With so many social media platforms available to the marketer, should a company adopt only one platform as its main/primary channel?

Companies should consider using multiple social media sites but with a strategy that is specific to their business. Defining goals and understanding who the target audience is is the first step in defining which social channels to use.

Social media has changed the way companies reach their customers. Consumers are using social media to purchase as well as communicate with brands and to share their love and disdain for a brand. “Sixty-six percent of Twitter users have discovered a new small or medium-sized business (SMB) through the network, 79 percent have retweeted an SMB, and a whopping 94 percent plan to make a purchase from the SMBs they follow.”(Newberry, 2016)
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How should a company identify which platforms to use and how to allocate its marketing resources?

Every business has different goals, objectives and target audiences which can help to define the social media channels that they should use.

Start with defining your audience by creating persona characters. Define personal demographics such as age and gender, lifestyle characteristics including income, education and residence location. If your audience is a 65+ woman with disposable income living in San Diego, she is going to be using different social media sites than a 32 year old male in the technology field in Seattle.

Once you’ve defined your audience, pinpoint the social channels that they use.
“For the first time, more than half of all online adults 65 and older (56%) use Facebook. This represents 31% of all seniors. Instagram not only increased its overall user figure by nine percentage points, but also saw significant growth in almost every demographic group. (Duggan, Ellison, Lampe, Lenhart, Madden, 2015)

According to Pew Research in a report of social media usage from 2014-2015, there are clear demographics for each social media channel.

“Facebook – 72% of adult internet users/62% of entire adult population. Usage continues to be especially popular among online women, 77% of whom are users. In addition, 82% of online adults ages 18 to 29 use Facebook, along with 79% of those ages 30 to 49, 64% of those ages 50 to 64 and 48% of those 65 and older.

Pinterest – Women continue to dominate Pinterest – 44% of online women use the site, compared with 16% of online men. Those under the age of 50 are also more likely to be Pinterest users – 37% do so, compared with 22% of those ages 50 and older.

Instagram continues to be popular with non-whites and young adults: 55% of online adults ages 18 to 29 use Instagram, as do 47% of African Americans and 38% of Hispanics. Additionally, online women continue to be more likely than online men to be Instagram users (31% vs. 24%).

Twitter – 23% of all internet users/20% of entire adult population. Twitter is more popular among younger adults — 30% of online adults under 50 use Twitter, compared with 11% of online adults ages 50 and older.” (Duggan, 2015) Learn more about Twitter demographics.
How to Allocate Marketing Resources:

In order to effectively allocate marketing resources, it is critical to establish measurable goals. Defining measurements will help to establish ROI, Return on Investment.
Use the S.M.A.R.T. system to define measurable goals for each social media channel. S.M.A.R.T. = Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Based.

Example:

Specific: Increase social media ad click throughs by 20% in 2017 Q1.
Measurable: Measure the click throughs against a benchmark.
Attainable: A 20% increase is attainable compared to a 100% increase in that time frame.
Relevant: The goal is relevant to a social campaign that drives traffic to the website.
Time-based: Defining the 3 month first quarter period of 2017 sets a measurable timeframe to reach the goal.
“The networks you dedicate time to should yield the highest ROI for your niche and target demographic; otherwise, your time, money, and resources would be better spent elsewhere.” (Hamm, 2015) If you determine that Facebook has the highest return on your investment then allocate a greater amount of your resources to Facebook. Splitting your financial resources based on return in each social channel will help you to reach your SMART goals.

Social media also requires a resource of time investment. It is unwise to post the same content on every social channel. There may be crossover of audience but one of the points of using multiple channels is to tell your story differently.
Social Media Time Management

Platforms like Hootsuite allow marketers to manage all of their social media sites in one place. Content can be created, scheduled and measured all from a single dashboard. This is a huge time save over submitting, viewing and measuring on multiple sites.
Marketing has moved past push advertising to conversation with consumers. To stay engaged with the consumer, an ongoing conversation needs to happen and using multiple channels such as social media and blogging help to keep a company vital.

In a 2010 article, “Why Conversation, not Content, is King” by Catherine Novak, she discusses the idea of conversation being the real King of digital marketing. ““Content is just something to talk about” puts human interaction at the centre of the picture. And it explains the rise of social media on the web, the growth of multi-user games on all platforms, and the persistence of people meeting in real life, and not just in “cyberspace”. Content without conversation is just broadcasting, or just advertising.” (Novak, 2010)

Not only is it critical to promote your business on multiple social channels and engage with your audience there, but to truly have a conversation, you must also participate in social media with other businesses and individuals. Conversation is not one sided. It also requires being a good listener. Listen to your audience and respond with what they are asking for.
A great example of listening and responding quickly is when Oreo Cookie put out a memorable tweet in response to a power outage at the Super Bowl in 2013, “You Can Still Dunk In The Dark.” “AdAge reported that the graphic released during the blackout was “designed, captioned and approved within minutes,” thanks to members of 360i — the cookie company’s agency — gathered at a war room during the game.” (Huffington Post, 2013)

Did it increase sales? Difficult to measure, but it definitely started a conversation.

“While businesses now have access to these rich channels, the true promise of social media lies in the direct connections between people who represent companies and the people who define markets of interest.” (Solis, 2010)

Resources:

Duggan, M., Ellison, N., Lampe C., Lenhart A., Madden M. (2015 January 9) Social Media Update 2014. Retrieved from: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/01/09/social-media-update-2014/

Novak, C. (2010, July 27). Why conversation, not content, is king. SocialMediaToday.com. Retrieved April 12, 2012 from http://socialmediatoday.com/wordspring/152636/why-conversation-not-content-king

Duggan, M. (2015, August 19). The Demographics of Social Media Users. Pew Research Center. Retrieved from: http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/08/19/the-demographics-of-social-media-users/

Newberry, C. (2016, August 11).Top Twitter Demographics That Matter to Social Media Marketers. Hootsuite.com. Retrieved from: https://blog.hootsuite.com/twitter-demographics/

Hamm, S. (2015, March 6). Allocating Time and Resources in Social Media Marketing. Business2Community.com.
Retrieved from: http://www.business2community.com/social-media/allocating-time-resources-social-media-marketing-01176630#K1PrsJPv5rDBUS4v.97

Solis, B. (2010, May 18). 21 rules for social media engagement. Mashable. Retrieved from: http://mashable.com/2010/05/18/rules-social-media-engagment/

Huffington Post. (2013, February, 4). Oreo’s Super Bowl Tweet: ‘You Can Still Dunk In The Dark’. Retrieved from: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/04/oreos-super-bowl-tweet-dunk-dark_n_2615333.html