With social media being one of the main channels used by companies to reach their audiences nowadays, and hundreds of social media sites available for use, it can make even a seasoned marketer or publisher feel overwhelmed when choosing which networks will work the best for them.
Should you use Twitter or LinkedIn? Or maybe Facebook? How many should you be on? All of them?
Not to worry. There are a few ways you can narrow your choices down and decide which network (or networks) will work best for you and your business goals, while lining up with your available resources.
Why Go Big?
As we said, there are a ton of social networks to choose from. But there’s a handful that have become the “tried and true” for B2C and B2B alike: Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter.
It’s rare that you’ll find a robust social media strategy that doesn’t include at least one of these. If you’re fortunate enough to have a large marketing budget, you might have several strategically-selected smaller or niche platforms (think Snapchat, Tumblr, or Houzz), but those will usually complement one or more of the “big three” mentioned above.
These platforms have several things built into them that make them attractive to most marketers - audience numbers, advertising options, data availability, large reach, and potentially high engagement.
So how do you decide which ones will be best for your business, and what benefits do they bring?
With 1.19 billion registered users, Facebook has become one of the go-to social media platforms for brands and publishers alike in the past few years, especially those who focus on B2C.
That said, there have been a lot of changes to Facebook’s algorithm that make marketing your company on Facebook very different from a few years ago. The relationship between Facebook and publishers has been rocky to say the least—while brand reach may have gone down, publishers’ reach was increased, then decreased, and now possibly increased again with the advent of Instant Articles.
All this aside, Facebook remains an important place to create two-way conversation with your audience, and offer content that fits the casual behavior indicative of the user base. Readers usually don’t hop on Facebook to “do business." Rather, they log on to connect with the people and brands in ways that complement their “personal, private” lives.
Though many publishers can earn decent visibility just by mastering the basics, some marketing professionals would tell you that Facebook has become a “pay-to-play” advertising platform that can be greatly enhanced if you feel comfortable putting a budget behind it.
As a result of the deep detailed data that Facebook has on its users, the ability to target specific groups with a high level of effectiveness has made it a very attractive and efficient platform to spend your advertising dollars on. If configured wisely, a reasonably priced campaign can go a long way. Additionally, Facebook has started to place particular focus on website retargeting, allowing publishers to serve content to audience members who have already visited their site (and therefore expressed more explicit interest in their content).
Because of the casual, conversational nature of Facebook, as well as the ability to get in front of targeted “eyeballs”, it’s a great platform for both increasing brand awareness and engaging with your customers. Keep in mind that gaining highly qualified leads directly off Facebook is a little tougher, and the platform could be better to think of as a great way to fill the top of your funnel.
LinkedIn has been highly regarded as a useful tool for B2B companies, especially in the realm of sales.
After setting up a company page and either joining or creating relevant groups, LinkedIn has a sweet spot in communicating to users the value of doing business together. Because most people use LinkedIn for professional purposes, you’re able to give them information and start conversations that are directly related to their LinkedIn activity (business!). This could mean faster relationship-building, decision-making and action down the road.
In addition to maintaining a company page and groups, LinkedIn is also a very good tool to consider for your own sales team. Being able to identify prospective advertisers, where they may fall in the decision-making process, and then reach out directly is a big advantage for publishers trying to build their own sales pipeline. It’s also a great way to take a Twitter lead you may have made and start creating a deeper relationship.
Organic reach on LinkedIn platform is still pretty good, and publishers can maximize on users who are trying to improve their professional image by sharing useful information (your content!). Because you provide your readers relevant, useful professional content, they may be compelled to share that content as a demonstration of their own expertise.
While advertising on LinkedIn generally produces lower engagement rates and higher prices per click than Facebook, because you can target by industry, role and several other key attributes, you tend to generate more qualified leads. This can be quite powerful.
Twitter lives “in between” Facebook and LinkedIn in terms of reaching both B2C and B2B audiences, acting as a home to a wide variety of content.
As an open network, Twitter allows brands to connect with an audience using a higher volume of touch points (posts), using created and curated content, and with several different goals in mind. You could focus your Twitter strategy on thought leadership, engagement and conversation, audience education, customer service, or lead generation—or all of these at once.
Twitter's high volume of content distribution and real-time engagement makes it a great TOFU tool for your inbound marketing strategy—using Twitter as way to direct people to your other marketing channels (website, LinkedIn, email, etc). You may not make too many direct conversions, but it’s a solid entry point to start that process. It’s also a good place for publishers to converse with their readers, more so than some of the other available platforms.
Targeting on Twitter is a little more limited, which may reduce ad reach for publishers in a niche industry. But if you do choose this route, Twitter offers a good way to get in front of users based on their current interests (in other words, possibly at a point when they’re more likely to take action).
Remember, whichever platforms you choose, it’s usually better to focus on one or two channels and do them well, rather than feel like you need to be on every one. If you're looking for a great place to start, consider the three we just discussed above, and fine the one that fits the best with your goals.
Originally published Jun 25, 2015 7:00:00 AM, updated July 28 2017