Choosing the Best Social Network for Your Business

Social media presents a dilemma for many business owners. They know they should invest in it, but they often find that limited resources makes active participation in social networks a challenge. Before jumping into the social media game, it’s important to realize that it’s quality, not quantity that matters. That said, you should focus your energy on the social networks that you can actively participate in and that are going to provide the biggest return for your business in terms of engagement and value. If that’s just one network, that’s okay.

At this point, you’re probably thinking “That’s all well and good, but how do I figure out which network is right for me?” Here are a few pointers to set you on the right track:

Know Your Goals

This is one of the first things to consider when you’re choosing a social media network. Ask yourself what you hope to achieve with social media and how you want your community to interact with your brand. These goals could include driving website traffic, promoting content, and generating brand awareness. When you define your goals first, you’ll gain a better understanding of the types of activities you’ll need to engage in on social media and the networks that will be most successful for you.

Know Your Audience

One piece of advice I often give clients is to go where their customers are. If a large number of your customers are on Facebook or Twitter, it’s probably worthwhile to participate in those networks. In contrast, if you’re on Twitter but your audience isn’t, you’re probably wasting your time. Think of it as shouting in an open room and hoping someone hears you. You want to use social media to engage with the people that are already listening. You may already have an idea of which networks your community uses, but if you don’t, consider doing a little online research or asking your customers directly.

As a side note, I almost always recommend Facebook to clients simply because of its number of users. It’s true that the game has gotten a little more difficult for brands lately, but there are still a lot of people on Facebook, and I personally think most users expect their favorite businesses to have a Facebook page these days.

Know Your Competition

Spend some time researching your top competitors. Which networks, if any, are they using, and where are they getting the most engagement? Checking up on your competition can give you a good idea of where your community is most active and which content is most valuable to them. Keep in mind that you should look at your competitors that are doing social media “right,” meaning they are active on their networks and have an engaged community.

Match Social Networks to Your Products or Services

This one is mostly common sense. Think about the features and capabilities of different networks and try to match those to your product offerings or services. For example, if your business relies heavily on visuals, Instagram or Pinterest might work best for you. If, on the other hand, you’re a marketing company offering industry advice to clients, LinkedIn might be a better fit.

Think Realistically

Throughout this process, it’s also important to think realistically. If you set the bar too high for yourself, it’s easy to go off the rails. Carefully consider the types of social content you can produce and the amount of activity you can generate given the time and resources you have available. When you take the time to plan ahead and find the network that matches your goals, your audience, and your capabilities, you’ll set yourself up for social media success.