You may already be familiar with social media platforms as a way to market to new customers, but social media is also a very effective way to maintain a relationship with the customers you already have. But between the pros and cons of each platform, it's often hard to choose which social media to prioritize to properly engage with your audience. After all, as a small business, you most likely won't have the time or the money to monitor six different social media accounts.
Keep in mind, though, that every social media site has a different audience and different goals. So your business shouldn’t try to capitalize on every social media platform just because it is there. I’ve worked with doctors who’ve wanted to be on TikTok to connect with the kids, and banks who wanted to be on Instagram to share pictures taken once a year at the company retreat. But in those cases, the businesses’ goals, strategies, and audiences don't match the platform. Instead, your business can stick with a small handful of platforms and still get the optimal reach that social media provides.
Here's an overview of seven social media sites and which markets they serve best. With this guide in mind, you can decide which platforms will reach your target audience through digital marketing and use your resources where they’ll have the biggest impact.
One of the older sites on this list that still boasts a wide reach across a variety of demographics, Facebook is a platform that has users all over the world. Businesses can choose from a variety of options, including professional pages that customers can follow, paid promotions, and native advertising. Facebook's reach is so expansive that some small businesses choose to just have a Facebook page in lieu of a website. While that may not be the most ideal approach, it's indicative of Facebook’s popularity and influence.
Facebook is a must if you have customers in these demographics: seniors, who use the site primarily to keep up to date with family and friends and see photos of their grandchildren; in foreign markets, since Facebook is used pretty universally around the globe; or if your business fits into a 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.
With Twitter’s heavy sharing element of tweets and retweets, your business has a great opportunity on this platform to potentially go viral and spread the word about your content to millions of people. It’s also a great tool if you want to develop a unique voice for your business since it’s not unusual for people and businesses to post tweets and replies multiple times a day. The one catch to using Twitter is the word limit. You only have a few characters to inform your audience of your products, so it’s a good idea to use URL shorteners like Bitly, which help you include URLs in your post at a lesser character count.
Twitter is uniquely suited to groups such as teenagers and millennials, who began using the site early on, as it was still gaining popularity. These are the main groups that actively use Twitter on a daily basis, and your content has a good chance to go viral among these groups if it's funny, interactive, or thought-provoking.
Twitter is also good for starting and participating in conversations. For this reason, if you don’t want to spend time monitoring and participating on a platform every day, Twitter may not be the best option for you.
Instagram is second only to Facebook in terms of popularity. Instagram has a 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 its international following is close to that of Facebook. The distinguishing factor on Instagram is its photo-centric feed. To be successful on this platform, you must produce high-quality images and video content. This makes Instagram the perfect platform for businesses with high aesthetic value, such as nail salons, clothing brands, and tattoo artists.
The largest population of Instagram users by far are people under the age of 30. If that's your target market, and you have a product or service that you can take a lot of photos with, Instagram is a must. Another thing to keep in mind is that women are statistically more active on Instagram than men, so if your product is unique to women this platform is the perfect place to promote it.
A relative newcomer to the universe of social media, Snapchat is an incredibly popular platform among younger users. It boasts millions of users that are active several times a day. Because of this, Snapchat businesses must provide frequent content. The best way to maintain a consistent connection with your audience on Snapchat is to post a daily "story" of photos and videos. After one day, your content expires and you have to start all over again. Fewer small businesses use Snapchat, because of the constant updates and content that are necessary for success. It is also relatively difficult to build a following on Snapchat without using other platforms to encourage users to add your business as a friend.
If your business has a large following among teenagers, however, Snapchat may be helpful. As of right now, the platform mainly consists of people under the age of 25. So if you have the time to build an audience and that's your market, go for it!
The most popular business-oriented 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 advertising campaigns. It is, however, perfect for small businesses and niches.
If you offer B2B services, 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 yours. LinkedIn is best used as a sales tool or attracting leads through its’ messaging and commenting features. If you’re looking for more leads, LinkedIn is a great option for your sales team. It shows that you are professional, established, and ready to work with the best of the best.
TikTok has burst onto the scene as one of the most popular social media platforms for the younger generation. Over 41% of TikTok users are between 16-24. Despite TikTok’s popularity, it may be difficult for your business to tap into the app.
The app is full of dancing, short videos, and is designed for content creators. TikTok takes effort. There is a lot of lip-syncing, dancing, and quick-cut videos that are light-hearted. In other words, unless your staff is creative and wants to spend hours coming up with quality content. TikTok may be best used for influencer marketing than actually creating an account yourself.
Youtube is a video-based platform that is extremely popular. You can find anything from sports games to vlogs, how-to videos to clips of your favorite television shows. If you’re a small business that could benefit from product reviews or showcasing a service, Youtube may be a great option for you.
Companies that offer services can demonstrate their work or post testimonial videos. Video content is a great marketing tool and often businesses use Youtube as a library to keep their content. Youtube is a great option if you have edited videos that look professional, however, if you are just taking videos with a phone, Instagram or Facebook may be better options.
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, you will quickly burn out and end up with a lack of quality content and motivation. Instead, do the research and really think through which platforms are best for your small business's unique needs. Selecting two or three platforms will allow you to make the most of your social media and reach the appropriate audiences. Another great tip is to create content that you can use on multiple platforms. A video can be posted on Youtube, then edited into shorter videos for Instagram and Facebook.
For example, if you’re a law firm, it may be best to maintain a Facebook page and a LinkedIn profile. Customers are looking to you for knowledge, information, and guidance, and the majority of your customer base will be using those platforms already. By using Facebook to post helpful articles, and LinkedIn to connect with your clients, you’ll be establishing yourself as a professional and knowledgeable firm.
On the other hand, if you run a small art gallery, you’ll want to focus on posting photographic content of your gallery’s art, artists, and events. Instagram and Snapchat, as primarily visual platforms, will be your best options to connect with your audience in an effective way. Through these platforms, you can use a visual marketing strategy to create a memorable identity for your brand.
In the end, it’s up to you to decide what social media platforms will work the most effectively to connect with your small business’s audience and reach its goals.