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Navigating the Social Media Maze

Factors to consider for channel selection

By Kevin Ketels
Kyrris Marketing

This post is part of the Digital Marketing Boot Camp series, a new set of blog posts across different mediums designed to provide intel to people and companies looking to improve their digital marketing strategy.

My 12-year-old son does not watch broadcast television. He has several favorite YouTube channels and interacts with the world through Instagram. If your company wants to remain relevant to the U.S. consumer in our evolving media landscape, you need a plan for social media.

Social media can be a powerful tool for reaching your customers, and its usage is growing exponentially. The percentage of individuals in the U.S. with a social media profile grew from 24 percent in 2008 to 78 percent in 2016 (Statista). Despite concerns about the reliability of news shared via social media, more than 62 percent of U.S. adults reported social media as a source of information (Pew Research). For better or worse, we are increasingly interacting with others and experiencing our lives through the lens of social media. For the current generation of children, it will be second nature.

As more users jump onto this fast-moving digital bandwagon, it is no surprise that many new social media channels have become available. Figuring out which channels to engage can be overwhelming.

Factors to consider when evaluating social media

With so many options, many marketing managers are asking how they should prioritize. They need to consider which channels are the best match for their target audience, product messaging, social media capabilities and capacity. Not all channels are equal, and different channels may be more or less appropriate for a particular business or message.

MORE: Hear more about social media marketing resources and tools at the Digital Marketing Boot Camp, Feb. 15.

Below are some things to consider when deciding which social media channels are the best fit for your company. Also, check out this Social Media Overview for a description and demographic characteristics from a sample of the most popular channels.

  • Number of users: Generally, you want to get the most bang for your buck. How many active users does each social media channel have? Facebook is the largest, by far. Higher numbers are better, but don’t disregard a less popular social media option that may be closely matched with your target audience. Also, is that active user number trending up or down?
  • Channel content: What type of content is shared on each channel? Personal, news, entertainment, art or business? Make sure the content and tone of messaging on the selected channel is compatible with your brand.
  • Channel format: In what format is the content shared? This can be text, pictures, video, etc. Some marketing messages are better delivered in specific formats.
  • Demographics: What categories of people use each social media channel? Consider gender, race, education, income, etc. Match this up to your target audience to find the most compatible social media option.
  • Time: Most importantly, how much time does your organization have to manage your social media channels? Don’t bite off more than you can chew. Social media marketing is much more than throwing something up on Facebook or Twitter once in a awhile. It requires strategy, planning, content creation and execution. If you don’t have enough dedicated resources internally, limit the number of social media channels you support or seek outside help. A poorly maintained social media presence, or a company that is nonresponsive when contacted via social media, can give a negative impression of your brand.

Social media isn’t the answer to all your marketing challenges. It should be one of the significant tools in your arsenal that helps establish relationships with your target audience.

Kevin Ketels is president of Kyrris Marketing and an adjunct professor of marketing in the Mike Ilitch School of Business at Wayne State University.  

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