As an agency that has fielded inquiries from existing clients as social networks rose to prominence and continues to serve as a social media expert across consumer and B2B struggles, two of the top questions we get the most are, “Which social networks should my company be on,” or “Which platform should I choose to start my business’ social media presence?” While it may make sense for us to claim that the answers to these questions are quickly changing every day as each network evolves – sometimes for better or for worse – and new ones are introduced and adopted, that’s not in fact what we’d tell you. Instead, we’d tell you that social media is not a one-size fits all practice. Then we’d start to grill you on your objectives and your audience. And you thought you’d be asking all the questions, eh?
You see, first we’d need to identify what you’d like your company’s social media channel to accomplish. A recent report by Useful Social Media on the State of Corporate Social Media 2014 finds that at present more than half of companies polled (36 percent B2B and 23 percent B2C) now use social media to accomplish objectives in marketing, communications, customer insight, customer service, and reputation management and crisis control. Objective areas for growth include commerce, employee engagement and product development. After identifying which objectives align closest with your board or C-suites priorities, we could then make a more informed recommendation on where your efforts should start.
For example if recruiting, talent management and professional development are top-of-mind, then you might focus your energy on LinkedIn or a Facebook Group (where collaboration and the exchange of dialogue happens a little more naturally than on a Facebook Business Page). If you’ve just rebranded, perhaps selecting a visual platform like Pinterest makes sense because it reinforces your new look and feel while driving people to the messaging on your website. If customer insight and customer service are valued, then you probably want to consider not only corporate presences on both Facebook and Twitter, but also investing in a social listening tool that can help efficiently categorize and analyze data from the platforms.
In the research mentioned earlier, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube were found to be the “core four” social platforms companies use most, with Twitter surpassing Facebook for the first time this year. Google Plus, Pinterest and Instagram are on a steep rise since 2013; and in the three years since Useful Social Media has been conducting the study, they’ve found it necessary to stop tracking five platforms and add in three others because the rate of change in this landscape is so rapid.
Now that we know all about what you want to accomplish, we need to know more about who you’re trying reach. At the end of the day, you can want people to interact with your company on Facebook but if that’s not how your audience spends its time online then you’ll be out of luck. The most important questions to answer when looking for where to build your social media foundation are:
- Who are your customers?
- How do they spend their time online – recreationally or strictly professionally?
- Where are they spending it – vertical or horizontal networks?
Once we answer these questions, which may involve a little bit of research and observation, then we can help you match the characteristics and behaviors of your audience with the objectives your executives would like to see accomplished. Social media is all about having a conversation. To lay out a plan for beginning or restructuring your corporate social media strategy, let’s talk.