Navigating the seas of social media is often a confusing and cluttered journey. With so many social media networks to choose from, you’re probably overwhelmed by choice or drowning in the responsibilities that each channel demands. If you’re wondering whether your brand or business should of shouldn’t be on Twitter, or whether it’s worth opening a Pinterest account, it may be best to take a step back and evaluate your social media strategy altogether. So, before you take on more than you expected, or worse, burn out completely, it’s time to focus in on the channels that will help you connect with your target audience, drive engagement and boost revenue for your company. You don’t have to be on every single channel. Choosing what works for your customer, your team and your resources will help you nurture relationships with authenticity, build trust, and convert when it comes time to sell your goods and services. How To Choose The Best Social Media Channels For Your Business Determine Your Target Customers Take Stock of Your Brand and Industry Analyze Your Existing Traffic Sources Determine Where Your Competitors Live On Social Figure Out What Type of Content Resonates Best With Your Audience Determine Your Social Media Goals Pick Your Channels 1. Determine Your Target Customers: Where Do They (And Their Friends) Hang Out Online? The first question to ask yourself is who makes up your audience and which social media networks do they use. If your customers spend most of their time on LinkedIn, setting up an Instagram channel wouldn’t help you much in reaching out to your target customer. Defining your audience in as much detail as possible will help you pinpoint where they spend their time online. Use your existing customer personas as a starting point and extend each of these to their online social profiles. The more detailed, the better. Ask yourself: Which networks do they use most? How old are they? Are they female or male? Who do they follow on these networks? What type of content do they interact with the most? What languages or jargon do they use? These questions are the starting points in determining exactly which networks to use. For best approximations to these questions, find real-life customer profiles, and take a look at how they interact with others online. Tip: If you’re a brand with a large customer base, connecting with them via existing social channels, or through a survey will be even more helpful in determining which channels to explore next. Free Ebook: Social Media Planning for professionals Carve hours out of your social media workflow. Read the Advanced Guide to Social Media Planning Success. 2. Take Stock of Your Brand or Industry: Which Channels Align With My Brand/Industry Values? Next, it’s time to consider your brand and your industry. Not all social media channels align well with your brand, industry, or the type of content that your audience will crave–or that leads them to convert. If you’re a B2C e-commerce beauty brand, Instagram and Pinterest’s visual interfaces will help you show off your products best, attract the right female audiences and give you greater freedom in terms of content creation. Not to mention Instagram and Pinterest’s e-commerce-friendly features that include product tagging, product pricing, and website linking. Ask Yourself: Are my products/services conducive to visually-driven channels? Am I a B2C or B2B? Does my brand produce enough visual content on a continuous basis? Are there non-mainstream social media channels where I could better target my consumer-base? 3. Analyze Your Existing Traffic Sources: Which Channels Are Bringing In The Most Traffic? If you’re an established brand, your traffic report is a great resource in determining which networks are already responding well to your products/services. Your Google Analytics Social & Network Referrals Search report provides you with a quick overview of which networks drive the most traffic to your site. If you were thinking of starting a Pinterest account, but LinkedIn generates far more traffic and conversions, then you may consider either starting a new presence there or increasing your publishing frequency. Ask yourself: Which social media channels generate the most traffic to my website? Which channels are responsible for the most conversions? What is the traffic pattern for each social media channel? For example, are Pinterest visitors dropping off earlier than Instagram shoppers? Do LinkedIn visitors spend more time on your site than Twitter visitors? Create a stunning Instagram feed your followers will love. Sked Social is your tool for designing your feed, growing your followers, and telling your brand story. Start your free trial 4. Determine Where Your Competitors Live On Social: What Can I Learn From Their Mistakes/Successes? Another helpful step involves looking at your competition. Determine which channels your competitors are using, and conduct further analysis into the performance of their social media strategy. If some channels aren’t performing well for several of your competitors, these may be networks you should avoid investing resources in. This simple step can deliver some of the most valuable insights and save you and your team a lot of expensive mistakes. Ask Yourself: What channels are your competitors using? What channels are delivering the most engagement? What content on each channel drives the most engagement for them? How often are they posting? Who are their followers? Is this the target audience you had in mind? (Tip: use this information to further inform your process in Step #1.) 5. Figure Out What Type of Content Resonates Best With Your Audience Next, it’s time to be realistic about the resources you’ll need to make your social presence shine. Building out a professional and consistent presence may involve more resources than you think. After examining your competitors’ channels, you now have a better idea of the type of content you’ll need to deliver for each channel and your posting frequency. From here, you can determine the time, tools, and talent you need to make it all come together. Again, if you have an existing audience that you can survey, asking what type of content they prefer is a great way to engage with them and show that you care about their needs. Ask Yourself: How many channels can I realistically take on within my budget? Do I have the time to consistently nurture and engage with my audience on one, or more channels? What social media scheduling tools do I need to save me and my team time? Do I have access to the right expertise to create the right content for these channels? 