How to Choose Your Best Social Media Channels

Every time you turn around it seems like there is a hot new social media channel competing for our attention. As a marketer, how do you decide where your company should focus its time and resources? The good news is, you don’t need to be on every social media platform. Even with all the buzz around certain platforms, not every one is right for your communication objectives. Often, companies open accounts on a lot of different platforms and begin posting in hopes that something will stick with someone, somewhere. Here are a few tips to make your social media efforts a little more fruitful.

Like most things, it’s best to begin with a plan. But before you create a plan, make sure you have clear objectives. The first questions that need answers are:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What information do they need to solve their problems?
  • Where do they look for that information?
  • When is the best time to reach them on social media platforms?
  • How do we communicate with them authentically?
  • What types of information seem to engage our target audience?
  • What is the ideal frequency of social posts?

As a general rule, B2B companies are successful on different social media platforms than B2C companies. For example, if you are targeting classroom teachers, you should try Facebook, Pinterest, and YouTube. If you’re targeting technology directors or administrators, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+ are likely stronger channels for your customer engagement. Experts suggest that companies strategically select one or two social channels and focus their efforts there.

Here are the leading social media platforms and their plusses and minuses for education marketers:

Facebook: Even with more than 75% of adults on Facebook, it may not be the best platform for your business as Facebook’s primary purpose is staying in touch with friends and family. However, Facebook has been used successfully for teacher-facing interactions.

Pinterest: This is a highly visual social channel that allows educators to track and store classroom ideas and share tips and resources with each other. Whether teachers are gathering classroom activities or resources around tough-to-teach topics, adding Pinterest to your social media stream could make sense if you’re marketing directly to teachers.

YouTube: As the world’s second largest search engine, YouTube is a perfect venue for sharing “how-to” videos as well as product demos and video customer success stories. Amateur video is not expensive, but for company videos, the expectation is for high definition video, which can be expensive. Most companies find this a worthwhile expense because they can link to video from other channel interactions.

LinkedIn: More and more administrators use LinkedIn for networking. With the new publishing feature, companies can establish thought leadership around industry topics and education challenges. LinkedIn is a good channel for district management content, such as case studies and leadership insights, as well as building relationships with district leaders.

Twitter: Twitter is a favorite of technology directors, lead teachers, and administrators. Whatever their level and focus, educators often use Twitter as a professional learning community (PLC) and look forward to connecting in person at conferences and industry events such as ISTE. Twitter is ideal to follow industry topics and news. You can easily position yourself and your company as thought leaders.

Google+: There are still questions about the importance of Google+ but having a presence here will help your organic search SEO and build traffic to your website. Being a part of Google+ increases your “Google juice” and helps prospects find you online.

A strategic social plan will help you identify the best channels for your target audience. The frequency of posts depends on the channel and the kind of content you’re offering. Experiment with day of the week and time of the day to see when you generate the most engagement. Also test pairing different platforms to integrate some of your social activity.

Social media is time intensive. Being strategic about the channels, the kind of content, and your tools and analytics will be useful in maximizing your investment of time and optimizing the effectiveness of your social activity. The goal is quality of engagement not just quantity of engagement.

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