According to Statista, approximately 2 billion internet users are using social media networks and these figures are still expected to grow as mobile device usage and mobile social networks increasingly gain traction.
With statistics like that, if you haven't already jumped into the world of social media marketing, it makes sense to start as soon as possible (as in, yesterday).
With so many different social media platforms out there, and new ones arriving on the scene daily, how can you possibly know which ones will provide the greatest benefits to your business? Here are some helpful tips for identifying which platforms your business should use:
1. Identify the main contenders
The first step is to identify the top new and old social media platforms out there. There are too many networks out there to name; however, based on my experience, the following social networks are the ones getting the most attention today (in no particular order):
Supporting these tools are:
Facebook currently leads the social media network market by far, "…[it] was the first social network to surpass 1 billion registered accounts and currently sits at 1.55 billion monthly active users" as of January 2016, according to Statista. The same report shows that "Instagram had over 400 million monthly active accounts."
As I said, there are more social media platforms available today than one could possibly manage on a regular basis. I've highlighted the above networks because they are the most well-known and widely used.
2. Narrow down your choices
Now take a deep breath; your business doesn't have to use all of the networks listed above. The following chart outlines how B2B and B2C marketers are using different social media sites.
Based on the above chart, it is clear to see that Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn are the most popular social media networks used by B2B and B2C marketers. However, it's important to realize that, although YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram and Snapchat appear to have a lower usage percentage, research indicates that these image and video-based platforms are on the rise.
Start with a few, or even just one that makes the most sense for your business based on how your target market aligns with the demographics of each network.
3. Evaluate the features of each social media network
Be sure to determine what you're trying to accomplish before you evaluate the different platforms, as each social network has unique features and functionality that it does best. Ask yourself whether each platform is relevant to your business needs, and whether it is something your target market is likely to use.
Facebook focuses on developing brand awareness and loyalty. It is a place to establish and grow your reputation within the industry, and to interact with potential customers on a personal level. Targeting advertising allows for narrowing down your audience reach, and it is inexpensive when compared with other forms of digital advertising.
Twitter, on the other hand, is a great place to provide your audience with new product promotions, contests, brief news, updates, and other short bursts of information using hashtags (#), and tagging (@) people and businesses. It's a fast-paced platform, so you can post similar content throughout the day without sounding repetitive.
LinkedIn is professional network with over 400 million members worldwide. It is a great place to post educational articles, industry news, informative blogs, and of course to connect with other professionals within your industry. It can also be a great way to find out what your target market is talking about as it relates to your industry.
Pinterest is primarily visual-based, and a great place for retail brands and companies with a lot of physical inventory, because it allows for driving traffic to your website using high quality images and short call-to-actions. It’s also a good platform for developing brand awareness and loyalty, and acquiring new customers. It is an interactive platform by nature, compelling users to pin, favourite and share posts.
4. Determine the time commitment of each network
After you've created a profile and your first post, you will eventually realize how much time and effort actually goes into managing each site. By determining how much time you're willing to put into each network ahead of time, it will be easier to choose which networks you want to start with.
Each network has its own sweet spot, and you need to account for time spent creating the content, in addition to sharing it and interacting with your audience.
Too many Facebook posts may flood a user's news feed, which may cause them to shut off notifications altogether. Twitter, on the other hand, targets those looking for specific topics and conversations, therefore requiring a more active presence.
Expect to spend between 5-10 hours on social media marketing per week, depending on:
- Your industry
- How many and which platforms you're active on
- The types and quality of content you share on each
5. Above all: Be consistent
You don't have to be on ALL of the networks out there, but you do have to be consistent and active on the ones you commit to. If you set up a profile on Facebook and never post anything, you'll lose your following and fast. You're better off starting small and adding more platforms when you're ready to put your all into it.
Which social media networks are working for you? What new social platforms are you interested in trying out? Share your experience with social media marketing with us in the comments!
About the Author:
Lisa Edwards is the founder of Writer by Default, a company which provides writing, editing and social media marketing services to small businesses at affordable prices. When she's not working or watching cute animal videos, Lisa is reading, hiking, skiing, or spending quality time with her fiancé and his two daughters. Follow her on Twitter @writerbydefault.