by Jeff Cole
Social media has proven to be one of the best tools out there for digital marketing. From free accounts to paid advertising, social media is the perfect way to increase the visibility of your company and gain a loyal fan base of followers.
But with so many options out there, it's often hard to choose an area to prioritize. After all, you're a small business—you most likely won't have the time or the money to monitor six different social media accounts. Luckily, you can stick with just a few platforms and still get that optimal reach that social media provides. Here's an overview of the five main social media sites and which markets they best serve. With this in mind, you can decide which platforms will reach your target audience through digital marketing and pour your resources where they matter most.
The oldest site still in widespread use today, Facebook is a far-reaching platform that has users all over the world. Businesses can choose from a variety of options, including professional pages, paid post promotion, and native advertising. Facebook's reach is so expansive that some small businesses choose to just have a Facebook page and not have a website. While we don't recommend that approach, it's a testament to the power of Facebook's audience.
If your customers fall into any of these groups, Facebook is a must:
- Seniors (55+): Older people won't have much social media access, but if they do, it will be on Facebook where they can see pictures of their grandchildren and family.
- Foreign markets: Unlike other social media sites, Facebook is used pretty universally all over the world. It's especially common in Middle-Eastern countries and Europe, though less common in Asia.
- Small niche market: Facebook is home to many "Groups" where people of unique interests congregate. If you own a small niche business, Facebook might have an entire Group of potential customers.
Second, only to Facebook, Instagram has a relatively large following and has been around for several years. It's much harder to find seniors on Instagram, which has a primary audience of millennials and teens, but Instagram's international following is similar to that of Facebook. The distinguishing factor on Instagram is its reliance on pictures; to be successful on this platform, you must produce high-quality images and video content. This is difficult for many small businesses, but it's worth it in the end. Instagram also offers paid advertising options.
Instagram is essential for the following groups:
- Millennials: By far, the largest population of Instagram users are people under the age of 25. If that's your target market, Instagram is a must.
- Women: Statistically, women are much more active than men on Instagram. If your product is unique to women, this platform is the perfect place to promote it.
Though it is a newcomer to the universe of social media, Snapchat has taken the world by storm. Today, it has millions of users that are active several times a day. Because of this, Snapchat businesses must provide frequent content. The quality of the content is less important, but users must be able to provide a daily "story" of photos and videos. After one day, your content expires and you have to start all over again. If this sounds difficult to you, you're not alone. Very few businesses use Snapchat, especially small businesses, because of the constant updates and content that are necessary for success.
We recommend that you use Snapchat with one main group:
- Teenagers: Not many other groups have caught the Snapchat bug yet. As of right now, the platform mainly consists of people under the age of 21. So if that's your market, go for it! Otherwise, this platform is a bit too time-demanding to do on the side.
The most business-oriented form of social media, LinkedIn is a great way to connect with other businesses and professionals. It's an older platform that relies less on media content and more on text-based updates. While LinkedIn is a great place to form connections and find employees, it's not the best platform for large-scale marketing or gimmicky campaigns. It is, however, perfect for B2B small businesses and niches.
If you're targeting these groups, LinkedIn is your best bet:
- Businesses: If your services are B2B, LinkedIn is a great place to promote them. Unlike other forms of social media, its primary purpose is the business connection, so companies will be on the lookout for businesses and services like you.
- High-profile people: Some small businesses directly serve executives or high-profile people. If that's you, a LinkedIn profile is necessary. It shows that you are serious, professional, and established; i.e., ready to work with the best of the best.
This is a good platform for marketing to younger audiences. Ordinary people and businesses often have the opportunity to go "viral" on Twitter, since a string of re-tweets can help your content reach millions of people. With this heavy sharing aspect on Twitter, it's a great opportunity to spread the word about your content. The one catch to using Twitter is the word limit. You only have a few characters to inform your audience of your products, so you'll have to develop some serious editing skills. We also recommend using URL shorteners like Bitly, which help you include URLs in your post at a lesser character count.
Twitter is uniquely suited to the following groups:
- Teenagers: Like Instagram and Snapchat, Twitter is popular among teens. Your content has a good chance to go viral among this group through re-tweets if it's funny, interactive or thought-provoking.
- Millennials: People slightly older than teenagers, just out of college or in the early professional range, are also available on Twitter. They adopted the trend when Twitter first came out and they were teens, and they still actively use it.
All in all, social media is a great strategy for digital marketing as long as you prioritize which platforms you use. Don't try to adopt every possible form of social media; instead, do the research and really think through which platforms are best for your small business's unique needs.
Jeff Cole is the co-founder of ChatPath, a smart messaging platform that combines artificial and human intelligence to help businesses generate more qualified leads and accelerate sales.