How do I know which social networks are best for my business?

You've decided to join social media. It is virtually impossible for a business to thrive in today's market place without embracing the world of technology at our fingertips. However, with all the choices available for social media marketing, the landscape can seem a little overwhelming and at times pretty scary.

There's just so much going on and trends seem to change overnight. So how can one decide which social networks are a good fit for their business and which ones may not be worth the hassle? The best way is to establish what you hope to get out of your social media presence and which platforms are already positioned to provide that result.

What kind of business are you?

The single most important thing to realize is that social media networks are established in niche markets. Each one has been carefully crafted and honed to serve a specific need for its users.

Facebook, the largest and most successful presence to date, is at its core a place for people to connect with other people and share ideas. It's a powerhouse for marketing because it puts what people are interested in front and center in a place where they're already programmed to look for it. Kind of a no-brainer.

Instagram and Snapchat are more focused on strong visual content where Pinterest is a gathering place for DIYers and environmentally sustainable projects. Establishing where you best fit in the equation will help you locate which networks will suit your specific business needs. e.g.: If you're a photographer, Instagram, Flicker, Snapchat these are your core markets. If you're a baker or coffee shop, try mixing Facebook with Instagram to showcase the day's specials.

Where are your people at?

Next to the principle of proper market placement is understanding your target demographic. Where are your customers most likely to 'hang' out online?

A quick search on Google can reveal a wealth of studies regarding which demographic groups are currently active on which social media outlets. Sometimes, even though it may not directly fit your business, you can entice your target demographic to make the jump from their base platform to your flagship presence through well designed ads.

This approach works best with a hybrid online presence. A lot of companies will have an Instagram account that drives traffic back to their Facebook profile where they keep the majority of their content, on a broader platform.

What are your skills (Who can you hire)?

Do you 'get' technology? You don't have to but you do need to either learn or hire someone who does.

Ask yourself, how much time are you willing to devote to your online presence? If you're strapped as is, how much money are you willing to devote to hiring someone who will manage your various accounts?

Facebook posts have an effective lifespan of a day to two days, Twitter can peak as soon as 15 minutes after you hit the post button. Keeping fresh content flowing to your customers is the key to maintaining a strong social media presence and conversely, continuing to profit from its use.

Is this what you want? (Your businesses personality vs platform)

When it comes down to it, being on social media is something that grew organically from a culture that is obsessed with being more and more connected every day.

It is born out of a desire to share more of our lives with others and learn to connect with people who would otherwise remain strangers. Keeping this in mind, social media works best when users feel a connection to those they follow, even businesses.

Therefore, when setting up and maintaining your social media accounts, it is important to ask yourself, is this who I am? Is this portrayal of my business accurate? Is this the kind of image I want to project to potential customers?

As long as the answer is yes, content won't be an issue. New ideas and posts can flow naturally from the ebb and flow of everyday life. Choose a social media network that allows you to showcase who you are and what you have to offer. Most of all, try to have fun, this is an exciting time in our culture's history and we all get to share it. 


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