How to pick the perfect social media channel

Every platform has its inherent strengths and weaknesses. This infographic breaks down what each channel does well—and how that affects your media strategy.

This article originally appeared on PR Daily in November of 2017.

For marketers today, the opportunities to use social media to raise brand awareness are immense.

Pew Research findings show about 70 percent of all U.S. adults use at least one social media network, and free and paid advertising has matured across all the major social media networks. Each platform offers a variety of advertising tools and options to help brands identify their target audience and optimize ads for individual segments.

Here are four imperatives for choosing your media channel:

1. Know your demographic.

Social networks vary widely in their membership makeup, culture and aesthetic. While Twitter and Facebook are oriented toward text and images, Instagram, Pinterest and Snapchat are primarily visual channels.

Marketers should use social media demographics and buyer personas as a guide for choosing which social networks are best for their brand. For example, about 60 percent of Instagram users are between the ages of 18 and 29, making Instagram a natural fit for youth-oriented brands and products. Similarly, Snapchat is popular among Millennial and Gen Z users, with Snapchat reaching 41 percent of all 18- to 34-year-olds in the U.S. on any given day, and 71 percent of its users are under the age of 34.

Demographics are in continual flux and the makeup of social networks tends to change as the service matures. Although Pinterest users initially were predominantly female, more than 40 percent of its base today are male, which makes Pinterest a good fit for most.

2. Match the channel to the strategy.

Managing a social presence requires finesse, a skilled execution team and a strategy geared toward the culture and character of the social channel. Brands risk poor results when they post at random or spread themselves thin across too many channels.

For example, success on Instagram requires more than simply publishing attractive images. As Sprout Social notes, it requires “a well-defined brand identity grounded in visual creativity and effective community management.”

Snapchat—due to the short lifespan of its content—requires a nimble strategy. Photos, videos and text shared on Snapchat are present for only 24 hours, but can be shared on other networks to prolong their effect. Amazon’s strategy is to share expiring content like discount codes, coupons and limited-time offers, which drive Snapchat users to the Amazon site.

3. Invest in live streaming.

Users devour live video, watching a live stream three times longer than a recorded video, which is reflected in Facebook Live’s popularity rising 330 percent since it launched in 2016.

Promotional possibilities via live streaming video are vast, including ads, events, product launches and demonstrations. All the social media services surveyed offer live streaming video broadcasting capabilities.

4. Twitter is the place for customer care

Twitter has carved out a niche as a prime customer service channel. Organizations that use Twitter to interface with disgruntled customers see a 19 percent increase in customer satisfaction.

Twitter advises brands to have a dedicated Twitter handle for customer service, pointing out that companies with a dedicated handle get ten times more positive results. Examples of how to conduct customer service on Twitter include Amazon’s customer service @AmazonHelp and Hilton Hotel’s customer service @HiltonHelp.

Check out the full infographic from SUMO Heavy here:

Bart Mroz is the co-founder and CEO of SUMO Heavy, a digital commerce consulting and strategy firm.


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