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Which Social Media Channels are Best for My Business?

If you’re a new start-up (or an established business whose marketing efforts are still stuck in the dark ages) most likely you’re considering going social. And if you haven’t considered going social, let’s take a look at a few statistics:

  • 1 out of 8 couples married in the U.S. met via social media
  • 80% of companies use social media for recruitment
  • YouTube is the 2nd largest search engine in the world
  • 90% of people skip ads via TiVo/DVR

Whether or not to go social shouldn’t be the question. The question is which social networks are you going to utilize and how.

These days, it’s impossible to count how many social networks there are. The picture below gives you a very tiny view of what the social networking landscape looks like these days.


Overwhelmed yet?

Too many companies make the mistake of trying to manage too many niche social networks, wasting a lot of time for minimal return. So how do you choose which social networks are right for your company?

First, find out where your audience is.

Every time I give this presentation, I ask my audience to name every social network they can think of. They almost always have a tough time coming up with anything beyond the following list:

  1. Facebook
  2. LinkedIn
  3. Twitter
  4. Pinterest
  5. Instagram
  6. YouTube

What does this tell me? That if you’re going to go social, these and only these are the channels you need to focus on. These are the channels with the largest reach and the ones that will give you the most return for your time. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should focus on every single one of them. Who has time for that?

So which ones do you choose?


Facebook is one of the most powerful social media platforms in the world. It currently tops Google for weekly traffic in the U.S. and when launched, added over 200 million users in less than a year. One of the benefits of using Facebook as a marketing channel is that you can choose what to share with whom so that you can represent your organization in various ways for different audiences.

Facebook might be right for your organization if you’re trying to build a community presence and your target market is the Millennial to Baby Boomer demographic.

One aspect most successful company Facebook pages have in common is that they utilize user-generated and submitted content.

Community Coffee is a great example of a brand that has created, no pun intended, a real Facebook community with user-generated content. By sharing recipes and encouraging fans to post their own recipes, pictures and reviews they’ve created real engagement with their brand.


Johnny Cupcakes is another brand that has done an outstanding job of creating a community on Facebook with user-generated content. Johnny Cupcakes encourages fans to post pictures of themselves in Johnny Cupcakes t-shirts and the page also shares customer reviews, both the good and the bad, for their products.



LinkedIn is the supreme networking site. Before “social media” was even coined we had something called “social networking” which is the true purposes of LinkedIn. Linked is great for growing connections and utilizing them as necessary.

LinkedIn works best for B2B organizations. It allows these types of organizations to provide useful insights to people thinking about their work and seeking to make business connections. It allows organizations to represent themselves as a knowledge leader in their industry.

A great example of a company making the most of LinkedIn is PR 20/20, a Cleveland based inbound marketing agency and PR firm. PR 20/20 regularly shares blog posts and reports they’ve created with strong visual appeal, positioning themselves as a thought leader in their LinkedIn community.



Twitter is probably the oddball of the group. It’s an ongoing conversation in real-time. Twitter can be great for sharing breaking news, product or service updates, questions for followers, contests and more.

Twitter may be a good choice for your organization if you’re targeting a younger demographic, you’re interested in a two-way conversation, and you have topic-based news and timely insights to share. It may not be #1 for B2B organizations who’ll probably get more engagement from something like LinkedIn. But it could still be a fantastic customer service tool and a way to stay front of mind for these types of organizations.

Below are some examples of how different types of organizations are successfully using Twitter:

Quick, Real-Time Customer Service



Sharing Promotions and Discounts



Contests and Giveaways



Engaging, Retweetable Quotes and Jokes



Cross-Promotion of Content from other Social Media Channels



Pinterest is a fairly new content sharing service that allows users to pin or post photos and videos. It has a predominately female user base and is ideal for businesses that have the ability to use strong visual imagery as a main feature or selling point. Examples could include wedding planning, travel destinations, interior decorating, fashion, food or fitness.

It is possible to market a “boring” service on Pinterest but you’ll need to be creative in order to have a strong visual aspect. An example of a company that has done this well is Petplan Pet Insurance.


While many of their boards and pins have nothing to do directly with healthcare for pets, Petplan’s use of boards gives an endless amount of informative and entertaining content with visually rich pictures of dogs, cats, bunnies, iguanas and many other adorable four-legged friends.


Instagram is a great way to get quick messages and photos to your audience. Although Facebook is the largest social media site, Instagram is the fastest growing. Just in the last 6 months user adoption has increased by 23%!

Instagram is another good channel for businesses that have a strong visual aspect to their product or service. If you’re targeting a younger, urban demographic and have frequently changing inventory, it is a fantastic tool for giving sneak peeks to products, a behind the scenes look into the your organization or the making of your products, or things associated with the lifestyle of your product or service.

Just like Petplan, even if you think your product or service is too boring for Instagram, you can make it work if you get creative. General Electric did just that! They use their Instagram account to show off behind-the-scenes images of intricate machinery and processes that they create or that are used to create their products.


Last but most certainly not least is YouTube. YouTube has quickly become the 2nd largest search engine in the world. Google is obviously number 1, ironically (or not so ironically), since YouTube is actually owned by Google.

YouTube allows businesses to feature their product or service in an unforgettable way. How-to videos, demos and product reviews are great content to share via YouTube. If you’re company is philanthropic, put it on video and capture the hearts of your audience with YouTube.

I can’t mention philanthropy and YouTube in the same conversation without mentioning WestJet. This airline has mastered YouTube marketing. Check out one of their viral videos below:

This video alone has almost 50 million views and over 20 thousand comments. Obviously we don’t all have the budget that WestJet has to produce such high quality videos or, nonetheless, buy everyone in an airport Christmas presents. But start thinking small and scale up.

I’m sure by now you’ve been inspired by all the great things organizations are doing with social media and maybe you want to use them all! But unless you’re a large company with deep enough pockets to hire a full time social media strategist, I would highly encourage you to pick 3 to focus on. Pick 3 social media channels and monitor them closely. Start with an hour a day, set realistic goals and don’t get discouraged. Social media takes time. Be persistent and consistent and over time you’ll start to see an upwards climb in customer engagement.

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