Since its inception as a way for individuals to connect with each other, social media has grown exponentially. Today, social media is a powerful business tool that has tremendous sway in growing an audience, engaging users and increasing revenue. Social media also has become a must-have for reputation management and a primary tool for communicating during a crisis.
With the growing importance and use of social media has come a plethora of options, including channels that range from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to Instagram, Snapchat and Periscope, among others. But in businesses like healthcare IT, one size doesn’t necessarily fit all. With all the social media options available, how can an organization determine the best social platform for its needs?
There are several things to consider when assessing which social media option is right for you:
- Identify your target audience and compare it with the primary audience of the social platform you’re considering. What are the demographics you’re trying to reach? Are you looking to attract a consumer or business-to-business audience? Where are they located? What are their likes and needs? Income? Education? Gender? All these considerations and more are key in identifying the social media channels that will best reach your target with your message. If you aren’t certain where to start, email your current customers and ask them which social media channel they spend the most time on, why, and which channel they would prefer to use to engage with your brand.
- Consider overall time and resources – social media platforms require an input of time and focus to build and maintain a level of activity. Also, if you’re considering advertising on one or more sites, add money to the mix as well.
- Start with one channel and build from there – If you are relatively new to social, test the waters first. Rather than select multiple social media channels at once, start with one and gain momentum with that channel before moving on to others.
- Consistency and customization are key – Develop a consistent schedule for posting content. If you only decide to post sporadically, chances are your audience will lose interest and go elsewhere. Also, because each social media channel is different, each requires customized content, engagement and activity. For example, don’t post something on Facebook, then post the exact same thing on Instagram.
- Evaluate your ultimate goal – Before selecting a social media channel for your business, consider what your ultimate goal is for leveraging social media. Is it to engage prospects to eventually convert to your brand? Build sales? Regardless of your ultimate goal, building relationships, credibility and trust should always be your primary objective.
- Optimize your content marketing strategy – if video is a key component of your content strategy, YouTube may be a great fit for your business. If white papers have proven to be a strong way to reach customers, you may want to engage LinkedIn. Each social option has its own personality. Select the one that best matches that of your brand.
- Good things take time – we often hear of social media postings that go viral instantly. Keep in mind that this is the exception. In most cases, it will take time to build momentum on social media, regardless of the channel(s) you use.
- Assess your results – Take time to assess the results of your activities. If your strategy is not providing the ROI you’re looking for, stop and change course, eliminating what isn’t working and focusing on what is, and adding new options.
A caveat the the strategy above is that social media platforms are always changing. If for example, Snapchat doesn't seem like a good fit now, it could be in a couple of years. It's a wise move to capture your company name on up and coming platforms as a safeguard, even if you don't take the plunge immediately.
Social media can provide your business with the push it needs to broaden your audience and appeal, as long as you select the channel that is right for you.