6. Determine Your Social Media Goals: What Do I Want To Achieve? The sixth step in this process involves determining what results you expect from your social media strategy. This crucial step not only helps you determine which channels to join (or skip), but it also helps you shape the type of content you develop for your audience. From here, you can easily determine the KPIs to start tracking from the start. Some of your goals may include increasing: Brand awareness online or offline Customer service Traffic to your website Conversions/revenue or leads Community building You may also like: How to Increase E-commerce Sales for Your Business With Instagram The Ultimate Up-To-Date Social Media Image Sizes Guide How To Prove Your Influencer Marketing ROI 7. Pick Your Channels Finally, it’s time to gather all of your answers and match them up with the channel(s) that will help you reach your target audience and achieve your goals. Not all social media channels reach the same people or deliver the same results. So, we’ve broken down each channel by content type, usage statistics, and pros and cons, to make your selection as easy as possible. Instagram Best content to post: High-quality images and videos. Instagram Story: Authentic behind-the-scenes footage customized with Story stickers, and interactive content. IGTV: High-quality vertical video, or longer behind-the-scenes videos and tutorials. Live: Q&As or live event coverage. Usage Statistics: Over 1 billion active users. Instagram sees high engagement from women, who use it at a rate of 39%, compared to 30% of men. Trails Snapchat regarding its popularity with teens. Engagement with teens on Instagram reaches up to 63%. Millennials exhibit regular usage of Instagram at a rate of 34%. Instagram Pros: Most popular social media network among millennials. Ideal for businesses that have highly-visual and immersive content. Optimal channel for businesses that produce a lot of videos. Easy to reach new and target customer via hashtags, follower list, direct message, and tagging opportunities. Instagram Cons: Organic reach is declining due to Instagram’s new algorithm. Can be difficult and costly to produce visual content on a consistent basis. Facebook Best content to post: Videos and content that are chosen specifically for your Facebook audience. Usage Statistics: 1.49 billion daily active users. Over 68% of U.S. adults use Facebook. 51% of them visit multiple times per day. Facebook has the highest engagement rate among college graduates — 77%. Facebook is particularly popular with populations in India, Brazil, and Indonesia. Among Facebook’s younger user-base (34 and under), 19% of them are male, and 12% are female. Facebook Pros The king of social media with the largest audience (1.59+ billion users). The most complete of all social media channels. Great reporting options. Facebook Cons Organic reach has plummeted in recent years. It may be difficult to cut through all the noise to reach your target market. Pinterest Best content to post: Vertical images that pertain to female audiences in the fields related to fashion, beauty, food, lifestyle or travel. Usage Statistics 50% of millennials use Pinterest every single month. Over 250 million people use Pinterest each month. 80% of new signups come from outside of the United States. 40% of pinners have a household income of over 100,000 per year. Of the 50% of millennials who use Pinterest, 50% of them have a household income of $75,000 or more. 22% of Gen Z (12 to 17 yr-olds) see Pinterest as a channel for “old people.” 98% of pinners seek out to find the ideas they find discover on Pinterest. Pinterest Pros: Easier to connect with strangers due to the network’s focus on sharing with like-minded people and businesses. A pin’s half-life is 3.5 months compared to a tweet’s 24-minute half-life, and a Facebook post’s 90-minute half-life. Pins are hyperlinked to their source, making it easy to drive traffic to your site. Users can follow all your boards or just specific ones. Typically higher conversion rates. Pinterest Cons: Copyright issues make it hard to re-pin the content of other users. The network attracts a niche user. Requires a high number of daily pins to see results. This is why a Pinterest scheduling tool like Sked Social is vital if you want to succeed on the channel. Twitter Best content to post: News link related to your brand or industry Company blog posts Gifs to add personality to your feed Twitter Usage Statistics: Twitter has 100 million active daily users. 80% of Twitter usage occurs on mobile. 12% of Americans use Twitter as their primary news source. 25% of U.S. male adults use Twitter, compared to 24% of female adults. 32% of users have college graduate degrees Twitter Pros: Effective for social customer service. Ideal for website content promotion, quick thoughts, and quotes. Twitter Cons: Given the high volume of tweets and the average number of people and brands that users follow, it can be difficult to reach your target user. Growth on the network remains stagnant. Difficult to communicate due to limited character length. LinkedIn Best content to post: Company news, professional resources, and articles, and job postings. Usage Statistics: 63% of LinkedIn members are between the ages of 25-54. The network is comprised of 50% female and 50% male users. Finance and medical are the two largest industries on LinkedIn. 43% of LinkedIn members currently hold a decision-making role. LinkedIn counts over 1.8 million groups. LinkedIn Pros: The optimal network to reach professionals. Not overly cluttered with noise. Opportunities to communicate directly with users on forums. LinkedIn Cons: Users are not the most active of users. Spam is prominent. YouTube Best content to post: High-quality, long-form video Usage Statistics: 1.8 billion monthly users. 70% of traffic on Youtube occurs via mobile. YouTube reaches more 18-49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S. The average session on YouTube lasts 40 minutes. 85% of teens (13-17) use YouTube. YouTube Pros: YouTube is the second-largest search engine after Google. Content can be up-cycled to be used on other channels. Videos are likely to be shared among friends and go viral. Google gives priority to YouTube videos in search. YouTube Cons: Demands quality, long-form video, which can be costly and time-consuming to create. Difficult to reach users directly. Snapchat Best content to post: Behind-the-scenes and interactive footage that showcases your company’s authentic culture. Teasers and exclusive content. Usage Statistics: 186 million daily active users. 71% of Snapchat users are under the age of 34. Demographic of users may be less brand loyal and more likely to follow trends. Users open Snapchat approximately 20 times per day. Snapchat Pros: Home to the most engaged users of any social media platform (via live streaming). Active audience. Available formats make content more appealing, organic and real. Snapchat Cons: Difficult to measure ROI. User-base is young with little to no income. Other social media networks you might consider include: Reddit Medium Qzone Weibo Ask.fm Tumblr VK StumbleUpon LiveJournal Over To You After you’ve selected your channels, it’s time to get started on planning, creating and publishing your content. We might be biased, but Sked Social helps you get the job done across Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and (soon) Twitter. Get started for free today with a 7-day trial of the all-in-one social media scheduling platform.