How to choose a social media platform for your business

Social media marketing must form an important part of your marketing strategy, if not the main one. But if you're going to use social media channels, the key is to use them well, and not spend time and money on platforms that aren’t the right fit for your business. Choose carefully so you can have them ticking over nicely, fostering brand awareness and generating leads. Here we take a look at the main social networks and their benefits for business, so you can decide which ones suit you best.

Facebook

This platform is the largest in the world with over 2 billion monthly users. The Facebook business page is an online space with high visibility. It's where you can showcase and share images, blogs, articles, videos, live broadcasts, competitions, or run a store to reach your followers. Use your page to gather reviews from clients and customers. Keep an eye on comments on your page - moderation is required to ensure you're providing positive and proactive customer service. Develop a robust strategy for your Facebook page for when to post and what type of content. Make sure you budget for advertising and boost posts to reach a larger and more targeted audience, as organic content is estimated to reach as few as 2 percent of Facebook users. Facebook is the perfect platform to build long-term relationships and give easy access to your products and services.

Instagram

Owned by Facebook, Instagram is growing in popularity, with about 700 million active users per month, and 400 million using their accounts on a daily basis. This platform has high engagement rates, and its visual appeal makes it a creative space for any brand to market itself. Videos, photos and stories, hashtags, filters and the ability to find and connect with people or brands of interest around the world make it popular. Instagram could work for you if you can create a constant stream of visually appealing content. The majority of Instagram users are 35 and under but this could change with time as the platform becomes more established.

Twitter

Use 140 characters or less to craft a tweet and reach a wide audience. You can draw new followers through thoughtful hashtag choices. Twitter is a sure way to offer direct lines of communication between the public and your brand - it’s a platform for customer service as you'll be responding to queries and concerns in real time. The 300-plus million users of this platform range between 18 and 50. Twitter also offers other features such as polls. You can link from your Twitter to your website, articles and videos. If you’re planning on using Twitter, consider scheduling posts in advance, but also tweet live posts to increase engagement and stay on the pulse.

LinkedIn

Whether you’re a sole trader, contractor, founder, director or an employee, LinkedIn is recommended for housing your professional profile online. It's a platform for networking that connects clients and potential employees. It’s also where many professionals can promote their unique skills and acquire work. With nearly 100 million users, it’s the place to be for professionals. You can create a personal profile or a business page with ease.

Google Plus

This is not as popular as LinkedIn, but it’s a great opportunity for your content marketing. When you publish a blog post or article on Google Plus, it ranks highly in Google search. You can present your business on the About page and link your business to a location which shows up on Maps in search engines. With business reviews as part of Google Maps, anyone can review your business online. You can create and join collections and communities with people who have similar interests to you.

Snapchat

Snapchat is a great way to connect with a group of subscribers (usually a younger audience aged 18-24). It allows you to send them direct messages, otherwise known as stories, in various formats - video, photo, text and audio. With fun filters, emojis and music, Snapchat can bring content to life. Create content specifically for Snapchat - if you’re looking for inspiration, follow big brands to see what they’re doing in this space. Take your audience on a 'behind the scenes' tour or treat your subscribers with a special offer, voucher or incentive, using a unique code in your message. You might like to align with an influencer to ‘take your account over' for a special event. Or sponsor them to promote your business through their account; it generates more interest and adds a different flavour to your content.