What Platforms Do I Use?
Before you can succeed on social media, you have to pick the platform that is right for you. That is why I’ve focused this week’s blog on picking your platform.
By now, you seen my “cheat sheet” graphic, where I give you the very short version of each platform’s strengths and weaknesses. If not, here it is:
You’ve also probably seen the latest episode of Social Media Minute, which explores this subject. If not, check it out!
I am not trying to beat a dead horse here. Selecting the appropriate platform for you is just THAT important.
Now that we’ve explored the strengths and weaknesses of the different social media platforms, let’s get to my recommendations. Though my recommendations will always take a specific organization’s needs and audience into account, my general thoughts are below.
I’ll rarely advise against creating a Facebook page. Facebook has the largest audience, and though it is not growing as fast anymore, that is largely because most people are already on Facebook. Facebook now serves as the front line of many people’s communications strategy, and has become a “second website” for many organizations. Facebook also has the most economical paid advertising plan, and is great for building a community. It is a “medium maintenance” social media website, and requires at least a post a day.
Twitter is a bit different. Twitter as an organization has had major problems the past two years, and has struggled to pull themselves out of a nosedive. While they seem to have stopped the bleeding for now, there are more downsides to Twitter than upsides. I do not recommend a Twitter account unless you are hiring (or have hired) at least a part time social media coordinator. My reasoning for that is that Twitter is incredibly high maintenance. Due to the dynamic nature of Twitter’s newsfeed, you HAVE to post 5-7 tweets a day (at minimum) to stay in your follower’s feeds. You also need to do major and frequent interacting with your community at large in order to grow; that means tweeting at people, “liking” relevant tweets, and following people in your community. Twitter has some compelling upsides though: it’s great for getting out breaking news, it has the highest reach of all the social media platforms, and one tweet can propel your social media strategy if it “hits” right. My advice would be to tread carefully, but invest in Twitter if you have a dedicated social media coordinator.
Instagram used to be the “new kid on the block,” but has settled well into its position amongst the top tier of social media sites. In fact, most social media professionals consider Instagram to be one of the “big three” social media sites, along with Facebook and Twitter. Normally, if an organization has a dedicated social media coordinator, I recommend investing in all three of these platforms. Instagram has become positively essential for lifestyle brands. Though it can be initially hard to grow a following, once you do, you will see a dedicated and loyal fan base. Be warned, however: if you don’t put the proper effort into Instagram, you will not grow. That means following relevant accounts, frequent commenting, and always, always interacting with your followers. If you don’t do that, Instagram can be like living on a deserted island: lonely, non-social, and ultimately, not sustainable. That said, Instagram is a medium that requires a ton of initial upkeep, but then relatively little maintenance. (I advise my clients to post once a day.) My recommendation would be to invest in an Instagram presence after you invest in Facebook.
Ever since Snapchat exploded on to the social media scene in 2011, people have been forecasting that this medium is “the next big thing” and that it would “take down Facebook.” While that hasn’t quite happened yet, Snapchat has represented an incredible trend towards “Dark Social Media”- where users opt to share an article, picture, or video privately with a friend rather than publicly on conventional social media outlets. Snapchat’s growth hit a bit of a snag once the company went public, and though it has 166 million worldwide daily active users, Facebook recently rolled out features on its main app and on Instagram that directly compete with Snapchat. The jury is still out on whether or not Snapchat will ascend to the level of the “big three” – however, I think it is a medium that companies CANNOT afford to ignore. If you are a restaurant, lifestyle brand, or retail institution, you need to get on Snapchat. Advertising your Snapchat presence is largely through conventional means (putting your QR code on menus, handouts, or near your cash register is the best way to grow), and the analytics are non-existent. Ultimately, these two hang-ups might be enough to sink Snapchat, but for now, that’s where the people are, so you should be too.
What about LinkedIn, YouTube, Flickr, SoundCloud, or Periscope?
That could be a separate blog post entirely. The short answer is: these social media sites are great for hosting content, but aren’t particularly social (LinkedIn and YouTube being the notable exceptions for specific organizations). This blog is already long enough though, so we’ll talk about that in a separate blog in the coming weeks!