Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, and LinkedIn are all channels with large amounts of users, and they’ve proven that they have staying power. But which should you use and how can you make sure your posts are as effective as possible.

1) Be Realistic. Before you determine which channel(s) to focus your marketing efforts on, you have to be realistic about your time. Do you have an employee you can put in charge of your social media presence? You’ll need someone who can create content for you to post, curate content from others to share with your followers, and interact with your followers when they comment or ask a question. This time adds up quickly.

2) Find Out Where Your Audience Spends their Time. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and Pinterest all have their strong suits, but first you need to find out which platform your target audience uses the most (here’s an in depth look at social media usage demographics) and whether one channel is more obviously suited to your business. Instagram and Pinterest are highly visual social channels — perfect if you sell products that you can promote in a visual way. Both offer the option to sell through their apps. While Instagram boasts more users, Pinterest users are active and loyal. It’s a channel that’s worth looking into, especially if the items you sell are unique. Twitter moves away from the strong visuals, although pictures and videos can be shared in a tweet. Twitter users tend to check in on the platform frequently, usually multiple times a day. Many larger companies handle customer service concerns on the platform, and users have come to expect this. Prompt responses here are key. Facebook is a mainstay platform. Nearly seventy percent of adults in the United States have a Facebook page. Since many people use Facebook primarily to keep in touch with friends, it’s very important to make sure the content you post and share is highly relevant to your followers — Facebook’s algorithm will filter out irrelevant posts or posts that they deem to be too promotional. If you’re in a B2B industry, your top pick will almost certainly be LinkedIn. This platform focuses exclusively on the needs of professionals. Unlike other social media channels, long form content performs well on LinkedIn, so don’t be afraid to discuss an important industry topic in depth.

3) Do your Research. By now you may have a better idea of which social platform to focus on based on your industry and the demographics of your target audience. To make sure you’re on the right platform before you start spending valuable resources, do a little research. The easiest way to conduct this research would be to see who “likes” you on the platforms you’re currently using and see what else a few of them are “liking” as a reference for their interests. Find out who your target audience is following on Instagram. Many Pinterest boards are public, so see if you can find a board with similar pins to what you offer in your store. If you’re focusing on LinkedIn, take a look at what people in your field are posting. Even better, do a search for your company across any of the social channels you’re interested in to see if any people have mentioned your business in a post. This should give you any insight into the current sentiment towards your brand or company.

4) Start a conversation. Always be aware of how you want your brand to sound and find a voice that suits you. A lot of companies try to be humorous, especially on Twitter, but if this isn’t your style, don’t sweat it. Most social media users simply want to feel heard and get a polite response from a company. It’s far more important to be authentic to your brand. When you start posting on your chosen social channel, respond to as many comments as you can. When someone praises your company, acknowledge it and thank them for sharing their experience.

5) Invest in Your Posts. Every social channel has an algorithm to give their users a good experience, and while they all allow businesses to create accounts and post to promote their businesses, the algorithms filter out many promotional posts. The best way to get around the algorithm is by monitoring your organic posts to see which ones are generating the most interaction. Promote or boost these posts to get them in front of a wider audience. This is likely less expensive than you think. The cost of any advertising campaign varies greatly on your industry, the platform you’re using, and whether you are paying on a cost per click (CPC) or cost per impression (CPM) basis. You can also easily set an advertising cap to make sure you don’t go over budget.

Using social media as a business marketing tool is literally a full-time job. At Zephyr Digital Design, we’re more than happy to help you navigate the world of social media. Reach out to us if you’re interested in coming up with a social media strategy for your company, or for any of your other marketing needs.