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June 24, 2021 - If you are struggling to determine which of the countless social media channels your business should include in your marketing strategy, you can take solace in the fact that you are not alone. Every business today needs to decide where it makes sense to invest time and energy when it comes to social media, and with so many options to choose from, it can feel overwhelming.
Some businesses try to solve this dilemma by trying to be everywhere at once. This typically results in poor performance across the board and leads to staff burnout. Instead, it is much more productive to be selective about where you focus your strategy so that you can maximize your efforts and meet your audience where they actually are.
In this article, we will walk you through steps that you can take to discover which social channels make the most sense for your business.
Steps to effectively selecting your social channels:
- Establish your goals
- Identify your audience
- Determine which social media channels align with your brand/industry
- Analyze what your competitors are doing
- Pick your platforms
- Bonus: Paid or organic?
Step 1: Establish your social media goals.
Now you need to ask yourself what you are hoping to accomplish with your social media strategy. This will help you determine which key performance indicators (KPIs) you should be tracking and which social channels are best suited to help you achieve your goals.
Which of the following do you hope to achieve with your social media strategy?
- Increase brand awareness
- Generate leads
- Gain customer loyalty
Your answer to the question above will help inform what you should be tracking. For instance:
|Goal||Key Performance Indicator (KPI)|
|Brand Awareness||Followers, reach, impressions, engagement, share of voice|
|Generate Leads||Website traffic, sale revenue, conversion rates, non-revenue conversions (i.e. newsletter signups, gated content downloads)|
|Customer Loyalty||Cost per lead, issues resolved, word of mouth|
Of course, no audience is monolithic, but having a mental picture of who you are trying to reach is crucial to determining where to meet them on social media.
Step 2: Identify your audience.
If you have already done the work of creating customer profiles, they will come in handy during this step. If it has been a while since you visited them, dig ‘em out and dust ‘em off because they will make this process a lot easier.
If you haven’t done an audience identification exercise before, the following questions will help you get an idea of who you should be targeting. Of course, no audience is monolithic, but having a mental picture of who you are trying to reach is crucial to determining where to meet them on social media.
- How old is this person?
- What is the gender of this person?
- Where does this person live? (Think deeper than “Oregon” or “Florida”. Try to paint a picture of where this person lives. Does this person rent a studio 200 feet from the freeway in East Los Angeles? Does this person own a three-story home with a fenced backyard and a swing set in the Chicago suburbs? Does this person live in a Craftsman six-bedroom house on a 200-acre farm in Maine?)
- What is the education level of this person? (Did they graduate from college? Do they have a Ph.D.? Did they drop out of high school and immediately enter the workforce?)
- Where does this person work? What is their role at the organization?
- How does this person speak? (Formally or informally? What kind of jargon do they use?)
- Who might this person follow on social media? (Celebrities--which ones? Politicians--which ones? Meme accounts? Just their close family and friends?)
As you answer these questions, you should start to visualize exactly who you are trying to connect with, and you might already have some ideas of which social media channels this person spends most of their time on. For example, meet James:
James is a 43-year-old male living with his wife and no children in a two-bedroom home he inherited from his family in the liberal mountain town of Boulder, Colorado. He is the sustainability director at a successful organic dishwashing soap company. He speaks formally in work settings but is quite casual in day-to-day conversations. He spends a good amount of time on LinkedIn as he is responsible for hiring the growing sustainability department. On Twitter, he follows the U.S. Department of Energy, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and the Denver Nuggets. He’s had a Facebook account for a while but doesn’t remember the password and isn’t bothered to try to find it. He has an Instagram account but he never posts and doesn’t engage much other than liking his wife’s posts.
If you are in the business of selling commercial solar and you want to target James on social media so your company can install solar on the roof of the new organic dishwashing soap warehouse, on which platform(s) would you focus your efforts?
What social platforms make sense for you? These questions should help you find out.
Step 3: Determine which social media channels align with your goals.
Some social media platforms just make sense for certain businesses. For example, Instagram and Pinterest are a natural fit for beauty brands or landscaping companies given the highly visual nature of their service.
