Which Social Media Platforms are Best for Your Business?

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Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, ... which social media accounts should you be using for your brand? How do you know what’s going to be a hit with your audience? And which one is the best for building the largest number of followers?

Digging into these questions is an important step in your marketing strategy and plan. But where to begin?

The shoulds of social media

First, let’s look at the word "should." What should you be doing? That word implies that there’s one answer and a clear set of platforms that work for all businesses and nonprofits. But that’s just not true. What you should be doing is looking at what your audience wants and needs and building a social media presence around those wants and needs. That’s going to look very different between different brands. For example, my client who wrote a book about how to play music by ear (called Garage Band Theory—it’s awesome!) is going to have a very different social media presence than another one of my clients who installs GPS systems for commercial trucks and vans. And that brings me to my FIRST MAJOR DECLARATION:

You may not need social media at all.

Are you shocked?! It’s a little surprising for a marketing strategist to suggest that you may not need an entire category of marketing tools, but it’s true! Not every marketing option is right for every brand.

My client who installs GPS systems works with major corporations who aren’t looking on Instagram or Snapchat for photos of his work or his business, so why would he spend time posting content there? He primarily gets new customers from referrals from people who have worked with him in the past, so it wouldn’t be the best use of his limited time to try to generate new business through something like Instagram.

What you really need

But, okay, I’m going to make one giant caveat:

You do need a Facebook page. Am I backtracking? Not at all! This all has to do with how SEO (Search Engine Optimization) works today. Way back when in the Stone Age of 2010, if a person Googled a business or nonprofit, the search results wouldn’t show a link to a Facebook page. Today, that’s changed massively. Facebook has cracked the SEO algorithm in a way that your Facebook business page might rank higher than your website (though it shouldn’t, which I’ll blog about in the future). And the more information people can find about you and your brand, the better. So think of Facebook as a key piece in your SEO puzzle.

Even my GPS install client has a Facebook page, though he doesn’t post to it very often. Along with his website, his Facebook page serves as a digital business card with a summary, hours of operation and contact info. If a potential client Googles GPS installers in his area, they’ll have two links to click on (his website and his Facebook page) to learn more about the business.

That business is a one-person operation and my client’s customers come to him from other customers, not through online traffic. On top of that, he’s just not interested sharing posts about his business. Because he gets customers from face-to-face referrals, he doesn’t feel that he needs to add regular social media posting to his marketing. He could start posting and running ads to see if that brings in more business. But right now, he doesn’t have time to test it out.

It’s all about your time

This brings me to a SECOND MAJOR DECLARATION:

Only start accounts if you have the time and energy to post to them. We’ve all run into those accounts with a couple nice photos, but when we look at the date, their last post was 62 weeks ago. Clearly either the person who managed those accounts left that job, or life got in the way and whomever was posting had to get to other things. I get it! Life happens. But your audience may start to lose trust and confidence in you if you let your account gather dust. They might wonder if you’re still in business, if your standards of quality have declined or if you’ve just forgotten that you had the account. None of those are good things.

Figure out how much time you or your employee(s) have available to create content and manage audience engagement. Then decide which platforms you can realistically take on. It’s okay to start small. You might start with your Facebook page and see how much time you invest in creating posts, interacting with other pages and replying to comments and questions on your account. Maybe you have enough time to also create content for an Instagram or Twitter account. Or both! Be realistic in your estimates or use one of the time tracking tools listed in this Forbes article.

Once you know how much time you’re able to spend on creating posts, interacting with your audience through comments and questions and engaging with other accounts, you’ll be able to plan your social media strategy. You can decide what to start doing, what to stop doing and what you might like to try. The path to success is to figure out what’s right for your business or organization instead of looking for what you should be doing.