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    How Do I know Which Social Media Platform is Right for My Business?

    How Do I Know Which Social Platform Is Right For My Business?

    It’s tempting to plan your social media strategy based on what platforms have the most users, which platforms you use personally—or which platforms produce the least amount of cringe when you scroll them. After all, social media is about being social online and talking with your customers or prospects comfortably.

    Finding the perfect social media platform for your business is all about aligning your goals, target audience, and purpose.

    But, as your mom used to say, it’s not all about you. Choosing the social media platform that’s the best fit for your business is about your marketing or business goals and objectives and your target audience. Think of your social strategy in terms of the journalistic Five Ws (and an H): Why, what, who, when, where and how.

    The Why

    Your social media efforts must have a clearly defined purpose. The why. Having a clear purpose in mind is the difference between going to a party that has a specific purpose (like a birthday or costume party) and one that is simply promoted as a party. The experience of these parties differs, particularly in terms of how people communicate with one another and what’s expected. Does an explicit purpose make a party better or worse? No, but it makes it easier to evaluate and keeps things on-track (or know when to send guests home).

    Unlock the potential of social media by defining your purpose and crafting content that informs, persuades, and connects with your audience.”

    The two basic reasons for social media posts are to inform and to persuade. Some people like to include “to entertain” as a separate purpose, but think of that more as a tactic to inform or persuade and not a purpose of its own.

    You can get even more specific than “to inform” and “to persuade.” The more specific you are in identifying your purpose, the more likely you are to be successful in your efforts. The handy graph below can get you started on the most-relevant verb for your purpose. Just a glance at the words gives you a different picture in your brain about what images and messaging (and platform!) you might use to accomplish your purpose.

    InformativePersuasive
    to informto persuade
    to describeto convince
    to defineto influence
    to reviewto argue
    to notifyto recommend
    to instructto change
    to adviseto advocate
    to announceto urge
    to explainto defend
    to demonstrateto justify
    to illustrateto support

    Having a clearly identified purpose also helps your team members stay on-brand and on-track if they build social posts independent of you. If they know your purpose is “to instruct” or “to educate,” they’re more likely to be spot-on in their content. With social, the last thing you want to hear is, “In my defense, I was left unsupervised.” A purpose creates guardrails, which results in less time wasted and fewer goof-ups.

    (A social media voice book, like a brand book, can be an effective tool. If you’re unsure how to build one, let’s talk. We can help.)

    The What

    This is the drumbeat we deliver with any plan or strategy. What are your goals for your social media? These can feel like the purpose, but they’re different. Your purpose is your job in a social media strategy. Your goal is what you want your target audience to know, think, feel, believe or do. The goal is what you want to accomplish. It’s your audience’s job in social media.

    Your social media strategy can have both short and long-term goals, but avoid creating several goals for your social media to accomplish. If you have too many goals, you haven’t thought deeply or seriously about what you want to achieve.

    Unleash the potential of social media with a well-crafted strategy that encompasses the ‘why,’ ‘what,’ ‘who,’ ‘when,’ and ‘how’ of your business.

    If your only goal is “to get people to buy,” you need to realize that very few things “get” people to do anything and “to buy” is a one-dimensional verb that will leave you frustrated and disappointed in your social media plan.  Remember, you have several steps before “buy” and your social media isn’t solely in charge of your audience’s purchasing. Too many factors affect purchasing—all of which are interdependent.

    Keeping it easy to start, choose one marketing goal per campaign and one KPI per channel.

    Remember, you can choose different platforms for different goals. You might choose one platform for your marketing efforts, one that dovetails with your sales efforts, one that is best for customer contact and another for your talent or recruitment goal.

