Which Social Channels are Right for Your Brand?

Is it just us, or does it seem like another new social network is popping up every other week? From Snapping to streaming to (Peri)scoping, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the fear of missing out and the drive for innovation. How can you determine which channels are right for your brand?

1. Know your audience

The first question is one you already know to ask: who is your primary demographic? Marketing to young millennials interested in cosmetics is significantly different from marketing to professionals interested in the Fortune 500 industry—and I don’t just mean content-wise.

For example, Snapchat is hugely popular with younger audiences, reaching 41% of U.S. 18- to 34-year-olds on any given day. Millennial-focused retail brands like Glossier and Kylie (Jenner) Cosmetics have announced new products via Snapchat; Glossier also included a Snapchat-exclusive website password to drive sales to their Balm Dotcom lip trio before the site was open to everyone. As a result of the pre-launch announcement (and partially due to her celebrity status), Kylie Cosmetics’ new Kyshadow collection sold out on the website in sixty seconds on the day of the launch.

However, if you are a Fortune 500 company announcing a merger or new leadership, LinkedIn might be a much better social platform on which to announce, as the platform is geared toward professionals searching for networking opportunities and industry updates.

2. Know your goals

What’s the primary purpose of each of your social channels: to drive sales? Drive clicks to site? Provide customer support?

Let’s take customer support. Facebook and Twitter make it easy for brands to respond to individual customer questions where the customer can easily find them, thanks to tagging and chained replies. While Instagram and Pinterest’s platforms allow tagging, the lack of chained replies make these channels less desirable for customer support inquiries and responses; LinkedIn is geared toward professionals, so B2C customer support is even less desirable there. While Snapchat features a 1x1 chat feature, that level of individual customer response can quickly overwhelm small social teams. Steering customer support inquiries toward Facebook and Twitter pages can streamline the response process for both the customer and the social team.

3. Know your content

If your goal is to drive sales or clicks from older millennials, Gen Xers, and Boomers, especially if your brand is retail-, travel-, or food & beverage-focused, Pinterest can be a great way to showcase your products, recipes, influencer content, and more in an easily shoppable format. If your goal is to drive sales or clicks from millennials, Instagram should be included in your content strategy, to highlight individual products, quick video tutorials and updates, or influencer content.

Color theory.

A photo posted by Brooks Brothers (@brooksbrothers) on

However, in order to be successful on visual-first channels like Instagram and Pinterest, content must be highly visually appealing—think high-resolution assets, easily readable text overlays, vivid colors, and an overall clean, well-designed look. If you’re unable to create branded content and must rely on stock imagery, or if you’re unable to create high-resolution images formatted by platform, the hard truth is your content may not find success on Instagram and Pinterest.

4. Know your team

Evaluate your team’s bandwidth and determine your channel priorities from there. If you have a large social team, as well as internal visual designers, or if you partner with an agency dedicated to your brand, it will likely be easier to manage multiple thriving channels while also building new ones.

However, that doesn’t mean that smaller (or even single-person) social teams should avoid new channels. Larger teams can immediately create channel-specific content for testing; however, smaller teams should explore the channel for image and copy specs, and reformat existing planned content for the new channel to test which content performs best on the new channel. Creating a video, image, or GIF for Twitter or Facebook? Go ahead and test that video or image on Instagram. Planning a Twitter chat with an influencer? Consider a Periscope chat instead.

How to get started

As soon as you hear of a new social network, go ahead and set up an account to secure your brand’s username or usernames, including prominent figures within your organization. Once secured, start exploring the channel and begin brainstorming ways to plan content and integrate it into your editorial calendar. Encourage your social team to set up personal accounts and test and learn their own content as well, to get a feel for the channel and its intricacies.

From there, it’s time to publish your content and measure the results. Testing and measurement is always key to social media success, but especially when you’re experimenting with new platforms and content.

Have more questions about content strategy? Contact us to connect with our Strategic Services team.

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Traci Mazurek is a content strategist on Spredfast's strategic services team, partnering with customers to provide strategic counsel and create compelling content. Prior to Spredfast, she worked as a social strategist at R/GA and as a community manager for MapMyFitness (now Under Armour Connected Fitness) and the National Breast Cancer Foundation.