Which Social Media Channel is Best for Your Business?

I think it is fairly safe to say, that the internet is now apart of our everyday lives. An entire generation has grown-up with personal computers and we still don’t understand what teenagers today could possibly be looking at on their phones all day.

The digital space has created multi-millionaires and has grown by leaps and bounds. We have people, all over the country, with 10 plus years experience in the digital space as product managers, UI experts, bloggers and entire teams of system analysts and coders.

So why do we still have people walking around thinking that web designers are the all-knowing “web master”? This mythical creature like a golden unicorn or Jedi Knight who holds the key to all “light and knowledge”!

This is almost “comically” brought home each and every time I meet a potential client. Even after I’ve signed them on for a project, without fail, at some point they’re going to ask me, “Do you do social media?” OMG!!! I’m saying this with love – so please do not take this personally but – no. For the love of God – no!

I’m a web designer. I do not do social media nor am I a marketing strategist! I work with them. I need to understand them, but that is not what I’m really good at and here’s an insider tip – very few people in the world are good at all of these things. So let’s put what social media managers really do in context first.

Social media managers are not web designers or programmers. They are not “masters of the universe” either. Their job is to create & distribute content that either they create for you or with you or your team. Their job is to help you figure out how to generate brand awareness, engagement, leads and maybe even sales from your website via social media channels.

So how do you know which social media channel to put your energy into?

Well that also depends on your product and/or service. One piece of advice that I offer my clients, when they’re deciding which social media channels they want to integrate on their site, is to look at the type of behavior that occurs on that platform as opposed to just the demographics.

Demographics are a good starting point, but HOW the users engage with and what type of content they post on a social media platform is the most telling.

Sometimes You Just Want to Peak Their Interest
Social media works best when you choose a platform that ALREADY has your target audience’s attention – for whatever reason. It is then up to you or your social media manager, to figure out how to get their attention on that platform and that may mean taking a more “indirect” approach as opposed to a more direct one.

For example, Instagram is the hot new kid on the block – but you know it isn’t the best fit for your business even though it shares the same target audience as you. How can you leverage that?

You may join Instagram not to directly attract customers but to get under your customer’s nose – indirectly. You could use it to show your brand’s “taste level” and “build awareness”. That could mean that you only publish posts about your product or service once or twice a day.

Why? Because in an indirect channel – the goal is to get them to click on a link to your website in your profile description or in the comments. The best scenario would be if they open another tab in their web browser and Google your brand or company name, because you’ve managed to “peak their interest” outside of the platform.

This is “soft sale” approach and can prove effective under the right circumstances, but there’s no magic silver bullet.

Take a look at this Instagram post from the AFLAC post below. They typically use their duck mascot for “comic relief”. They’ve built an entire campaign around it with great success. The average user of Instagram is 18-24 and they rarely have or think about life insurance – but they’re always looking for something “funny” or in this case “cute” to post on their feeds.

AFLAC also took the opportunity to “educate” their followers about breast cancer awareness as well.

Their target audience, will most like share or comment on this post because it’s “cute” or they know someone with breast cancer, but this is a “long-term” strategy for the 18-24 crowd. I doubt that the 8,000 or so followers, they have are “raving” AFLAC fans, most likely they like “ducks” or they like the sarcasm that the AFLAC duck is famous for.

I would even go as far as to say the followers are most likely young “moms” with really young kids. They love taking photos with their phones and entertaining little kids with things like this.

This is what I mean by behavior – AFLAC doesn’t have ONE photo about policies or quotes on this page and moms are looking for insurance policies on Instagram either. AFLAC is looking to get in front of new customers who don’t know the brand yet. This is a way for them to keep “top of mind” and build brand awareness with a group of people who (even with young kids) will need their services down the road.

As a matter of fact having children is often viewed by insurance salesman as a “life event” that could prompt “new parents” to look at their insurance coverage.

Don’t Forget That It’s Pace – Not Race
Don’t forget that social media is a digital form of relationship building – it is NOT a cheap way to advertise to a large group of people. Traditional advertising methods do NOT work on social media.

Remember you are exposing your business on these platforms to NEW people all of the time – to people who have never heard of you before so take it easy! It’s slow. It’s pace not race.

