That is the million-dollar question.
Before taking an in-depth look at a few of the most popular channels, here are a few tips:
- Do look into each social media channel and determine what will work best for your business. For each channel, consider the product or service you are offering and the available human or financial resources at your disposal. Social media might be free but think about the value of your time.
- Do develop and implementable plan and a clear vision of what your goals are and who you want to reach. Many people try to do too much on too many social media channels and lose sight of their end goal. Your plan will help you to decide which social media channel to be on and, once you’re there, to stay focused on your objectives and audience.
- Don’t sign up for every single social media channel just because they are new or popular. Whether your company is B2B (business-to-business) or B2C (business-to-consumer), determine what will be the most relevant channels – i.e., the ones your target audience engages with the most. It is better to be excellent at one or two channels than mediocre at five or six.
- Don’t get frustrated. Stick with it. Social media engagement takes a good investment of your time over a sustained period in order to achieve results.
Here are the most popular and effective social media channels:
Facebook:Best for B2C, sometimes B2B
Target Age and Gender: Anywhere from 25-55+, 47% men and 53% women. The most common age is 25-34, at 29.7% of all users.
Top Industries:Fashion, auto, e-commerce, retail, entertainment, real estate, marketing, sports, health & wellness, news & information
Facebook is by far the largest social media channel, with an estimated billion-plus people actively using the site each month. This platform is a good social media “home base” for your business. It allows users to visit your company page, interact with posts, get your contact information and be redirected to your website if needed. Keep in mind that your company Facebook page must be updated on a regular basis with not just promotional information but also with interesting content in order to remain relevant to consumers. Facebook does need a considerable amount of human and financial resources (advertising) from your business but, if done right, it will bring substantial benefits to your company.
Twitter: Best for B2C, sometimes B2B
Target Age and Gender: 18-29, both men and women
Top Industries:News & information, retail, e-commerce, travel & hospitality, telecom, finance, fashion, sports.
Twitter is full of people who have something to say and are not afraid to say it. This social media site has an estimated 215 million active users. Twitter isn’t meant as much for communicating with friends and family but rather for reaching people you want to send a message to. The 140-character count is limiting, but, when used correctly, can be very effective. Twitter has also proven its worth in recent years by serving as a platform for breaking news. Twitter also created the “hashtag” movement to keep up with and be a part of the latest trends and events. For a business, Twitter is a great way to interact with your consumers. If you have an unsatisfied consumer, you will hear them on Twitter and that is your chance to excel at customer service by responding in a short, concise and clear way.
Instagram:Best for B2C
Target Age and Gender:18-35, 75% women
Top Industries: Travel, arts & crafts, food & beverage, fashion, photography, event planning, auto, e-commerce, beauty, health & wellness
Instagram is a photo-sharing platform with between 130 and 150 million active users. What sets it apart from other photo-sharing platforms is that it’s a free app that can be downloaded to any smartphone or tablet. It enables users to employ a variety of filters with ease. If you are not going to use your cell phone for your business, this is not the platform for you. You can manage your account from a desktop but you cannot post without a mobile device.
LinkedIn:B2B, B2C employment
Target Age and Gender:25-45, both men and women
Top Industries:Financial, employment, science & technology, legal, IT, education, manufacturing, marketing, health & wellness.
If you are B2B, the main social media channel you should be on is LinkedIn. Why? Four out of five LinkedIn users drive business decisions and LinkedIn’s audience has two times the buying power of the average web user. While it is the largest social media network for businesspeople and professionals, most small business owners still do not have it on their radar. There are over 230 million active LinkedIn users and 2.7 million business pages. While the other social media platforms are more relaxed and casual, LinkedIn is by far the most serious. Approach this platform more intentionally and assume that users will want professional, important and thought-provoking information. One of the most powerful features on LinkedIn is “Groups,” which provides a place for professionals in the same industry or with similar interests to start and participate in a discussion within the group. Groups can have a hundred to thousands of members so the exposure can be significant.
Understanding which social media platform(s) are best for your business will not only save you time but also will help you to reach your company’s goals. You don’t have to spend a lot of time on social media, but dedicating a portion of your week — or even an hour or so daily — to monitoring, posting and responding, will get you the results you want. Lastly, keep in mind that being on too many social media channels can negatively affect your productivity and results. As mentioned previously, it’s better to be the expert at one channel than just OK at a few channels. Start small and if you have the resources, dedicate a team or a person on your team to managing your company’s social media activities.