Industry News

How to pick the right social platform

Sarah Blanchard
March 29, 2016

One of the biggest changes in marketing in recent years has been the explosion of social media. There are many different social media platforms to engage current and potential customers. While social media can be an incredibly useful tool for many companies, usage needs to be carefully regulated and monitored to prevent agitating your customer base.

Manage new social media platforms
From Facebook and Instagram to Twitter and Snapchat, there is no shortage of platforms available to companies looking to utilize social media. To best use social media, it is important to understand the function of the platform. Instagram, for example, is a mobile platform meant for sharing pictures. It can even be a little difficult to manage from a desktop computer.

Beyond simply understanding a platform, marketing practitioners will also have to create content that appeals to its intended customer base. Creating viral content is a thrilling and impressive enough accomplishment on its own. But a Facebook post with more than two million likes that fails to result in a single sale is ultimately a failure. To use social media effectively, it is extremely important to match the needs of your business with the interests of social media users.

Understand the platforms
According to Wikipedia, there are around 190 social media networking sites currently active on the Internet. Most of these platform are ones people have never heard of, such as Sina Weibo, My Opera, and Ravelry. The key to navigating which platforms are best for your business will involve a bit of experimentation but targeting a likely social media channel only takes some quick research. If you have a business that involves arts and craft or knitting, then Ravelry, an online social network dedicated to knitting and crochet, might be a good option for you.

General purpose social media networks, like Facebook and Twitter, should be used by most companies. These are the largest social media platforms and the ones most likely to host potential customers. Fortunately, use of these networks is fairly easy and requires a minimal time investment to operate successfully. It will be important for whoever is managing your social media to follow emerging trends with these networks, such as hashtags, new emojis, or memes.

Understand your business
Most companies will get some value and benefit from social media. The emphasis here is on the word “most.” For highly technical or niche companies, like those focusing on industrial products, social media will have limited impact on sales. Offering another channel for customers to engage with your business is always a positive but marketing departments at those companies should be wary of the time investment into social media. Another point to add is that if you have substantial issues with your customers, such as Better Business Bureau complaints or mishandled refunds, then your social media channels become a place for public complaints against the company.

Despite any issues with social media, it can be an amazing way to engage with completely new audiences. Industrial companies might have a piece of equipment that does something interesting. A picture of a 20 ton hydraulic press being used on potato chips was posted by an oil company recently on Reddit, a social network and content aggregator. This sort of successful post can yield millions of views. Clearly, social media can benefit business but understanding what’s interesting about your business can take some thought.

Cater content to customers
After you decide what you want to highlight on social media, you have to create content to post. For larger operations, this can involve a professional production team that includes writers, videographers, and graphic designers. Resource limitations can also guide which social media platforms a company chooses to engage with. Most businesses will not have the budget to invest in social media content. As a result, effective use of social media will take the right platform and a bit of creativity. Most cameras on smartphones do a serviceable job of taking pictures or recording video for social media posts but posts like these can falter on Instagram or Pinterest, where professional photographers and other creatives post their work. Giving content a little bit of thought and attention can be the difference between a successful social media campaign and a lot of wasted time.

Sarah Blanchard is a Houston-based writer focusing on the financial and payments industry.