Every business owner wants to get the word out about their business, but what's the best way to do it? There are so many platforms available now, how can you decide which of them or how many of them to choose? We've written the ultimate walkthrough here to help you decide where to focus your efforts.

QUESTIONS TO ASK

Before deciding which social media channel is best for you, you need to look at your resources and your goals. Here are a few questions you need to answer before investing a bunch of money into a campaign:

1. What is your budget?

If you're a small business, one of the first questions to ask is how much money you are willing to invest in a social media campaign. Social costs can get expensive, especially if you aren't running them yourself.

You need to consider what type of content you'll be running, whether its ads, blogs, or posts. If you're going to be posting content such as blogs, who's going to write them? Will you or an employee, or will you pay someone to write them for you?

2. What is your goal?

Social media is very versatile because it can cater to whatever your business's goals are.

Are you just trying to gain awareness for your brand? Are you trying to get more direct leads? Do you want to drive more web traffic? You need to have a focus for your efforts, otherwise, your posts will be all over the place and you confuse your followers.

3. What is the primary demographic of your customers?

Every social media platform has different audiences. Knowing the demographic characteristics of your customer base can make or break your ad campaign. Are they 50+ women? Are they men aged 20-29? Is your audience everyone?

Knowing general statistics about your customers can be a huge boon when trying to choose what social media sites to focus on.

4. How big is your social media team?

Will you be running the accounts yourself? Do you have a few employees doing it? Are you paying an outside ad firm to run your social media? Knowing what to plan for in advance can be a huge boon.

If you're running the accounts yourself, how much time are you going to devote to writing content and having an active brand? If you have a few employees doing it, you need to think about whether that's their full-time job, or whether they just devote a few hours a week. If you're paying an outside company, you need to think about how much you want to pay for the team size you need.

5. How many social media accounts are you trying to run?

The knee jerk answer is as many as possible, but that's not always right. The best rule is Quality > Quantity. It is infinitely better to be running two to three accounts well than twenty accounts badly.

It can take a lot of investment and time to get one account running how you want. It's better to devote your resources to posting interesting and interactive content for each platform than to spread yourself thin and post duplicate content across every platform.

6. What kind of content do you want to post?

This is a little more subjective, but it's important to understand your brand identity before jumping onto a social platform. Do you have a fun tone? Are you a more serious business? What is your brand story?

These are all things you want to iron out before choosing the best platform for your business.

Now that you've answered these questions and have a more clear view of your goals, you can take a look at some of the platforms available to you.

Facebook

Facebook is the most popular social media platform on the planet. Odds are, you already have some sort of influence on there. Facebook has 2.6 billion monthly users. The user base is extremely diverse and has a good share of most demographics. It's a good starting point for any brand. Having a strong Facebook business profile will allow customers to find and share information about your business easily.

Since Facebook is an enormous platform, there are many ways to successfully advertise your brand. Facebook ads are one of the most popular ways businesses advertise online. Facebook has pointed targeting measures, so you can reach whatever demographic your main customer base lies in. One of the best things about Facebook is that you don’t need a huge budget to start advertising. You can see results from a smaller investment than other ad platforms. Local businesses can find some good wins here too, because Facebook allows you to “geofence” or target a certain area with your ads. This can help keep costs down and make sure you aren’t posting ads all over the world for customers you’ll never see.

Facebook also has Facebook groups, which are a great way to get your brand out there. While many of them frown on outright advertising, actively posting in groups relevant to your industry will help your brand gain awareness and a following. You can even start a Facebook group for your brand if you think you have a big enough following. Facebook allows video content, links to your website, and long-form posts, so no matter your strategy, you can get it done on Facebook. Facebook is popular among all age groups, so you can find whatever your demographic is.

Instagram

Next on our list is Instagram. Instagram is owned by Facebook, so they have a very similar targeted ad network.

Instagram is great for brands that have a heavy visual component. Restaurants can thrive here with pictures of new dishes or specials they're having. Auto shops have seen success posting interesting cars that come in (with permission of course!).

If your business doesn't have a variety of visual WOW posts, Instagram might not be one of your top picks to focus on. Instagram users scroll quickly, so if your content is boring or the same as everything else, you won't get very many interactions or follows.

