Social Media for Companies: How to Choose the Right Platform for Your Business

Jan Tissler
7 Min.
Social media selection

Agencies or freelancers don't usually have the resources to be active on all social media platforms. That means you need to set priorities for your corporate social media activities. Ask yourself the few simple questions in article and find out: what's the best social media platform for my business?

There are more than enough social media platforms out there. But the big question is where should you invest your time and effort? If you're asking yourself this question, then you're already on the right track. Because one thing is certain: unless you're working for a global corporation that's present everywhere and has an endless budget, you need to limit yourself.

Rather than trying to be everywhere, invest your resources in a few presences (or even just one). Otherwise, you'll have hardly any energy left for these three important tips:

  1. Be active and interact - don't just present as a "sender". You'll only be able to do this if you schedule time accordingly.
  2. Be sensitive to the specifics of the network and know what the users expect to see there. You need to develop a feeling for what works and what is or isn't well received.
  3. Focus on the features that make the offer special and experiment a lot.
Facebook Posting Example
Interactions are usually more important than reach

Basic considerations for your decision

You have to decide what to focus on and what to leave aside. Fortunately, there are a number of questions that can help you narrow down your choices:

Who are you trying to reach?

First of all, you should ask yourself what is your target group? Who do you want to reach with your activities on social networks? A big differentiator among social networks is the population groups you find there. This applies to the age structure as well as to interests or life situations.

Some networks are aimed at young people who use the service to pass the time (e.g. TikTok). Others are aimed at people active professional life and who mostly use the network for this reason (e.g. LinkedIn). The network should fit well to your products or service as well as your customer base.

What do you want to achieve?

Your goal is also central. For example, not every offer is suitable for increasing your sales. Some are rather good for content marketing, see my article Content Marketing for Agencies & Freelancers: What really matters. Or for making your brand better known - see Content Distribution.

Facebook or Instagram, for example, don't like it at all when you try to send users to a site outside of their offerings. Posts like that just don't do well. Instagram also continues to be stingy with clickable links. Twitter on the other site has no problem with this at all.

How do you want to achieve your goal?

In addition, the networks differ greatly in the media formats that are used. TikTok is all about short-format videos, Twitter is all about info hacks, Pinterest is all about photos and graphics.

Can you and do you want to produce in-depth videos for YouTube? Or would you rather make sure that your useful content on your own website gets more readers? Because your website as a base is incredibly important, as I explain here. And of course, what's the best way to reach your intended audience? What formats do they prefer?

Find out how your target groups behave

You can often only answer these questions if you know the behavior of your target audiences. See the tutorials Content KPIs: Which of my content is successful? and Pre-testing and refining content ideas.

What is even possible?

A question that, in my view, is not asked often enough: Do users on this social network even want to be approached by companies? And if so, how? Facebook and others often make it very difficult for companies and brands to be seen at all - at least without payment. How this can be done via Facebook Ads to boost interest is shown to you by Sven Scheuerle in its guide for beginners as well as in the article on Facebook KPIs.

In such a case, you could think about using yourself or your employees as "brand ambassadors". This also goes by the term "corporate influencer". However, this is a topic of its own and goes too far for this article, so here is a suitable source on the topic.

What suits you and your business?

I believe that every company has a personality and it should stand by it on social media too. I'm aware this is a very personal point of view and you're welcome to disagree with me in the comments below. Daimler, for example, is a global and very serious company. The soft-drink company Fritz Kola isn't. Both should act accordingly.

A company like Daimler will, of course, present itself as younger when it comes to recruiting young talent compared with how it behaves in B2B business. Within certain limits, that certainly makes sense. But generally speaking, everything Daimler does should fit its basic image. Otherwise, the company doesn't seem believable and quickly appears contrived or even moves into cringe territory.

Corporate Social Media Twitter
Also unconventional on Twitter: Fritz Kola

The same goes for you as a freelancer or for your agency: you'll have a certain group of clients that you address in a certain way. If your clientele is mainly public authorities, it will look different than if you create portfolio sites for musicians. So when choosing a social media platform, the following question should also play a role: do I fit in here with my style, my offers, my image? Or would I have to bend myself too much to fit in?

