SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS: WHICH SITES ARE WORTH YOUR TIME?
Since many of our interactions with businesses now take place online, using social media as part of your marketing strategy is incredibly beneficial.
But with the number of new and established social media platforms out there, knowing which ones are best for your business can be tricky. Chances are, you do not have time to be on every major social media platform. In fact, depending on the size of your team, we recommend being on at least 2–3 and going from there.
From organising our own social media strategy and helping our clients out with theirs, we’ve spent time sizing up the different platforms and what they do best.
Read our article to learn why your business should be on social media, what factors to consider when deciding on platforms, and the benefits and limitations of every mainstream social media platform.
WHY YOUR BUSINESS SHOULD BE ON SOCIAL MEDIA:
- Works for a number of business goals, including brand awareness, audience expansion, website traffic, lead generation and more.
- 92% of marketers say that social media has helped increase exposure.
- Allows you to tell your own story and control the narrative surrounding your business.
- Can use social media analytics reports and tools to gain insight into your audience and their demographics.
- An opportunity to keep an eye on your competitors, and on general industry news and developments.
- Ability to reach people wherever they are — from local to global audiences.
- It’s inexpensive — the vast majority of social media platforms let you build a profile and share posts for free.
FACTORS TO CONSIDER WHEN CHOOSING A PLATFORM:
WHAT ARE YOUR SOCIAL MEDIA GOALS?
If you are going to be putting time and effort into your social media platforms, pick ones that will best serve your business. Outline and take note of the main business goals you want to work towards with social media. We recommend picking around 3, and listing them according to priority.
Typical business goals for using social media include brand awareness, customer service, reaching new audiences, connecting with existing audiences, website traffic, lead generation, and conversions/sales.
WHO & WHERE IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE?
- Where are they active/searching for information/interacting with businesses and brands online?
- What are their demographics, and how do they line up with those of different social media platform users?
If you don’t already have the answers to either of the above questions, it’s time to research your audience. An easy way to do this is to conduct a customer survey. Along with asking what social media sites they use, you can also ask them about their interests, preferred content types, and what they want to see from you. Alternatively, you can take the time to create customer personas to refer to in your social media marketing efforts.
WHICH PLATFORMS ARE YOUR COMPETITORS USING?
If the majority of your competitors are active on certain platforms, chances are you want to be there too. Otherwise, you could be losing potential customers to the businesses that are present.
Going onto a platform that already has similar businesses also means you can keep tabs on your competitors and the types of content they’re sharing. However, if very few of your competitors are on a specific social media platform, you don’t necessarily have to rule it out. If anything, this can be a great opportunity to beat your competitors to something.
This is especially the case when it comes to relatively new or growing platforms like TikTok or Clubhouse. If the platform aligns with other aspects of your business, such as your goals, audience or content, then give it a try.
WHAT CONTENT DO YOU WANT TO POST ON SOCIAL MEDIA?
Some social media platforms, such as Facebook and LinkedIn, will let you post and share a range of content types. Other platforms (namely Instagram and Pinterest) will focus more on visual content. Then there are the platforms dedicated to only one type of content, such as short-form videos (TikTok) or blog articles (Medium).
COMPARING THE SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS:
AUDIENCE: favoured by Baby Boomers, Gen X and Millenials.
CONTENT & FEATURES: Various post types, Pages, Groups, Messenger, Stories, Events, sponsored posts & targeted marketing campaigns.
GOALS: engagement, lead generation, community-building.
- The most popular social media platform — great for reaching large numbers of people.
- Highly targeted advertising.
- Potential for community-building.
- Expectation for consistent engagement with audience.
- High competition
- Facebook is the least-trusted social media platform among users — partly due to ongoing concerns over privacy.
OUR VERDICT: It may not be the newest or the most exciting platform. But Facebook continues to be the most popular social network on the internet. Considering this, its ever-growing list of features and the ability to share various types of content, Facebook remains essential for pretty much any business.
AUDIENCE: favoured by Gen Z and Millenials.
CONTENT & FEATURES: photos, videos, carousel posts, Stories, Direct Messenger, Live, Reels, IG TV, ‘Checkout’ feature, owned by Facebook.
GOALS: sales and conversions, brand visibility.
- The second most logged-in social media site for daily use.
- Great for e-commerce and influencer marketing.
- Works well for visual-focused brands.
- Range of video-sharing options available.
- Can’t include links on posts.
- Expectation for high-quality, visually appealing content.
- Highly competitive.
- Most settings and posting options only available via mobile.
OUR VERDICT: If you operate an e-commerce business, or if there is a visual/creative aspect to your product, service or general marketing efforts, Instagram is definitely worth your time.
AUDIENCE: biggest demographic is 18–29, followed by teenagers, then 30 to 49-year-olds.
CONTENT & FEATURES: can add images, videos, gifs and polls to posts; Twitter Lists, messages, hashtags, trending topics, sponsored tweets & marketing campaigns, search bar.
GOALS: customer service, audience engagement, reputation management, boosting traffic.
- 40% of Twitter users reported purchasing something after seeing it on Twitter.
- Works well for responding to trends & short, sharp & timely messages.
- An easy way to conduct social listening.
- Great for connecting with customers & responding to their queries.
- Tweets have a 280-character limit.
- Expectation for multiple tweets per day.
- Smaller audience than Facebook and Instagram.
- Need to develop a unique brand voice.
OUR VERDICT: The immediate and ever-shifting nature of Twitter can be intimidating and overwhelming for some. But if you are looking to develop a stronger relationship with your audience and provide easy customer service, Twitter is a great platform for your business.
AUDIENCE: all ages (favoured by Gen Z and Millennials).
CONTENT & FEATURES: short-form and long-form videos, playlists, video scheduling, Creator Academy, owned by Google.
GOALS: brand awareness, engagement, SEO.
- The second-largest search engine in the world after Google — can reach people searching for your company.
- Great for video marketing & influencer marketing.
- Integrates easily onto websites and other social platforms.
- Can only post and share video content — which can take time & resources to make.
- High expectations for visual/audio quality.
OUR VERDICT: To put it simply, if your company has (or plans on posting) video content, uploading and sharing your videos on YouTube is essential to getting them seen.
AUDIENCE: businesses and professionals, mostly 30–49 years old, high income (almost 50% of people making over $75k a year use LinkedIn on a regular basis).
CONTENT & FEATURES: native articles, editorial content, sharing 3rd party content, LinkedIn Groups, digital ads.
GOALS: lead generation, building authority, thought leadership, networking, recruitment.
- Over 55 million companies on LinkedIn to connect with.
- Great networking & recruitment tool.
- The most trusted social platform by users.
- Works well for B2B businesses & freelancers
- More serious/professional atmosphere; expectation for more in-depth, advice-based content.
- Lots of features are only available to LinkedIn premium members.
- Not designed for e-commerce.
OUR VERDICT: LinkedIn should be a priority if your business targets professionals or other businesses. Otherwise, LinkedIn is not as important as some of the other platforms mentioned here. But we believe it is still worth setting up a company page — at the very least, to have somewhere to post job listings.
AUDIENCE: Gen Z, half of its total audience is under 34 years old.
CONTENT & FEATURES: short-form video content (60 seconds or less), challenges, trending hashtags & sounds, discover tab.
GOALS: brand engagement, brand visibility, influencer marketing.
- One of the fastest-growing social media platforms.
- Can share TikTok videos on Facebook, YouTube and Instagram.
- Great for pushing viral content, influencer marketing & responding to trends.
- Short-form video content only — not suited to all businesses.
- Difficult to strike the right tone as a business.
- Most video-editing options only available via mobile.
OUR VERDICT: TikTok is not the right fit for every business. But it might work well for you if you’re interested in engaging or expanding your business to a younger audience, or if you feel confident in producing short-form videos. Still, if you do want to build a business presence on TikTok, you will need to spend some time experimenting with content and the platform.
AUDIENCE: more than 2/3rds women (primary decision-makers when it comes to household products and services).
CONTENT & FEATURES: images, videos, boards, search engine, inspirational content, how-to content, Pinterest Buy Button.
GOALS: brand visibility, increase traffic, sales.
- Great for e-commerce: some 84% of weekly users use Pinterest to help decide what to buy.
- Works well for fashion, art, food, decor, wedding and travel businesses
- Not suited to all businesses
- Smaller audience than other social media platforms
OUR VERDICT: of all the mainstream social media platforms mentioned in this guide, Pinterest is probably the most niche. Even so, its focus on fashion, design, food and lifestyle products can serve certain e-commerce businesses well.
SOCIAL MEDIA PLATFORMS: SUMMARY OF THE REST
SNAPCHAT: mobile-only, temporary visual story posts, informal approach, young user base (similar to TikTok).
REDDIT: targeted subgroups, great for audience research & engagement, popular posts can boost traffic, time-consuming, have to adhere to strict posting rules.
QUORA: allows you to look for and answer questions in your professional field, great for establishing yourself as an authority & driving traffic, time-consuming, strict posting rules.
MEDIUM: an open platform for publishing and hosting blog posts & articles, allows you to import articles that you have published on other websites.
CLUBHOUSE: a new audio-only app for hosting chat rooms and live discussions, with opportunities for listeners to participate and engage.
Article originally posted on the Blueprint Film blog.