What is the best social media platform for business?

October 2021
 

Businesses have had to stand out in noisy marketplaces for as long as trade and commerce have existed, but online has accelerated this trend.

Given the options available, choosing the best social media platform for business is no longer an easy task. It’s an intimidating territory to enter – but a vital one.

Where to look for engagement and where to be on social media? There are quite a few types of social media platforms out there, so we look at how to choose the right one for your business.

Identify your audience and match it to a platform

Before you pick a social media platform for your business, the first step is to identify who your audience is.

You want to be as specific as possible because this will make your decision easier. A good way to start thinking about your ideal audience is to answer questions like:

  • Who is your typical customer?
  • How old are they?
  • Gender
  • What is their income and education level?
  • What are they interested in outside of your product and service?

Feel free to mix in any questions that are relevant to your business or the industry you’re in.

Once you’ve clearly defined what sort of social media audience, you’re after, you can then look at how this links in with the demographics of the different social media platforms.

Online resources like Sprout Social exhaustively list the existing demographics of all major social networks, from average incomes to whether the audience is urban or suburban. Your social media strategy doesn’t have to be a random guess.

If your product or service is aimed towards teens, for example, then it’s worth noting that social media platform usage among teens fluctuates, with some being more popular than others.

This doesn’t mean platforms less in demand should be entirely neglected. Those services are still popular, but it’s best to focus effort (or indeed costs if you choose to use paid social posts) on a social media platform which resonates with your target audience.

Inversely, of course, if you’re after a more adult audience, then social media platforms popular with older individuals might be a good place to start.

Define your social media goals

To get the most out of social media, you need to have a goal. Once you’ve identified the best social media platform for business, what do you want to achieve?

Here are some examples of goals you might be working towards:

  • To increase website traffic and make more sales
  • To interact more with your audience
  • To provide an alternative customer support service

A prime reason to have a social media presence is commercial. But even with this seemingly simple goal, there are nuances in deciding a strategy.

In fashion and consumer goods, visual platforms like Instagram have proven enormously popular. Since 2015, the platform has outranked Twitter and Facebook by far as the social media channel of choice for fashion and beauty brands.

This is because the medium lends itself to showcasing an aesthetic, which is obviously a big deal in beauty or fashion. Many brands also showcase users wearing or using their product, allowing the promotion to double as social proof.

This image-led approach doesn’t work for everyone, of course. So, in that case, Instagram may not be the right choice for you. Instead, you might opt to use social media to drive brand recognition and to develop friendly relationships with potential buyers.

Tie that in with the research you’ve done on demographics and defining your audience, and you can build a strong lead on the right platform for you.

Using social media for customer support

Netflix is a good example of a business that uses Twitter as a customer support channel instead of just doing straight promotion. Using the handle @Netflixhelps, the video-streaming company addresses customer service issues.

Strategically, there’s a promotion element at play here, too. Not only does @Netflixhelps free up their phone lines but using this public channel to help customers also offers a simple way to foster goodwill.

If you’re a small business, this would be a light touch way to help customers and promote your brand. And this approach shows there’s a way to use social media for every business, not just fashion or beauty.

Paid posts or organic reach?

Unfortunately, a well-engaged social media presence isn’t quite as simple as logging on and posting frequently. The bottom line is that a lot of the internet’s social platforms are heavily saturated, and competition is stiff.

Some platforms – like Twitter or Facebook – are, for promotional purposes, pay-to-play. It’s fine, of course, if you simply wish to use Facebook and Twitter as a means for customers to get in touch. But if you’re hoping to drive conversions, paid promotion is the only way forward.

Facebook has a low organic reach

Facebook remains the most popular social media platform, but it has a low organic reach. One study found that Facebook pages with over a million likes have 2.27% average organic reach. So, any posts you make will only be surfaced to a portion of the people who have ‘liked’ your page.

If you’re willing to do paid social activity, though, there’s plenty of mileage to be had. Facebook ads are cost-effective, and they allow you to custom tailor the audience by location, age and more.

Platforms with a higher organic reach

If you’re after a more organic approach – or simply don’t have any budget to spare – then the platforms with the highest organic reach are Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest.

LinkedIn is great if you’re a business-to-business entrepreneur, but it has limited applications beyond that. On the other hand, Instagram and Pinterest are ideal if your business focuses on aesthetics.

Forget about going viral

Social media helps you build brand awareness, increase your customer base, and connect with current customers. Although it’s deeply competitive, authenticity and meaningful interactions are still possible.

Your market exists online and they’re looking for you as much as you are looking for them. All you need to do is find the right medium for your message.

Don’t just plunge in head-first. Take the time to understand what the different platforms offer and find the best social media platform for your business. Don’t spread yourself too thin either: just because your business can have an Instagram doesn’t mean it should.

The social media platform you choose should depend on:

  1. Your marketing goals
  2. The demographics of active users you want to reach

Use this as your starting point. Armed with the right information, you can have conversations and interactions that convert customers, drive brand awareness, and inspire audiences.

How do I pick the best social media platforms for my business?

The online marketplace is enormous and it’s harder than ever to stand out. Social media can help you cut through the noise.

Social media helps you to:

  • Build brand awareness
  • Increase your customer base
  • Connect with current customers

These things aren’t a given. Getting it right depends in large part on choosing the right platform for your business. The first step is to define your ideal customers.

  • Who is your typical customer?
  • How old are they?
  • Gender
  • What is their income and education level?
  • What are they interested in outside of your product and service?

You can link your answers to the demographics of different social media platforms.

What are your goals?

Fashion and beauty brands have enjoyed success on Instagram, using the image-led platform to showcase products. On the other hand, Netflix uses Twitter as a customer support channel.

Paid or organic?

Facebook and Twitter are increasingly pay-to-play. Both platforms severely restrict the organic reach of brands on their network.

A little budget goes a long way. But if you want organic, the best platforms are:

  • Instagram
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest
 

 

This article was written and originally published by The Productivity Group (trading as Be the Business). Be the Business is an independent, not for profit organisation set up to help business owners and leaders improve the performance of their business. © Copyright 2021 The Productivity Group.  All rights reserved.

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