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Feb 23

Category: Social Media, Uncategorized

In most small and medium sized businesses, owners have big marketing ambitions but limited resources. Traditional marketing can often be too much of a drain on funds. Social media, on the other hand, is a pretty low-cost alternative that, done right, can give you a direct line to current and prospective customers.

But should you focus on Twitter? LinkedIn? Facebook? Google+? Pinterest? Instagram? Medium? Snapchat? YouTube? Reddit? There are certainly a lot of social media options out there to choose from.

Social 1

When you see bigger firms with a solid presence across dozens of social networks, it can be difficult not be tempted to try and do the same. The fact is, however, that these big companies typically have several employees whose sole job is to manage each channel.

Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that, in order to achieve some success online, you need to be everywhere. The saying ‘quality over quantity’ is at it’s truest when applied to social media marketing; you need to focus your efforts on where your existing customers and best prospects are already hanging out online.

But how to decide? Here’s a simple three-step process for choosing the right social network for your business.

Step 1: Think about who your customers and prospects are and where they’ll likely be

The big question you need to ask in relation to social media is where your audience (your customers and potential customers) are spending their time. What social media channels are they using?

There’s a clear ‘Big Four’ in the UK, with Facebook leading the pack at almost 41 million British users (that’s a staggering 86% of all UK adults and 96% of all UK adults with regular access to the internet), and Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ in playing catch up.

 

Social 2

Facebook’s users fairly closely reflect the age, gender, and geographical distribution of the UK population, but other the users of the other networks are more concentrated among the young and the urban and — in the case of Instagram and Pinterest, especially — women.

Step 2: Go where your audience is at their most active

Big numbers don’t necessarily mean lots of activity, however.

Consider Google+, for example. Yes, it has over 20 million registered accounts in the UK, but less than a third of those users are active in any given week meaning the ‘true’ number is quite low. Twitter, too, has a large number of inactive, rarely active, or entirely fake accounts that skew the headline figures.

Social media users need to be regularly visiting the network and spending a good chunk of their time engaging with it if they are to be any use to you.

Quality matters much more than quantity. Try not be swayed into decisions purely by the size of the network. Ask yourself other questions, such as does the network’s user base fit your target demographic? Are your existing customers on the network? Are your competitors marketing themselves on the network?

Where is this data? Ofcom’s annual reports (the UK’s communications regulator and the source of our infographics in this post) are a great starting place. A number of consultancies, Econsultancy for example, share data, and the networks themselves will publish data on their users’ demographics.

Step 3: Align your social media with your products, services and website content

If you’ve created buyer personas for your customers, then you can set about matching the background of your ideal customers (their age, gender, income, location etc.) to the most appropriate networks.

For example, if you’re a B2C targeting high- income women aged 18-34, then Pinterest is going to be a very good option for you.

You’ll also want to choose a network based on how it fits with your content strategy. Jason DeMers, a blogger at Search Engine Land, has come up with a quick and dirty categorisation of the big social networks:

  1. Kitchen-sink (i.e. does it all) networks: Twitter and Facebook
  2. Image-based networks: Pinterest, Instagram, Tumblr
  3. Video networks: YouTube, Vimeo, Vine
  4. Business-focused networks: LinkedIn
  5. SEO and authorship networks: Google+
  6. Location-based networks: Foursquare, Yelp
  7. Niche networks: Reddit

Before making any decisions, ask yourself if you’re likely to be able to regularly produce sufficient content to make a channel viable. If you’re not a very visual brand and video and high-quality photography aren’t really your thing, then you don’t need to be on YouTube or Instagram, for instance.

So, how do you choose the right social networks for your business?

First, relax. It is perfectly okay to pick and choose which social networks to join. You do not need to be everywhere. Most small and medium sized businesses won’t be able to manage to be on more than three or four networks. So, take a little time to step back, consider your audience and where they’ll most likely me, and think about whether your content fits with each of the networks.

If you’re looking to grow your online marketing then it’s likely time to employ somebody full-time to develop online strategies for growing your audience. At 3Search we work with companies big and small to connect them with the talented staff they need to grow their businesses. Want to find out more? Check out our website.