    The Who

    Your target audience members comprise the big “who.” Who are they? Where are they? To what social platforms have they assigned value and credibility? Facebook has the distinction of being first to the party (sorry, LunarStorm, SixDegrees and MySpace), so it has many users, but its evolution from a Harvard dorm room to 2.93 billion monthly active users is partly because so many organizations and businesses default to Facebook. Gen Z cohorts may use Facebook because organizations or companies limit participation using Facebook as the only portal, but that doesn’t mean those users hang out or love to be there.

    Maybe you shrink at the thought of Pinterest, but the visual platform’s 450 million users may just laugh back.

    From July 2021 to June 2022, Pinterest had the highest score with 76/100 of all social platforms (tied with YouTube) on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), according to social media management tool Sprout Social and Statista.

    “Pinterest has a growth rate of 7.5% each year,” according to Sprout Social. “Facebook is still growing, but at a rate of 1.6% each year, and YouTube and Instagram are both losing users.”

    If your products, services or brand could flourish on a stable platform that’s visual-heavy, you might also want to consider that Pinterest has a higher conversion rate than other social media apps and a more shopper-friendly experience, according to the Business of Apps. Yes, it’s user base is 70% female, but if you’re talking with women interested in what you offer, using Pinterest could be a smart strategy.

    Understand your followers and would-be followers. Have they left Twitter amid the platform’s turmoil? Where did they go? Is short-form video, as what’s found on YouTube and TikTok, the most effective way to connect with your target audience members because THAT’S WHERE THEY spend time?  If they go to video platforms to learn and you use video to educate (your purpose), that’s a key connection point.

    The When and The How

    According to Statista, the average daily time spent with digital media in the U.S. is expected to increase from 470 minutes (seven hours and 50 minutes) in 2020 to over eight hours in 2023.

    Dive into the realm of social media and make informed choices based on your business goals, target audience, and the features of different platforms.”

    Weekdays are often peak for social media (Sunday is uniformly the worst time to post), but it does vary some across platforms. It’s smart to study when your posts get the most traffic, or start your discovery with guidance from a social media tool, such as Sprout Social insights on posting times.

    The how focuses on how you select the social platform that’s right for your business AFTER you’ve done the work involved in the who, the why, the what and the when. The how incorporates the where. Where should you post? How do you choose?

    Here are some of the basic features of heavily-used social media platforms for businesses:

    Facebook/Meta         

    Facebook is one of the leading social networks and has broad appeal among men and women from 18-65 and older. It is the social media giant to which other platforms try to catch up, with almost three billion monthly active users (MAU) as of January 2023. (Fun fact: India has the most Facebook users overall.)

    According to Statista, the platform’s parent company, Facebook Inc., became Meta Platforms and the sweeping social network is now part of Meta’s Family of Apps, along with WhatsApp, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, much as Alphabet née Google did to broaden the scope of its operations.

    Facebook is effective at sharing new deals on services, behind-the-scenes sneak peeks of a company and contests and Facebook provides the opportunity to turn your customer base into a community. Facebook is user-friendly and makes it easy to create a simple page, upload some pics or videos, and begin connecting with your customer base for followers. Business News Daily has a good summary of why you might use Facebook.

    YouTube

    While music and comedy abound on YouTube, it’s also a business-friendly platform for reaching 2.5 billion users—making up almost one-third of the entire internet, according to Statista. If your product or service lends itself to seen visually, YouTube is a smart choice. Businesses that host instructional videos, product reviews and other educational content do well on YouTube.

    Videos of new products and services, demonstrations of how to use products, answers to commonly asked questions, question-and-answer sessions with a company’s founders, client testimonials and interviews with customers, employees or industry experts are perfectly matched with YouTube’s search capabilities (hello, Google!) and audience reach. See HootSuite’s tutorial on YouTube marketing.

    Instagram

    Instagram’s primary advantage over other social media platforms is its visual nature. If you have a business that benefits from the design of your product or if you have a service that has a visibly noticeable result, Instagram is the best platform to showcase that content, according to HubSpot. 

