“With so many social media platforms to choose from, is it more important to pick and choose a couple to focus on, or try to do a little on all platforms with more sporadic interactions?”

This was a question PR Consulting received recently and it’s not the first time we’ve heard it so let’s use this article to share the answer with small business marketers.

First of all, there are a ton of social media networks to choose from, so we understand how marketers can be confused by which ones to use. Here is a helpful list that breaks down social networks by characteristics:

  • Kitchen-sink networks: Twitter and Facebook
  • Business-focused networks: LinkedIn
  • Image-based networks: Pinterest and Instagram
  • Video networks: YouTube, Vimeo, Vine
  • SEO and authorship networks: Google+
  • Location-based networks: Foursquare, Yelp
  • Niche networks: reddit

According to a Social Media Examiner report, marketers place very
high value on social media marketing. 92% of marketers indicated that social media
is important for their business—this number was up from 86% in 2013.

A well-maintained social media presence can be a valuable asset for almost any business. On the flip side, a social media site that isn’t interactive, or that appears to be abandoned, can have a negative impact on business.

Marketers should make educated decisions when it comes to choosing which social media platforms to use…and accept that they don’t need to be on them all, but they do need to be on the sites their customers use.

Pro Tip: Don’t pick social network based on which sites you personally like using. Pick social networks based on which platforms your customers are using.

At PR Consulting we recommend choosing one to three social media networks and managing them really well—spending time generating great content (not automated) and using social media engagement best practices.

There is an extraordinary amount of information that can factor into the decision of which social media platform to use–from consumer demographics to competitor surveys. Knowledge is power—when you know what social media platforms your target audience uses you can make better decisions.

Marketers can also choose social networks based on the availability of unique content.

IMG_1266Example: A retail store that has a lot of new merchandise, and someone on-staff to snap and post photos of items frequently, may benefit from Instagram marketing where content is super visual.

A local chamber of commerce employee may benefit from spending time on LinkedIn where they can share chamber networking and continuing education opportunities with local business professionals they are connected with.

Make sense?

These three tips can also help marketers determine which social media platforms will be best for their business:

  • Research what social platforms competitors are using. Check out your top three competitors—take note of which sites they have built a strong following on and what types of content is popular on those sites.
  • Pick a social media platform based on demographics. If you don’t know the demographic of your current customers, conduct surveys in-house–take a week and document demographic details you observe about customers, like age range and gender. Use Google analytics, dive in Facebook Insights and/or your company’s Twitter Followers Dashboard. When marketers understand who their customers are they can choose the social media platforms those customers are more likely to use.
  • Decide how much time can be invested in social media marketing. If you have experienced staff, or work with a social media manager who helps create content/handle community engagement, then using higher demand social media sites like Twitter and Facebook may be a good fit.

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