people on social media with emoji faces

So Many Social Media Platforms, So Little Time

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you know social media is an indispensable part of branding. The major drawback for many business owners is lack of awareness of all the various platforms and how they work as well as a lack of understanding about how to best utilize them.

Gone are the days when your only options were Facebook and Twitter. Also gone are the days when they were merely platforms for hooking up or sharing gossip and pictures of your lunch.

Business leaders are looking for hookups of a different nature. We want to reach out and build sustainable, long-term relationships that translate to conversions and customer loyalty. In order to do this effectively and put your human and other resources to good use, it’s important to put your efforts into platforms that move your brand forward and produce the kind of social proof that breeds credibility.

Not all companies have a full-time social media manager on staff. In the absence of in-house expertise, you need a primer that will explain each platform and how you can put it to use for your business.

The Tweet or Not to Tweet (and When)?

The concept of social proof is nothing new. We’ve always been prone to public pressure and compelled by the fear of missing out. But, in order for social proof to be effective, it must be authentic and spontaneous.

Your social media strategy should have three goals:

  • Driving more traffic to your website
  • Raising brand awareness among your target audience
  • Reconnecting and engaging with your current customers

Of course, there are many more social media platforms and ways to leverage them than ever, and how they work is constantly evolving. Some platforms are new, such as Tik Tok, and others are still finding their voice. Time will tell if they’re viable for marketing and outreach or just passing fancies.

For the scope and purposes of this article, we’ll focus on how best to analyze social media platforms and incorporate them into your marketing strategy.

Match the Platform to Your Audience

While some platforms have climbed to the top and remain a strong social media force, the demographic of their followers changes over time. Your core audience may be active on multiple platforms at once, but for different reasons and to a different degree.

No one has the time for hit-or-miss strategies. Analyzing demographic patterns and trends will allow you to reach your audience wherever they are in their journey from awareness to close.

Actionable objectives:

  • Create a list of all platforms available to you
  • Compare this to a list of platforms you’re currently using
  • Use analytics and reporting agencies like Pew Research and Google to measure demographic trends for each platform
  • Assign a score to each platform based on metrics like existing demographics relative to your core audience, likelihood of this demographic changing, and conversion potential

Evaluate Each Platform According to Activity

You may only be using one or two platforms at present. But, if you have any measure of awareness for consumer trends and activities, you’re at least cognizant of where people are congregating online. When these people are part of your core audience, you’re missing a great opportunity to build brand awareness and reach new customers.

This is another area where analytics and reporting come in handy. What you’re looking for in this case is organic activity. It takes more time, but gaining an organic following is more sustainable over the long-term.

Actionable objectives:

  • Evaluate your current platforms to identify trends
  • Look at a demographic analysis of platforms you’re considering
  • Make a determination about where to place more effort based upon the results of your analysis

Rank Platforms by Alignment With Your Core Content

At their base, social media platforms work as distribution channels for your message. Done right, they build product awareness and drive traffic. However, not all social platforms are created equally.

Companies without products that benefit from visual content wouldn’t go far on Pinterest or InstaGram. However these would be ideal for promoting a fashion or lifestyle brand. If you’re a corporate recruiter, consider reaching out on LinkedIn or Quora.

The objective here is to match the platform to your content. You can learn more about unfamiliar platforms through websites like Buffer.

Actionable objectives:

Do the research necessary to understand platforms, formats, and core audiences. Tailor your content and outreach to match these platforms whenever possible, but do it in a way that’s genuine. Seasoned consumers can spot a phony from a mile away.

Evaluate Platforms by Potential for Longevity

The last thing you want to do is tie your brand to a fad that’s hot today and gone tomorrow. Many challengers have tried to put Facebook out of business, but none have made a dent in their demographics.

It’s difficult to tell how long a platform in development will be around, so this can be a little tricky. The best way to proceed is carefully.

Actionable objectives:

  • Learn how each channel handles advertising. Is it all paid, all organic word-of-mouth, or some combination? It’s best to put your marketing budget into established platforms with a successful business model and modest effort into organic outreach until a platform becomes more than just a passing trend.
  • Determine whether features you prefer in a newer platform are likely to still be around in a few years
  • Try to match your company’s long-term goals and values with that of platforms you’re considering

Final Thoughts

Audience engagement is not a one-time or one-platform activity. In order for it to be effective, it’s important to understand how each platform works within the context of its own audience and capabilities. That will allow you to tailor your approach and set goals that are actionable and measurable.

When you’re ready to improve how you connect with your audience, reach out to our marketing expert to discuss your social media outreach strategies and challenges.

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