    6 Ways to Always Have Social Media Content
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    Content with pics and short videos without a lot of text work best and posts can be coordinated with your Facebook account. Nearly 45% of Instagram’s users are between the ages of 18 and 44, but, again, ask yourself if this platform fits your purpose, goals and audience.

    Twitter

    To use Twitter successfully, you’ll need to polish your ability to create short, informative, and interesting tweets, as you are still limited to 280 characters or less per post. Announcements, sales, promotions, and contests do well on the platform. According to Business News Daily, the platform remains stable and heavy on news snippets, but you may want to consider the ongoing controversy around the platform before you invest in a verified account.

    LinkedIn

    When it comes to professionalism, LinkedIn wins, hands-down. As of January 2023, 60% of global users were aged 25–34, representing younger millennials. Those between the ages of 18–24, mid-range Gen Z, made up 20.4% of LinkedIn users while only 2.9% of people over 55 use the platform, according to Sprout Social and Statista. (No statistics were provided for users aged 35–54.) LinkedIn use skews toward men, as 58% of users in the U.S. are male.

    The platform is effective for connecting on a professional level. It tends to be a more formal social network, which draws more B2B interest than B2C content. If you’re looking to connect with decision-makers and influencers to get out your brand and message, LinkedIn can help you find partners, find suppliers and parts, or generate leads. For more specifics, consider these Sprout Social insights.

    If you’re doing international B2B and want to learn more about social media platforms across the globe, email or call and let’s start a conversation on the galaxy beyond Facebook and LinkedIn. If you’d just appreciate some insights into your social media strategy, contact us and let’s have that conversation.

    FAQs

    How do I determine which social media platform is right for my business?

    Consider your marketing goals, target audience, and the purpose of your social media efforts to choose the right platform.

    What is the importance of having a clearly defined purpose for social media?

    A clear purpose helps evaluate and guide your social media strategy, ensuring effective communication with your audience and minimizing mistakes.

    What are the two basic reasons for social media posts?

    Social media posts are generally aimed at informing and persuading the audience.

    How can I specify my social media purpose?

    You can be more specific by identifying verbs that align with your purpose, such as informing, persuading, describing, recommending, etc.

    Why is it important to have a clear purpose for team members creating social media content?

    A clear purpose helps team members stay on-brand and on-track, reducing time wastage and minimizing errors in content creation.

    What is the difference between purpose and goals in social media strategy?

    Purpose refers to the reason behind your social media efforts, while goals represent what you want your target audience to know, think, feel, believe, or do.

    How many goals should I have for my social media strategy?

    It’s recommended to have one marketing goal per campaign and one key performance indicator (KPI) per channel to maintain focus and clarity.

    How do I determine my target audience for social media?

    Understand your target audience’s demographics, preferences, and the social platforms they value and engage with.

    Is Facebook the best platform for reaching a wide range of users?

    Facebook has a large user base, but it’s important to consider whether your target audience genuinely interacts with and values the platform.

    What makes YouTube a business-friendly platform?

    YouTube’s wide reach and video-centric nature make it suitable for businesses that can showcase products, host instructional videos, provide demonstrations, and engage with their audience through visual content.

    How can Instagram benefit my business?

    Instagram’s visual nature makes it ideal for businesses that can showcase their products or services through compelling images and short videos.

    What type of content works best on Twitter?

    Twitter is effective for short, informative, and interesting content, making it suitable for announcements, promotions, and engaging with your audience.

    Why is LinkedIn considered a professional platform?

    LinkedIn is known for its professionalism and is effective for B2B connections, networking with decision-makers, and showcasing your brand to an audience focused on business-related content.

    How can I determine the best posting times for social media?

    Study your audience’s behavior and engagement patterns or use social media tools like Sprout Social to gain insights on optimal posting times.

    About The Author

    Elton Mayfield

    Elton's career spans media, production, digital and building industry expertise. His diverse experience makes him nimble, innovative, and curious – always pushing the envelope to create extraordinary work that delivers real results for our clients.

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