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The social media wars: which platform is right for you?

An illustration of a business man thinking of which social media platform to approach

Discussions about online media and marketing have taken on a familiar tune lately; you’ll be talking about Facebook when all of a sudden someone mentions Twitter. That launches into a debate about the best way to retweet – classical vs. traditional (it’s traditional by the way) and then all of a sudden we’re starting on Google+.

With all this talk of social media, some of the less savvy might find themselves at a loss. I’ve talked about 5 tips to consider before launching your website, but now that you’ve done that, how do you go about generating exposure online? Which channel should you choose?

Don’t go in blindly, ‘you say potato’ and I say social media are not the same, and since lately social media has been all the rave when it comes to business, it’s time to take a closer look at which you should be using and why.

Which social media platform should you use?

Now before answering your question, I need to start by asking you some questions: ‘Why do you want to pursue social media?’ And, ‘Where is your target audience?’

You might be amazed to uncover a successful PR company that is using Twitter and Facebook to engage with fans and followers by publishing unique content, questions, news and press releases. But does that mean you should be doing the same if you own a retail flower store? Of course not. Before deciding on which platform you need to use, you need to ask yourself what you will be offering to your followers. Will you be providing lots of images? Videos? Articles? Will you be providing questions that require a lot of participation? All of the above?

You need to lay out the goals for your company and to be honest about what is a right fit for your business. Don’t aimlessly follow in another’s footsteps, figure out what’s right for your individual objectives.

Pop Quiz

    1. Question: You’re an artist and want to publish your images online. Which channel do you use? 

    Clearly you will need a platform that displays your work in albums or in a slide show; that’s a given. You also want to engage with people who may have a lot of questions about your motivation behind a piece or have comments they want to share that might start interesting debates.

    I am not saying Twitter is necessarily wrong, but is it the best for your personal business? How about LinkedIn? – it’s actually one of the top 3 social media platforms being used by millions all over the world, but, will it display your work professionally? Probably not.

    Answer: Facebook, Google+, Tumblr and Flickr will do the job. Check out this great Facebook page of a photographer, Samer Al-Khoury, who I personally know from Amman, Jordan.

    2. Question: You’re a musician. Which channel do you use?
    It’s all about the music, you need an outlet that allows people to hear and see your performances. 

    Answer: For the established artist – you want your fans to see your latest music video on YouTube and follow you religiously on Twitter. And for those bright-eyed hopefuls, it’s starting to get hard to count all the artists who have been discovered on YouTube! And of course, who can forget Myspace?

    3. Question: You’re about to launch a news channel. Can you use social media?
    Of course you can. You will potentially be posting a lot of updates and videos about current events. Followers will decide if they want to explore your content or not. It’s not necessarily about developing personal relationships; it’s about posting interesting content. 

    Answer: Lots of updates and feeds mean Twitter, and make sure you come up with interesting tweets to provoke followers to look at the links. And, lots of videos and exclusive footage means YouTube! A good example of a radio station using Twitter would be Virgin Radio – they let you pick songs, take part in competitions and even post open vacancies.

    4. Question: You’re about to organize a press conference and need to know the number of people who plan to show up.
    You need an RSVP – ‘respond please’ -platform to keep track of who will be attending the event. You also might want to upload some pictures of previous press conferences and events that you have done before. Maybe some pictures of your clients? 

    Answer: Facebook!

Everything comes down to the type of business you are running. I used to think that the more exposed out there, the better the reach (but didn’t we already prove that wrong with that blog about inbound marketing?). Believe me when I tell you this, I would rather use one social network, depending on my requirements and what I want to deliver, and use it in a professional way than be scattered all over the place like a stumbling mess.

Deserted tweets, one-post wonders and abandoned Facebook pages do more damage than good, so choose the right one and have other social network platforms to support it with the right messages consistently delivered to fans on time.

For you – Which one is it? And why?