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How To Pick The Best Social Media Platform To Reach Your Business’ Target Audience
One of the most common questions I see entrepreneurs ask, regardless of what their niche is or what they offer, is which social media platform reaches the most people. It takes a lot of time and effort to put together thoughtful social media content, and we want our posts to be seen by as many people as possible! But it’s not just about which social media platform has the most users, or is most popular, etc. This article is going to break down the things you should consider when determining which platform will work best for YOUR business and reach the most members of YOUR ideal audience.
Why is it so important to pick the right social media platform?
Because you want to start with just ONE first. All the main social media big-wigs will tell you to focus on ONE platform first.
Technically, I agree with Gary Vee- we should be present on ALL of the platforms, but only focus on growing one at a time. (Check out this article to see how you can post on all platforms automatically!)
If you focus on too many things at once, your already precious time is divided. Your results won’t be nearly as good in either place.
So you start with one, grow that audience, then move on to the next- always posting on all of them, of course, because content is KING, and nobody wants to get stuck eating peasant food.
If you haven’t already, spend an hour or two setting up an account for each platform, and then get busy determining WHICH platform to focus on first! (And I’m about to tell you how to figure that out, so don’t get distracted!)
What social media platforms can I utilize for my business?
Let’s first take a look at how many people use each platform:
- Facebook has 2.2 billion active monthly users
- Instagram has 1 billion active monthly users
- Twitter has 335 million active monthly users
- Pinterest has 250 million active monthly users
- LinkedIn has 294 million active monthly users
- YouTube has 1.9 billion active monthly users
- Tumblr has 642 million unique monthly visitors
- TikTok has 500 million active monthly users
- SnapChat has 255 million active monthly users
- Reddit has 330 million active monthly users
Those are some pretty impressive numbers, but there are other things to consider than sheer traffic volume.
What are some of the FACTORS that can influence the effectiveness of a social media platform?
- Basic demographics of users
- Content/Topic Saturation
- Your business’ end goals
- Accessibility and shareability of content
- The immediacy of your business needs
So now that I’ve rattled off two lists at you, let’s give your brain a minute to breathe. *sigh*
Okay now, we’re going to actually take a look at what this all means, so that you can determine WHICH platform is actually going to work the best for YOUR business. That is, after all, why you’ve clicked on this post, am I right?
The FIRST thing you’re going to want to do before you spend time learning ANYTHING about these platforms, is determine who your ideal audience actually is.
I know, I know, you’re thinking, ‘Holy crap, this is SO MUCH work!’
But social media marketing can often require spending an hour a day (and often more in the beginning). You’ll want to make sure your effort will make the BIGGEST impact possible, right?
You can’t really determine which social media platform is best for you, if you don’t already know who your key audience is.
This is how we work smarter…so that we can get farther with our time and energy.
So, if you ALREADY know who your ideal audience (or Avatar, example client/customer, etc) is, then that’s awesome! Let’s continue…
If you need to take a minute to figure that out, just jump over here, and we’ll do that together. 😉
Once you have a pretty good idea of WHO your ideal audience is, you need to know HOW to actually find them and market to them. (Oh, yeah, she’s finally getting to the point!)
Let’s look back at that list of factors above about social media reach and engagement…I’m going to break it all down for you!
Target Audience Reach Factor #1 – Basic demographics of users
This one is pretty simple. You will want to find a platform that has the most members of your target audience on it. Demographics, such as age, play a HUGE role in this for a lot of businesses.
For example, if your business sells motorized carts and wheelchairs to the elderly, you probably don’t want to spend too much time on Instagram. Only 23% of people over the age of 50 (and only 8% of people over 65) actually use Instagram.
But on the flip side of that, if you’re a lifestyle blogger targeting millennials, IG is a great place to start, because 75% of 18-24 year olds are on Instagram at least once a day, as well as 57% of 25-30 year olds.
Check out this handy chart that shows how many people in each age group use each social media platform.
Target Audience Reach Factor #2 – Relatability
You want to make sure that the people using the platform can actually relate to what you’re posting. This has more to do with just age.
For example, you probably don’t want to focus too much energy on LinkedIn, if your target audience is a preschool teacher, because the majority of people who are actively engaging on LinkedIn are business professionals such as corporate employees and entrepreneurs. A preschool teacher likely uses LinkedIn as a digital resume, but she’s probably not scrolling through and commenting on posts in the social feed.
If the social media platforms were to have ‘core’ personality types, I’m pretty sure these would be it:
Facebook– friendly and popular, gets along with everyone.
Instagram– young, trendy, and always up to date on the latest styles.
Twitter– witty, quirky, and always informed with the latest news.
Pinterest– crafty, optimistic and inspirational
LinkedIn– the business professional, interested in the newest stats, tech, and biz tips.
YouTube– original, unique, and sociable, isn’t afraid to try new things
Tumblr– not sure what they want to see or do, but open to suggestions
TikTok– fun, energetic, willing to experiment, and loves surprises
Snapchat– genuine, I-am-who-I-am, funny and clever, sometimes mildly inappropriate
Reddit– friendly and ready to help, but will eat you for dinner if you offend or overstep
Target Audience Reach Factor #3 – Content/Topic Saturation
If your business is in the travel industry, Instagram is a powerful platform to utilize because of the surge in popularity of the platform among avid travelers.