Instagram has a much younger audience, with 67% of the 18-29 year old demographic using it. The numbers dwindle significantly as you get to older age groups, with only 23% of the 50-64-year-old group using it. Instagram is a great choice if you have a visually appealing brand targeted to a younger crowd, but it can be made to fit other demographics as well.

Youtube

While you may not consider Youtube to be a social platform, it is one of the quickest growing and most used social platforms in the world. Youtube has over 2 billion users a month.

Youtube is especially great, because no matter your industry, there is content you can make. Youtube has paid ads as well, so you can advertise your website or your brand across videos that your customer base is watching. Your Youtube channel itself can contain short videos, instructional how-tos or just fun things in your industry.

Youtube, like Facebook, has a wide diversity of consumers, so you can find your network. One of the main drawbacks of Youtube is the high time and money cost of making content. Unlike blogs or posts that can be knocked out in a few hours, Youtube requires filming and editing. This can take up a large amount of time. Your content HAS to be diverse and interesting, as no one will watch the same video twice.

Twitter

Twitter still remains very popular, despite the new clickbait article each month that Twitter is officially dead. Twitter has 330 million unique users each month.

One of the best things about Twitter is its low barrier of entry. Each tweet is simply 280 characters, often accompanied by an image or link. Counter to Youtube and Instagram, Twitter is much easier to get started. Twitter tends to skew younger, with 44% of 18-24-year-olds using the platform. In comparison, only 26% of 30-49-year-olds use the platform.

Twitter can be a great way to direct traffic to your website. It can also be great to express creativity and fun from your brand. Many brands express a more whimsical or casual personality on twitter to great success. Twitter has "promoted tweets" instead of ads. These tweets are inserted into someone's timelines in a much less intrusive way than an ad.

Overall, Twitter might be a great choice to build brand awareness or response to customer complaints with low overhead. It's especially useful if you have someone witty or who can shoot out fun pieces of content in a short amount of time.

Linkedin

Linkedin is a social media platform directed at professionals. The kind of content found here is usually high quality and serious in tone. Linkedin has an older crowd, with 44% of 25-29-year-olds using it, along with 37% of 30-49-year-olds. This can be a great network to access if you primarily engage in B2B marketing.

Linkedin has its own ad network that should be very familiar to anyone using Google or Facebook ads. It's fairly straightforward and can get you in front of decision-makers for a business.

Most people use LinkedIn to look at industry news or job information. If your goal is to connect with other professionals, Linkedin might be for you. Businesses that tend to thrive here are suppliers, ad agencies, and business services. It can also be a great way to build brand awareness through industry blogs or useful content. Video content on Linkedin can get you great results if you make sure to target the tone and information correctly.

While there is a smaller audience, Linkedin is another versatile platform like Facebook to achieve any social strategy.

Pinterest

Pinterest is a rapidly growing platform that has a lot of potential for businesses willing to put in the work. Users posts "pins" which are images that other users can tag to "boards." Many people use Pinterest to get ideas for DIY projects or to mark down products they want for later.

Pinterest could be a great avenue for a business that sells products online, as people will be able to pin them to their boards. Pinterest has a wide age distribution, but Pinterest is overwhelmingly used by women, with 42% of women saying they use Pinterest compared to 15% of men.

Local businesses should heavily consider using Pinterest if they have a storefront or have new products often. Like Instagram, Pinterest is almost entirely a visual platform, so make sure you realize that before putting your efforts in. Pinterest has an ad platform through its "promoted pins." Promoted pins will appear on the feed of someone interested in similar products or their interests.

Takeaways

Social media marketing takes more thought than just creating an account. The best social media platforms for your business depend on a lot of factors, including your business category, your brand's tone, your budget, and how much time you're willing to commit.

Once you choose a social network or two to start with, make sure you don't just spam the same content across each platform. Each social media platform should have its own individual posts, so potential customers aren't seeing the same thing over and over.

Make sure to post the right amount as well. Posting a few times a day is generally the golden rule between posting too much and not posting at all (though platforms like Youtube defy this rule, a few posts a week there will be fine).

Social media advertising can be a confusing field to jump into. If you have more questions after reading this or need any help, feel free to contact us at contact@digitaldivisiongroup.com