One of the most common questions we hear from our clients is, “Which social platforms should I be on?” It’s a great question to ask. Sometimes it can feel like you need to jump on to each new, trendy platform but not every social media is created equally. 

To understand more about where your business should be posting, you have to know the answers to a few questions: who is your audience, what are the benefits of each platform, what kind of content will you be posting.

Who is your audience?

Any small business owner will tell you that this is one of the most important questions you can ask yourself. You need to know about your ideal customers. Not just demographically (age, gender, location) but their interests, who they follow, what they do in their free time, and more. 

Keep in mind, if you’re a B2B or B2C company, that can make a huge difference on what platform you decide to use. 

If you haven’t figured this part out yet and aren’t sure where to begin, we can help. Check out our blog post on using market research to target your customers or let us do the market research for you

Once you have a grasp on who your ideal customers are, you will probably get an idea of what social platforms they’re using. If you’re still unsure, it may be helpful to understand a bit more about the common demographics of each social platform. We’ve included a chart from the Pew Research Center for reference. 

This chart can be extremely helpful in figuring out where your audience is but you may find that your audience is split between platforms. That might be a hint that you need multiple social profiles. If you’re hoping to only focus your energy in one area, the other questions can help you narrow things down a bit more. 

What are the benefits of each social media platform?

Each social network is unique. There are different features you can utilize depending on what you’re hoping to do with your business.

Here’s a breakdown of what each offers:

Facebook

Most businesses should have a Facebook Page. At this point, it’s almost as ubiquitous as having a website. 

That’s because Facebook has such a large audience and is often one of the first places people go to find out about your business. Even if you aren’t going to make Facebook your main social platform, you should have one and update it semi-regularly (at least twice a week). 

The biggest benefit that Facebook offers is cheap, direct advertising. Facebook lets you to grow your business by targeting exactly the type of people you want as customers, so long as you’re willing to pay. Even a small budget of $100 a month goes a long way on Facebook. 

If you’re afraid of testing out Facebook ads for yourself, feel free to reach out. We can train you on how to use Ads Manager or set up ads for you. 

Instagram

If you didn’t know, Facebook owns Instagram. That means the same advertising that you do on Facebook can be done on Instagram. 

Instagram also allows for your content to be found via hashtags and discovery. This means that more people can see your content so long as you research which hashtags to use, and connect with other business that your ideal customer might like. 

If you have an e-commerce site, Instagram also has great features for tagging products in your posts so customers can be directed to your site to buy. 

LinkedIn

If you’re a B2B company, you’ll want to make sure you have a LinkedIn business page and an updated personal page. 

LinkedIn is a great place to find the key decision-makers at other businesses and reach out to them directly. You can also position yourself as an industry thought leader with LinkedIn. 

Although it’s not utilized as much as Facebook ads, LinkedIn also has the option to do ads (including ads that look like direct messages from your personal account). We’ve found that these ads aren’t as effective as Facebook because fewer people use LinkedIn regularly but LinkedIn may have more relevant parameters for you to target. 

For instance, not everyone puts their job title on their Facebook account but most people will add that to their LinkedIn. If you want to target people based on a specific job title, LinkedIn has you covered. 

Twitter

When it comes to Twitter, a small follower count doesn’t always reflect the potential reach of your tweets. If you’re utilizing trending hashtags or tagging other businesses that you work with, you have the potential to reach a wide audience. 

Twitter is particularly good for building relationships with other businesses and connecting with their audience. For instance, you might be giving a talk at a nearby university. If you tweet about your talk and tag the university, you may get a retweet that then puts your brand in front of all the followers of that university. 

Or if you attend a conference it’s likely that the  conference will have a hashtag that you can live Tweet with, so other conference attendees can follow along. 

YouTube

YouTube has a huge, active audience. People are constantly searching for tutorials, funny videos, testimonials, etc. If you are creating videos, you want to make sure they’re uploaded to YouTube with an appropriate title and tags. It allows people to find your content organically. 

Plus, similarly to Instagram, YouTube is owned by another behemoth: Google. This makes adding keywords, descriptions, and titles to your videos extra beneficial since Google may favor ranking them higher than other videos placed on the web.

Pinterest

Pinterest has a niche audience and like YouTube is mostly based on what people are searching for. If you have a product or blog that fits into one of Pinterest’s categories, especially if it can be bought online, you’ll want to make sure you post an image to Pinterest. 

Let’s say you sell cake toppers. If you have your entire catalog of cake toppers uploaded into Pinterest with appropriate hashtags and titles, those will come up when people search for cake toppers or browse for wedding inspiration. 

