What’s the best social media platform for business? I get hit with this question a lot, and while there’s no perfect answer, I thought it might be helpful to lay out a few ideas.
Define Your Social Media Goals
In true marketing fashion, I’ll answer the question with a question: What is your social media marketing goal? Obviously, what you are trying to accomplish has a big impact on which platform makes the most sense. Or perhaps it’s not so obvious: firms that are not familiar with social media, or use it to play FarmVille, don’t always grasp the nuances of the various sites. Generally speaking …
- For lead generation, LinkedIn is a good option for forging high-level contacts and obtaining powerful referrals. Twitter and Facebook work better for consumer and small-ticket items.
- For creating brand awareness, my default recommendation is Twitter, because it’s the fastest and least expensive way to reach the greatest number of qualified contacts.
- For building brand loyalty, Facebook is the clear choice, at least for the moment; it remains to be seen whether Google+ can muster a challenge. For now, companies with an established following can use Facebook in a multitude of ways to turn buyers into believers.
- For establishing thought leadership, it’s a tough call, so I’ll dodge the question by recommending a company blog. A blog serves as a social media anchor and provides an onsite platform for creating high-value content. Sharing that content across multiple platforms is then the most effective way to build your reputation.
- For SEO, Google+ is the place to be, for sure. Not surprisingly, content and shares on the Google-owned platform deliver the best SEO bang for the buck.
- For customer service, Twitter is an excellent option if a firm’s customer base hangs out there, reason being, it’s easy to monitor conversations and respond in real time.
- For recruiting, LinkedIn is in a class by itself.
Find Out Where Your Community Lives
Throw everything I just said out the window if your natural community (i.e., customers, prospects and/or referrers) isn’t hanging out on the preferred platform. For instance, we’ve had clients that can’t wait to get going on Twitter, but it turned out to be a bad option because they were on alien territory as far as their industry was concerned. It happens — but by doing a little research ahead of time you can get a decent handle on a platform’s potential for you.
Along these lines, it’s very important to distinguish between customers and prospects. A lot of firms dismiss the idea of social media because their existing customers, whom they know, are not using social media. However, they lose sight of the fact that many potential customers are using social media; by joining in, these firms can cultivate entirely new marketing segments. What seemed like no opportunity sometimes turns into a very significant opportunity. So even if you sell niche products or services such as XXL leather work gloves or non-profit credit card merchant accounts, it pays to explore.
Finally, it’s always wise to consider potential referrers in your strategy calculations. Even if customers and prospects are not terribly active in social media, there may be an army of active users in a position to recommend your firm. This is a powerful way to use social media and one that is too often overlooked.