Which Channels Will Drive Your Social Strategy Best?

A formula for picking the best social media channel for the job at hand.
Michal Ugor
April 5, 2017 - 8 min. read

Contrary to general wisdom, winners in business and pretty much any field do few things extremely well. They’re not generalists. They’re not diversified.

For example, you’re surely familiar with the world’s top investor Warren Buffett. Well, 90% of his returns come from just 10 stocks.

It’s the same with your marketing strategy. While intuition says work with many different social media channels, in reality your true competitive advantage may lie in concentrating your efforts in a couple of areas where you can beat everyone else.

But how will you find that sweet spot to put your focus on? Well, here’s a simple formula to help you out.

The main differences
There are many social networks out there. Technically they’re all different. However, the differences go way beyond features and the number of users.

And that is where the key to finding the right one for your brand lies. Are you looking to strengthen your brand, promote your corporate culture or start conversations with your audience? Let’s have a look at how each of the main platforms compare.

According to Pew research, 79% of all adults are on Facebook. The first thing that comes to mind is reach. Well, not so fast. Facebook has dramatically reduced the reach of shared posts due to content overflow and to put focus on its state of the art advertising features.

If you have a page you’ll likely reach only 2% of your followers with a standard post. Native videos reach up to 6%. Sharing news, videos, launching events and starting casual conversations is what Facebook is best for if you don’t want to put spend behind it.

But if you do, beware these common budget-sapping mistakes many brands make.

Twitter defines itself as a real-time news network. Unlike Facebook, studies show that posts with images perform way better than video posts.

Twitter is the best place to have conversations with your audience and customers. Many brands use it to receive questions, comments, and complaints.

In fact, it can be a great customer support channel. When it comes to content, it depends on what your company does but, generally, it’s a place where ‘clever’ conversations take place.

400 million people use Instagram daily. 600 million use qualify as monthly active users. Instagram is a platform geared towards visuals such as images and videos.

It’s great for companies with attractive physical goods, lifestyle, food, fashion, personalities and luxury brands or brands looking to tell a story. Quality will take you far, a sound Instagram strategy will take you even further.

LinkedIn, the corporate social network, is great for businesses in the B2B space looking to promote company culture, develop thought leadership, share company news or make themselves attractive in the talent market.

It’s a bit tricky for brands as most people use it to connect with colleagues, client, find career opportunities and so on. But it does have some features that any brand benefit from. 

Pinterest is a great fit for food, beauty, and fashion brands. According to a study by eMarketer, 85% of its users are women.

Another study by Millward Brown Digital reveals that 87% of Pinterest users have purchased something they found on the site. That means it’s primarily used for product discovery, making it a great fit for e-commerce brands.

In particular, people use it to find products in five main categories: food, home decor, clothing/accessories, hair/beauty, and health/fitness.

Any brand sharing expertise or giving explanations can do well on YouTube. If your focus is on organic traffic, you should know that YouTube videos feature prominently in Google search results.

YouTube still stakes out the top spot in the ever-escalating realm of video, but its long-term dominance is threatened by the other networks’ increasing focus on the medium, such as with Facebook Live and Instagram Stories.

The scrappy up-and-comers
Other key networks include Google+, Snapchat, Vine, and Periscope. Then there are chat apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger.

Snapchat makes a great fit for companies looking to boost their brand perception, while Periscope can work well for more companies with a young audience who like to build a bit more personal connection.

Messaging apps like WeChat, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger are now emerging as formidable players in the social media marketing space.

Getting started: where’s your audience?
When finding your best social media channel, a bunch of deciding factors come into play. The first is to take stock of your social strategy, the second thing to look at is audience demographics. You need to ask yourself a few questions here:

  • Who is my existing audience?
  • Who is my ideal audience?
  • Which social network do they hand out on?

If you’re on social media already, you’ve probably built a certain following. The first thing you want to do is to get a deep understanding of who they are.

Then you want to know who is your ideal buyer persona. Gender, age, interests, income, education, geography, and so on. All of these factors matter.

best social media channel

The more you know your customer, their social behavior and their active networks the better.

