Choosing the best social media channels for your business

Where the customers are

Most entrepreneurs know that social media is an important marketing and communications tool, but if you’re like most small business owners, you need to stretch a limited amount of time and money a long way. So, how you do make the best use of your precious resources to engage successfully on social media, especially with so many platforms to choose from?

With choices like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest and TikTok – to name a few — it can be challenging to decide which ones to focus on. The good news is you don’t have to use all of them. By spending your time and budget strategically on the one to three platforms that will yield the best results for your business, you’ll see the greatest return on your investment.

The lowdown on social media platforms for SMEs

Here’s how to get started with social media marketing:

  • Find out where your customers spend time online.
  • Define your goals.
  • Honestly ask yourself, “Will I post consistently?”

It takes some forethought to do social media right. Let’s get started.

1. Find out where your customers spend time online

No matter how creative and engaging your social messages, videos and blogs posts might be, they’re useless if they’re not finding your target market. If you don’t understand where your audience hangs out, you won’t be able to reach them. Before you can find your audience online, you need to be able to identify them:

  • What age groups are you trying to reach?
  • Where do they live?
  • What is their lifestyle like?
  • What are their spending and purchasing habits?
  • What kinds of needs and/or questions do they have… that only you can answer?
  • How can you provide value to them and offer them what no one else can?

Once you have a clear understanding of who is most likely to buy from you, you can figure out which social platforms they spend the most time on.

Pinterest, Facebook or Twitter?

Different kinds of people like to use different social media. One person might jump between social networks for different uses.

Consider the example of TikTok – the Chinese video sharing app that has suddenly gained traction around the world. It has more than 500 million active users. According to Globalwebindex, 2019, 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24.

So that makes it a potentially powerful platform for companies trying to reach a young audience with a digital lifestyle.

By contrast, TikTok would probably not be the right platform if you’re a business-to-business office equipment reseller. In this instance, you might get better results from LinkedIn, which is a platform where professionals gather to network and do business.

Still not sure where to begin? Start with Facebook. One of the most developed of all the social media platforms, Facebook’s advertising tools allow you to put your posts in front of people based on their:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Employment
  • Interests
  • Buying behaviours
  • Relationship status

Facebook is a safe place to start, since it’s the most used social network on earth.

2. Define your goals

Once you’ve located your target audience on social media, you must ask yourself what action you want them to take. For example, do you want:

  • People to order products online?
  • To get potential customers to sign up for your email marketing newsletter?
  • To boost awareness of your business in your local area and bring more traffic through the door?

Once you determine the desired action you want prospective customers to take, think of how your chosen social media platforms can help you best achieve these goals. If you’d like to promote your wedding photography business, you could use Instagram. Why? It’s a visual, photo and video-based platform that allows you to reach out to other Instagram users based on their location and hashtags.

Plus, 64% of 18 to 29-year-olds use Instagram and 40% of 30 to 49-year-olds use Instagram. These are ages when many people tend to consider major life decisions like marriage. It’s easy to see the importance of aligning your marketing goals with the platform that will be most complementary, especially when time and money are precious commodities.

3. Honestly ask yourself, “Will I post consistently?”

Consistency in social media matters. In order to gain new customers and stay top-of-mind with your current customers, you must focus on relationship-building. Neither a relationship nor a brand are built with one post. Using social media for small business takes time and steady effort.

Telling your business story is an evolution — over time, your audience will begin to look forward to your updates. They must be able to rely on you to provide them … at the same time every day or week.

Plus, consistency helps your posts get seen by more people. When you share organic content (i.e. your own photos, videos and written text) on a regular basis, most of today’s major platforms are more likely to show your content to their users.

An important question to ask yourself is if you could realistically see yourself posting to your social platforms daily. The ideal social media platform for your business will only work if you put the work into it. So before committing to Facebook, Insta or one of the others, be sure it’s one you enjoy using.

So… what are you waiting for? Get social!

Every business owner knows they need to be on social. Given today’s competitive marketplace saturated with tech-savvy consumers, it’s simply a non-negotiable. Otherwise, you’re simply missing out on a great way to reach your customers.

By analysing your ideal customer, learning more about the social platforms available to you, and being honest about what you can realistically see yourself using, you can pick the social platforms that will help you market your business.

This article has been adapted from an original piece by Elle Campbell.

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