How Many Social Media Channels Should You Be On?

Social media is now an imperative part of any marketing plan. However, there are questions about how to best use social media to reach your business goals. An often-asked question is:

Should I have one social media account, or should I divide my efforts among many channels?

Not surprisingly, the answer is, “It depends.” To get to the root of the question, and thus to find the right answer for your business, you must back to the basics. And it all starts with knowing your customers.

Back to Basics #1: Who Are Your Customers?

The argument for multi-channel marketing has become simpler as the number of outlet has expanded. It is no longer enough to have a static website and hope that potential customers find you. You need to go where your customers are, get your brand and message in front of them, and give them a reason to purchase. To figure out where your customers are, you need to determine who they are. This requires that you answer some questions.

  • Are your customers other businesses or are they consumers?
  • Do you sell one specialty product, or do you offer multiple products or services that appeal to different market sectors?
  • If your customers are consumers rather than other businesses, what is their average age?
  • Are they online shoppers or do they usually buy through bricks and motor outlets?
  • Is your business national or local?
  • How much do they buyers usually spend every month, quarter or year?

The more you know about your customer, the more effective your social media marketing strategy will be. Once you know who they are, you can focus your single or multi-channel social media strategy on the channels where those customers are most likely to find you.

Your social media strategy should be informed by what you do and whom you are trying to reach. One size does not fit all.

Back to Basics #2: What Do Different Social Media Channels Offer?

Once you determine who your customers are, you need to decide what channels you should use to reach them on social media.

  • There is Facebook, with 1.86 billion users each month (1.2 billion are active daily users). What do we know about Facebook? Facebook users are somewhat more likely to be female. They are most commonly in the 25-34 age range.
  • Instagram is great for sharing visuals. At a tradeshow? Sponsoring an event? Get your brand out there using Instagram—there are 600 million users.
  • LinkedIn is the best way to connect with other businesses and like-minded professionals.
  • Pinterest is another platform for sharing photos, often turned to by women in search of home remodeling ideas, recipes, fashion and more.
  • Twitter is a more of-the-moment platform. Push content, retweet, and publish news of interest to your target audience.
  • Yelp allows you to highlight customer reviews that have credibility because real customers write them. The important thing is to have as many Yelp reviews as possible so that negative reviews do not stand out. You may have to develop strategies to entice your customers to review your business or its products.
  • Google owns YouTube, so posting your videos on YouTube is a great way to get visibility for that content in Google’s search engine.

Back to Basics #3: Choosing the Best Social Media Accounts for Your Business

How do you choose the right channel or channels for a social media campaign? One way is to check out statistics about the different platform and their users.

The highly respected Pew Research Center reports statistics on social media use According to the Pew Social Media Fact Sheet on the same site, 69 percent of the U.S. population now uses some type of social media. If you are unsure where to start, perhaps these rules of thumb may help:

  • If you are marketing to businesses only, be sure you are on LinkedIn and any industry-specific websites, online discussion groups and professional blogs that invite participation.
  • For consumer-oriented businesses, consider at least one channel in addition to Facebook, especially if your target audience skews to younger generations.

Another way to determine the best approach is to hire a consultant. A specialist with knowledge of your industry and the marketplace can develop a social media campaign that focuses on the right channels to accomplish your specific goals.