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The best social media channels for business: Are all platforms created equal?

by Anna Hughes

Jan 20

5 min to read

The best social media channels for business: Are all platforms created equal?

The quick and easy answer to this one is that no, not all platforms are created equal. But we’re going to go ahead and assume that if you’re here, you want the long answer.

By this point, everyone knows that social networking is a good idea for businesses, especially because there’s so much that you can do with a social media presence. For example, you can simultaneously use a social media presence to sell your products and to provide customer service.

But knowing that social networking is a good idea doesn’t necessarily mean that you know which platforms are the best to use – and that’s where this article comes in.

Matching the Platform to the Purpose

One of the important things to remember is that different social networks are better suited to different purposes. Instagram isn’t great at driving traffic, for example, because it doesn’t allow you to natively post clickable links.

This in itself shows that not all platforms are created equal, because if you want to drive traffic then it makes more sense to use a network that allows you to post links. If you want to take advantage of hashtags then you’re going to want to use a social networking site that supports them.

But it’s not just functionality that you’ll want to think about. You should also spend some time thinking about the different types of content that tend to perform well, as well as what people are looking for when they’re browsing their newsfeed.

On Twitter, people tend to engage in real time with current events, and so news-related content and live updates that relate back to your brand are a good idea. On Facebook, people tend to be looking to connect with friends and family, and so user-generated content can work well, especially if you encourage people to share UGC in their own feeds and to tag their Facebook friends.

Deciding Which Platforms to Use

As you can imagine, the strengths and weaknesses of different social networking sites mean that it’s super important to choose the right platforms if you want to achieve the right results.

Perhaps the most basic way of deciding which platforms to use is to take a look at what you’re already using. Unless you’re a brand new company, the chances are that you’ve already created a Twitter account or a Facebook page, and so you can take a look at how it’s performing before deciding whether it’s worthwhile continuing to work at it. If you’re not already present on any social networking sites, check your website’s analytics to see which platforms are already sending you traffic.

You should also carry out a little research to find out which platforms your target audience is using, as well as the ways in which they use them. Running an awesome campaign on Facebook won’t do you any good if the people you’re trying to reach are only active on LinkedIn.

Another solid strategy is to check out the competition and to see what’s working well for them, although you should note that this will only work if you’re targeting the same audience.

Speaking of audiences, it can help to look at a rough generational split of different social networking sites, like the below:

  • Gen Z: Most likely to be on Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat.
  • Millennials: Most likely to be on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube.
  • Gen X: Most likely to be on Facebook and WhatsApp.
  • Baby Boomers: Most likely to be on Facebook, YouTube and WhatsApp.

You can also take a look at what’s working for you today by logging into your Google Analytics and checking which social networks are driving traffic to your website. Remember to also look at what that traffic is doing. For example, if Facebook is driving 1,000 visits a month but none of them convert while Twitter sends you ten visits and five of them convert, it can be a sign that you should focus more of your attention on Twitter.

You also need to know what different platforms are good at. For example:

  • Facebook is good for building engagement and communities.
  • Instagram is good for showcasing physical products and influencer marketing.
  • TikTok is good for being playful and targeting younger audiences.
  • LinkedIn is good for networking and selling to B2B companies.
  • YouTube is good for education and influencer marketing.
  • Pinterest is good for selling products and getting featured on mood boards.
  • Goodreads is good for promoting books.

Niching Down

As you can see from the list that we shared above, certain networks tend to dominate, although it’s worth noting that Twitter doesn’t make it into the top three sites for any single generation.

At the same time, though, you shouldn’t forget that there are plenty of smaller social networking sites and niche apps, from Pinterest and Reddit to TikTok and Telegram. There’s also LinkedIn, which is the world’s largest business-first social network and therefore perfect for B2B marketers.

Just be wary, because if you spend too much time niching down then you’ll spread your efforts too thin and spend a whole bunch of time on niches that aren’t going to pay off. There’s a delicate balance to be found between going too wide and too narrow.

Identifying Your Goals

Because each different social network has a different set of advantages, it can help you to identify your goals before you get started. You can then go with the network(s) that offer the best fit. Some of the most common goals include:

  • Selling products
  • Building communities
  • Providing customer service
  • Gaining a greater share of the conversation
  • Fostering engagement
  • Sharing company news
  • Research and development
  • Working with influencers

One thing to remember is that even though each social network has its strengths and weaknesses, it doesn’t mean that you can’t find ways to buck the trend. For example, TikTok isn’t known for being a customer service outlet, but with the right strategic approach, you’ll be able to make it work.

The question you need to ask yourself is whether it’s worth the effort. As a general rule, it’s much better to play to the strengths of each network, and you can also bear in mind that there’s likely to be some overlap. Facebook and Twitter are both great for customer service, while LinkedIn and Twitter are both great for sharing company news and Instagram and Facebook both work well for building communities, especially if you support your content creation campaigns with some paid advertising.

And just like every social network is different, so is every company. What works for your competitors might not work for you, and just because Twitter is great for customer service for FMCG brands, it doesn’t mean that it’s best for B2Bs. Do your research, don’t be afraid to try different approaches and to measure the impact of everything you do so that you know what’s working (and what isn’t).

Conclusion

Now that you know how different social networking sites differ from each other and why they’re not all created equal, you’re in a much better place to make a decision on which platforms make the most sense for you and your brand.

As always, we’d love to hear your thoughts on what we’ve talked about today, so be sure to leave a comment to keep the discussion going. We’ll see you soon for another article!

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