Running a business means being readily available to your customers. The rise of social media has made much easier to engage with your customers in terms of marketing, after-sales support and product research before they make a purchase. However, these days there are quite a number of social media platforms to choose from and it can be very tricky choosing the right one.
Rise of Social Media
Social media usage has risen astronomically in the past decade. It’s impossible to find the exact number of all social media sites. Partly because some are more popular in specific countries. Research done by ourwordindata.org says Social media became mainstream in the early 2000s with the then giant MySpace. MySpace was the first social media platform to achieve more than a million active users. Since then, Facebook has carried the mantle with these statistics suggesting it has achieved 2.3 billion monthly active users. Other popular social media platforms can be seen in the chart below.
Choosing The Right Social Media Platform
1. Choose By Numbers
If your goal is to reach as many people as possible, then you should use the number of active users as your decision-maker. Facebook would be your best bet here with its 2.3 billion monthly active users. In Kenya, Facebook’s potential reach according to its ads platform is 7.8 million, excluding users under 18 yrs of age. For Instagram, it reports 1.8 million. However, Facebook’s ads can be extended to Instagram.
2. Nature Of Your Product
The social media platform to use for your business could be influenced by the nature of your product. If you are selling items that are better illustrated in pictures, like shoes or clothes, then you need a platform optimized for image sharing like Instagram and Facebook. YouTube would be favorable for products that receive a lot of reviews and demos.
If you are providing a service, say accounting or filing tax returns, then LinkedIn would be a better place to be. Also, consider if your product needs social proof to encourage new customers to buy. In this regard, you could consider Facebook since it allows users to review business pages. Better reviews can influence more sales.
3. Target Market
Different social media platforms appeal to different users. Some are more popular in specific countries and some are used more by people is a specific age group. Facebook has the widest market simply because they’ve been at the scene so long it’s hard to ignore them. Instagram and Snapchat appeal more to the youth and LinkedIn more to professionals.
4. Your Competition
Sometimes in business, it pays off keeping tabs on your competitors. It may seem counterproductive but sometimes copying your competitor can end up being beneficial for you too. As long as you don’t make it obvious. If your competitor business is making great strides on Instagram or Twitter, as opposed to Facebook, then it could be a sign that Facebook might not be favorable for your type of business.
5. Ease of Use
Like everything else, ease of use of the platform comes into play. As a business, you want to be able to view, in as much detail as possible, the performance of your business page. On the other hand, your customers are not on social media just to be customers. For them, their priority is interacting with their friends. Therefore, as a business, you would have to choose the platform that has a balance of the two. Facebook also has one of the easiest to use messaging features. Although other social media sites have ways of allowing users to communicate with one another, very few come close to Facebook Messenger.
Overview Of Popular Social Media Platforms
Below are some pros and cons of popular social media networks if you plan on using them for business.
- Facebook ads are easy to setup
- Largest audience reach
- Easy customer interactions
- Informative analytics
- Optimized for different devices
- Advertising budget can be high to beat the competition
- Privacy concerns may keep customers away
- Easily integrates with Facebook
- Great appeal for picture-based communication
- Highly effective for mobile devices
- Appeals to the younger generation than Facebook
- Difficult to share links to external sources
- Being created for mobile means reaching desktop users is difficult
- Ability to create your own trend using ‘#’ tags
- Your audience can easily share your content
- Use of influencers is highly effective
- Visibility might not always lead to sales
- Your word content is limited to a certain number of characters sometimes making it hard to effectively convey your message
- Depending on your competition, you may require multiple tweets a day to remain visible.
- Great platform for promoting B2B products
- Can also benefit the business by making easy to recruit talent
- Because the platform is mostly used by professionals, potential business partnerships can also emerge.
- Not great for e-commerce businesses
- Userbase is far less compared to other popular platforms
- Videos are easily memorable
- Videos are able to show a side of the business that other marketing channels might not bring out well such as humor and personality
- Videos make it easy for customers to refer back for clarity.
- Creating videos can be time-consuming and costly
- For users to interact with video content, a high bandwidth internet connection is needed which some users may not have.
What about WhatsApp?
WhatsApp is quite a unique social media platform. While other platforms were designed to be monetized, WhatsApp was meant to be free, secure and with no ads. Additionally, it was for personal use. You registered with your phone number and only people with your phone number could message you. WhatsApp is so personal that if a strange number messaged you, you would wonder to yourself, ‘Who is this and how did you get my number?’
Since Facebook acquired WhatsApp, things changed a bit. First, your Facebook friends appeared in your WhatsApp contact list because Facebook could now combine what they already knew about you with what WhatsApp had. This feature was quickly removed after complaints about privacy. After that fiasco, there were suggestions that it was just a matter of time before Facebook implemented ads on WhatsApp. It recently emerged that Facebook has plans to introduce ads into the ‘status updates’ feature in WhatsApp.
WhatsApp remains hugely personal to its users. The only way to do any sort of marketing on WhatsApp is if you had already interacted with your customers and they already gave you their numbers to continue talks. Other than that, you’ll be ignored or in a worst-case, blocked. We would suggest being on WhatsApp not for marketing, but available to your existing customers if they need assistance.
The choice of which social media platform to use for your business has no direct answer. You could use all of them for different purposes especially if your business is expansive or just a pair. Some are so popular, like Facebook, to the point your customers will expect you to be there just because.
Whichever social media platform you use, a marketing plan is crucial to ensure the best results. We can help you come up with a social media marketing plan for your business and product. Reach us via email or mobile to get a quote. You can also find out more about our digital marketing services here.