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How to choose which social media platforms to be on

Its tempting to think that your brand needs to be on all of the social media platforms all of the time. But do you really? Probably not.

 If you are working as a professional digital marketer, then you do at least need to know how all the different platforms work. That way you can recommend the best one for each of your clients. But for individual brands or businesses, quality should trump quantity. Its better to pick one (or two) social media channels and do them well rather than trying to be everywhere all at once.

Before we look at how to choose which social media platforms to be on, heres a super quick primer on the main ones out there.

Facebook – One of the originals, Facebook, now owned by Meta has been around since 2004 and has around three billion users worldwide. Its popularity has waned a bit, but its still one of the most popular platforms in New Zealand with around 73% of men and 82% of women using it. Algorithm changes have made it more difficult for businesses to reach the right people.

Instagram – Founded in 2010, Instagram, also owned by Meta, is a visual platform focusing mainly on image and video sharing. You can easily share posts or stories but it has limitations such as not being able to add clickable links to captions or comments.

TikTok – TikTok launched in 2016 and took the world by storm with its video content. Videos can be up to 10 minutes long depending on how you film and upload them, but short and sweet (up to a minute) seems to do best. The platform has spawned a number of trends.

LinkedIn – LinkedIn has been around since 2003 and was once considered only helpful for listing your profile and CV. But in recent years, its grown in popularity and has around 2million users in New Zealand.

Twitter – Twitter was founded in 2006 and become immensely popular as a micro-blogging platform with users sharing updates in short tweets. More recently Twitter has made changes under new owner Elon Musk and has lost some of its appeal.

ThreadsAlso owned by Meta and linked to Instagram accounts but for text updates rather than photo sharing, Threads is the new kid on the block and has become known as Metas attempt to kill Twitter.

How to choose the right social media platform for your brand - five questions to ask

Who are your customers?

There’s no point being on a platform if your customers aren’t there to see you. Look at the demographics of your target audience – age and gender –  or survey your current customers to see where they hang out. Then you can match your social media choices to your audience’s preferences.

If you are working as a freelance digital marketer, this research into target markets should be part of your brief with each new client so that you can tailor your social media advice accordingly.

What are your products or services?

Think about whether your products create good visual images or whether you are trying to get across detailed information about a service or want to create a brand via thought pieces.

Which social media channels are your peers or competitors using?

We aren’t suggesting that you just copy exactly what your competitors are doing. But seeing where they are and what sort of posts get traction, can help you see what works and what doesn’t. Then you can incorporate this into your own strategy.

Do you want to do paid ads alongside organic social media?

If you want to supplement your organic posting with boosted posts or paid advertising, then look for a channel that allows you to create a combined marketing strategy.

Do you already use social media platforms for personal use?

While it is important to make sure you are hanging out in the same places as your customers, if you are doing your own branding, it’s still worth thinking about which platforms you personally prefer. If you can market using a social media platform that you like and find easy to use, then you might be more likely to post regularly.

Once you have answered these questions you can start matching them to the right social media platform. For example:

  • Instagram works especially well for visual businesses – like retail stores or food-based businesses. But with a little bit of creativity and design skills in a programme like Canva, almost any brand can create usable content.
  • Facebook works for most types of business because it is used by a range of people. Plus you can integrate Facebook Messenger to offer another communication channel.
  • Older audiences are more likely to be on Facebook – it’s much more popular with people in the 50-69 and 70 and over age groups. If you want to target a younger demographic then Instagram and TikTok are the way to go.
  • TikTok relies on video so you either need to have good products to film or have business owners or team members who are willing to be on camera.
  • If you are networking mainly business to business or trying to build a professional personal brand, then LinkedIn is a place where posts are more business focused and a better place to connect with the right audience.
  • Because Facebook and Instagram are both owned by Meta, you can easily combine paid ads campaigns to run across both channels.

Should you jump on new social media platforms early?

Sometimes it feels like there’s a new social media channel or an existing one has changed almost every week. It can be hard to keep up as a business owner, or a digital marketer with everything that’s going on. So should you jump on every platform as it comes along?

Jumping on a trend early can have benefits but there are also pitfalls. You can get ahead of the game by building a following when it’s easier on a new platform, but a lack of features or issues with early development may hinder you.

Threads for example, exploded out of the gate on launch. But in the weeks following, enthusiasm has waned. A lack of key features and issues with accounts meant people didnt see the results they expected and usage has dropped off for now. There are also teething problems, like the fact that the app hasn’t launched in Europe due to privacy issues. While Threads may yet become a hot new platform, most businesses, especially smaller ones, probably aren’t missing out by waiting to see how it develops.

If you are a digital marketer, then you should keep up with trends and be able to explain whether they will work for your clients. So you might want to join a new platform earlier than other people to test it out. But if you are doing social media marketing for your own business, it doesn’t hurt to wait and see how things pan out.

When a new platform comes along, take a look, assess it and only jump if it’s a really good fit.

 If youre in charge of social media for your business and you want to really nail it, then we have a range of short courses that will help you. Or, if youd like to take things further and set yourself up as a fully-fledged digital marketer, then sign up for our Diploma of Digital Marketing.

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