DIGITAL – Why you don’t need to be on every platform

Amy White, founder and editor of Social Butterflies, an online magazine for entrepreneurial, digital-savvy women, is a digital marketer and editor who specialises in producing quality content for consumer brands. With over 16 years’ experience working in editorial and account management, she spent her twenties working for Guardian News & Media in various editorial roles before moving to its in-house creative agency. Amy project managed a huge variety of lifestyle supplements and websites for the Guardian and the Observer. Now living in Bristol, Amy works as a freelance consultant and offers a range of digital marketing services: content marketing, digital strategy, social media, influencer outreach, WordPress, branding, SEO, email marketing and analytics.

 

 

As a small business owner do you feel overwhelmed by the time and effort spent maintaining your social media accounts? Then I would recommend carrying out a social media audit to ensure you’re getting the most out of them, and that you’re not wasting your time in the wrong places. Check you are using the right platforms to reach your audience and producing the best type of content for each platform. It’s a myth that you need to be on all social media platforms. But don’t take my word for it – do some research and ask yourself some basic questions:

  1. Which social media platforms do your potential and existing customers engage with most often? Analyse your own data and use social listening tools.
  2. What do you want to communicate? (sell a new product, tickets or share some news).
  3. What type of content will best achieve your business objectives? (blog post, podcast, video, newsletter etc).
  4. Which platform would be best suited to the type of content you want to share?

Think about all these factors when you consider which is the best platform for distributing content and what that content will be. But don’t rely on anecdotal evidence to guide your social media strategy, pay close attention to your data. Google Analytics will tell you which social media channels direct traffic to your website, but how you then measure a successful conversion depends on the goals you set. For some businesses it might the sale of a product, for others it might be someone downloading an eBook or filling in a subscriber form. Also check each individual social media platform’s insight data – this will tell you which posts received the most impressions, reach, engagements etc.

Once you have gathered and interpreted the data then you can start to build an accurate picture about what has worked and what hasn’t. It’s all about testing and adapting when it comes to digital marketing. There are certain known factors when it comes to your audience (age range, gender, location etc) but it can’t give you information about sentiment and opinion, so you have to use your judgement and be prepared to adapt around real time events.

 

What’s the magic number?

It would be impossible to give a definitive answer about how many social media platforms to use as every business is unique, but as a rule of thumb I would suggest sticking to around three and adapting and honing your content by analysing your data and evaluating engagement from your audience. The top three would be Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, but depending on the nature of your business you might also use Pinterest, YouTube, LinkedIn and Google Plus. But remember, it’s time consuming trying to get valuable engagement on social media so don’t spread yourself too thin.

Try to think about each what each platform can bring to your business and your audience. Each has its own distinct set of strengths and weaknesses, so consider this when planning your strategy and content. Below I have outlined each platform’s individual characteristics to help you make a judgement. All of them allow you to setup a business account, which gives you access to extra functionality to help generate sales, increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website and collect data.

Instagram:

A curated photographic portfolio that represents your brand’s identity. It conveys your brand’s style and personality, like a shop window for your business. Increasingly businesses use the caption to micro-blog about a subject and direct people to the URL in the bio section. It’s a great tool to increase brand awareness and you can use the Instagram Stories function to show ‘behind the scenes’ of your business and use filters to add personality. It’s harder to get people to share your content on this platform, as people are protective about the aesthetic of their accounts, so Facebook or Twitter would be better for mass sharing.

Facebook:

Still the most popular platform, probably because people use it in their private space. You can choose who views your posts and whom you are ‘friends’ with. As a result people tend to share content that is reflective of their personalities and private opinions. Anything thought provoking or emotive will be popular here: video content, articles and opinion will get a lot of engagement. As it is less curated than Instagram it tends to be a place people are happy to share more freely.

Twitter:

A great public forum to share news and updates about your business. Being limited to 140 characters also means you have to express your message succinctly, so you can practice honing the core of your marketing messages. Customers will often use Twitter as a customer service tool, so be prepared for to be publicly accountable. However, if you are looking for a quick, low effort form of social media then Twitter is a great place to start.

Pinterest:

A visual scrapbook that you can order into groups. Think of this platform as a mood board for your business: a great way to showcase your brand’s visual identity and ‘pin’ images that inspire you. This platform is a must for creative that want to showcase their work and connect with other businesses.

LinkedIn:

The professional business platform, which is particularly useful for service based businesses. It allows you to connect with people you’ve known throughout your career: past, present and future. You can share blog posts and news and become a thought leader in your industry. Plus you can communicate and engage with your business connections to increase brand awareness and generate sale leads.