Choose, but choose wisely.
Most of us have probably seen Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade at least once or twice. While the movie was packed full of great moments, perhaps the most quotable scene from the blockbuster was, “Choose, but choose wisely.”
The phrase was so popular after the movie release that it ended up being used by Pepsi for multiple campaigns. While your quest for the next social media marketing holy grail may not end up in life or death consequences, your time, finances, and sanity are marginally at stake.
When it comes to social media marketing, you must choose, and choose wisely. But what is that “wise” choice? In an entire room of goblets claiming to be holy grails, which do you choose? We decided to summarize some of the existing literature, market research, and add some common sense with these basic starting points.
Point One: To What Degree is Your Target Market Involved With the Platform?
Think of social media platforms as channels that come with a cable subscription for a moment. With a cable subscription a consumer might have access to Fox, CBS, CNN, sci-fi, and the Smithsonian channel. By broad standards, cable subscribers have equal access to every network. However, users more frequently visit CBS and Fox than they do the Smithsonian channel. I consider this an issue of usage, and advertisers take note of this. Advertisers use ratings to determine what networks, and what shows, are getting to the highest number of people. It’s my opinion we should take a similar, though not identical, approach to social media marketing.
Here is what the data says regarding social media channels and use
What Does Social Media Use Mean to Me?
If you look at the data there are some key usage patterns that should influence our decisions to adopt a social media marketing channel. Facebook is still the king of social media not just in total number of users but in how frequently those users log in to the site. If anyone tells you Facebook is currently in decline just look at the statistics. If you look at some other social networking platforms there are some trends that pop up that should at least cause us to pause. While LinkedIn is considered the most professional of all social media networks, the network with the highest average income, and the most educated, only 22% of its users log in every single day.
The same can be said for Twitter. Fewer than a quarter of online adults have an account and only 38% of them log in every day. If you’re a rural business trying to expand your marketing to other rural communities, only 15% of rural adults have a Twitter account. Twitter could be problematic for you if you’re a small businesses trying to market directly to a local consumer base because of how fast the social network moves. The post life can be less than an hour. If less than half of your target population logs in every day, that is a large amount of content you will have to consistently post to make sure your content is seen by your target market.
Perhaps the largest surprise is with Instagram and YouTube. Instagram grew at a rate of 15% last year (PewResearch) which is 5 times more than any other social network. Instagram is also the youngest of the top 6 social networks with over half of all users checking their accounts every single day. If you are trying to target a younger crowd, Instagram could definitely be for you. YouTube is only second to Facebook. Although users don’t need to sign up for an account with YouTube to enjoy content, an overwhelming majority of the 18-29 crowd use it to be entertained or to find out how to do a task or project.
Point Two: Can You Offer What the Platform Requires on a Consistent Basis?
We’ve all had that awkward moment where we go out to a party, social function, or walk into a new store only to suddenly realize we’re out of place. The music stops, people stare, and well, it’s just awkward.
That can be the same feeling when you’re on the wrong social media with the wrong strategy. If you’re going to choose a social media platform to market on, make sure you can fit in. This is also a very valid point for why you shouldn’t link multiple accounts and auto post.
- Instagram – Can you offer constant, visually consistent images multiple times a day? Instagram thrives on communicating culture which is amplified through relevant hashtags. Images should be original, from your own store, and not only showcase how your products are being used in the real world but also the culture of your business and the lives of your employees at work. It can also be a great way to engage with customers and repost their pictures on your newsfeed.
- Twitter – Can you constantly keep up with what is trending in current events, hashtag conversation, or more? Do you have enough content, resources, strategy, and time to schedule posts consistently throughout the day? Can you respond quickly to all customer questions that are posted on a public feed?
- Pinterest – Can you offer visual solutions to your customers’ every day problems? Are you also willing to spend time organizing photos / pins into themes? Pinterest is NOT a place to post products. It is a place to post solutions. If you are committed to creating high quality images of how your products can solve a problem or improve lives, Pinterest could be useful for you.
- LinkedIn – Are you a B2B business or needing to hire professionals? If not, this probably isn’t the right platform for you at this time. As with all social media, this is highly relative to your own unique market demographics.
- YouTube – Do you have educational ways to highlight your products in 90 second to 2-minute clips? YouTube can be a great way to educate customers and send them to your website through customized annotations. While you can use any video camera or phone to record your content, make sure you have an aftermarket microphone to get great audio. Nothing ruins a YouTube clip more than horrible audio. There are a number of microphones that can be plugged into your iPhone or smart phone.
With so many social networks out there, it really comes down to 2 questions: 1) Is my target audience using that platform enough to make it worth my time; 2) Can I fit in with that platform given the resources that I have? You need to fully assess your capabilities, commitment, and message before you pick up another social media platform.
Choosing a social media channel can be a big deal and a lot of effort. Make sure you are paying attention to what your target audience is using. Months into your new pursuit, the best thing you could hear is: