In today’s day and age, social media is an inevitable shortcut to success, right?
Here’s the thing: there are a gazillion social media channels out there. Having a social media platform for your brand doesn’t matter in itself; if you want it to have an actual impact, you need to make sure you’re on the right social media platform. You may be personally comfortable with Twitter, but if it’s not the appropriate platform for your brand, you’re going to be heading for a fall.
Fortunately, there are a few straightforward factors to consider before choosing a social media platform for your brand:
THE NATURE OF YOUR BRAND:
This is the No. 1 factor you need to consider. Your brand personality, your products and services and your brand type are aspects that should primarily influence your social media platform choice.
For example, highly visual brands should opt for image-based platforms like Instagram or Pinterest where they can take full advantage of their aesthetically-pleasing templates and appeal to an appropriate audience. Brands focused on news and trending topics would be better off with Twitter, as long as they can keep up with its fast-paced and witty environment. Meanwhile, LinkedIn is specifically designed for businesses and is a professional networking site, making it ideal for finding investors, recruiting employees and establishing thought leadership.
However, platform choices aren’t so clear-cut most of the time. Visual and creative brands may also benefit from business-oriented platforms, and large corporations may benefit from aesthetic-based platforms. This is why choosing channels is never a straightforward decision. However, you just need to understand what works best for your brand at the moment, and what options are currently available to you.
YOUR IDEAL AUDIENCE:
Social media is meant to appeal to your audience, but who is your audience? Who are you trying to reach out to and impress? This is probably the most important question you need to ask yourself before choosing a social media platform.
It’s easy to assume that you should make your decision purely based on the numbers, users or size of a social media channel. For instance, Facebook has the most active users than any other network. However, if your target audience isn’t active on the platform, there’s no point establishing a dominant presence there because it won’t generate any results. By identifying the sites your ideal customers use, you can reach out to them quickly, effectively and persuasively.
Consider the age-range, gender, occupation of your audience in question before making your decision. For example, most Twitter users are between the ages 25-34 and more than half identify as male; if that demographic matches your ideal audience, then Twitter is your go-to social media destination.
YOUR OVERALL MARKETING GOALS:
Having an influential social media presence should be the means to an end, not the end in itself. For any budding or up-and-coming brand, it’s important to understand what your social media goals and requirements are, as part of your broader marketing strategy.
Do you intend to grow brand awareness? Are you planning on enhancing and improving communication with your customers? Are you keen on maximising your brand reach? These are some of the many questions you should ask yourself before you choose a social media platform, as you will have to measure their benefits and disadvantages depending on what you actually want to achieve. For example, if you’re keen on building customer care and customer support, Twitter and Facebook are probably your best options, and you should try and build up a steady social media presence on those sites before you consider expanding beyond them.
A competitive analysis can be incredibly stressful, but it’s also incredibly useful. This is especially true if you’re a budding or up-and-coming brand, because it gives you ready-made examples and case-studies without any effort from your end. Make sure that you understand what platforms your competitors are using, how engaged their audiences are on each channel, and some general tactics they use to generate audience interest. This will help you make an informed decision with the benefit of hindsight, making it a win-win situation for you.
Of course, you don’t need to do something or limit yourself to specific social media channels just because your competitor is doing it. For example, if you’re a brand selling sports equipment, and your competitors are primarily on Instagram, you should ideally begin your journey on the same platform, as it already has a reliable customer-base. But you can also expand your reach by starting a YouTube channel or making a Pinterest account to generate multi-channel engagement.
YOUR AVAILABLE RESOURCES:
Here’s the thing: it doesn’t matter if you do the right research or make the right decision if you don’t actually have the resources to actually make it work. Brands don’t build a devoted following overnight; it takes time, effort and creativity. Similarly, your social media presence must be a long-term commitment. This is extremely important to understand and acknowledge the resources you have at your disposal when you’re deciding how many social media channels you want to engage with, because you can’t copy-and-paste the same message across all your platforms; it has to be tailor-made depending on the site and your followers.
The most important “resource” is time, because social media will take up a lot of it. If you have (or you are) a full-time person dedicated to social media, you can afford to build a presence in multiple channels. However, if you can only allot limited time to your social media engagement, then try and limit your channels to one or two.
As you can see, choosing the right social media platform isn’t as easy as it seems. Some brands get it right in an instant, while some make the wrong choice and plummet down a freefall. Make sure that you approach your social media channel selection like any other business strategy and make your decision wisely.