Let’s face it: For the modern audience, few marketing tactics can match the reach of social media platforms.
Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Snapchat, Pinterest, Reddit, YouTube, Tumblr, Twitter, and more want you to utilize their platforms to distribute your content. But with limited budgets and limited time, companies — us included — must pick and choose which social media platforms are worthy of their time and investment.
So what’s a marketer to do? You can’t be everywhere, can you? And even if you could, should you?
To answer these questions and more, I asked our director of digital media strategy and social media extraordinaire, Kate Crouse, which social media platforms are right for your business, plus tips for avoiding common mistakes along the way.
How do you correctly employ social media platforms as amplification tools?
I’m a people person, so that’s where my thoughts go first — who am I trying to reach?
If I’m sitting down for an initial brainstorming session to try and determine where I might buy media, the first thing to factor in is whether I’m B2B or B2C. If I’m working with an enterprise-level B2B client, LinkedIn is a given, assuming I can manage the high CPCs (costs per click). Highly targeted Facebook media is in the conversation as well. Medium could be in play, depending on the content strategy. Less traditional B2B plays — interior designers, for example — could be great fits for Instagram and Pinterest.
Because the B2C crowd is more diverse, I lean most heavily on Facebook, where the targeting options are tough to beat.
The rest of the options you have are going to be targeting various demographics; for example, social media platforms like Snapchat and Tumblr lean toward younger audiences.
How do you go about parsing through the various B2C demographic options?
It comes down to the target audience. If you’re skewing younger, say under 25, you’ll want to explore Instagram and Snapchat, as that’s where the younger demographic is spending more of their time.
But it’s tough to beat Facebook. The targeting opportunities are ridiculously plentiful: 88 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds and 84 percent of 30- to 49-year-olds in the United States use Facebook, and almost 50 percent of 18- to 34-year-olds check Facebook when they wake up.
That’s not to say you should put all your eggs in Mark Zuckerberg’s basket — as we all know, Facebook has had plenty of drama recently, and the company is in the process of making changes to how their platform functions overall, which will affect Ads Manager. Instead, experiment with a few platforms where your demographic is known to play.
For example, if you’re in the e-commerce space, you certainly want to explore Pinterest’s Buyable Pins. With Pinterest and Instagram being among the most visually appealing social media platforms, they’re viable options for retailers.
Fill me in on some of the lesser-used social media platforms (Reddit, Tumblr, or even Slack).
Most social media platforms have at least some kind of advertising presence now — maybe the most interesting as of late has been Waze, which is pioneering the concept of targeted ads to geographically relevant customers. Some of the more sophisticated Waze advertisers are including coupons that tell you how many miles the store location is outside of your current route.
And don’t sleep on Nextdoor. Another excellent outlet for geo-location advertising, this newer social media platform helps you speak to people who might be right in your backyard.
Reddit is interesting because the consumer interest options are exceptional. If you want to find an audience that’s aligned with, say, Superman cosplay, you can do that easily, and then supply the advertising message needed to introduce them to your brand.
What are some mistakes you’ve seen brands make when advertising on their social media platforms?
I could write an entire book on the social media fails brands have stumbled into.
Remember in 2017 when Krispy Kreme offered UberEATS’ UK users free doughnuts between 2 and 6 p.m., but didn’t follow through when the amount of traffic made the promotion crash? Twitter users were quick to turn on Uber and their new marketing ploy. Or how about the time Dove posted a Facebook ad on its social channels depicting a black woman turning into a white woman to promote body wash? Dove quickly deleted the Facebook ad, but users were quick to demand a boycott of Dove’s products. In 2014, when women were sharing stories of abuse with the #WhyIStayed hashtag, DiGiorno jumped on board — with a comment about pizza. My personal favorite is the massive fail by US Airways a couple years ago, when a customer service representative accidentally responded to an upset flyer’s complaint with an extremely NSFW photo (don’t worry, that link won’t take you to the actual photo).
All that to say that there are lessons to be learned from the fails of some of our favorite brands:
- Proofread: Double-check that post before you publish (and maybe one more time after that). Most social fails can be avoided with an extra set of eyes.
- Get context: Don’t jump in on a trending hashtag without fully understanding the context.
- Fact-check: A simple fact-check can avert your brand from a plethora of issues, like the time Wendy’s responded to a Twitter user with a Wendy’s-themed Pepe the Frog meme. However, the Anti-Defamation League had declared the meme a symbol of hate in 2016 due to alt-right usage.
- Be ready: Don’t jump in the sandbox if you’re not ready to play. Brands open themselves up to all sorts of commentary, trolling, and unsolicited feedback when they enter the social sphere. Come prepared.
What’s the biggest takeaway for audiences?
For any brand, the key is to realize that social media isn’t something a marketing team can off-load onto an entry-level position just to tick a box.
Social media — regardless of channel — has a massive impact on your brand footprint in the marketplace, and even a small blunder can have serious consequences. It’s not about being everywhere — it’s about being in the right place, at the right time, for the right people. You need a strategic approach, not a shotgun one, and your choice of social media platform — regardless of message — is arguably the key component of that.