Where the Clients Are: Determining Your Platforms
By now you’ve decided that your business needs a social media presence in order to compete in today’s market. But wait! That doesn’t mean you should head online to open an account on every social media platform out there. More doesn’t necessarily equal better; in fact, you should only begin a presence on as many platforms as you can comfortably and consistently maintain. You certainly don’t need to be on a particular platform just because your competition happens to be. Besides, that platform might not even be working for them. Before you get started with social media– or if you’re at a point in your marketing strategy where you’re reassessing your platforms– it’s crucial that you first determine where your clients and your target market spend their time online.
In order to decide which platforms make the most sense for you, I recommend that you narrow down the options by examining the following questions:
1. Which platforms do members of your target audience use? Talk to your customers. Pay attention on social media. Which platforms are your customers and target market actually using on a regular basis?
2. Where will they be receptive to your presence? Where would they most like to engage with you? Just because they are using a particular platform doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the place where they’ll be receptive to your message.
3. What is their goal when they are on social media? Are they looking for information; socializing with friends; engaging in their own business pursuits; pursuing hobbies?
4. When do they go on social media? Consider times of day, days of the week, and during specific events.
5. Looking at the demographic of each potential platform, does it match your own target market? Here are some examples for the most commonly used social platforms for businesses:
- LinkedIn is nearly equally used among men and women with equal distribution across age ranges within 25-65 years of age.
- The user base of Twitter is comprised more of males than females with heavy usage among adults between 18-29 years old but increasing adoption in older generations.
- The demographic breakdown of Facebook is heavily women, with 61% of its usage, but men are starting to balance that out. Facebook usage is common among 18-29 year olds, but as people start using it more to share information with family and friends, older demographics are seeing an increase in usage.
- The usage of Google+ is 69% male, highly educated people and generally between the ages of 25-40.
- Instagram has quickly become the most popular platform for women and teens by a margin of 2 to 1 in terms of actual time spent daily. Across all demographics, it has a ridiculously high engagement rate, second only to Facebook. It also skews among younger demographics, so it is ideal for the teen to 20’s market.
- Over 85% of Pinterest users are female and between the ages of 20-50.
- Snapchat is one of the fastest growing platforms among those under 25 years of age.
6. Looking more closely at each potential platform, ask yourself whether it enables you to showcase your products or services effectively through text, images and video. For example, Twitter only allows for 140 characters — can you explain your service in that space? Do you need video alongside it? Right now Facebook’s posting algorithm is favouring video, meaning that unless you can show video and lots of images with your product or service, it may not be the best platform. At the same time, if you are a retail store with a lot of merchandise to showcase, Instagram or Facebook may be a perfect platform, and if you are a service-based firm, providing great content to your Twitter followers can be a great way to position yourself as an expert in your field.
7. Does the platform make sense for your business? For example, if you are a law firm, it may be hard to come up with consistent posts on Instagram.
8. Are there any emerging platforms that you could get a leg up on? Again, keep your target audience in mind.
9. What is the posting frequency for each platform? Each platform has its own criteria. The newsfeed of Facebook and LinkedIn use an algorithm based on the user’s preferences and engagement, meaning that your post may show up for a longer period of time in a user’s feed if it matches their interests. Instagram is now changing to this format from a chronological format. Twitter, on the other hand, is chronological. How long do you think a tweet lasts in someone’s feed? The answer is about 3 seconds. Because of this, the posting frequency for platforms with an algorithmic feed versus Twitter’s strictly chronological feed are very different.
10. What is your capacity? Choosing too many platforms can lead to you having your resources stretched too thin. It is better to do an effective job on a few key platforms than to try to be on all of them and do a half-effort.
Based on your answers to these questions, what would be two platforms you would select? Why these? Why not others?