For any young business, ensuring that your time and resources are spent efficiently is a key determiner of its success. And that is especially true of your marketing efforts on social media, where with so many channels to choose from it can be become a bit of a blurred landscape, with many business owners unsure where they should position themselves in a rapidly changing digital world. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest…here are a few ways to narrow down your choice of social media platforms to be active on.
Demographics, Demographics, Demographics…
The first way to choose is by pitting the demographics of your target market against the typical demographics of each social network. For example, Pinterest’s user base is around 75% female, so if that’s a market you want to target then you should seriously consider setting up an account on Pinterest. With the possible exception of Facebook, which has such an enormous range of users that it covers most demographics, each social network has their own profile of the user, so you should use a handy factsheet such as this to drill down into the characteristics of each one.
…but not just demographics!
Whilst looking at the typical ages and genders who visit each site should be your first port of call, it shouldn’t be your only one. Each platform has different functions and is popular in differing sectors, so this is the next thing to bear in mind. Instagram is a visual photo-sharing network and super popular with topics such as food & drink, travel, and photography, so if you sell office supplies to other businesses then being on Instagram, despite its enormous user base, might not be the best use of your time. Similarly, if you are a B2C company then marketing yourself on LinkedIn might not prove fruitful, given it is largely aimed at business professionals and B2B.
Don’t spread yourself too thin
It can be very tempting to scan the main social networks and decide there is enough of your desired target market on each one to justify being active. You see there are 300 million users on LinkedIn, 400 million on Pinterest, and might well think ‘the more the merrier’, right? Actually, an approach like this can be counterproductive. In the early stages of running a business, focus your resources on 2 or 3 channels at most, ensuring you are regularly posting on all of them and realizing the benefits of each. If you were to set up an account on, say, 6 social media platforms, chances are that you would simply find yourself without the time or inclination to remain an active presence on all of them.
Generally speaking, Facebook and Twitter are the best to start with, as they both have a wide-enough demographic and pool of interests to appeal to a wide range of potential customer. Once you established a regular posting schedule on these two and built up an online following, then you should start plotting which networks to move onto next.
Another drawback of being on too many platforms at the same time is the negative connotations that can come about as a result. Let’s say you have an account on Google+, but haven’t posted an update in 2 months and don’t respond to any messages on there. It’s not a good look for your business and makes you come across as a little unprofessional. If you don’t have the time to maintain an active presence on a platform, don’t have an account on there.
Clearly not all social media channels are going to be suited to your business, which is why it is an intelligent move in the long-term to carefully select which ones to be active on. In my work as a freelance community manager, I come across a lot of businesses who want me to manage their presence on somewhere like Instagram, even though their target audience is at odds with the typical Instagram user. Just because it is growing quickly and has millions of users does not mean it will be worth your time to post every day on there. Pick the social networks for you, concentrate your resources on a select few and then consider expanding into other platforms to grow your online following.