When you decide to put your business on social media, it is a good idea to have some strategy involved. One mistake we sometimes see with clients is that they bite off more than they can chew. They open accounts on every social media account they can find but never use them.

Most businesses find success sticking to just a few networks, so they can invest more time in their strategy and how they position themselves. Here are our nine simple questions to help you choose the right social media network or networks to promote your business to the right audience.

The top social media sites for 2018 to consider using are:

  • Facebook – Most users, best advertising options, most difficult to learn due to having the most functionality, post links, images, graphics, events, polls, and more, need to post more often
  • Instagram – Growing quickly, targeted to a younger demographic, utilizes Facebook advertising, grows quickly, posts must be visual (photos or videos), can post less frequently
  • YouTube – Still growing in popularity, must have videos to post
  • Pinterest – Large female audience, highly visual, links back to your site or other websites
  • Snapchat – Targeted to the youngest audience (teenagers and early 20s), posts are all visual
  • LinkedIn – Great for B2B interactions, supports links and images, good for curated or original content
  • Twitter – Growth is slowing, but still active, supports links and visual posts, can include a slightly older demographic, short content posts, have to post often

1. Are you B2C or B2B?

With any business, determining your primary purpose, mission, and an audience is key. Once you decide if your business is B2B or B2C, you can have a better idea of whether a content-based or an image-based network is for you, and begin to write out your major goals for your social media presence.  

B2B businesses are typically more content-based businesses and want to use their social media primarily to educate the public, establish themselves as a leader in their field, and nurture leads. For these types of businesses, Linkedin and Facebook can be easier options than a visual-based platform like Instagram. LinkedIn is a great social media platform for B2B businesses because you can publish articles right on their platform, and reach out to other like-minded professionals without getting distracted by all the other posts on Facebook that are not business-related.

For B2C businesses, informative content is essential, but not as important as the pictures and features of the product or service provided, so a more visual network can often be a better approach. Instagram and Pinterest are great options for businesses hoping to showcase their products in a way that engages their audience.

2. What are your primary social media goals?

There are a lot of possible goals your social media presence could have for your business, but we typically recommend narrowing in on 2-3. Listed below are a few goals you might choose from when narrowing your search. Are you trying to…

    1. Grow your following?
    2. Increase Engagement?
    3. Build customer loyalty?
    4. Gain customer feedback?
    5. Increase website traffic?
    6. Provide valuable information that gets you noticed as an expert in your field?

Clients often ask about what the ROI is on social media. When you have set goals like these, it is easier to see the progress that you make and know what you are accomplishing.

Of course, these goals can always change. At first, you may want to grow your following, but when you are satisfied with the growth, you might decide to switch to increase engagement or create a lead generation campaign that will help them convert into clients or regular customers.

You may also end up running multiple campaigns at one time to achieve a mix of goals. For instance, you may always want to grow your following, but some of your older followers may be ready to engage in a sale. So your marketing strategy and how you communicate with them, build relationships with them, and sell to them will change.

3. How Often Do You Plan To Post?

Be realistic about how much time your business has to dedicate to your social media strategy. Also, keep the algorithms in mind when deciding on your network.  Most will rank your content lower if you don’t plan to post often, but if you need a presence, platforms like Instagram and Pinterest might be right for you. If you plan to post more sporadically, it may be useful to use online resources to find what time of the day your customer base will be most receptive to your posts.

Don’t be afraid to test your posting frequency. Try posting three times a day vs. three times a week and see if your engagement goes up, down, or stays the same. All of the major social media networks include analytical software, so you should be able to get a look at how your content is performing.

And keep in mind that posting on sites like YouTube or Pinterest takes a different strategy than content on Facebook and Twitter.

4. Who are your key demographics or target customers?

Make sure your chosen social media network(s) are visited by your key demographic, or you could be setting yourself up for low engagement. Below is a graph of four of the top social media networks and how age and gender play into what networks are used from Statista. From this chart, you can see Facebook is the #1 network among all demographics, so we do typically recommend including Facebook in your strategy. (Learn more about using Facebook for business here.)