A final thought on this point: there are also always successful social media profiles that deliberately and very consistently violate the conventions of a network. Take, for example, the claim that Instagram isn't made for long texts. The National Geographic team, however, doesn't let that stop them from writing up a lengthy backstory for each of their gorgeous photos. That simply belongs to what the company is.

Once you've understood how a social network "ticks", you can also violate the unwritten rules. And that can be quite successful. Try out both ways and measure your success.

How quickly do you want to reach your goal?

You'll need to have a lot of patience with all social media platforms overall. Quick, viral successes can happen but are still the exception. Some offers have the advantage that they're designed for long-term success.

YouTube and Pinterest, for example, are sites that serve more as search engines and only secondarily act as a social media network. The advantage here is that content can still be found months and years later and bring you new users and attention. The disadvantage is that you sometimes have to wait a long time for success.

Where is your competition active and what are they doing?

Another point you should definitely consider is what others in your industry or even your direct competitors are doing? Here you can get ideas and inspiration. But you should always question what you find there for two reasons:

1. Your biggest competitor may well have no idea what they're doing on social media. You shouldn't automatically assume they've made a better decision than you or that they have more information.

2. You'll never know from the outside exactly how successful the social media activities of your competitors really are. The numbers you can see are usually irrelevant. You can't tell how much business is generated from their activities, for example. That's also why I've included this point at the end of my list.

How you definitely should not make your decision

Anyone who follows the relevant media on online marketing, e-business & co. can quickly get the impression that the field constantly experiences radical changes and that new platforms and formats are always popping up.

There is, in some respects, truth in this. I'm thinking here of the "story" feature from Snapchat that's conquered large parts of the social web. Another example is the TikTok phenomenon. But such great innovations are, for one, less common than some media outlets suggest. And, secondly, you don't need to immediately follow every new hype to be successful.

If you're targeting an experimental, young demographic, then of course you want to be involved with what's currently "hot". Everyone else, however, should always go through the questions listed above first. The fact that a certain social media platform is getting a lot of attention or that "everyone" is trying out a particular feature shouldn't play a decisive role for you. If you'd like to try something out, by all means go for it! You learn best and most of all through trial and error. But don't neglect your existing profiles and activities right away.

The general rule here is: media and consultants don't like to talk about how new offers and features don't automatically work better than what you're already doing. Even good old email is still successful today! But this statement isn't very exciting and doesn't bring in many clicks or consulting contracts...

What about reach?

One or two of you may have noticed that I haven't used the term reach in this article. Isn't it important that Facebook is so much bigger than Pinterest? No, it actually isn't. Or at least not in the way it's commonly discussed. As a shop owner, if you find your exact target group on Pinterest, for example, then you'll achieve much more there than on Facebook.

As already mentioned above in the topic "competition": The number of your fans or likes is also irrelevant at the end of the day. It's much more important whether you achieve the goals you're aiming for. A profile with 500 followers can be much more successful behind the scenes than one with 5,000 followers. The number of followers, likes and comments is a result of good work, but not its goal. As I described in my post on content KPIs, finding the right metrics to measure the success of your content is not that easy. It's worth it, though.

Another point: In social networks with a high number of users, you have to fight a lot harder to get noticed. Or you have to spend money on it. Because here you are also competing for attention with a correspondingly large number of other companies. If you have a Facebook page, you might know the frustrating view of the actual reach of individual posts.

Even if you have thousands of fans and followers there, it won't do you much good if you only show up on one percent of them. On smaller social networks, on the other hand, it can be easier to make a name for yourself and get noticed. This also applies to your agency or your websites.

Conclusion

I hope this article has given you some interesting ideas to rethink your social media strategy. And maybe it's become clear that should, on the one hand, of course keep up to date with what's new and hot on the social web. On the other hand, it's important to use your own resources in a targeted way.

Also, you should always experience things for yourself and gather your own insights. What works for others doesn't necessarily work for you, your offers and your target group. You may also discover something in your experiments that your competitors have so far missed.

Your questions about social media selection

What questions do you have for Jan? What are your experiences? Feel free to use the comment function. You want to be informed about new articles on online marketing for agencies and freelancers? Then follow us on Twitter, Facebook or via our newsletter.

Jan is an online journalist and digital publishing specialist with over 20 years of professional experience. Companies book him as an author, consultant or editor-in-chief. He is also the founder and one of the editors of UPLOAD magazine. Photographer Author's picture: Patrick Lux.

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