That doesn’t mean you only want to target your ideal buyer persona directly. Understand what drives their buying decisions. That will have a major impact on who your ideal audience is.

For example, it may be influencers who affect their buying decisions. Or you may want to target anyone who interacts with your customers to maximize reach and build up a social proof.

Get both, quantitative and qualitative data. Collect stats and reach out with surveys and even directly to get real feedback.

best social media channel

Then you want to look at the data from each social network and how do they compare. Firstly, is there a demographic fit? Secondly, what are their habits?

The fact that someone has a profile on a certain network doesn’t guarantee the desired response to your content. So study their behavior and even check out your competitors and see how they’re doing on each of the platforms.

What are your goals?
OK, so you narrowed down the list of social media channels to a few based on your desired demographic reach. Now the big question to ask is ‘what are you looking to achieve?’

Some social networks are a better fit to achieve certain objectives than the others. For example, a B2B business may find it much easier to generate leads on LinkedIn than on Instagram.

Likewise, a fitness brand will find it easier to promote it’s products on Instagram than let’s say Pinterest which is more home decor and food oriented.

So having a clear goal in mind is critical. Here are the most common ones:

  • Brand awareness: One of the top reasons companies use social media. If your market doesn’t have familiarity or comfort with your brand, social media are the best place to grab attention.
  • Raw traffic: Another big reason companies use social media. This is a goal to set especially for companies monetized with advertising that need more traffic or page views.
  • Lead generation: Lead generation is a strategy used by companies with longer sales cycles, usually with a SaaS business model. Social media have a broad reach but can be a great tool to warm up potential leads and get them to the top of your funnel.
  • Revenue growth: If your sales process isn’t too long you can use social media to generate sales. Advertising tools like LinkedIn, Facebook or Instagram ads would be the way to go here.
  • Boost engagement: Another big reason businesses use social media. With the focus on engagement, they improve brand perception, loyalty and retention, word of mouth marketing, including influencers and so on.
  • Education: If the market for your product or service hasn’t yet been created or potential customers don’t yet realize the problem they need you to solve, your social media objectives should be geared towards education.
  • Public relations and press marketing: This includes tracking customer mentions of your brand to respond real time and/or to build relationships with journalists and influencers to drive your press marketing efforts.
  • Customer support: According to Social Media Today, companies that engage and respond to customer service requests over social media, see their customers spend 20% – 40% more.
  • Community building: Building following and getting likes is nice but the real power comes from engaged communities. If your sales rely on having strong relationships with your customers, this is the way to go.

best social media channel

Knowing your goals will make it much easier to evaluate your best social media channel to focus on. Together with demographic and buyer persona evaluation, you should be able to narrow down your choices.

What are your strengths and resources?

“Embrace what you’re good at. LeBron James didn’t try to become a professor.”

Gary Vaynerchuk

Lastly, you want to look at your strengths and resources. This includes your budget, available talent and general insights when it comes to content you can produce. Let’s break it down.

What personnel with free bandwidth or trustworthy freelancers do you have available? Can you dedicate people full-time or will you need to tap into existing resources?

Are the people working on your social media strategy creative, socially intelligent or rather technically/numbers oriented? This matters a lot.

For example, a more creative team would be a great fit for Instagram, Pinterest or YouTube, while the socially intelligent team would make a great fit to engage users real time on platforms like Twitter.

A technical team would make a better fit for platforms with strong advertising and analytics features. If you have someone with great speaking skills, you should consider creating videos for media like YouTube or Instagram.

As usual budget matters too. Most of the time it relates to the type and quantity of content you can produce or personnel you can hire.

Lastly, what are you good at? Do you have capabilities to take amazing pictures, make great creative videos or is written content your main strength?

If you write a lot you probably won’t get far on Snapchat or Pinterest. Likewise video or photo content won’t make a splash on LinkedIn.

Learn from your mistakes and triumphs
Of course, you can’t give a definite answer on is the best social media channel for your brand without actionable feedback and data. You must take an action and track the results to find the right fit. And whichever you choose, you need a social media management tool to employ their full benefit.

This, however, should be a solid start and a way to truly evaluate where to focus your resources at the earliest stage of your journey.

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