But what if you own a commercial paper shredding company or you produce lithium-ion batteries for electric vehicles – what social platforms make sense for you? The questions below should help you find out.
- Are you B2B or B2C? (Are you selling to another business or a household?)
- Does your product or service lend itself well to visual representation?
- Is the nature of your product or service complicated or difficult for the average person to understand?
- Is your customer base extremely niche? If so, are there non-mainstream social channels where you might find them?
Step 4: Analyze what your competitors are doing.
A good next step is to take a close look at how your competitors are using social media. This will help you understand where they are succeeding and where they might be having a hard time. The goal here is not to duplicate your competitors’ social media strategy; the goal is to analyze their successes and failures in order to inform your own unique strategy.
When exploring what your competitors are doing on social media, take stock of:
- What channels they are using
- Which channels seem to have the most engagement
- How often they post on each channel
- What types of content they are sharing (video, images, infographics, etc.)
- What types of content get the most engagement
When exploring the strategies of your competitors, try to be realistic about your own content creation capacity. For example, if videos are clearly your competitor’s highest performing type of content, but you have no video production resources, you might need to explore a different angle or find outside help for video creation.
When exploring the strategies of your competitors, try to be realistic about your own content creation capacity.
Step 5: Pick your platforms.
You should now have a solid understanding of:
- Who you are trying to reach
- Which channels work well in your industry
- What is working (or not working) for your competitors
- What you hope to accomplish with your business’s social media strategy
Now it is time to pick which social media platforms make sense for your business. Here is a breakdown of some of the current leading social channels to help you determine what might be a good fit for you.
Overview: Character-limited, news dense social media platform that is an excellent tool for B2B marketers.
- 353 million active monthly users (up from 54 million in 2010)
- 28.9% of Twitter users are between the ages of 25 and 34
- 42% of Twitter users have a college degree
- 17% of Americans get their news from Twitter
- Good for sharing company news and industry news
- Easy to reshare relevant content
- Effective tool for providing customer support
- Character limit impedes detailed communication
- Audience targeting can be tough given the high frequency of posts
Overview: Large user base and access to scary amounts of personal information make this platform a social media advertiser's dream come true.
- 2.8 billion active monthly users
- More than half of global Facebook users are 18-24 (23.8%) or 25-34%
- 42% of US teens use Facebook, but only 2% would choose it as their favorite app
- In 2020 Facebook came in last in a survey assessing how much users trust tech companies with their personal data
- Well established platform with a number of functionalities
- Robust targeting options and reporting capabilities
- Organic reach has plummeted in recent years
- Trust from users has also diminished significantly
Overview: Hyper-visual social media platform that is popular among millennials.
- As of January 2020, there are nearly 1 billion Instagram users
- 25-34-year-olds make up the biggest audience, followed closely by the 18-24 age group
- 81% of users say they use the platform to research products
- 36.2% of B2B decision-makers use Instagram to discover and research new products
- Great for businesses with highly visual content
- Stories offer the opportunity to share behind-the-scenes and interactive content
- It can be hard to post regularly if your business doesn’t naturally lend itself to quality videos and images
- On-platform link use is limited
- Advertising requires use of Facebook (they are the owner of Instagram)
- Smaller business accounts don’t have access to all of the features larger ones do (such as the swipe up feature in stories)
Overview: Professionally-oriented and great for sharing company and industry news/updates.
- 310 million active monthly users
- 50% of internet users with a college degree or higher use LinkedIn
- LinkedIn makes up more than 50% of all social traffic to B2B websites and blogs
- 6 out of 10 users actively look for industry insights on LinkedIn
- The general audience is more professional than on other social media platforms
- LinkedIn can be a great place to find promising candidates when you’re hiring
- It is less cluttered than other social media platforms
- User base is not particularly active
Need social media support for your clean energy business?
There are plenty of additional social media platforms that might make sense for your business and might be worth researching after following steps one through four. This includes YouTube, Pinterest, Reddit, TikTok, Clubhouse, and many more.
What to learn more about how to select and leverage the right social media platform that will benefit your clean energy business? DG+ has experts who can help you elevate your marketing strategy with a targeted approach to social media.
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