BUT (and it’s a big but) you would want to put extra effort into creating unique content to stand out from the crowd of travel influencers already established on IG. (Hint: finding the right hashtags can help you stand out here as well!)
This is because travel is a somewhat saturated topic. There’s so many people posting about it that it is easy to get lost in the sea, so to speak.
That doesn’t mean it is impossible! It just means you have to get ahead of the game and be original with your content.
The same is true for many topics. A lot of businesses struggle to get an engaging audience because they feel like they are just so outnumbered.
Rather than shy away from an otherwise perfect platform for your brand, try to generate some content that provides a NEW perspective in your niche. Show them a new side of things, and think outside of the box.
Target Audience Reach Factor #4 – Your Business’ End Goals
What do you hope to gain, as an end result, with your social media marketing? If you are looking for customers to buy a product, you might want to focus more on a platform that allows for shopping (like Facebook, Instagram or Pinterest), instead of LinkedIn or Twitter.
But if you are wanting people to read your blog, Instagram could be a total dud for you because you can’t put clickable links in the post text. This forces viewers to click on your profile and then click through to your website link.
If you provide a service to your local area, like a dog groomer or fitness coach, you probably want to choose a platform that will help you search for clients in your specific area (like Facebook, Instagram, and in some niches, LinkedIn).
Regardless of what your end goal is, you want to make sure whichever platform you choose to focus on first can actually provide these results without too much work for you OR your viewer.
Target Audience Reach Factor #5 – Accessibility and Shareability of Content
This same concept applies to accessibility and sharing. How easy is it for people on a particular platform to see your posts? Can they share it or save it easily?
This is something that can rule out platforms like Snapchat and Reddit for a lot of businesses looking to build an audience from scratch. They can be great platforms for businesses with an established audience looking to expand their visibility, however.
You want to make sure whichever platform you choose, it will suit your needs in terms of people being able to see your posts, share your posts, comment on your posts, or whatever your particular needs happen to be.
For most businesses, the platforms that will be easiest, fastest-growing, and have the best benefits for a new user are Facebook and Instagram. And, depending on your niche, Twitter, LinkedIn and/or Pinterest can be great options as well.
The other platforms, while they have great benefits, should be saved for later.
Target Audience Reach Factor #6 – The Immediacy of Your Business Needs
At the risk of repeating myself a little bit here, this ALSO changes depending on your end goal. But you will want to consider which platform will best suit your immediate needs, right now.
Your immediate goal is almost never going to be the same as your end goal. If your end goal is to make more sales, for example, your immediate goal would probably be to get your products in front of as many eyes as possible.
But if your end goal is to get more reviews for your photography studio, your immediate goal is probably going to be to invite as many of your previous clients to like/follow your social media profile and leave a review.
You’re going to want to apply this immediate need to your list of considerations when choosing your first platform.
If you have an audience of zero and you’re needing to boost visibility as quickly as possible, you will want a platform where following people is par for the course, like Instagram.
Let’s say you’re looking to provide a place where you can post helpful tips and tricks and establish yourself as an authority in your field. You will probably be looking for a platform that focuses more on your profile and allows for ratings or reviews, like Facebook, or allows for skill endorsements, like LinkedIn.
But if you want to showcase your products or blog articles and reach a related audience just by posting your content (without commenting or engaging with followers), then Pinterest is your go-to. Although it reaches less people in general than the busier platforms in your early stages of use, it can be insanely powerful once you get going.
How can you interpret all of this info and put it to good use?
You’re going to want to take some time to write all of these down:
- Your ideal audience. Make an example ‘person’ (including basic demographics).
- What is the general personality type that you’re trying to target?
- Which topic(s) will you be posting about?
- What is your business’ end goal for posting?
- Which type of accessibility and sharing features do you need, if any?
- What is your business’ immediate goal with this social media account?
Yes!! You’ve made so much progress today! *cheering* You know have a general idea of which direction you want to go!
Now that you have a general direction… the best way to determine if a social media platform fits your business is to spend some time on each one. Look up keywords (aka hashtags) that your business would use (or your ideal audience) and see who’s engaging. This is called Market Research.
You can not only get a good idea of how many people are engaging and reacting, but also see what TYPES of content they are responding to more!
Building a strong social media presence takes a lot of time. It is a marathon, not a sprint. And anyone who promises you instant results is either lying, using fake followers/likes/etc, or just got really (REALLY) lucky. The rest of us have to use a little bit of thumb grease and spend time on the scroll, like, follow routine!
Having a good content plan is always a great way to consistently reach your core audience and attract more followers, too! (I have an awesome planning article with free worksheets here!)
Once you get your profile up and running, get your content planned out. Then automate it to reach as many platforms as possible.
Now you’re free to cultivate the following of your dreams on the platform you’ve decided to focus on first!
Once you get a good, steady following of engaged users, you can move on to the next platform, or free up some time for something else.
It’s in your hands, now, so go kick some social media butt! You’ve got this!
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