Originally posted February 2015. Updated January 2018.
By now we're all familiar with social media use in business. Most businesses have accounts on Facebook, Twitter and/or YouTube, but may not really know what to do with them. We used to be asked whether they should have accounts. Now we're being asked "which social accounts do I need." That's a positive switch since we wrote this blog in 2015. And how times have changed. With Facebook's January 2018 announcement that you have more control over your newsfeed, businesses are more likely to get squeezed out unless they're paying to play. What should you do?
Before you spend effort or dollars on one platform versus another let's have a look at what may work best for you.
Who are we trying to reach?
The most important thing is knowing who your audience is -- and their general age and interests. It's ideal if you have a persona in mind when considering your platforms and posts. (Not sure what a persona is? Check out our guide for creating them before you go too far with any type of marketing.)
What do we hope to achieve for our business using social media?
Before you decide where to spend more of your time on social media for your brand, ask yourself a few questions:
1) What are my goals for social engagement?
Now that you know who you’re going to talk to, what is your goal when communicating with them? There's some action you're aiming for. Is it a purchase, an appointment, a demo? Setup a goal related to leads that you'd like to gain from social media or closed sales. That way you can measure the success of the effort later.
2) What will we say on social media?
That all depends on who you're trying to talk to. If you're targeting a younger audience, you should go with as much video and visual content as possible. That's not always easy, but it doesn't have to be a full blown video shoot. Especially for Snapchat! Get your story out there where it can be viewed, even if it's not a work of art.
If you're looking for a B2B sale, post links to your content that will educate and help the target with answering questions and addressing pain points that you've identified. Video and pictures are still great here too, when possible.
Gathering this information is an ongoing process so get a few things lined up and then start posting.
Do we Need to advertise on social media?
The short answer is yes, it's pretty likely that you'll need to do that especially on Facebook and Instagram. Good news though: these ads typically produce some good results if you can create the right messages and visuals for the audience you're targeting. (Read more in our blog: Five Tips for Running Facebook Ads that Produce Results.)
Which social platforms are best to use for my business?
Business to Business Social Media
Products or services for businesses (B2B companies) may do well in several platforms because business people are human. They’re going to look at things that are funny, pictures of their friends’ kids and articles related to their careers all pretty much at the same time. Place your company in that mix. That would include LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. But more and more, Instagram and Pinterest lend themselves to B2B. Again this is because you're selling to people, not a business, who will be out in the social media stratosphere.
Business to Consumer Social Media
If your product is B2C, you may not need to spend as much time in platforms like LinkedIn. This is where you may need to start considering, "Which platforms are used by which ages?"
Under age 35: you should consider Instagram and Snapchat. If you can, add YouTube in there. Instagram and Snapchat have definitely shown up on the scene in a big way with this age group over the past year or so. In 2017:
- Forrester estimates that 70% of brands were using Instagram.
- More than 50% of Snapchat users will open a brand's story, and more than 85 % of them will watch the entire story (Source: Campaign)
Over age 35: you may want to make it Facebook and Instagram. If you advertise, you get can get both of these platforms with the same ad content. It doesn't mean ignore Snapchat or the others, but there tends to be a larger 35+ crowd on Facebook.
Facebook Messenger is quickly ramping up as well for advertisers since it's now the #2 most common social media app in use.
Stretch Your Social Butterfly Wings
By establishing why you are using social media, recognizing your audience’s needs, and knowing the right places to appear, you should be able to improve your presence and drive a sales strategy through social media. Then comes the fun part: socializing!
If you need to create a LinkedIn Company Profile or would like to learn more about the opportunities that LinkedIn offers to help you grow your business, download our free ebook and templates for Company Profile images.