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Channel Surfing: How to Evaluate Which Social Media Channels Are Right for Your Brand

Kevin McKernan

For many of us, social media channels are so much a part of our daily lives, that we don’t really remember a time without them. In reality, social media as we know it today didn’t exist until 2002 with the introduction of Friendster, followed by MySpace. While those two may not have stood the test of time, other networks that were introduced in the early 2000s, notably LinkedIn and Facebook have, leading the way for more platforms like Twitter, Pinterest, Tumblr, Instagram, Snapchat and others.

While all of these platforms are different, the one thing they all have in common is they allow brands to use their platforms to promote their products and services—which is good and bad news.

If social media has taught us anything it’s that just because you can post something, doesn’t mean you should. This is true for both those using social media as a way to stay in touch with family and friends, as well as for brands looking to stay connected to their customers.

Here are 5 questions to ask yourself before taking a deep dive into any social media channel:

1. Is my brand B2C or B2B?

As you already know, marketing to a consumer audience is much different than marketing to a business audience. And this rule is particularly true when it comes to marketing on social media.

Many B2C brands find success on channels like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube, Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat. B2B brands often find the most success on more professional networks such as LinkedIn. However, it’s not uncommon to also find B2B brands on YouTube, Twitter, or even Instagram.

The type of business you have will shape the channels you choose to be on. That’s not to say a B2B couldn’t create a Pinterest account and a B2C brand couldn’t create a LinkedIn page. Just ask yourself, would your audience expect or want to see you there? What benefits would you provide your customer by being on that channel?

2. What is the age range of my audience?

Each social media channel attracts a certain age range and thus should have an influence over which channels you choose to promote your brand. If your products appeal most to those who are 40+, would you want to invest in posting content to something like Snapchat? Probably not.

Percentage of Users by Age

18-29 88 59 34 36 36 56
30-49 84 33 33 23 34 13
50-64 72 18 24 21 28 9
65+ 62 8 20 10 16


Source: Pew Research Center
 

3. What types of content do I have the resources to create?

Certain types of content are better for some channels than others. For example, written content can be easily shared on platforms like Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Pinterest and LinkedIn. However, this type of content is more difficult to share on something like Instagram or Snapchat, which relies heavily on more visual content.

Before establishing your brand on a new channel, make sure you have the ability to regularly create content specifically for that channel. Your decision to market on that channel is simple: If you don’t have the resources to regularly create the appropriate content for a channel, don’t join it.

4. How often am I willing to post content to a social media channel?

No matter what social media channels your brand is on, you want to make sure you’re posting with some level of frequency. However, that level of frequency can vary, as the lifespan of content can vary from channel to channel.

For example, content posted on Twitter has an estimated shelf life of about 5 seconds. This means brands should post with a much higher frequency on this channel than they would on LinkedIn, where there is far less noise and posts have a shelf life ranging from days to weeks.

When considering a new channel, think about how much is appropriate to post each day, each week, or even each month. Then make sure you’re willing to invest the time needed to keep up with that cadence.

5. What is my goal for being on a particular channel and is it in line with my overall marketing and business objectives?

Every marketing initiative should have a goal and play a role in achieving a grander business objective. If you’re struggling to come up with a goal that fits into that larger strategy, that social media channel may not be right for your brand.

Make sure you are not only willing to formulate both a short-term and long-term strategy for any new channel, but that you feel you’ll be able to follow it and achieve some value from it.

When social media first came on to the scene, many marketers didn’t anticipate the impact it would have on both brands and consumers. Not wanting to be left behind, many brands have joined channels where they are unable to maintain a valuable presence. The early bird may catch the worm, but if it doesn’t do anything with it, being an early adopter won’t pay off; abandoned or neglected social accounts can degrade a brand’s credibility.

Social channels will continue to proliferate, so it’s important to always remember to determine the value of the channel to your target customers before you decide to dive in. While joining a social media channel is free, the time you need to create and post resources for it are not. Make sure any channel you join is worth the effort and provides real value to both your brand and your customers.