Think Outside the Box When Choosing Social Media Platforms

social-media-donutsFor those of us who spend our days working in the social media industry, the influx of information about new offerings for our clients can be overwhelming at best. And for those who don’t live it day in and day out, it can be paralyzing. There are so many social media platforms to choose from when preparing your strategy that it’s hard to know how or where to begin.

The good news is that there is no one way to tackle this task. You might be thinking, “That’s not good news! It would be much easier if there was ONE SIMPLE PATH to follow.”

Now, I agree with you there. It would definitely be easier if we could all follow a simple, predefined social media strategy for our brands and organizations. And you can rest assured that there are some social media best practices that all organizations and brands can follow when getting started in this space. But for your organization’s efforts on social media to truly pay off, those efforts have to be customized and unique to you. Even more important than that, they have to be tailored to fit your audience.

So with all of the social media platforms out there, how do you choose? Your decision must come down to two elements:

  1. Your Audience
  2. Your Content

Your Audience

The most important element for choosing a platform for your social media efforts is figuring out where your audience is and reaching out to them in that place. This place might not be where you initially expect, however, which is why researching this step is so important.

I could make arguments that all brands and organizations need to have a presence on the major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+), but I’m just not convinced that’s true. You should spend your time and monetary resources where you will get the most bang for your buck, end of story. Not all organizations need a Facebook page or Twitter profile – while other brands will be defined by their news feed.

Think outside the box with your audience: LinkedIn and Snapchat

Let’s say you have two new clients. One is a manufacturer of industrial air filtration products and one is a restaurant chain known for their chicken wings. Each client wants to begin with just one social media platform and is looking to you for a unique idea to help them get started.

My initial thought on each of these organizations is that they are so different and therefore need incredibly different platforms. In this case, defining their audience (professional vs. consumer) will help to define what path will lead them to the people who want to hear from them.

For your air filtration company, utilizing a platform like LinkedIn to target a professional and business-minded community is a great first step. Targeting individuals and companies in similar industries will be key to their success. LinkedIn can also be utilized as a lead generation tool, as its lead generation capabilities far exceed Facebook and Twitter by 277 percent.

The obvious choice for the wing joint would be to set up a Facebook page. But instead, why not try a newer platform like Snapchat? With 30 million active users, Snapchat is the 3rd most social app among users ages 18-34…which is exactly the demographic this client wants to reach. And once you meet them where they are, instant gratification with coupons, specials, and new wing sauce flavors will be a huge hit with this audience.

Your Content

After your audience, the next most important element to choosing the right social media platform for your brand or organization is your content. For some companies, content strategy takes a backseat to defining your audience; however, organizations with a highly visual product or a journalistic spin have some exciting options when it comes to choosing their social platforms.

At the outset of your social strategy, take time to focus your attention on where your content will fit best. Visual content will work better on certain platforms while written content will work better elsewhere. There are so many options – defining what type of content is best for your client will help narrow down your choices when the time comes.

Think outside the box with your content: Medium and Instagram

YAY YOU! You just onboarded two new clients: a non-profit organization that provides health services to underserved rural communities and a jewelry designer who sells products on Etsy. Again, two very different clients who are new to social media and asking you to be creative in your approach.

Facebook and Twitter might be appropriate for both of these clients, but thinking specifically about the type of content you could create for them, what other unique platforms exist that meet your needs?

For the non-profit, Medium is a still relatively new platform that offers great exposure (not to mention a beautiful user experience!) for no cost. Medium isn’t a traditional social media platform in the same way that it isn’t a traditional blog – both of which add to its appeal.

Your non-profit organization has a lot of information to provide to in the written form about how to help: how to help the organization, how to help the community, how to help make a difference, period. Using Medium as a platform to disseminate these messages will set up your non-profit as a thought-leader and help spread the message of the organization’s mission. A great example of this is startup non-profit Possible Health, who used Medium as a platform to write about their mission, culture, and accomplishments.

On the other hand, with a visually appealing product like jewelry, utilizing a platform that allows for photo sharing is a must. For your jewelry designer, Instagram will allow you not only to post beautiful pictures of the products, but to target your audience through discovery with hashtags. According to a recent marketing report, Instagram has the most engagement and the highest conversion from browser to shopper compared to other social networks. You can also encourage your audience to share photos of themselves and your products with you – a great way to get some user-generated content as part of your social strategy!

Do you have any out of the box social platforms that you’ve tried recently? Considered using Meerkat for a new client? We’d love to hear about it!

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