Choosing the right social platforms for your business.

 
04 October, 2019

To succeed on social media, you need to be where your customers are and engage them with the right content and targeting. But with so many social media apps out there, how can you find the right one for your business needs?

With this in mind, here’s how to choose the right social media platforms for your small business.

 

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Questions to consider when choosing your social media platforms.

Before you start creating your company’s Facebook page or Twitter account, there are a few questions you should consider to weigh up which platforms are right for your small business. These help you evaluate “what is the point of social media for my business?”, identify where your customers are spending time online, and how you can most effectively reach them for the best results.

Who is my target audience and what social media platforms do they use?

The number one goal of social media marketing is to reach and engage with your customers online. Because of this, your social media efforts should be concentrated where your customers spend the biggest chunk of their time. 

The simplest way to do this is to look at the demographic data for each social media platform (which you can find in the 2018 Yellow Social Media Report), and match this with your business’ target audience. For example, younger customers tend to spend the majority of their time on Facebook, YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, whereas professionals spend a lot of time on Twitter and LinkedIn.

How much reach are you likely to get?

There’s no point in creating great content if nobody sees it! That’s where reach comes in.

Just because a large amount of Aussies are on Facebook doesn’t mean you’ll be able to reach them (at least, not without paying for it). Each social media platform has its own algorithm for distributing and discovering content, which determines the possible range of people your posts can reach. Instagram and Twitter allow you to reach a wide audience using hashtags, while others like YouTube appear in search engines results. Others like Facebook and LinkedIn limit the reach of your posts to those in your direct or indirect network.

What are my competitors doing?

Your competitors are a useful benchmark—and if other businesses in your industry are on Instagram, chances are you should be too.

Consider the following:

  • Which channels are they posting on?
  • What type of content are they creating?
  • How many followers do they have?
  • How are fans interacting with the brand online?

Once you understand these, you can use this information to decide if this platform suits your needs. 

How much am I willing to invest?

Social media for small business owners is different from a large brand, and one of the main challenges you’ll face is investment—and that goes beyond just marketing money. Managing a social media page is hard work and requires time and effort, especially when it comes to updating content, keeping up to date with social media trends and communicating with your followers. In this instance, it’s important not to bite off more than you can chew.

Before diving headfirst into a new social media platform, take a look at the resources available to you. This includes who will manage your social media page, how you’ll create content, and how much paid advertising budget you have.

What advertising options are available on the social media platform?

According to the 2018 Yellow Social Media Report, one in three small businesses now pay for advertising on social media. Social advertising helps your content work harder and reach more people, which in turn improves your brand awareness and conversion rate.

When it comes to social advertising, some platforms have more sophisticated targeting options and deliver better return on investment than others. Mature platforms like Facebook have a comprehensive suite of paid advertising tools, including sponsored posts, page recommendations and even in-app messaging. On the other hand, YouTube has a range of paid marketing features including pre-video and in-video advertising, and sponsorship opportunities with big YouTube celebrities or channels.

Remember to also consider the data and social media analytics tools that are available for you to work with. Facebook and LinkedIn, for example, are treasure troves of data, which gives your business more possibilities to target ads to reach the right people at the right time.

Which are the best social media platforms for small businesses?

Once you’ve considered all of the points above, it’s time to narrow down your platforms. While you can get incredibly niche in your social media marketing, chances are you’re probably considering one of the main apps on this social media list:

  • Facebook
  • YouTube 
  • Instagram
  • Twitter 
  • LinkedIn
  • Pinterest

So how do they all work, what are their social media advantages, and which one should you choose?

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Facebook.

Facebook is the most ubiquitous social media platform out there, regardless of a person’s age or gender. Over 91% of all Australians are on Facebook, and almost half of all Facebook users check the platform daily. 

At its core, Facebook is a tool for people to stay in touch with their friends and family, follow the brands and businesses they like, and create groups based on hobbies or interests. Facebook users generally get updates via the newsfeed, which shows posts to users based on their interests and previous engagement with that page or person.

For small businesses, Facebook offers affordable and comprehensive advertising options from sponsored posts to paid page recommendations, as well as great social media analytics. Because so many people use Facebook regularly, the platform has plenty of data to help brands narrow down their target audience, such as marital status, interests and age.

Facebook also has the Messenger feature where users can private message friends or businesses. Messenger is the most commonly used messaging app in Australia.

Cost of investment: While it’s possible to use Facebook without spending on ads, you might not reach that many customers. This is because fans have to follow your page to see your content. If you have a small fan base to begin with, you’ll need to invest some money into Facebook ads to be seen. The average cost-per-thousand (CPM) views on Facebook is $7.19 but the cost-per-click (CPC) is quite low at $0.97. About $250 for a 4 day campaign should get you quite a bit of reach. 

Who should use it? Almost everyone is on Facebook, and the platform still has a strong community-like nature. Because of this, Facebook is best if you’re running a local business-to-consumer (B2C) business and you want to stay in touch with your customers. If you’re a florist, tradie, cafe, hotel or retail brand, Facebook is the way to go. Adore Tea Australia and the QT Sydney are some of the examples of local businesses that get Facebook marketing right.

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YouTube.

YouTube is the world’s most popular video sharing site where users can watch and upload videos for free. Australians spend over 21 hours every month on YouTube, browsing through a treasure trove of content that includes product reviews, how-to videos, news reports and more.

Anyone can browse YouTube without an account, and users can search for videos using YouTube’s search bar. Based on viewing history, YouTube also provides video recommendations on the homepage or side bar when videos are playing. 

