If the first question people tend to ask is “Do I need social media for my brand?” the second is usually “Which platforms do I need to be on — one, or two? All of them?”
Defining Your Social Media Goals
Before we answer which social media sites your brand should be on, we need to step back and examine the bigger picture.
Once you’ve established that you want to use social media as a part of your digital marketing strategy, the next step is setting goals. If you don’t establish the purpose of your marketing, you are more likely to end up wasting time and wasting money.
Unsure of where to start? Here are a few questions you might want to ask yourself when defining your goals:
• Which audience(s) are you trying to reach?
Moms of young children? Teens, who love the outdoors? Men of retirement age? Business leaders and entrepreneurs? Beauty bloggers? Narrow down your demographic then examine which social media sites those people are most active.
At the time of this writing, Facebook has just skewed older (44–55). Twitter has picked up for men, urban dwellers, and business-minded folks. Instagram — which was a millennial hideaway — is seeing a slow creep of baby boomers, while Snapchat is the new college hangout.
WeHeartIt lets users share photos aimed at feminine interests from beauty to travel. Weibo is a Chinese social media site that has somehow been a huge magnet for US bloggers and businessmen. Periscope has dethroned Vine (for now).
The user demographic of current sites will change over time, and new sites spring up just as often, so be sure to follow up with their ever-evolving demographic trends. Decide which social media platforms make the most sense for your needs.
• What are you hoping to accomplish from social media platforms?
There are many aspects of marketing that social media can help businesses and brands with awareness, website traffic, branding, information sharing, community building, quick updates, garnering donations, selling products, and so on. Different platforms serve different purposes.
For instance, you would be less likely to sell trendy clothes on LinkedIn than you would on Facebook. If you want to give all-day updates about a live event that’s important to your organization, Twitter is ideal. If you work at a state park and have plenty of share-worthy images that you hope will drum up visitors, Instagram is practically a must.
• How much are you able to spend on advertising?
When it comes to being active on social media, it’s almost a necessity to have a budget. And we’re not talking about just “buying likes” or meaningless spending. We mean giving your content a boost so that it actually gets viewed. As of this writing, Facebook only shows organic page posts to a fraction of one’s audience. A post’s reach is generally only extended to a broader, relevant audience after an ad is purchased (with the slim exception that content goes viral on its own).
Instagram offers tap-through ads that bring a viewer to a brand’s website after the user taps the photo. Pinterest has promoted pins so that you can feature paid content almost seamlessly among similar relevant content. How much are you able (not willing, able) to spend? Examine your finances and see what sort of ad budget you can afford.
Choosing the Best Platforms Once you’ve established who you want to reach, what you hope to gain from social marketing, and how much you are able to spend on advertising and promotion, then you are ready to choose which platform would be most beneficial to your business, brand, or organization.
Example 1: Let’s say you own an outdoor goods store in upstate NY that sells camping, fishing, hunting, sports gear. You’ve recently launched a new website that is not seeing much traffic. You’d like to use social marketing to increase sales.
Now, let’s step back and develop a plan. What audience do you want to reach? Based on your clientele, you find that your main demographic is middle-class men ages 35–55 who live in suburban or rural areas. Your social marketing goals are…
1. Drive traffic to your e-commerce website
2. Increase awareness that you offer certain in-demand or high-quality brands
3. Provide your local community with updates about store events, nearby hunter-safety courses, and organized fishing trips Select the most beneficial social media platforms for your needs.
A good start for your business is Facebook (for its broad reach and ads that drive website traffic), Twitter (a great option for sending quick updates about upcoming events), Google + (by just placing your info on this site, you increase your SEO; but feel free to just post similar content to what you include on Facebook), and YouTube (to showcase and demonstrate products).
At this point, with the goals you have for your outdoors store, it might not be beneficial to use sites like LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, and others that have either a largely female population, younger demographic, lack of advertising options, etc.
If you later decide that you’d like to run a campaign that reaches a niche audience — say, wealthy second-homeowners who hobby fish on the weekends, or kayak and canoe enthusiasts — other platforms may come in handy.
This is why it’s okay (and often recommended, unless you have a very unique business name) to claim your business on various social sites.
To do this, simply sign up and create a profile; feel free to hold off on posting until you need to use the site.
This helps twofold: for one, you’ll appeal to the smaller percentage of your target audience that might be using that site — the wife of a potential customer, for instance, or someone who’s gift shopping for someone in your target demographic.
Two, when you are ready to use the site, your name is already reserved and all you need to do is begin posting.
Example 2: You own a line of high-end, organic makeup that you sell online. Your sales are just beginning to gain traction after several beauty-blogger influencers have raved about your products. What audience do you want to reach? Your target demographic is 17–35-year-old females who are willing to spend their money on luxury beauty products. Your social marketing goals are…
1. Announce new products
2. Push branding
3. Spread awareness about the health benefits of organic, cruelty-free makeup Select the most beneficial social media platforms for your needs.
Beneficial platforms for these intentions include Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, WeHeartIt, and YouTube. Although Twitter is currently one of the reigning platforms, if it doesn’t serve your audience or your goals, don’t waste your time or money.
A quick and easy summary to follow;
•Define your target audience
•Set goals about branding, traffic, awareness, etc.
•Be realistic about your budget
•Select social media sites that satisfy your needs by reaching your target
audience and helping you achieve your goals
•Claim your name across social sites you might use later