According to We Are Social, there are 2.3 billion active social media users.
That's huge potential for growth and it's easy to feel the need to be everywhere as a brand. Unfortunately, the need to "be everywhere", on every social media network, is super risky if you don't ground your social media strategy in your overall branding strategy.
Remember that your social media audience will have expectations in your overall behaviour on social media, like the expectation to deal with a complaint within 1 hour.
We also tend to look at social media as a free option unless we're paying for ads and sponsored posts.
While it does help that there are free tools and strategies available to make it quicker and more cost effective, when you really think about it, organic social media isn't exactly free. Time is money. If you're not putting the time into social media because you're rarely there, you're damaging your brand.
Targeted strategies and consistency are essential to achieve a high return on investment.
Try these steps to help you achieve the clarity necessary to make an informed decision about which social media network to use.
Choosing the Right Social Media Network for you
Step 1: Define your audience
Grab a pen and paper or open a blank document, whatever works for you, and start looking at what your brand is and what your brand isn't.
Answer the question, who does your brand want to appeal to? I find it easier to answer this question in reverse. I look at the markets I'm not seeking to reach, so that this doesn't limit my options to the few markets that would most easily come to mind.
Dig really deep, trying to please everyone has never been a successful strategy.
Step 2: Define your goals
I'd like you to take a step back, and remember the question that you wrote down in step one. Now ask yourself, what do you want to achieve from being on social media?
Once you've answer this, the next step back may appear counter-intuitive. Ask yourself if social media is the right way to achieve your goals.
This practice helps you build a strategy that works for your brand. You are not on social media because it's expected of you or that you feel like you have to be. Social media is such a dynamic medium filled with algorithms that can change over time, like in the example of Atomic Reach closing down #AtomicChat.
There is no absolute right or wrong, only what works and doesn't work for you.
Step 3: Look at the audience against your goals
Whether you have a generic definition of your target audience or specific personas, look at your goals and the specific actions you want your audience to take. How do they fit in with each social media platform?
Choosing the right social media platform is more than just choosing between Facebook and Twitter. People use different social media networks for different reasons and in different ways. Just because they are active on one network, doesn't mean they are active in the way you want them to be. For instance, Facebook is a social network that many use strictly for personal use, to keep in touch with family and friends.
If your business' Facebook page shares experiences about their work culture, Facebook's main demographic of people who love sharing cat pictures, would not engage with your brand. If you see the same people on LinkedIn and even Twitter, you might notice that the more professional posts are better for engagement regardless of how active they seem on Facebook.
Whether you rely on data from researchers or are investing some time in researching the behaviour of your audience and looking for valuable insights from your existing personal connections, you should always align your strategy to your audience's behaviour.
This exercise provides you with the fundamentals for choosing the right social network for your brand, helping you build your digital strategy on a strong foundation.
I'd love to know what other strategies helped you find the right social media networks for your brand. Tell us in the comments and don't forget to share this article on your social media network of choice!