This is a question I seem to run into almost every other time I turn on the computer to write, and for good reason. Not knowing which social media platforms to focus on is a big problem for most businesses because, by extension, you’ll never exactly know what kind of content you should be producing.
My goal here (without taking too much of your time) is to give you a few guidelines on which social media platforms to focus on most. This guide is going to be most useful for small or very small businesses, as larger companies will likely have a pretty good idea of all of this already.
For small companies with limited resources, you have to direct your attention in highly specific areas because as a business owner, you can’t afford to spend all your time writing blog posts on Medium if it won’t drive traffic to your website in a meaningful way. Small business is about survival, so you need to be practical and tactical with you time and energy until you can afford to hire people to deal with all of this for you.
So, here’s the breakdown of the popular social media platforms and who they target best. Your strategy should be to look through these descriptions, order them from best to worst, and then get as far down the list as you feasibly can.
What it is: The platform that came before everything else. We all know what Facebook is and if you don’t, you’re probably not ready for the rest of the list.
Who’s on it: Everyone and their dog. There are literally billions of Facebook profiles. It remains the top-used social media platform in the world, however the younger users are beginning to look to other platforms.
What companies are best: I don’t say this about many on this list, but Facebook should be considered essential for every business unless your Tesla and don’t need any marketing at all. If a business doesn’t have a facebook page, it sends red flags to your potential customers.
What it is: Twitter is a platform to share short thoughts and micro content, most famous for the 140 character tweet.
Who’s on it: Another platform where just about everyone is on it, however in terms of active users, Twitter is currently ranked at 6th with 336,000,000 active monthly users. Twitter users skew young, with 40% of US adult twitter users being between 18 and 29.
What companies are best: This is a great platform for nearly any company, but particularly for high level executives at companies to have an individual voice within the confines of their organization (Think Elon Musk). One of the great strengths about twitter is the massive town hall, community aspect. Twitter enables normal people to have 1 to 1 conversations with celebrities and to provide public commentary on what they find engaging. The trick with twitter is being active enough to engage with your audience on a consistent basis, attention doesn’t last long on this platform and it’s unforgiving if you do something wrong.
What it is: A unique photo sharing app.
Who’s on it: Instagram has been one of the fastest growing platforms over the past few years. Instagram users skew young and female. They also tend to be extremely active and Instagram has its own unique class of users referred to as “Influencers”. These influencers are incredibly effective at driving purchasing decisions and are typically available for contract work and advertising.
What companies are best: Product companies and highly visual service providers shine on Instagram. Service providers like architects, artists, and other businesses that can create beautiful photos. Products have a special place on Instagram because you can show off all of the people successfully using your products in an incredibly sexy way. If you can manage to have influencers use your products, they’ll drive thousands of visitors to your page which can ultimately result in lots of sales. I personally know people that have gained more than 50,000 followers in a month from just influencer marketing.
What it is: A platform for blogging. Instead of placing articles on your website, they’re placed on Medium.
Who’s on it: Pseudo-intellectuals and professional bloggers.
What companies are best: Medium can be a good platform for content distribution if only for the bump in search rankings. At ArrowX, we’ll cross post some of our more interesting articles to Medium to build brand recognition. Companies that stand out best on Medium are high-level service providers, like us, that offer (sometimes) confusing services. Medium offers you a great place to share editorial based content on what you do in a centralized location. If you use medium, don’t skip out on having a blog on your website as well. I’d keep Medium pretty close to the bottom of the list for most organizations.
What it is: A platform to share pictures and text where messages disappear after they’re viewed.
Who’s on it: This is another platform that skews young.
What companies are best: Young companies with personality. If you can engage with people over snapchat then they’re highly likely to become loyal customers. Just make sure that you have enough personality and fresh content to post several times a day. Frequent updates are critical to snapchat if you want to be serious about the platform. 3-5 posts per day would be considered the absolute minimum level of effort required.
What it is: The social media platform designed for networking between professionals
Who’s on it: Just about everyone has a Linkedin page to manage their professional resume, however most people aren’t consistent users. The most consistent users on Linkedin are people looking for jobs, looking to hire, or professional service providers trying to make a sale.
What companies are best: Professional service providers, particularly if you sell anything to the human resources industry. The trick is to be a good human about it and don’t outwardly try to sell. Build value and credibility between you and your audience. B2B offerings are at home on Linkedin.
What it is: The top website for sharing videos.
Who’s on it: Everyone. Even if they don’t have an account, every person on the planet with enough bandwidth is watching YouTube videos or using YouTube for free music.
What companies are best: Companies with the time and media production capabilities to create a consistent video strategy. Your videos don’t need to be top-quality, but they do need to be watchable. You will need to be able to devote 5-10 hours per week of specialized skill in order to make good use of a YouTube channel. Note – don’t treat your commercials like organic content; put them in the pre-roll ads. Unless you’re Gillette, no one is looking for your commercials so focus on building unique and engaging content.
What it is: A centralized platform for forums on just about any topic you can possibly think of (and even the ones you haven’t).
Who’s on it: Reddit has a little bit of a different demography as other websites. Users skew young but also male. Reddit users tend to be more tech conscious and skew more to be windows users rather than macs (which has its own implications). One of the more interesting aspects of Reddit is that right wing groups tend to flourish on this platform.
What companies are best: Companies that fair the best on reddit are those that can engage in 1-on-1 engagements with people in a forum setting. Don’t try to sell anything on Reddit because the community will turn on you fast. Make sure that you’re always providing unbiased value and eventually people will begin to engage with your brand. AMAs (ask me anything) are great opportunities to directly engage with users from your brand, however, do it on a personal level and NOT as your company. Your AMA should be “I’m Jay from ArrowX, ask me anything,” not “We’re ArrowX, ask us anything.” To be successful on Reddit you need to be real. Plenty of great advertising opportunities though.
What it is: Another photo sharing app with a very different feeling than Instagram.
Who’s on it: Pinterest users are an interesting bunch. They skew female and a little bit older than most social platforms. Median age for a Pinterest user is 40. Pinterest users tend to be a little bit more well off than the users of other platforms as well.
What companies are best: If you target stay at home moms, Pinterest is your platform. Pinterest has a great DIY, craft and baking following so if you can tie that sort of content into your products, Pinterest is a real great platform for you.
ArrowX doesn’t operate in China so I can’t comment on any of those social media platforms though they are growing incredibly fast. If you’re looking to expand into china in the near future, then I would definitely do some research on those.
A general rule of thumb is to start with Facebook, and move towards twitter, Instagram and Linkedin. From there, you’ll start to know what works well and you’ll be able to determine what comes next.
Did I miss anything? Let me know in the comments below!