OK so now that we’ve established that social media is about behavior – just how do people behave on these platforms? Well there are no hard and fast rules, but this is my cheat sheet on how I think people engage with these social media platforms:

Good for current events & followers see every post. Has problems with profitability & promoted tweets, but they’re working on it.
Short form content like a ticker tape or news crawl on TV.

I like it because your followers currently see every post but that may not last long and they may go the route of Facebook.

Great for people with moms as a target audience and window shopping. Photos do well here and you can promote items directly to e-commerce sites.

Great for B2B and pretty much a white-collar traditional networking platform.
Good for vetting partners or employees. Good for professional speakers and anyone in the B2B realm.

Awesome for “live” events, sports, entertainment, travel and anything that requires you to capture something “in the moment” or “off the cuff”.
Great for link building (think mobile SEO) and “building brand awareness” and anything that’s visual – beauty, food, fashion or shopping.

Good for education, entertainment and product demonstrations. It is also the second largest “search engine” tool after Google.

. . .and then there’s Facebook.

Facebook is tricky, but worth the trouble because of its sheer presence on the web. In my opinion Facebook’s strength is that their “Groups” have become the place where you can really start to “network” for your small business. But the “social networking” amongst friends and family is still important.

I know this seems “out there” but let me illustrate my point here with “AJ’s Super Bowl BBQ” – bare with me.

“Networking” on Facebook, is not that different from meeting new people at a BBQ your friend’s throwing at their house. The same BBQ which will most likely end-up with photos of you and the rest of their friends on Facebook at some point.

Somebody is going to go crazy and take pictures of everyone and everything with their phone and tell the whole world on Facebook. Just roll with it – LOL!!

So back to the BBQ at a friend’s house – let’s call him John. No, you really know him so we’ll call him “AJ”!! It’s Facebook after all.

You grab a drink, mingle and meet a few of AJ’s friends, whom maybe you’ve heard him talk about for years, but you’ve never met them face to face. You both have ONE thing in common – this mutual friend AJ throwing the BBQ. So what do you say?

You: “How do you know AJ?”

AJ’s Other Friend: “Oh we went to college together. How do you know him?”

You: “We used to work together years ago.”

AJ’s Other Friend: “What do you do?”

You: “I’m a web designer.”

Are you following this conversation?

It didn’t start with you (the web designer) running around the BBQ handing out business cards to everyone, like confetti. Nor did you start hitting AJ’s friends up for a sale as soon as you met them. It started with you going to a BBQ and “how do you know him?” – our mutual “(Facebook) friend” AJ.

This is what I mean when I say, Facebook is for “social networking” you may meet someone, through a mutual “friend” (or “fan”) who could refer business to you as opposed to you conducting business with them right then and there on the spot or right there in your Facebook feed. This has actually happened to me on more than one occasion.

You can do this “peer 2 peer” as well, but it will take longer, because a lot of it depends on how often your peers use Facebook in their business or if you’ve joined any of the thousands of Facebook groups that have popped-up.

If you haven’t really done anything on Facebook, I would suggest that you start with the people you know – whether they are friends, family, business colleagues that you have a good relationship with and past clients you’ve worked with whom you are personally “FRIENDS” with on Facebook.

Post a reminder in a very casual way, on your personal page, reminding them about your business, from time to time, but don’t SPAM them, just “nudge”.

This may be something that you do once a month or quarter. People like to root for and help people that they know, like and trust. Get it? Remember Facebook, is mostly for friends and family and can be a good channel to get “referrals” from.

Facebook also has a robust and reasonably affordable ad server for both large and small businesses, but that is something I will have to save for another post. This is more about HOW one should conduct themselves in a more casual way as opposed to advertising to them directly.

My Two Cents?
While social media is a cost-effective and great way to expand your visibility and reach, I would ask you to keep in mind that social media is just ONE marketing channel and you should ideally have more than one.

I would never tell anyone in today’s climate to put all of their eggs in one basket and have only one marketing channel to generate sales or maintain your relationships with existing customers.

There are just too many distractions. Your customer is constantly being bombarded with messages, from the minute they wake up until they go to bed. I’m speaking from my own experience – as a consumer and a small business owner and I’m sure you’ve experienced the same.

There’s a lot of noise out there but if you stick with it, do your homework and play your cards right, you’ll not only get new business but you’ll have fun doing it at the same time.

Question: Are you itching to join a new social media platform – but aren’t sure if it’s the “right fit” for your business? Share your comments below.

Note: This post was updated December 11, 2017.

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