If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you know social media marketing is important. You know that it’s one of the fastest-growing forms of marketing today, and you’re aware that it’s one of the best ways to build your business’ brand. It’s also an important way to build your own online presence for professional networking.
However, do you know which social media platforms are best for your business?
Social media marketing works, but it’s time-consuming so you don’t want to waste time on the wrong platform. The wrong platform won’t have the target market you’re trying to reach, and it may not represent your business very well. For instance, if you sell a service that is hard to represent visually, then you don’t want to invest time on a visual platform designed for promoting physical products that can be photographed. And with literally thousands of social media sites available—and new ones forming all the time—it can be difficult to keep up with which sites do what.
Developing A Social Media Strategy
Before you jump into social media marketing, there are few things to keep in mind. First, using a few platforms well and consistently is more important that using many (or all) platforms. Since using a social media site well involves engaging with that site, both by posting and responding to content, it takes time. If you’re trying to stay active on every site, it’s likely your marketing will actually suffer. Instead, start with one or two sites that 1) your target demographic is active on, 2) showcases your business well, and 3) appeals to you. (If you loathe the platform you’re using, it’s likely your content will reflect that).
A good way to begin is to define your goals. What do you want from your social media marketing? Are you looking to improve brand recognition? promote a certain product or service? increase website traffic? learn more about your customers? become more accessible to customers? Decide on your goals, determine what metrics you need to track to monitor your progress toward your goals, and decide on a strategy. You can just throw out content randomly, like pasta on a wall, and hope something sticks, but it’s unlikely you’ll get the results you want. Rather, you’ll get the best results by treating social media marketing like other kinds of marketing by using data to plan.
If you’re not sure which platforms your audience is likely to use, you can always send out a survey to current customers or do research on social media platforms to determine where they are likely to be. Or you can check out this great guide to defining buyer personas from DigitalMarketingInstitute.com.
Finally, decide what kind of content you want to share. A great way to do this is simply watch what other people share. Use the social network passively for a week or two to get a sense of the culture on that platform. What do other people share? What kinds of content get more or fewer likes? You can even check out your competition to see if what they’re doing is or isn’t working. How can you improve on their strategy? Remember that whatever you share needs to reflect your brand.
Choosing A Social Media Platform For Your Business
To help you out, TracSoft has compiled a list of the most popular social media platforms in 2020. We give you each site’s strengths and weaknesses, and offer tips to help you get started with each site. Using data from Statistica.com, we’ve listed them in order from most users to least users. (Data on LinkedIn’s active users is debated. We took the most reliable data available, which comes from BusinessOfApps.com.)
- Facebook – 2,498 million active users
Currently, Facebook is the largest social media platform by number of users. Despite scandals around users’ privacy, Facebook continues growing, in part because it is constantly evolving. In recent years, it’s rolled out features to appeal specifically to businesses such as Facebook Pages and Facebook Ads. The user base here is wide and diverse, and the site handles many mediums well: status updates for text, albums for pictures and memes, built-in support for gifs and emojis, and Facebook Live for video content, not to mention sharing links through status updates is easy and includes a handy preview.
- YouTube – 2,000 million active users
If you don’t immediately think of YouTube when you think of social media platforms then you’re not alone, but it is actually one of the most-used sites in the world. Offering instructional, education, and entertainment content, it just may have the most diverse user base of any social network since it even draws in users who otherwise eschew social media. Since the platform is built for video, it’s great for instructional content, behind the scenes looks, customer testimonials, tours, or commercials. Because posting to the site is free, it’s a great way to reach your audience, and if you’ve got some creativity and humor, you just may find your video going viral not just on YouTube, but on other networks where users share content. However, gone are the days of amateur YouTubers posting raw, poorly-edited footage. If you want to do well on this social media platform, you’ll need to learn a little video editing or find someone who can handle that for you. Thankfully, decent editing software costs as little as $70 and there are plenty of places online to learn the basics—like, um, YouTube.
- Instagram – 1,000 million active users
Owned by Facebook, Instagram is another heavily-visual social media platform. It integrates with Facebook very easily, which makes them a great pair if you’re looking for two social media sites to start on. It also enjoys similar paid ad support as Facebook, however, you can develop a strong following without paying for advertising. Succeeding on this platform requires using hashtags well (similar to Twitter), so definitely follow some accounts and get a feel early on for how the tagging system works. Instagram does allow captions, but this isn’t a place for text-heavy posts. Also, it’s strongly recommended that you optimize your images for the platform before posting anything. Thankfully, the app does have some great photo editing tools and filters, but you may still want to use a computer for posts that really matter. And if you’re thinking that a network that relies only on pictures doesn’t sound like a great place for marketing, remember that visual content is more engaging, more memorable, and communicates faster than any other medium.