Plus, Pinterest pins typically link directly back to a URL. This means immediate click-through traffic off of pins, which can lead to faster sales and a higher ROI.

What kind of content will you be posting to your social media?

Some people start up their business social media profiles without ever asking themselves this key question. What will you post? Do you have lots of high-quality images? Do you write a blog? Are you creating videos? 

If you’re struggling to come up with ideas for posts, download our 30 Days of Content Creation guide here

Each social platform has preferences when it comes to the type of content they’d prefer to see. If you’re not playing by the rules of a particular platform, your posts might never reach your audience. 

That’s because most social platforms control what people see with their own algorithms. Let’s say you post an image to Instagram. You forgot to clean off your phone’s camera lens so the photo is blurry. Then you neglect to use any hashtags with your photo. Even if you have 1,000 followers, Instagram can decide your photo isn’t worth sharing to that many people because you didn’t follow the Instagram best practices. 

For your reference, here’s a breakdown of the type of content each platform likes best. 

Facebook

Facebook’s algorithm is notoriously hard to understand. What we’ve found though is that Facebook rewards users who incorporate any of their newer features. Things like live videos, Facebook stories, and videos uploaded directly to the Facebook platform (as opposed to shared from YouTube) tend to get the most direct exposure.

You may also need to run some of your own tests when it comes to Facebook. Post a variety of things (links, photos, videos, etc.) and watch your Facebook insights. Facebook will tell you exactly how many people saw your post and interacted with it. 

If you see a particular kind of post doing well, do more of that. It means your audience likes that kind of post and ultimately, that’s what Facebook’s algorithm is about. Facebook wants to share things that your audience likes so figure out what that is to be successful. 

Instagram

Historically, Instagram has been all about photos but don’t discount videos here as well. If you have a product that is visually interesting or engaging, you want to be on Instagram.

Just make sure you are posting high-quality photos and utilize IGTV if your videos are longer than a minute. 

Instagram stories can be a bit different though. Those are meant as more of a behind-the-scenes look so your videos and photos don’t have to be the same high-quality (but still aim for the best quality you can). 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is all about professionalism. It’s a career-oriented social media platform so make sure your content reflects that. 

If you write a blog, share links to that or convert it to a LinkedIn article. It’s also common for LinkedIn users to write longer posts telling stories about the hiring process, an industry update, a positive conference experience, or any number of professional content.

Twitter

If you think you’ll have a lot of content to share, Twitter is the place to be. While most platforms would only encourage you to post once a day (or less), Twitter can take up to ten posts a day (and sometimes even more). 

Twitter is a good place to connect with other businesses. If you’re working with another company, you can tag them in your post and hopefully get a retweet. 

It’s also a good platform for keeping up with current events or pop culture. If you jump into the conversation on an appropriate, trending hashtag, you have the potential to reach a wide audience. 

Fair warning though ⁠— there can be a bit of a learning curve with Twitter and it’s certainly not for every business.

YouTube

This is probably obvious but YouTube is all about videos. If you have the time to create compelling, original videos that are good quality, YouTube has a wide-ranging audience for you to tap into.

For most small businesses, YouTube may end up being more of a repository. A place to keep videos that you want on your website. There’s nothing wrong with this. Just keep in mind that YouTube can also be used as a more robust part of your communication plan if you have time and the proper equipment. 

Pinterest

Not many of our clients use Pinterest for their business. It’s a unique platform. Some people even consider it more of a search engine than a social network. 

Most of the content is about crafts, fashion, weddings, and food. If you write a blog related to any of those subjects, Pinterest could work for you.

If you’re selling a product directly on your website that fits with the Pinterest type content, you may want to be posting your products there as well (hopefully interspersed with blog content). 

Other Social Media Platforms (Snapchat, Reddit, WhatsApp, TikTok)

There are other social platforms that you might have heard of like Snapchat, Reddit, WhatsApp, and TikTok. 

At this point, we don’t normally recommend clients use these. They are most popular among teens (WhatsApp is hugely popular in India). Even if that’s your ideal customer, you may want to tread lightly with these platforms. 

The reason being that unless you have a strong understanding of the culture behind each platform, brands tend to come off as the uncool parent trying (and failing) to communicate with the hip teenagers. 

Some brands have used these social media platforms well, but it takes a lot of research and social media savvy to come out on top. 

TL;DR (Too long; didn’t read)

We know that was a lot of information to throw at you. If your head is spinning, don’t worry. We created a graphic that guides you towards which social media platform you should be using by just asking yourself a few questions. 

To access it, make sure you follow us on Facebook and Instagram. We’ll be posting the graphic there in the next few days.