Nov 1, 2021
There's no longer any question that social media is a necessary marketing tool for every business that wants to remain relevant and visible. In fact, 88% of marketers say that social media has helped increase exposure followed by increasing traffic at 77%. This means that if you’re not using social media to its fullest, you're missing out on a huge opportunity.
But getting started can be difficult, and even something as seemingly simple as choosing a social platform can be more complicated than you'd think. There are many social networks out there and choosing your channels and creating a strategy can be daunting. But, the good news is that you can start by narrowing it down to the most popular and widely used platforms.
When it comes to figuring out the best social media for your business, the first step is to prioritize what’s important to you. Is it expanding your reach? Is it generating more leads? Is it about brand awareness?
From there, it’s about determining which platform will give you the right exposure with the right audience. Is your brand very visual so it lends itself to platforms like Instagram or TikTok? Is it focused on real-time events and would work well on Twitter? Or is your audience diverse and so needs a combination of platforms such as YouTube and LinkedIn? Let’s dive into the social media networks to find out!
As you probably already know, there are social media platforms out there for everything and everyone, including ones to connect people with shared interests, similar hobbies, comparable demographics, and much more. The point is that there are way too many for you to be active on them all. Plus, your time would be better spent focusing on the sites that help you reach your goals.
Of all the social media sites out there, the top ones in terms of active users according to the recent ‘Digital 2021: Global Overview’ report are Facebook, YouTube, Whatsapp, and Instagram.
There are many benefits to using social media, but it’s important to have specific goals before you move forward. That way you can create a successful social media strategy for your business.
For one, your objectives will help determine not only the social platform you choose, but also the content you create, the audience you target, and more. Here are some of the most common benefits of using social media that you might want to focus on:
The entire point of successful social media marketing is to put you in contact with your most receptive audience. So, it’s not advisable to choose a platform where your audience doesn’t operate.
Unfortunately, there's no ‘Field of Dreams’ opportunity here where your prospects will start using the social platform of your choice just because you’ve created a profile. Instead, it’s a much better idea to analyze which platforms your audience prefers and seek them out on the networks they already use.
A key thing to do when starting this process is to conduct some audience research to define a buyer persona. That way you know who you are looking for and can narrow down the platforms that they use by gender, demographics, interests etc.
There are a few different ways you can go about finding where your audience is hanging out online. One of the most straightforward is a simple customer survey. Ask questions like what social sites they use, where they get their information online, and which influencers they listen to.
Another way to get information about your audience is through the social media sites themselves. For paid advertising, you can tell platforms like Facebook about your ideal customers, and they'll estimate the audience size for you. You can also use analytics to determine who your audience is and are what they are doing.
Different types of content work better with certain social media platforms, so it’s key that you consider carefully the type of content you like to create and distribute that will work best with your brand.
Instagram, for instance, is all about visuals, so it may not be the right place to share long-form content like whitepapers. The type of content you create will depend on several things, including your industry, your brand, and your target audience.
Uses of different social media platforms and successful content:
Once you’ve settled on the social media goals, have determined where your audience is, and decided what type of content works best, you can compare the different social media platforms to determine which one will meet your needs. To help you decide, here's a rundown of the top platforms by audience size, what they're good for, and what a typical user looks like:
Facebook for Business: This is currently the largest platform, with over 2.89 billion monthly active users, with India and America leading the way in terms of country usage. Facebook is great for lead generation, and its advertising platform can be highly customized to target specific audiences.
Facebook is also a good platform for building relationships, showing the human side of your business, and turning leads into loyal followers and customers. Many different content types do well, but the key is content that shows a different side of your company - behind the scenes content, along with user-generated content and interest-driven community groups. Video is also hugely popular, with Facebook Live performing well amongst users rising in popularity by 26% in 2020 and predicted to continue an upward trend. Facebook (and Twitter) are both excellent for reaching large numbers of people, but it’s important to remember that there's a great deal of competition, so your content needs to stand out.
YouTube for Business: The video platform has over 2 billion active users and is watched by 74% of American adults. As the second-most visited website after Google, it has huge potential for reaching your audience.
Obviously, the content you want to create to be successful on YouTube is video! An interesting insight is that videos using the term ‘beginner’ has doubled in popularity and could be a great way for you to get views. Is there something you can teach to those starting out that’s related to your business? Is there a tutorial you or a colleague could host to demonstrate the value of your brand or service?
Paid advertising on YouTube is also something worth trying as viewers on this channel are highly engaged, with 70% purchasing after seeing an ad. Find out key ways to establish and grow your YouTube channel to drive success.
Whatsapp for Business: Hot on the heels of Facebook and YouTube, Whatsapp has over 2 billion active users globally. With such reach, it’s a great platform to gain traction for your brand. In a controversial move, its parent company Facebook announced it won’t be allowing ad placements on Whatsapp. But, what the platform is great for is customer service. Through its WhatsApp Business option, small businesses can reply and chat to customers and its ‘Catalog’ feature allows the showcasing of products and in-app browsing.
Instagram for Business: There are 1.2 billion users on Instagram with 500 million of those looking at Instagram Stories daily. That’s some level of activity to tap into. Like Facebook, live video has become very popular on Instagram particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic for obvious reasons. The introduction of Instagram Shops now makes it easier for brands to make money on the platform enabling purchases in the app rather than having to direct them to a landing page or website. There are plans to have a Shopping tab (like the Explore tab) for customers to facilitate easy buying with a simple click.
Social causes are becoming more important to Instagram users, providing an opportunity for businesses to demonstrate issues that matter to them such as diversity or climate change with non-profits using donate buttons for fundraising. So, think about what your brand stands for and the causes you want to align with. Then share them across Instagram to grow your customer base!
You should also consider that Mark Zuckerberg is looking to merge messaging across all Facebook apps - Whatsapp and Instagram - meaning that your audience will soon be able to communicate freely across social channels. Food for thought when it comes to customer service.
Social media is an indispensable tool for any business that wants to remain relevant and gain exposure online. The trick to choosing the right social media platform for your business is knowing which ones will work best. DMI’s Social Media Marketing course will not only give you a deep knowledge of social strategy, research, and content, but you will learn the ins and outs of the most exciting platforms from Facebook and Twitter to TikTok and YouTube. Enroll today to get started!
First published November 2017, Updated November 2021