Which social media platforms are best for YOUR business? Three essential q’s to ask.

By Mark Wardell

Social media can be a highly effective marketing and PR tool. Talk to the marketing experts and you’ll learn about all kinds of new strategies that have emerged to help businesses reach their target audiences and connect with media online: platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube and LinkedIn.

As a business owner, it can be frustrating to determine which social media options are the best fit for your company. Every day, there are new articles explaining how each of these platforms can help you reach more customers, attract media attention and improve your branding. 

The following questions are designed to help you successfully filter your social media options and invest in the solutions that are best for you.

1. Does the platform complement your corporate objectives?

As with any change in the direction of your business, success comes when you carefully weigh your options against the corporate objectives of your company. To ensure that the decisions you make are wise, you need to have a solid grasp on your corporate objectives (immediate and long-term).

For example, Facebook, a stellar marketing tool for many, isn’t the right fit for every business. Many community organizations and consumer businesses are achieving GREAT success with Facebook. You’ve likely heard of companies like Starbucks, who reach more customers through FB than any other marketing effort. Starbucks’s corporate goals, however, are not the same as, for example, a service company like Wardell, where 90% of our business comes from referrals from existing customers. Facebook really isn’t a good fit for us. Instead, we’ve decided to channel our marketing efforts into programs that generate referrals from existing clients. As for social media platforms, Twitter and LinkedIn are best suited to our corporate branding and objectives.

2. Where is your target audience most likely to engage with you?

LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, YouTube and Blogging are just a few of the most popular social media platforms available for you to choose from. Chances are, your target audience will be using, and will want to engage on, one or more of these platforms—but which ones? And what types of information are they looking for? (vs. what you want to say.)

For example, an Engineering Equipment firm may want to use Twitter to reach the senior executives who buy from them. And there is a good chance those executives are on Twitter, but are they looking for product information in that space or are they going elsewhere when they want that information?

Do some research. Investigate which platforms your competitors are using to get a better understanding of what is working for others in your industry. You may be able to learn from their successes or failures before you invest time and energy into a new space. But don’t just investigate the competitors in your hometown; look at what very successful, global brands are doing and how they’re doing it.

Recently, a discount retailer we work with incorporated Twitter into their marketing efforts. They began by investigating the ways several international retailers were using Twitter successfully. Then they duplicated those strategies that best fit their objectives, such as tweeting special promotions and new products to their growing followers. Within six months, they have achieved a 9% average increase in their customer count on “special promotion” days.

3. Do you have the time to professionally manage the platform?

Remember, social media is about sharing information. When you enter a new space, you must be prepared to offer valuable industry information and engage in conversations with others in your industry and complementary industries, along with sharing your business information. To do this well requires time and creative strategy. Before you delve into it, develop a plan and make sure you have the resources to execute your plan.

If you don’t have time to do it yourself, can you afford to hire an agency or consultant to manage the social media platform on your behalf? And once you get rolling, it’s important to regularly measure your growth and success to make sure it’s worth your efforts.

Each of the most popular social media platforms is tailored toward different needs, creating diverse marketing opportunities for your business. You need to first understand your corporate and marketing goals (target audience, offering and objectives) before you choose the platform that will best meet your needs.

Mark is President & Founder of Wardell Professional Development (www.wardell.biz), an advisory group that helps business owners plan and execute the growth of their companies. The author of seven business books, Mark also writes regularly for several national business publications, including Profit Magazine, the Globe and Mail, and CGA Magazine. Email him at [email protected]


By Adam

April 06, 2012