woman on social media on phone and laptop
Griffis advises choosing two or three social media platforms on which business owners should focus their time, expertise and energy. — Getty Images/Urupong

If you could create your own fantasy Board of Directors who would be on it? CO— connects you with thought leaders from across the business spectrum and asks them to help solve your biggest business challenges. In this edition, a CO— reader asks how to know which social media platforms to focus on.

Hailley Griffis, Head of PR for the social media management tool, Buffer, answers...

There are a lot of social media networks out there — well over 100! While most people aren’t on every one, I often see businesses creating accounts and trying to be present on several of the most popular social networks: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and Pinterest. But even being present and maintaining a presence on five social networks is a lot of work.

Back in June, I had the pleasure of speaking at the Small Business Series in Atlanta and one of the first things I mentioned is that I recommend that business owners choose just two to three social networks to be active on. Here’s why:

  • It’s less work for you!
  • You will pay more attention more to those social networks.
  • You will see more growth because you’re more focused.

Of course, if you’re limiting your number of social networks from over five to two or three, the question becomes how to choose which ones to use.

How to choose the best social media networks for your business

There are a few main steps to figuring out which social media networks will work best for your business.

Figure out your target audience

It’s hard to go to a social media network and then try to pull your target audience to you. It’s much easier to go to a social media network where your target audience is already hanging out. They’ve already created the habit and routine of being on that social media network, so it’s best for you to go to them.

If you don’t already know who your target audience is, here are some questions you can ask yourself:

  • Who is it that you’re trying to reach?
  • What is their age range?
  • What is their gender?
  • Are you looking for a certain level of education?
  • Are you looking for a specific income range?

Look at demographics for several social media networks

Once you know who you’re trying to reach, you can line that up with the demographics of the most popular social media networks.

Of course, there are a lot of people on all social media networks, but you want to look for trends. For example, if you’re primarily trying to reach teenagers, you can see that 72% of teens use Instagram — so it’s a safe bet that Instagram should be a part of your social media marketing strategy. Do thorough research to see what else you can learn about the specific demographics of each network you’re looking to pursue.

Each social media network has different things to offer other than its demographics.

Hailley Griffis, head of public relations, Buffer

Make sure the network lines up with your business

Each social media network has different things to offer other than its demographics. Instagram and Pinterest are very visual platforms. Twitter is primarily used for news, and LinkedIn is seen as a very professional network.

When you’re choosing the social media networks you want to invest your time in, make sure that their purposes and audience expectations of a business that is using that platform (e.g., regular photo and video updates for Instagram) aligns with your business and what you’ll be able to provide.

Look at your time availability

Finally, ask yourself how much time you are realistically going to be able to invest in creating content and then engaging with your audience on social media.

The secret to most social networks is that you get out of it what you put into it. If you’re able to come up with great content and spend time engaging with people in the comments, you’re more likely to see success.

I recommend committing to just two to three, but if you only have time for one social network then that’s perfectly fine as well. Commit to that one social network and focus on building your loyal following there.

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.

Published July 10, 2019