Your Handy Beginner's Guide to Social Media: Determine Which Networks Work for You
I get it. The more social networks you are on, the more followers you'll get, which means you'll reach a larger audience, which means you'll have tons of new customers. So you start signing up. For ALL of them. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, etc., etc., etc.....
But how do you know your customers and target audience are on all of these channels? Do you have content to post on all of them? Are you really going to have time to monitor all of your accounts and build a truly engaged audience?
If you think you will have the time and patience not only to create content and schedule posts but also to engage on all of these networks, responding to comments, messages, mentions, thanking people for shares, creating ads, changing ads, and managing your budgets, then think again. You will burn out. And it may not happen right away but it will happen. And then you'll start posting less, logging in less, maybe ignoring channels altogether. And your followers will notice. You've left them behind without so much as a goodbye...
Keep Your Social Networks Alive & Well
This is why it is best to choose your social channels in the beginning and stick with them. Figure out which ones are best for you and your small business and engaging with your customers. Even if you only choose 1 or 2 social media networks to be on, it is better to be completely focused on them, growing them, engaging with your followers, and building a real community surrounding your business. Rather than trying to be on all networks and reaching out to all people, then burning out and slowly leaving behind a graveyard of dead social media profiles and accounts, because you couldn't keep up. And if you currently have some dead social media profiles, please delete them. Having an inactive profile that you haven't posted on since 2012 is much worse than having no profile at all.
Here's a simple breakdown of each social media network and their users, to help you decide which ones you should be on and which ones you may be better off saying goodbye to:
Your Handy Beginner's Guide to Social Media: Determining Which Networks Will Work Best for You and Your Small Business
As I mention in my blog post "Your Business Needs Facebook" every business should be on Facebook because you can easily connect your business with people from all over the world. There are no limits on your posts and you can easily schedule posts in advance, so your time can be spent engaging with your followers. You can post photos, links, gifs, videos, polls, updates, behind-the-scenes action, live streams, events, create groups, receive reviews and share any important business information such as prices, hours of operation, services and specify which industry you are in to make it easier for customers to find you. Facebook has a very wide range of user demographics, so it is quite likely that you will find your target audience on here and online, with almost 80% of users active daily.
You can post up to 140 characters with photos, videos, gifs, links and polls and can easily create conversations by mentioning users in your posts. You can easily retweet others content and find trending topics to give your two cents on. Hashtags make it easier for people to find you and the character limit ensures your tweets are to the point. Many businesses find customer service issues a great place to handle and resolve customer complaints and issues because of how active the users are on Twitter. User demographics show a fairly even split of men and women, with almost half active daily and almost 3/4 active weekly.
A photo-based social network where you can post photos and videos and well as live streams for up to 1 hour. Instagram is owned by Facebook, so cross-advertising between the 2 platforms is quite easy. Instagram is almost entirely mobile, as you can only post from your phone, except for a few apps which post directly. If you have great visuals for your small business or blog, then Instagram may be the perfect place for finding followers and clients. The demographics of users on Instagram tend to be younger, with over half the users under the age of 29 and active at least once per day.
You can post videos, which can then be upvoted, rated, shared, and commented on. You don't need to have your own YouTube channel, if you don't have the team to create videos, but you can advertise on popular channels, such as with vloggers who have an audience that your product or service is targeted to. There are more than 2 million video views per minute and more 18-49 year olds being reached here than through cable TV.
A professional social network, which is a great place to grow your personal brand and is also great for B2B businesses. You can find employees and network with other entrepreneurs, as well as share your business-related blog posts to reach a larger audience here. You can write articles, post photos or share updates as well as like, share and comment on other's content and you can also create or post in groups. As a business, you can add share company updates, post job openings, and create showcase pages where you can feature specific aspects of your business, such as an annual event, certain products or services, or company initiative. Users of this network tend to be those with a higher education and higher income, with a fairly even mix of men and women active on the network.
A visual network like Instagram, which allows you to "pin" content and organize it into various boards based on categories. You can add "rich pins" to your business post to include extra information such as a map or specific product content. Pinterest is a niche network with over 50% of users being women, but if you've ever met a woman who has Pinterest you know how much they love this network and can spend hours pinning away. So if your small business can find a way to integrate well into this network, you will be reaching a highly engaged audience that is 10% more likely to buy from a Pinterest referral than any other social network.
You can post photos or videos that are up to 10 seconds long, which are visible for a 24-hour time period and then disappear. You could post behind-the-scenes photos or videos of staff, or hype up events, and because it is only 10 seconds long, you don't need to have professional photographers or videographers to post content. As with Instagram, it is mobile-only but you can save the photos or videos and share them on other social networks. Millennials make up 75% of users on Snapchat and 76% of Snapchat users will purchase things online, so this is a great audience to get in front of if you have a strong online presence or store and want to reach millennials in real-time.
Since this is Google's social network, your business or blog will get an increase in search ranking if you post on Google+ and especially if your content is getting "+1"s. The third highest content sharing activities (behind Facebook and Twitter) occur on GooglePlus. You can post updates, photos, polls, links, events and share your location as well as create collections, plan or join a hangout, and join or create communities. User demographics on this network tend to be more males and highly educated with technicals backgrounds.
Like Pinterest, this is a niche network and won't work for everyone. Content is focused on creativity and a lot of it is "out-of-the-box" type stuff, so you can certainly push the envelope with your postings here, as people are looking for interesting content. You can post photos, videos, gifs, text, chats, jokes, quotes and audio, and Tumblr makes it very easy for anyone to sign up and use. Users spend over 8 hours per month on this network, which can be compared to Instagram at 4 hours per month or Twitter which is under 3 hours per month.
Now that you have this handy guide to social media networks and some basic demographics, you can determine which ones are best suited for you and your small business to reach your target audience. You can start out with just one or two social media profiles or accounts and once you feel comfortable and know you have the time, you can always add more into the mix, if they make sense.
Which social networks are you on? Is your business excelling on a different social media network not mentioned above?
Let me know in the comments and please share if this post helped you!