Build Your Business:

Choosing the Correct Social Media Platform

By Deborah Sexton, Contributing Writer

Here’s how to choose which social media platform will get the best results for your business.

June 1, 2020

So, you’re ready to take the leap into using social media to promote your business. Or maybe you have gone as far as opening a business Facebook, Instagram or Twitter account, but it’s not getting much action. Having shared the why in the first two columns, in this edition I’m going to get into the how.

There are some decorators who feel like social media is a waste of time. They may not personally like it, and therefore have never tried it. Or they felt pressured to create an account and then halfheartedly put up some posts with no rhyme or reason other than they had a couple of spare minutes to throw something up there.

Over time, they notice it gets no likes, comments, or shares; and it is not gaining any new fans or followers. Under the pressure of day-to-day priorities, social media becomes the stepchild that gets no time or attention. Or maybe you have given it a shot, and the results have been disappointing and disheartening.

There also are decorators who love social media. They post every day, get amazing interaction and regularly gain new customers and sales from it.

What is the difference between those who are successful and those who are not?

Social media can be compared to your screen-printing press or your embroidery machine in one distinct way. If you don’t know how to use your machinery, you are not going to get the desired results. The shirts will not come out right, and your customers will not want to pay for their order.

If you do not do your homework and learn how to use social media correctly and accurately determine which sites you should be on and what kind of content you should be posting, you are going to get the same outcome as not running your machines properly.

You did not learn how to get good at screen printing and embroidery in one day, and you’re not going to get great results from social media in one day either. It’s a process that requires constant study and trial and error as you learn what works and what doesn’t. And no matter how many books you read, webinars you attend, or podcasts you listen to, the only way to truly figure out who your core audience is and what they are going to respond to is by putting out content and seeing what works.

It’s not fast and it’s not easy, but those who have put in the effort, will tell you it does work.

So, what’s the “right” approach to doing social media? First off, you have to choose your sites. Some decorators are on one social network, some are on all. This is going to be largely dictated by your customer base. Larger shops with more diverse demographics and niches probably need to be on all these platforms to reach their entire clientele.
However, if you are a rank beginner with no clue what you are doing, the general advice is to tackle one at a time. So how do you know which site? This is where the homework comes in. Whoever at your company is assigned to do your social media is going to need to spend some time on each platform. And this means they are going to need to have a personal account.

Anyone’s initial experience is going to be confusing, frustrating and probably annoying. Each platform has its own culture and rules, and you will find that initially you may not even understand what you are looking at. So, my first piece of advice is to choose someone who is either already a fan of that networking site or is at least familiar with it. Someone who hates social media is not going to be good at this job.

The second step is to figure out which platform your customers are using. How do you figure this out? Well, go down your customer list and search for your customers on that site either by their company name or personal name. You may want to divide up this task by niche. Each time you find a client, you will want to like or follow their page.

For example, if a lot of your business is from schools, then start searching for the schools in your area to see if they have pages. See if you recognize any names of people posting, see what the posts are about, and take notes. As you go down your list, it will soon become evident what percentage of that niche uses whatever platform you are searching on.

At the same time, you are trying to get a head count so to speak, you also will want to pay close attention to the topics of the posts. Are people looking for recommendations? Asking questions? Are they posting photos of events? Are they commenting on things happening in the news? What kind of personal information are they sharing? All of this gives you clues as to what kind of content you will want to be providing on your own page.

You also will want to compile a list of your biggest competitors. Make note of which sites they are on and also take notice of what they are posting. How is it being received? What kinds of posts are getting the most interaction?

Essentially, you want to repeat this process for each of the main social media websites, which include: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and YouTube. Snap Chat and Tic Tok also may be contenders depending on your demographic target. According to Sprout Social, Snatchat’s biggest age groups are 18 to 24 years old (73%) and 25 to 30 years old (47%). According to Hootsuite, “TikTok’s biggest age group in the United States is 18-24-year olds, which accounts for 42%. That’s followed by 13-17-year olds at 27%.”

If one of your niches is corporate such as banking, insurance, manufacturing, etc., you make want to conduct a search on LinkedIn as well. Depending on your niche, you may even find it worthwhile to check out Pinterest.

This is not the only way to find out what platforms your customers are on. You also can take an informal survey by asking individuals when they are on the phone or stop by to pick up an order. Or you could even survey them via email. This might save you some time in more quickly narrowing down the options.

Regardless of which method you choose, it’s critical that you determine these two things: which platform(s) and what kind of content. This ensures that you are investing your time in the right place and gives you a clue as to what kind of things you want to be posting. I’ll be giving you more tips and insights about content in the next column.