These days, it’s common knowledge that social media can be a great way to grow your business. But the sheer number of social media platforms can leave business owners and even marketing professionals feeling overwhelmed. “If we a have a Facebook page,” you think, “we’ll also need a Twitter account. And a lot of successful people post vlogs of themselves, so we’ll need a YouTube account as well— but wait, so many kids are using Snapchat now, we’ll need to start putting out shorter videos twice a day” ….and just when you get all that going and are barely hanging on, you realize that your competitor is gaining loyal customers from Instagram while you’re one tweet away from a stroke.
Maybe it sounds exaggerated, but this exact same drama is playing out within countless companies all over the world. What’s the way out of “tactical marketing hell” as Ramit Sethi once called it?
The solution to high ROI with social media marketing is rooted in understanding who your customers are. Assembling a well-designed Buyer Persona is not limited to identifying and understanding your ideal customer’s needs, wants, hopes and fears. You must also determine their preferences, habits, and how they spend their time. This includes what social media platforms they use, and how frequently.
A well-researched Buyer Persona is the foundation of any successful marketing effort. If you haven’t already done so, check out our guide to building a Buyer Persona and download our free persona template now.
Having said all that, you came here for answers, so let’s go through an honest comparison of some of the more popular social media platforms and see which ones will offer you the maximum ROI.
With 2 billion+ users, it’s the biggest social media platform in the world. There are numerous ways to take advantage of Facebook, ranging from a simple fan page which can act as your “home base” on the platform, to paid advertising options which allow you to research who your customers are, and target ads with an incredible level of precision and specificity.
While some people still think social media is mainly for young people, that’s not the case with Facebook. As of 2017, 78% of Facebook users in the United States were over 25 years old, with the 25-54 age-range making up 61%.
Facebook offers an advantage over other platforms in the sense that it is a “full service” social media platform. Facebook acts as a second website for your company, an advertising platform, and a customer service/engagement tool all at once, allowing you to promote your business and interact directly with your customers, even in real time.
Bottom line: If you only have one social media account, Facebook is probably the best place to start. It’s easy to set up, easy to use, and given how many people are using it coupled with the sheer variety of things it can do, it’s a great idea to set up a page to steer people toward your site.
Whether you’re a savvy marketer or an industry thought leader who likes to speak directly to your customers, Twitter is still the medium of choice for quickly blasting out concise messages and sharing your thoughts with the world in a stream-of-consciousness manner. But is it a good fit for your business? Let’s see what the data says.
Bottom line: Twitter is ideal for engaging with your audience, promoting brands and new products, as well as discounts, contests, limited-time promotions and sharing company news in a rapid, up-to-the-minute way.
The world’s most popular video-sharing service (and second largest search engine after Google) is also an excellent marketing tool. The fact is that video is an incredibly effective way to communicate and build trust and credibility with your target audience.
A case can be made that video is, some ways, the most effective marketing medium there is. Why? Because it most closely simulates interacting in real life and speaking directly to a customer. Video allows for nonverbal communication such as body language, as well as the aspects of verbal communication like tone, which can be more challenging to convey by text. Everything from copy to images and infographics, to music and the spoken word, are combined to form videos. Because it is both visual and auditory, people can absorb information better through this multi-channel communication method than almost any other medium.
Videos are also excellent for producing viral content: video shared over social media generates 1200% more shares than images and text combined. Videos are also a fantastic way to demonstrate your expertise in an industry and why your products are better than your competitors.
If you’re going to embrace video, YouTube is unquestionably the best place to start. The majority of 18-34-year-olds prefer watching YouTube to cable television, and it’s perfect for sharing vlogs (video blogs) and other useful, informational content on your other social media accounts. Some 90% of online shoppers report finding videos useful in helping them make purchasing decisions. (Source)
Bottom line: Remember— most people are looking for answers to a question or solutions to a problem when they search online. Many people are visual learners and look for a quick video to explain what they want to know. YouTube can be an excellent way to provide that content to your target market and redirect them toward your site where you can continue guiding them through their Buyer’s Journey. While highly produced videos can be expensive and time-consuming to make, it may be worth incorporating them into your larger Inbound Marketing strategy.
Instagram is ideal for sharing images and short videos that will appeal to very targeted niches and position your company as an influencer in that niche. With 600 million users, Instagram has a comparable user base to Twitter, but it is also different in several ways:
Bottom line: Instagram is perfect for targeting young markets with visual content that builds brand awareness and distinguishes you from the competition. Oh, and in case you were thinking about Snapchat— you may want to reconsider. While Snapchat still has a large Gen Z user base, Instagram has been devouring its market share thanks to the new Instagram Stories feature. Snapchat use among top influencers is down 33% according to Hubspot, and many of them have opted for Instagram instead.
This is an interesting one. Pinterest functions as a sort of online bulletin board which allows you to “pin” visual content that interests you or your audience. This platform sits on the opposite end of the “bells and whistles” spectrum from Facebook; it is inherently simple. It’s designed only for collecting and sharing content rather than creating it— and it works.
One thing that distinguishes Pinterest from other platforms is that its users are overwhelmingly female (80%)— although this is slowly changing.
Here are some other eye-popping stats:
Bottom line: Pinterest is best for posting compelling visual content that displays your brand and directs traffic toward your website. If women make up your target market (especially younger women), this is one to consider.
The most “professional” of all social media platforms (no silly cat videos here). Previously designed as a networking tool for job seekers, it is now common for businesses to create dedicated profiles as well. Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn allows you to share video, images, and written content. It also enables users to start their own LinkedIn blog associated with their profile.
Bottom line: LinkedIn has a more serious and professional atmosphere than other platforms, so it’s perfect for those who know that their customers are more interested in competence, data, and facts than flashy marketing. B2B marketers are strongly encouraged to look into LinkedIn.
While there are certainly other platforms we can explore, this should give you a basic sense of where your social media efforts will get you the most results. As always, success comes down to understanding your Personas and their behaviors, as well as a willingness to experiment. Check out our free Social Prospecting Workbook, full of easy to understand tips on leveraging the power of social media to grow your business.
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