In the ever-changing world of social media, it can sometimes feel like there’s a new channel or platform emerging every day. As a marketer or business owner, you may feel the need to jump on the bandwagon so that your business can seem “cutting-edge” or at the very least, relevant. But, before you pull the trigger and create a Tik-Tok profile for your community bank just because your middle-schooler spends hours on the platform, stop to think: is this channel truly valuable for engaging and building relationships with your target demographic?
Each platform draws a different type of audience and encourages unique types of engagement. Understanding where your business can seamlessly and organically contribute to the conversation in the channels your customers use is the path to long-term social media success.
Let’s take an in-depth look at each channel to help you determine which platform(s) make the most sense for reaching your target audience.
Facebook for lead generation
Facebook is the largest social media platform with more than 2 billion active monthly users as of the start of 2020. Users span most age demographics. Facebook use has increased among the senior demographic. According to Pew Research Center, use among those 65 and up more than doubled from 2012 to 2019.
Facebook can work well for lead generation as its advertising platform can be highly customized to target specific audiences.
Facebook could make a good choice for your business if you:
- Sell a product or service that is highly visual, since you can use photos or video to demonstrate it
- Produce content that is highly shareable—for example, by being humorous or interactive—since users can easily tag a friend or share a post
- Want to drive traffic to a product or event page, since you can include links in your posts
- Host live events or webinars, since many users rely on Facebook to discover things to do and see what their friends are doing.
At Bayshore, we have seen Facebook performs well for such industries as residential service, health and wellness, and senior living.
Instagram for visual brand storytelling
Instagram is another popular platform with approximately 1 billion active users as of 2020. Since its official launch in 2010, it has grown from a photo-posting app to a source of income for creators and a sales channel for businesses. It skews slightly younger than Facebook, with roughly 70 percent of users under 35.
An important first step in establishing your Instagram presence is to make sure your account is a professional account. Instagram provides instructions for doing so. A professional account gives you analytics, the ability to post from third-party platforms, access to the paid ad platform, and some handy additional features.
A major limiting feature of Instagram is that you cannot include live links in post or stories. The only live link will be the one in your bio, so choose it wisely. You could send users to your homepage, to a specific landing page, or to your blog, depending on your marketing strategy.
Like Facebook, Instagram’s advertising features allows you to target highly specific audiences and pay to boost the reach of your posts.
Instagram works well for businesses with a visual storytelling strategy. Service-based industries might accomplish this with photos of happy customers, for example. If you don’t have good quality photos and video, you might create graphics that combine text and illustrations. Just steer clear of making your posts look like display ads. It’s a good idea to spend some time on the platform first to learn the kinds of things that users post.
Instagram tends to work well for consumer goods, travel, self-care products, and of course, food!
Twitter for sharing in-the-moment information
Twitter enables real-time conversations and direct engagement with your audience. Only about 22 percent of adults in the U.S. use Twitter, although 92 percent of the population is aware of its existence, according to a 2018 Pew Research study. The media also tends to report on things that major brands or celebrities tweet, so content there reaches millions more people than those who actually use the platform.
In the Q3 2019 Shareholder Letter, Twitter reported that engagement with its ads—meaning someone clicks or comments on them—was up 23 percent over a year earlier.
Twitter works well for delivering in-the-moment information. The types of content that work well in this channel include:
- Breaking news
- Q & A sessions
- Event coverage
- Adding value to relevant conversations around trending topics
Text-based or simple images work the best in this channel, although video is getting its time to shine, as well. We recommend Twitter for B2B events, industry-specific announcements, syndicating your blog content, and cultivating relationships with the news media.
LinkedIn for business-to-business leads
LinkedIn is arguably the best choice for B2B marketers. With 310 million monthly active users as of 2020, it can help generate leads through industry connections.
An outdated belief is that LinkedIn is just a recruitment tool. In fact, professional content can get up to 15 times more impressions than job postings. According to LinkedIn themselves, 60 percent of users are actively looking for industry insights. Using it for editorial content and thought leadership can build authority for your brand and drive engagement.
LinkedIn users range from top decision-makers to the leaders of tomorrow. The platform boasts:
- 61 million senior-level influencers
- 40 million decision makers
- 10.7 million opinion leaders
- 6.8 million C-level executives
LinkedIn advertising has some highly sophisticated targeting abilities, allowing you to specify job titles, companies, and geographic location. Your LinkedIn paid strategy can include content that is seen publicly or that gets sent to specific individuals as “InMail.”
B2B companies report that up to 80 percent of B2B leads come from the channel, compared with 13 percent from Twitter and seven percent from Facebook. No wonder 97 percent of B2B marketers use LinkedIn in their social media strategy!
Bayshore employs a LinkedIn strategy for clients like SaaS providers, business services, and finance.
Pinterest for attracting attention with inspiration and lifestyle tips
Pinterest allows its 320 million active monthly users to collect “pins” of images that link to websites, blogs, products and more. It is ideal if your goal is sales-driven because more than 90 percent of users plan purchases using the platform. Pinterest lends itself to food, fashion, art, travel, wedding, and other businesses that can bring their brand to life through high-quality pictures and videos.
Pinterest works well for attracting attention with inspiration and lifestyle tips, which then direct users to your website. You will need to use some creativity and invest considerable time in content planning, but it can really pay off.
Curious about more niche or emerging social channels? Go ahead and experiment if that’s where your target audience spends time. At the very least, you may wish to reserve your brand name just in case you decide to use the platform in the future.
How to choose the best social media channels for your business
Now that you have a better understanding of each platform and its audience, identify where your business needs a presence. Before putting time into a strategy, take these steps:
- Review your company’s goals.
- Analyze what your competition is doing. (Posting frequency, type of content, visuals, etc.)
- Outline audience demographics. (What generation or age range do you want to reach? Does your audience lean heavily toward a certain gender? What are their interests?)
- Determine your main social media goals. (Do you want to use these channels to strengthen brand awareness or to enhance customer service?)
Keep in mind that once you identify channels, it’s time to put together a social media strategy detailing how you will leverage each one. You’ll also need to generate content for those channels. Building a social media presence for your brand can seem overwhelming at first, but with the guidance of the right experts, the process will be more efficient.