One of the best things about YouTube videos is that they can be embedded into blog posts or websites, and shared across other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter. YouTube videos also appear in Google searches, which increases the likelihood of content being discovered by users.

Cost of investment: Unlike Facebook, users can search for content on YouTube and stumble across your videos organically. This means while you can choose to pay for advertising, it’s not a necessity. On YouTube, the average cost per thousand views is around $10 and the cost per click is $3.21.

Who should use it? YouTube is all about telling stories and providing value through mid-length to long-form video content. It’s great for businesses with a product that people want to understand better.

If you’re a personal trainer or physio, for example, you could post videos of exercise tutorials (like Fitness First Australia). If you’re a local painter or plumber, you could post videos that show your business in action. DIY videos are also hugely popular on YouTube, so if you’re in a trade based business, you could create a series of videos with simple DIY tips, for the smaller jobs that don’t need a professional to attend. 

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Instagram.

Instagram is an image and video sharing site where users can post pictures and short clips. Like Facebook, Instagram users follow the account of a brand or individual, and content from these accounts appear in a newsfeed. However, they can also discover content using hashtags on posts.

A third of all Australians are on Instagram, and the platform tends to be used by more women than men. Instagram works best for brands with visual content, such as travel, lifestyle or food businesses. 

Brands can advertise on Instagram using sponsored posts, much like Facebook. It’s also handy to remember that Instagram is owned by Facebook, and many users link both accounts together. 

Cost of investment: Instagram’s average cost per thousand views is slightly more expensive than Facebook’s at around $7.91 and the cost per click is much higher at $3.56. However, ads here generally get much higher engagement because of Instagram’s highly visual nature, so you don’t need to spend as much to make an impression.

Who should use it? If you have a beautiful product, Instagram is definitely the way to go. Instagram users love food, travel, fitness and fashion, so for local restaurants, cafes, hairdressers, retailers, photographers, personal trainers or travel advisors, Instagram is perfect for you. Brands like Bondi Sands and Flight Centre are great examples of businesses that market effectively on Instagram.

pinterest logo

Pinterest.

Pinterest is like a digital scrapbook where users create boards and ‘pin’ pictures they like to the board. It’s a highly inspirational platform, with users curating boards for topics like weddings, bucket list destinations, home decor, hairstyles and more. Pinterest is predominantly used by women in Australia, with 31% of females using the platform compared to 11% of males.

As a brand, Pinterest is a great place to post inspirational content and get traffic back to your website. Unlike Instagram, Pinterest has a function that allows you to link every post back to a web page. Advertising on Pinterest is done by sponsoring pins which will appear in search results.

Cost of investment: Because of its highly targeted and niche user base, Pinterest is much more expensive than Facebook or Instagram with a cost per thousand views of $30 and a cost per click of $1.50.

Who should use it? Because of its niche user base, Pinterest is best suited for businesses who know their customers prefer to do a lot of research before committing to a purchase. Wedding businesses, hair salons, food-based businesses, furniture, home renovations and landscaping work particularly well on this platform because they’re heavily inspiration-based. 

twitter logo

Twitter.

Some of the world’s biggest influencers and celebrities are on Twitter, sharing their opinions and content with the world. Users on Twitter have a newsfeed where they get updates from the accounts they follow. However, like Instagram, content is also discoverable using hashtags.

Twitter is all about timely and concise content. Each post on Twitter is limited to 280 characters, making it the perfect social media platform to consume bite-sized information. It’s also great for engaging with journalists and other businesses.

Twitter has plenty of ad options, including in-video advertising and newsfeed advertising. However, the targeting isn’t as extensive as platforms like Facebook or Instagram.

Cost of investment: Twitter is the cheapest platform to invest in, with a cost per thousand views of $6.46 and a cost per click of $0.38. 

Who should use it? Twitter is great if your business needs to regularly update customers on your products or services, or if you regularly respond to customer service requests. Innocent Drinks and JetBlue are two brands that use Twitter effectively to keep their customers in the loop.

linked in logo

LinkedIn.

LinkedIn is a little bit more niche, but for B2B business and professional services it’s a gold mine. With LinkedIn, you can connect with other professionals, join industry groups, look for jobs, or share business-related content. LinkedIn is used by professionals across the country, with a quarter of all people aged 18-49 saying they’re on the platform. 

Although it’s a professional networking platform, LinkedIn’s advertising options are pretty extensive. You can advertise on the newsfeed or side bars, or use Sponsored Inmail to get in touch directly with key decision makers. Targeting is also spot-on, because the platform knows a lot about their customers, such as their job and industry. 

Cost of investment: LinkedIn has one of the highest advertising costs of any platform, with an average cost per thousand views of $6.59 and the average cost per click is $5.26. Unlike the other platforms out there, LinkedIn calculates CPC and CPM in its own way. If you’re running ads on a cost per click (CPC) model, LinkedIn includes any clicks on your company name, company logo or your content. If you’re using cost per thousand views (CPM), these are counted when ads are “visible for at least 300 milliseconds with at least 50% in view on a member’s device screen or browser window” (it’s a mouthful, we know).

Who should use it? If you’re a business that markets to other businesses (B2B), you should definitely be on LinkedIn: think legal firms, accounting firms, recruitment agencies, or property management. HubSpot is a great example of a B2B business that hits the nail on the head when it comes to LinkedIn marketing.

Above all else, remember this about social media marketing.

The social media definition for each small business is different. However, regardless of which platform you’re using, you should fuel it with great content and the right targeting and paid advertising support. 

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