A woman wearing a blue-and-white polka-dotted shirt looks at an open laptop with a smile.
Social media sites are good channels to pursue for customer outreach, but it's a good idea to look into who uses which channels and how those users may interact with your brand. — Getty Images/fizkes

In our Startup 2021 series, we're helping aspiring entrepreneurs navigate the new business climate of the COVID-19 era. Each week, we'll share an in-depth look at one step you can take toward launching your business in 2021.

If you're interested in utilizing social media in your marketing efforts, it's important you choose the right channels to promote your small business.

Each channel has its unique strengths for customer engagement. Here's how to decide which ones are right for your brand.

[Read more: Best Social Platforms for Content Marketing]

Identify (and find) your audience

For any marketing strategy to be successful, you need to know your target audience. Demographics are a start, but figuring out exactly what your customers are looking for and how they attempt to get it will help you plan an effective social media presence.

For example, a customer looking for no-frills products with quick purchasing has different expectations and habits than a customer interested in artisan creations. Your customers already use social media. Find them, and look at how they’re using channels to meet their needs. Then, choose one customer-friendly channel to utilize in depth. Your customers will appreciate quality social media engagement over efforts that are spread too thin.

Consider your industry

To decide which social media channels are the best for your business, consider how your industry shapes your online presence. Because the culture and audiences of social channels vary, each can be better suited for certain kinds of businesses and customers.

For example, because Facebook allows a variety of media and quick engagement, it is well-equipped for a B2C company marketing strategy. However, it doesn’t provide the best networking experience to support B2B companies’ efforts even though it has more users than any other channel. B2B companies may find better results using LinkedIn, which focuses on sharing industry knowledge — a space for thought leadership.

As you look into the channels that suit your industry and audience, pay attention to how your competitors are utilizing social media — and how their audiences engage.

Define your goals

Because it takes time, effort and money to put a successful social media strategy into action, it’s important to give your social media presence a clear goal. Social media isn’t a repetition of what you already offer. Your activity should improve something in your overall marketing strategy.

A major strength of social media is its ability to increase brand awareness. By providing customers with easy-to-consume media on platforms they also use for leisure, you build comfort and familiarity.

Social media can also be useful for generating leads and improving customer engagement. Once you decide which goals are best for your business, consider the types of media and customer interactions that will support them to help you decide on social channels.

[Read more: How to Build a Brand on Social Media]

Research your competitors

Discovering your place on social media will also give you insight into your competitors. As you look into the channels that suit your industry and audience, pay attention to how your competitors are utilizing social media — and how their audiences engage.

Aside from learning where you stand, spending time researching competitors’ social activity will show you which media is most relevant to your customers. Once you understand what works best for them, you can look into how the tools offered by different social channels can leverage your brand.

Understand the different platforms (and their uses)

Here are some takeaways about the most popular channels:

  • Facebook: With the most users and a variety of accessible media tools, including livestreaming, Facebook is versatile and well-known.
  • YouTube: Because it allows videos of almost any length and appeals to all age groups, YouTube is a good choice for businesses with content (e.g., instructions) that customers want to see demonstrated.
  • Instagram: This channel also focuses on visual content, including creative and live video options. It’s helpful for businesses showcasing aesthetics.
  • LinkedIn: This focuses on professional networking and has many users in later stages of their careers. It’s a good source of B2B leads.
  • TikTok: This newer channel has the youngest audience, so it’s worth considering for teenage customers. It has video features similar to those of Instagram.
  • Twitter: Twitter is the platform for trending topics and real-time updates. Like LinkedIn, its users are older, and it can be useful for public relations.

CO— aims to bring you inspiration from leading respected experts. However, before making any business decision, you should consult a professional who can advise you based on your individual situation.

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Published October 04, 2021