4 Questions to Ask When Deciding Which Social Media Platforms You Should Use.
Social media can give a huge boost to businesses, but how do you know which social media platform to use?
With a growing number of social media channels ‘out there’ how do you determine which social media channel you should be using?
Everyone you meet will have their personal favourite. Businesses will have stories about successes or failures on the channels they use … but how does any of this help you know which is best for you?
In an effort to make the choice of social media channels easier I’ve got 4 basic questions you should consider when researching a your next social media endeavour.
1. What do you want from social media?
This might seem like a daft start but having specific aims will not only help you find the right platform but will also set you up for measuring your success.
Think about what would make the biggest impact on your business.
Do you need to know more about your industry?
Do you need more customers?
Do you need to find suppliers?
Social media is far reaching and can help with many areas of business but some channels are better suited than others. Knowing what you want to focus on will help you choose which social media channel is right for you.
As with any goal-setting it’s best to focus on aims that are specific and will have a genuine impact. With any business activity you need to be able to determine if it’s worthwhile and social media is no exception. By giving yourself specific goals you can measure you will be able to decide if it’s worth the time it takes.
Determining if your aim is worthwhile will be dependent on your business needs. You might want to use social media to send traffic to your website, but does more traffic give you more sales? Would aiming to get sign ups for your new catalogue have a bigger impact?
By deciding how you want social media to help your business you will be better placed to work out which social media platform is right for you.
Your aims will change as your business changes so don’t worry about finding one ultimate long-lasting goal. Whenever you choose a new aim simply come back to these questions and fill in any gaps.
2. Does the social media platform suit your aim?
Once you have decided what you want it’s time to do a little research. Take a look at each platform and see if it looks suitable for what you want.
The precise details you look for will be determined by your individual aims but there are some general areas to consider that will give you greater insights into who is using a particular social media channel and what they are using it for.
Search for keywords.
All of the major social media channels have search facilities so make the most of them. Look up words or phrases that are relevant to your business and see what results come back. By assessing the type of content, how many likes, comments, shares or retweets the content gets you can see if a social media platform is active for your type of business. Pay attention to dates when content is posted to ensure it’s a current interest and not a passing phase that people have stopped talking about.
As well as searching within the channel, I like to use a social media analysis tool called Buzzsumo. The Buzzsumo software will let you search a topic related to your business; a screenshot is shown below for the search term ‘greeting cards’. The results show the most popular content on social media for the topic and will also show you on which social media channel the content was shared most.
Search for people.
If your social media aim is to reach a specific audience it’s worth using the search facility to look for people. You could look up suppliers or customers to see who in your community is actively using which platform. Determining if your ideal audience is using a platform will indicate whether you should be using it.
Alongside your own research it’s also worth paying attention to the general demographics of each channel. Conducting a google search for demographics will unveil the latest data. As I write this post this wishpond article has a great breakdown of the major social media platforms and who’s using them.
Check out your competitors.
When you’re deciding which social media channels to use for your business there’s often lots of information to be found via your competitors. Unless the social media site you’re reviewing is incredibly new it’s likely that any platform will have potential competitors that you can check out.
A quick look at your competitors will give you lots of information about their fans, the content they’re sharing and what’s popular. By assessing what’s working for a business similar to yours you will be able to make an informed decision as to whether a particular platform would suit your needs.
3. What do you like to do?
As I mentioned in my recent Spring Fair talk on social media it is important to consider what you like to do. If you like taking photographs use this as the basis of your social media strategy. If you’re more focused on design look out for social media channels, which would allow you to spend more time creating. (Your research from question 2 should give you insight here).
As business people you only have a limited amount of time and chores that we hate can often get neglected. For social media and any form of online marketing consistency and quality are essential. Both of these factors are easier to maintain when you enjoy what you do. By mixing social media with a task you enjoy you will be more willing to use it consistently and your quality levels should naturally improve.
On a side note I want you to enjoy what you do so I will always try to encourage you to find a nice element in anything you do.
4. Do you have the resources?
The final question to consider when choosing social media channels for your business is whether you have access to the necessary resources. Your research on each channel and a look at your competitors should give you a clue as to how often you will be updating each platform and what type of content you need.
Consider if you have the content, time and skills to fill a similar schedule. If you’re looking to outsource your social media you will also have to consider if you have the budget available.
Each social media channel is different in the number of updates required to be effective. A Twitter stream may easily handle an update every hour where a Facebook page may only need 2 updates per day.
Whichever channel you choose you will need to keep it updated regularly with quality content. Assess whether you have (or can get) everything you need to keep it going day after day.
Every social media channel has pros and cons but asking a few simple questions before you jump in will give you a greater idea of which social media channel is best for your business. Consider what you want from the time you invest, whether the platform is suited to that aim and whether you have the resources and inclination to do what the social media channel requires. If you get all of these factors lined up you will find which social media channel is the best match for your business.