It can be helpful to research what kinds of habits your demographics are known for, and how they typically consume their media. Take age, gender, location, and socio-economic status into account to get the best snapshot of your ideal customer. You can find a lot of this data by using the (free!) databases provided at your local library. Just ask to book a meeting with your local business librarian.

You can also look into your competitors to see how they are reaching their customers online. You usually want to be in the same spaces of your online that your competition.

5. What is the nature of your content? Videos? Images? Written content?

Your business is unique, so your content should be too. You wouldn’t have the same content strategy for an ice cream shop as you would for a law firm, so take time to discover what kind of content could best benefit your audience. The more free information you provide, the more your customer base will begin to lean on you when they need their industry-related questions answered.

It’s also vital to look at how different kinds of content rank on various social media networks. For example, video content on Facebook ranks a lot higher than status updates or articles, so if Facebook is your primary social media network, investing in a DIY video software or contracting out some video production might be a good idea for you. We use the video-creation platform Animoto, and we highly recommend it for any business looking to get started in video production.

Sometimes, coming up with content can be hard. A good strategy is to create ideas around a good variety of content that keeps your audience up to date with industry news, new products and promotions, a behind-the-scenes look at your company, and engages them with fun, and interesting ideas. 

6. Do you need to provide easily clickable links and products?

This one ties in a bit with our last point, but since links work differently on different networks, we wanted to draw attention to it. You may write a blog, or want to promote services and products that link directly back to your website. Most social media networks work great for this, like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Some social media networks like Instagram don’t have clickable links in their posts (you have to update your link in your bio). On these networks, make sure if it is a product you are linking to, you tell your customers exactly where to find it. You could also have a strategy in place for how to drive traffic back to your website or products (CTAs, link in bio, etc.).

Again, have a goal for each site and don’t be afraid to use them differently. For example, if you have new blog posts or press releases, you’ll want to share those on Facebook and LinkedIn, but a behind-the-scenes shot of a day at your company should go on Instagram and maybe Facebook, too.

7. How will you track ROI?

Most businesses are interested in tracking the ROI (return on investment) of their social media. It makes sense. You want to make sure the time and energy your team invests in social media is rewarded with likes, shares, general audience engagement, and eventually leads to more income for your business.

If you want to track this more effectively, remember to use the built-in reporting tools that come with all of the major social media networks. These networks help monitor specific customer behaviors, usage, and demographics, which can help you to make sure you see a return on your efforts.

PRO TIP: If your metrics are important to your business, make sure to check Audience Insights on Facebook as well when using the ads platform. Facebook’s ad platform is the most advanced, and can even help you narrow down your target demographic. This targeting can make it easier to cut out some of your audience that is not converting, and narrow down some of your warmer leads, which means higher conversion and better ROI.

8. What is your advertising budget?

If you’re starting out, share out your content like blogs, helpful statistics, and industry pro tips or great product offerings organically (no-paid). Test to see how your content goes over without a budget. Based on the content that works well,  consider putting an ad budget towards those types of content. All of the major social media networks have different advertising options you can test out and your ad spend can vary based on your overall goals and the network.

With most social media sites, even a couple dollars a day ($5-$10) can go a long way. Some businesses worry about spending money on advertising because sometimes it can be hard to see the direct connection between advertising and sales. With social media advertising, it can be tracked through sophisticated software. When you place a billboard on a busy street, it’s difficult to tell exactly how many heads you may have turned. However, you can track how many people clicked on your digital ad, and how many people then purchased the product or service.

If you’re starting out with ads, Instagram and Facebook can be an excellent place to start because you have the most robust advertising software for both networks (Facebook owns Instagram) in one place. These platforms will allow you to test some of your demographics and see how your content performed. It’s true that some of this work is left to trial and error, but in the long run, you can get a better view of what your target demographic responds to best.

9. What is the size of your team? (What resources are at your disposal?)

Social media can very quickly become stressful if your team is unprepared or overworked already. Make sure you are not overloading your team with the frequency of posting or the graphics or videos they need to create. We usually vote quality over quantity, so if you’re going to commit to using social media, be prepared to take the time and resources to add it to your overall marketing strategy and stick with it!

After you answer these nine questions, you should have a better idea of the best social media network for your business.