it as a lone vehicle to increase their web traffic.
- Great for: An up-to-date and well-maintained Facebook page is the first step to establishing legitimacy for any business. At its best, it is a vehicle for online and physical business traffic and is effective for businesses of almost all sizes to build awareness of their brand, as well as establish relationships with their online community.
- Pitfalls: The popularity of Facebook and the recent changes to its algorithm affects what users see in their feed. Marketers need to be strategic about what they post and when so that their business is well-positioned to reach as many users as possible.
It’s almost impossible these days to have a product or service on the market that isn’t in some way marketed through Instagram. And can you blame it? Audiences are intensely visual, and this is a fact that is increasing over time.
Instagram relies on this as a method to reach a wide range of audiences. Its newest feature, IGTV, is ever expanding their reach to new levels, in an attempt that rivals even YouTube as it makes its move to position itself as a competitor to streaming giants like Hulu and Apple TV. The strength of Instagram is that it is a fantastic way for businesses to build brand awareness and generate leads through storytelling and real engagement with its audience.
- Great for: Great for very visual products and services, but also is a great opportunity for marketers to be creatively strategic, as there are so many ways to get creative about showing your brand in action.
- Pitfalls: Traditionally, it was difficult to make conversions through IG, because the options for direct sales were limited. Things are changing now, as businesses are finding ways around this through the use and continued development of add-ons that make Instagram feeds instantly more shoppable.
Twitter has long made its mark in social media by being the long-running voice of the people. Businesses have come to rely on Twitter as a great way to get audiences involved in their brand’s day-to-day marketing voice. Twitter functions a lot like the voice of a brand and is able to provide near to constant communication with an audience.
The way Twitter functions allows users to be involved in the day-to-day discourse of trusted figures and brand ambassadors, so Twitter has established itself as a reliable and accessible brand voice over time. This has been expanded even more recently as Twitter has extended its trademark 140 character limit to encompass 280 characters. It seems like a small feat, but in actuality allows for everyday users become reliable brand ambassadors themselves for businesses or causes.
- Great for: Businesses that need to share news, specials, and rapidly changing information with their clients. Serves also as a great vehicle to mobilize their audience to share brand-specific information with other users.
- Pitfalls: The sheer volume of tweets on Twitter make it entirely possible to get your message completely lost along the way, which means it never lands where your target audience is most likely to see it. That makes strategic timing and planning of tweets crucial so that your messages don’t end up being, well, just noise.
Snapchat isn’t just for kids. Savvy marketers know that even though there are many SM channels that utilize the smart features that Snapchat originated, like disappearing stories and the ubiquitous filter technology, Snap just keeps growing!
In 2018 alone, Snapchat was slated to generate over $1.2 M, from advertising and branded content. And those trends show no signs of slowing. What’s the secret behind Snapchat’s success? Well, it’s highly visual and makes use of users’ shrinking attention spans. And for younger users that are saturated with the contrived ads they’ve grown up with, it can be an incredibly effective tool to see branded content in use in an authentic way, by people they can relate to.
- Great for: Authentic marketing, targeted to a younger audience. This is perfect for larger businesses that have highly visible content, and products or services that can be seen in use.
- Pitfalls: Snapchat doesn’t currently have the capability to allow users to like and comment on each others’ rapidly disappearing content. So for now, influencers and representatives have to rely on their perceived influence, as it doesn’t foster the more personal engagement that users can find with other social media channels. And as advertising is available through Snapchat, it can end up being costly for smaller to medium-sized businesses.
Pinterest is a goldmine for audiences that are looking to get inspired. Try to remember a time before you’ve heard the term “Pinterest-style (wedding/party/living room).” It’s nearly impossible. That’s because this highly visual platform is an effective tool for users to curate their online experience by selecting highly visual content that helps them to create a series of mood boards featuring their favorite photos and products representing a common theme or idea, and all according to their taste.
This means that they are more likely to be looking to purchase items or products that they find once they have been added to their curated collections. Why is this huge for businesses? Pinterest utilizes nearly every stage of the traditional marketing funnel to build interest, build relationships between the community of users and the businesses, and to lead potential customers to make purchasing decisions.
- Great for: It’s great for products because often users want to create a custom list to shop from and Pinterest’s idea boards make products accessible and easy to shop.
- Pitfalls: Pinterest has a weakness, and which is that it is all too easy for businesses to create spam that erodes user trust over time. Marketers need to be strategic about maintaining links about available products so that users can rely on them, and businesses can maintain credibility.
Finding the Balance in Social Media Presence
With so many options available, how do you know which is the right choice for your business?
Let’s take a look at a few steps that will help you determine some deciding factors to choosing the right option for your brand.
Step 1 – Figure out your goals for social media
This may be the most important step in any marketing strategy. At what part of the marketing strategy are you hoping to reach your audience? Determining whether you are trying to build engagement, or actively convert leads into returning customers will be your first step in deciding which social media channel is right for your business.
Step 2 – Define your target audience
Who do you want to engage with your brand? It’s so tempting to get ambitious here because it’s natural for businesses to hope to court as wide an audience as possible. But your best strategy here is to build a marketing persona and market to your target audience strategically. Putting some research into who they are, what they would like, and what their needs are will help to determine an effective social media strategy.
Step 3 – Figure out where your target audience (and competitors) are operating online
What’s your audience doing online? And who (or what?) are they engaging with while they are there? This takes the strategy of defining your target audience to the next level. Using analytics tools, and A/B testing will help you to determine what SM channels your target audience (and competitors) are engaging with and will give you a clearer picture of how to narrow down your focus, and strengthen your social media strategy.
If you are trying to get your brand out there to reach your audience, you’ve got to know who your audience is, what they are looking for, and how to work with where they are looking online! Knowing the strengths and downfalls of the most popular social media channels will be the first line of attack in determining how to create an effective social media strategy.
If you need help determining how to best position your business in the ever-shifting market on social media, don’t be afraid to reach out. We stay on top of the latest in social media trends so that you can do what you do best!