Deciding the best social media platforms for small businesses
Not every business needs all social media platforms. When deciding which social platforms are best for your business, you have to take into consideration your unique situation. In this post, I’ll walk you through deciding the most suitable social media platforms for you.
This post is part of the series of “Social media marketing strategy for small businesses”.
Do you have an offline audience already?
Social media platforms can be broadly classified into two types – discovery-led and follower-led.
A discovery-led platform enables the posts of the business page to appear in front of new users, even when they are not following you. These users are selected based on their interests or the topics they follow. Examples of these platforms are Instagram and Twitter, where users can follow hashtags and topics in addition to following accounts.
A follower-led platform will only show the posts from the business page to its followers. Non-followers may see the post if their friend interacts with it, but the primary reach of the post is for the page followers only. Examples of these platforms are Facebook and LinkedIn, where users have to follow pages in order to see posts from them consistently.
Many times small businesses decide to create a social media profile after running the business for a little while. Before that, they would have been engaging with their audience through offline means or other communication channels like phone or messages. Since the business has an audience already, it would find it easier to transfer that following to social media. So, launching the business on Facebook or LinkedIn would be easier for them.
On the other hand, if the business is new and wants to launch, then a discovery-led platform is best for them. It is easier to build a following from the first few posts on Instagram and Twitter.
Who is your business targeting?
Your selection of a social media platform is also determined by who your audience is. Your targeting can be further broken down by the following segments.
Age: Different platforms are popular with different age groups. However, since the number of people on each platform is in millions, you do not have to worry too much about being on one platform only. There is an overlap of ages across all platforms, so you can pick one platform to start with. See the chart below to know which age group is present where. For each age group in the chart, the social platforms are listed in order of decreasing popularity.
Type of audience: Out of all the platforms, LinkedIn has the most defined personality. Since the platform started out as a career platform, users expect to see a certain level of formality and professionalism in the posts. This platform is perfect for B2B companies, who can post company updates to attract a following. The other platforms are more informal, so a B2B company will have to create an informal persona for these platforms. In the same way, a B2C company may not use LinkedIn to attract customers. They will prefer to use the other platforms for that.
Product or service: Instagram is a visual platform only. For a business to do well there, they have to showcase their product or service with engaging high-quality visuals. On the other hand, Twitter is a text-first platform. Businesses on these platforms have to condense what they want to say in a few characters and create a buzz through that.
How much time do you have for content creation?
This criterion may seem a bit limiting to you. But, this is an important consideration for small businesses and solopreneurs. Any social media platform requires great content and consistency. If those conditions are not met, then your efforts will be in vain. Before you commit to multiple platforms, you MUST assess your resources.
So, how do you balance your efforts and your need to be on a particular platform? The best way to do this is to launch in phases. Here’s my recommendation with a step-by-step approach.
Focus on one platform to start with; the one that is most relevant for your business. Explore that platform fully to create different types of content that works on that platform. Over time, you will get an idea of what is most suitable for that platform. By that time, you would have mastered the process of creating weekly content for that platform.
Launch on the next platform when you are confident of your first platform. The next platform should take you less time because you already have the content ready. You just have to customise it for the new platform and learn the unique features of the new platform. Do this for a while before making any changes.
You may find that all your content can be posted on every platform or some types may not work at all on one platform. So next, work on unique content that cannot be reused across platforms. Now is the time to identify and create that unique content. This task is easier to do once you are publishing regularly.
These were my tips for deciding your social media presence. In the next post, we’ll look at creating a social media posting plan based on this.
Social media presence is essential for any business, but more so for small businesses. Following the guidelines in this blog, you will be able to confidently pick the right platform for your business.
Want to learn more about digital marketing? Check out my course on Graphy.