The short answer is: it depends. Each social media platform has its unique features and advantages and disadvantages, and each one appeals to different users. So, the right applications for, say, a pet supply retailer will be very different from those that are appropriate for an IT outsourcing firm.
Social media generally can be a great promotional outlet because it’s often free (though you may need to hire someone to make the best use of it), it’s timely, and it encourages two-way participation that can engender trust and loyalty and even support your product or service development. It can also help you reach a large number of people, given that a vast majority of adults have at least one social media profile (and many have two or more).
Use the descriptions and guidelines below to reevaluate the social media platforms you’re currently using and add new ones if any seem like a good fit.
As the most widely used social media platform, Facebook is a good promotional choice for many businesses. You can get attention through both quality content on your profile and advertising. The platform’s advertising mechanism is highly granular, enabling you to target users by age, gender, employment status, interests, purchasing history, relationship status, and more.
- You sell to consumers, not businesses.
- You have a social media advertising budget.
- You understand your target market very well.
Hugely popular Instagram is another great bet for many businesses, especially those with camera-loving products for sale. Like Facebook, you can promote your offerings both from your profile and through the site’s advertising option. Because Instagram is owned by Facebook, the advertising engine has the same beneficial features.
- Your products look great in photos or videos.
- You have the capacity to post regularly without being redundant.
- You enjoy interacting with established and potential customers.
This highly popular microblogging site also provides the opportunity to generate both shareable content and ads. You can use texts, photos, or videos, as well as links to other content. Twitter is famous for its use of hashtags, which enable potential customers looking for something specific to easily find you. You can also use hashtags to directly contact users who may be interested in your offerings.
- Your content is well suited for frequent posting.
- You want to use a combination of media types.
- Your messaging includes a bit of fun.
YouTube is a video platform that allows any user to create a channel to display its content. The possibilities here are nearly endless. You can use videos to demonstrate a product or idea, explain a concept, show customers using your offerings, or just entertain your viewers. YouTube also has the advantage of being the second-biggest search engine next to its owner, Google.
- Your content is well-suited to a video format.
- Someone on your staff has good
- You want the flexibility of having both a profile and an advertising option.
Technically, LinkedIn isn’t a social media site. It’s a business networking site, but you can still use it to promote your business, especially to other businesses. As with most other platforms on this list, you have the option of promoting your offerings by posting relevant content on your profile and using other features on the site or by using the advertising mechanism.
- Your target customers are businesses rather than consumers.
- You want to place ads based on job titles and other professional criteria.
- You’re comfortable with online networking.
Because many people use Pinterest boards to plan weddings, outfits, home remodels, crafting, meals, gifts, vacations, and more, it’s ideally suited for companies that sell products related to those projects. By far, most of the people who use the site are women. Pinterest has the added benefit of a shopping feature that allows users to click to buy right from the site.
- Your offerings are targeted to women.
- Your offerings are commonly “planned for” by customers.
- Your offerings are camera-friendly.
Snapchat was one of the first apps to offer disappearing messages, making it useful for private messaging. The Story feature enables users to leave content up for 24 hours. These in-the-moment features and fun interface appeal to the mostly younger users who make up its demographic. Snapchat is another platform that supports photos and videos very well.
- Your target audience is young (18-35).
- You have someone on staff who understands how to use it.
- Your offerings are well-suited to photos and videos.
Relatively new on the scene, TikTok is a video platform in which uploads are limited to 15 seconds. With more users than Twitter, LinkedIn, and Snapchat, TikTok is hugely popular with young users, specifically those in Gen Z. Content on the platform is often entertaining, so users are receptive to advertising that reflects this vibe.
- Your target market is Gen Z.
- You have someone on staff who understands the platform’s discourse.
- Your content includes a whimsical element.
If social media hasn’t worked for you in the past, consider trying different platforms, which may offer more benefits for a company of your type.
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