How To Choose The Best Social Media Channel For Your Business

By Ann Marie van den Hurk Lexington Herald-Leader

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) When it comes to social media, the choices can be overwhelming. There are however, ways to get organized and focused as you tackle content creation and networking.

Lexington Herald-Leader

Choosing the best way to communicate with customers and prospective customers on social media can be confusing and overwhelming for business owners. But if done right, social media can help grow your bottom line.

Social media websites and applications enable users to create and share content and to participate in social networking. In reality, it is how we communicate today. How many of us would rather send a Facebook message than call someone?

Social media is often just thought of as Twitter or Facebook. However, it includes much more, such as websites, blogs, micro blogs, image- and video-hosting sites, and location-based social sites.

Examples are: YouTube, Foursquare, Instagram and Pinterest. There are hundreds of social media platforms. And while some are focused on the general population, others target niche interests or specific countries.

There is a platform for everyone and everything. Here are the top sites that can help your business, along with the number of users they currently have:

Facebook _ 1.71 billion users YouTube _ Over 1 billion users LinkedIn _ 450 million users Instagram _ 400 million users Twitter _ 320 million users Pinterest _ 100 million users Snapchat _ 100 million users

THINK LIKE YOUR CUSTOMER Most everyone is on some social media platform, and the average Americans uses five. Most likely, your customers are on the same platforms as you.

Think about it: What's the first thing many of us do when we wake up? We check our smartphones. We check Facebook and Instagram. Right? That's what your customers are doing, too. According to Pew Internet Research, two-thirds of all Americans use social media. We are a social media-obsessed culture. It is woven into how we communicate on a daily basis.

WHAT DOES IT MEANS FOR YOUR BUSINESS? Having your business involved in social media is a business essential in 2017 because it is where people go for information.

If you are offering products and services, your business has to be a part of social media. Social media is amplified word of mouth. It is megaphone through which you can reach thousands of your friends, not just a handful, as it was pre-social media.

HOW TO CHOOSE THE BEST PLATFORM You do not need to be on 50 social media platforms for your business to do well. You need to be on the platform where your customers are.

You need to decide your level of engagement. It depends on your level of comfort and resources. Social media is not free. It costs something valuable: your time.

The first question to ask yourself is: Why are you participating in social media as a business? Then ask the following questions: Who is your customer? Where are they? What are they interested in? What do they need that you can provide?

You need to be where your customers are, and they are mostly likely on one of the top social media sites such as Facebook, Instagram or Twitter.

Social media isn't about selling. It is about providing real value to your customers. Think of yourself. Do you like to be stalked with ads and sales pitches? No. Nor do your customers. They want information. Provide them with it. Your content should be educational, fun and promotional.

Remember, social media ,like advertising or media relations, is just one communications channel in your marketing mix. Integrate it. ___ ABOUT THE WRITER Ann Marie van den Hurk, an accredited public relations professional, is principal of Mind the Gap Public Relations and author of "Social Media Crisis Communications."

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