Because humans are “social animals” we naturally want to connect with other humans, and we’ve been doing so for thousands of years. Today’s technology has dramatically accelerated the means of connecting via social media. While Facebook, Twitter, TikTok, and others are vastly used today, the growth in social media platforms has leaped significantly in the last 12 years from their early starting points.
From the report of Influencer Marketing Hub, we can see that there were fewer than one billion people using social media in 2010, the number doubled to over 2 billion by 2015. Eventually, the number of users reportedly exceeded 4.4 billion users in July 2021 and reached over 4.6 billion users in January 2022—more than 58 percent of the world’s population.
Social media is clearly not limited to “friend-to-friend” connections. Today it is reported that over 91 percent of U.S. businesses operating with more than 100 employees utilize social media for business and marketing purposes.
8 Steps to Choose the Best Social Media Platform
With so many social media platforms in existence, it is neither possible nor wise to use all of them. They are not only different, but they are also not equal. Clearly, no business would (or should) ever consider trying to utilize every social media platform in existence. So, how do we choose?
Step 1: Define Your Social Media Role and Goals
It is important to define the role and goals of social media within your marketing strategy for the early stage. The goals can include expanding brand awareness, creating a deeper brand understanding, reaching new audiences, improving customer communication, and increasing sales. So, you can set the short term objective and action according to the big direction.
Step 2: Understand Different Social Media Platforms and Their Characteristics
You have to differentiate the major social media platforms and know how they can perform the best with your goals. The nature of the business and its products or services will help to define the social media platforms that bring the greatest impact.
The six major social media platforms
There are six major social media platforms for personal and business use. Each social media has different characteristics and serves for specific purposes. It can separate into fluid/restricted media and active/passive browsing media. Mostly social media platforms are video-based.
- Fluid media type – consists different kind of media like text, images, short and long form video
- Restricted media type – only consists one or two form of media
- Active browsing – user will actively search for certain topic, keyword or hashtag
- Passive browsing – user just scroll the news feed and see the latest news
Facebook (now called Meta) is a well-established social media platform. Facebook become the most used online social media platform worldwide. since it has roughly has 2.91 billion monthly active users. Statistic shown that an average American spends 33 minutes a day on the platform.
Users can post and read the comments from friends, friends of friend and Facebook pages that he/she followed. Users can share photos, news links or interesting content from the web, chat live and even watch short-form videos. Features include Messenger for messaging, timeline, the wall, relationship status, and events.
YouTube is a popular online video-sharing service with about 2.1 billion monthly active users in worldwide. It is aurally focused platform compared to other major social media platforms. Besides, there is 20 million users subscribe to YouTube Premium in 2020 to enjoy the videos without ads.
Users can search, create, share and create a playlist of your favorite videos. Besides, you can react towards the video, for instance like or comment on the videos, subscribe to YouTube channels (to get notifications on the latest update) and also pay for subscription fee to get access to the paid content on your favorite YouTube channels.
Instagram is a social media platform focused on sharing photos and videos. Instagram now has 2 billion monthly active global users. It is most popular with users the age of 25-34 year old. More than 70 percent of U.S. businesses use Instagram because the photos and videos boost a high engagement rate.
It has many features like robust photo filters, great video posting capabilities with high-quality production values, and stories. Instagram Reels (Reel) is a new feature for businesses to communicate with their audiences. Besides, you can add stickers , poll, music and quiz on your Instagram story (this feature has 500 million daily active users) and will disappear after 24 hours.
Twitter allows the users to communicate short form posts, called tweets (which 280 character limit) with other users. Twitter is especially popular in the U.S. with over 77 million users at the end of 2021.
Users can quote a tweet, reply to a tweet, communicate to create Twitter lists, tag other accounts in Twitter, pin a tweet, and twitter website cards. They mainly use hashtags to create a topic on the platform. More than 69 percent of United States users used to get the latest news on Twitter as they trust in the information’s accuracy on the platform.
LinkedIn is the world largest professional network site. With over 810 million users worldwide, LinkedIn is a smaller platform compared to others, but it has focused-group social media platform. It can be used to find a job, search for increment, build network with others professionals, get the latest updates of different industries and learn skills.
It is an excellent platform for B2B companies, enabling them to reach industry leaders and their business target audience. It is also an excellent research tool. Company need to select a few of employee as the “company voice” to tell their story and expertise on LinkedIn. It can promote your company with soft-sell advertising and people will feel authentic and interesting.
TikTok is the fastest growing social media platforms, it has 1 billion monthly active users . It has a younger user base with the higher percentage of its users between 10 to 29 years old. Trends are everything on TikTok so you have to make yourself relevant and be in the trending conversation.
It allows users to create and share maximum 10 minutes videos. It features localized content and has received significant celebrity endorsements and involvement. Content is easy to create, share, and view as it has many features and effects for the users to create unique content.
Step 3: Analyze Your Competitors’ Actions
Look at what your competitors are doing so you can assess their use of the various platforms. Understand their strengths and weaknesses so you can build on your own strengths and do better. How are they engaging their customers? What type of content are they posting? How often do they post? What do their engagement activities look like? You can analyze their marketing plan and develop your own strategic according to your goal and unique selling points.
Step 4: Identify Your Target Audiences
At first, you have to know your business’ target audience and identify the platforms that your target audience uses. Where do your customers spend the most time? How will those platforms gain the best response from your target audience? Who and what are your target audience members most influenced by. Once you set your target audience and you will know which social media platforms you are planning to start with.
Step 5: Plan The Resources for Social Media
Examine the resources you can put against managing your social media. For instance, who will create the content, post it and respond to user comments? Determine how many platforms you can realistically operate. Decide how you will manage analytics. Determine your social media budget as it fits into the overall marketing picture. Know that it takes time to nurture and grow your efforts. So, make sure you have the people and budget to handle what you choose to tackle.
Step 6: Create Your Own Social Media Voice
Determine and create your own social media voice. That will include the elements of community, culture, and conversation to result in a consistent brand feeling that you want to convey. Consistent messaging and consistent timely responses are key to social media success.
Step 7: Tailor Contents According to Different Social Media Platforms
Seventh, create content that will be tailored to and aligned with each specific platform. Every social media platforms have different voice, target audience and identity. You can have the similar content but alter slightly according to different platforms. Moreover, you can develop a plan to share content across platforms to gather the users from different platforms.
Step 8: Test, Run and Analyze
Eighth, experiment to see type of content that works the best. You need to test various factors like content style, posting time, way of expression, brand message and others so you able to analyze the suitable way to communicate with your target audience. It takes longer time to run A/B testing, measure the results and revise your actions appropriately, but it worth to get the results as it can really grow your business significantly.
There are significant benefits to utilizing social media in successful business marketing, but social media usage requires planning, discipline, consistency, testing and focus. So, don’t be afraid to fail during the planning stage, try and improvise your plan that suits your target audience.