- Reddit – 430 million active users
Reddit has a reputation for hosting trolls and internet flame wars, but similar to YouTube, it offers diverse content to an incredibly diverse user base. Informative content, how-to guides, emotional support, rabid fandoms—it’s all here, like the entire internet in miniature. Users can post text updates, submit questions, post links or images, and comment on other users’ posts. Content gets promoted or demoted through a thumbs-up/thumbs-down rating system. Forums dedicated to certain topics (known as subreddits) can be found on just about any topic, but obviously some are more popular than others. While Reddit does have a paid advertising system and you can promote your content in threads, some marketers find Reddit more useful as a source of inspiration for content. For instance, want to know what the internet thinks about a new Netflix show? Scan subreddits about the show to gauge its popularity with different demographics. Or skim a subreddit about computer issues to figure out what kinds of how-to posts people online are looking for. You can then use this information to inform the types of content you create.
- Snapchat – 398 million active users
There are two types of messages on Snapchat, private messages sent directly to a specific user and stories that are shared with groups of followers. Private messages can be read once and then they disappear, but a Snapchat Story will be available for 24 hours after publication. Like Instagram, Snapchat has a robust advertising system that will promote your post, but paid ads aren’t necessary when you’re starting out. You may be wondering why you would spend time on content that will vanish, but Snapchat is extremely popular with users younger than their mid-30s; in fact, 71% of the platforms are under 34, and almost half are between 18 and 24 years old, so if you’re aiming to reach a younger demographic, it’s here.
- Twitter – 386 million active users
Famous for its 280-character brevity, Twitter makes sharing images or links easy. Because its posts are short, regular updates on this social media platform don’t require as much work as other sites on this list. On the other hand, Twitter tends to be fast-paced. Like Instagram, it relies on hashtags that group posts on similar topics into a single thread. One strength of Twitter is its “live tweeting,” stream-of-consciousness nature that provides very honest insight into users’ minds and lives. If you can tap into an active thread and contribute something relevant about your business, you have the potential to reach a lot of eyes with no cost and little effort.
- Pinterest – 366 million active users
Skewing largely female (81% of users are women), Pinterest allows users to save links to virtual pinboards based on themes. Users can follow other users with similar interests, or even follow specific boards from a user, without having to “friend” or “link” with them, and sharing content is extremely easy. As a result, a Pinterest post can have a huge reach with little effort on your part. Further, 87% of users on the site say they have purchased something they found on Pinterest. Popular searches tend to fall into categories such as recipes, specific diets (like keto or vegetarian), lifestyle, how-to articles, event planning (weddings, baby showers), and fashion. Pinterest does have a paid ad system. However, posts are successful based on how well their keywords align with users’ search terms, so good keyword research can make your posts successful without you spending a cent.
- LinkedIn – 310 million active users
We spent a lot of time talking about LinkedIn in our post about Using Social Media For Successful Social Networking, but as a rapidly-growing social media platform, it’s worth talking about here, too. Primarily, LinkedIn is designed for professional networking with other people in your same or related professions, and as more people establish pages for their businesses, it’s fast becoming a modern-day Yellow Pages for professional services. However, it’s also a great way to establish yourself (or your business) as an industry leader through sharing and engaging with content. Like most social platforms, it sells paid ads to promote your content, but you can also grow a following organically without spending money. This is a great place for beginners since the types of content you share and engage with are the same kinds of professional development articles that you’re likely already reading. Buffer offers a great guide for getting started with LinkedIn if you decide this is the platform for you.
Serve Your Followers’ Needs
Getting started with social media marketing can be intimidating, but it doesn’t have to be. Because social media platforms are becoming so central to current marketing strategies, there are lots of free guides and tutorials online that offer help finding your feet. But at the end of the day, the most important thing is to keep your audience in mind. Those of us who grew up with social media might seem to have the advantage, but don’t fall into the trap of running your professional social media accounts like you do your personal accounts. The content you share needs to do something for your followers: entertain, inspire, inform, or include them. Posts need to meet very basic social needs, many of the same social needs we have offline, too. If you make sure your content is serving your followers, you’ll be golden.
If social media marketing isn’t your thing, why not turn it over to TracSoft? We create customized internet marketing strategies for businesses just like yours. Let us help you build brand awareness and brand loyalty through our social media management. We offer social media management as well as search engine optimization and pay per click advertising. Contact TracSoft today and see your business grow.
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