How to Pick the Best Social Media Platform for Your Business

Every business needs a social media presence. Social media supports your website, integrates with SEO and ads, expands your reach, and builds a community around your company. It’s a part of your brand story, and impacts how you’re perceived. But in order for it to be effective, you need to choose the right social media platform for your business.

I’m here to help you figure that out – using alcoholic beverages.

Yes, you read that correctly. We’re going to compare the most popular social networks and their audiences to popular drinks and the people who enjoy them.

Why?

A huge part of successfully using social media in your digital marketing strategy is identifying the personalities of your company and your audience – then choosing the optimal place for them to get together. The ‘flavour’ of your social platform is the foundation on which your content, ads, and even posting schedule should be built.

Cheers! Let’s get started.

photo of people drinking at a table, each with a different type of beer in a glass

Is there a right or wrong social media platform for my business?

The short answer is no. A law firm or small HVAC company can be successful on Instagram. A nutritional supplement company can tap the power of LinkedIn publishing. And you can totally have white wine with chicken wings.

There isn’t a ‘right’ drink that you have to pair with your meal, and there’s no ‘right’ social network for your industry or business type. What matters most is that you understand your business, your audience, and how social media fits into your digital strategy. If you’ve got that locked in, and you’re committed to creating the kind of content your audience wants, the best platform for your company should feel obvious.

How to identify your brand personality

As I mentioned, choosing a social media platform for your company has a lot to do with personality. And just like every business needs social media, our companies need personalities, too.

A huge misconception is that personality only matters for B2C companies selling to Gen Z. But personality isn’t about trying to be quirky or funny or flashy – it’s simply about making a lasting impression. And if your website and social media have no personality, you’ll be instantly forgettable.

Did you know that 62% of B2B buyers make choices based on digital content alone? And a single bad website experience makes B2B users 88% less likely to ever visit it again. (Blue Corona)

The words and images you use should come from the tone you want to evoke. Think of it this way: you can’t use the same packaging on a 6-pack of beer and on a $100 bottle of wine. Likewise, you can’t stick your name and logo on six social channels, post the exact same content with the same copy, and expect results.

grid of 8 photos of different types of alcoholic beverages including cocktails and beer

We’ve written a thorough guide to creating a brand playbook for your business. It’s worth a read for any business without brand guidelines, or those considering a rebrand!

Here are the four key takeaways:

  • Identify your business goals – who you are, what you do, and WHY you do it
  • Think about what makes your company special; your differentiator plays a huge role in your personality, because it needs to come across even when you’re not directly talking about it
  • Use branding exercises (or the awesome Brand Deck) to choose a set of words that describe how you want to be perceived; this should guide all creative (copy, imagery, video) choices
  • Study competitors’ websites, social media profiles, and ads to get a sense of the creative assets that they’re using and audience response

How to pick the right social media platform

While considering each social media platform, keep these questions in mind:

  • Who is your target audience, and which platforms do they use most?
  • What story are you trying to tell about your business, and your product or service?
  • What kinds of content do you plan to consistently produce?
  • How will social media support your website?

Now, let’s meet the contenders!


 

Facebook

Facebook is a big-name, easy-drinking lager (Molson, Bud, Coors) or an affordable wine (think E & J Gallo). It’s reliable, familiar, and it gets the job done. Try as they might, other social media platforms can’t dethrone this household name.

photo of a row of brown beer bottles with an opener about to pop the top on one beer

Sixteen years after its inception, Facebook still reigns as the most popular social platform. It’s the place you go to keep up with family and friends, or snoop on people you used to know. We check Facebook several times a day, often without even thinking about it.

Like a lager or reasonably priced wine it’s consumed pretty much universally, even by those who regularly splurge on craft beers and European wines.

Get started on Facebook with these guides:

Facebook Marketing: The Ultimate Guide (Hubspot)
Facebook Marketing in 2020: How to Use Facebook for Business (Hootsuite)
The Complete Guide to Digital Marketing Using Facebook (Facebook Business)


 

LinkedIn

LinkedIn is the number one social media platform for professionals. It’s classy, like a fine red wine or a tumbler of whiskey. That isn’t to say that LinkedIn can’t party – but everyone will bring a gift for the host, nothing will get broken, and guests will help tidy up before they head home.

photo of a tumbler of whiskey on the rocks

    • LinkedIn has over 690 million members
    • There are over 3 million company pages
    • LinkedIn is the second most popular social media platform for B2B
    • LinkedIn ads are also particularly powerful for B2B companies, because they offer methods of targeting that no other social media platform can match: education, and job experience or title
    • It has a built-in publishing platform, Pulse, where businesses can create articles that gain broad reach and drive traffic back to their websites

LinkedIn isn’t weighed down by cat videos and gossip; content shared on LinkedIn is intended to raise a company’s profile, connect with other businesses, and nurture recruitment. It’s the third most-used method to reach out to potential job candidates (aside from phone or email).

LinkedIn is a refined drink, sipped slowly over highly engaging conversation. If you want to get your name in front of the businesses most likely to buy from you, this is your place.

Get started on LinkedIn with these guides:

The Beginner’s Guide to LinkedIn Marketing (Hubspot)
The Sophisticated Marketer’s Guide to LinkedIn (LinkedIn Marketing)
LinkedIn’s Marketing Resources


 

Instagram

Instagram is like a cocktail so pretty you have to pause and gaze at it (or snap a photo) before taking a sip. It can be classy or silly and a little vain, and that’s what makes it so fun.

photo of four arms holding different fancy cocktails together while they cheers

    • Instagram has over 1 billion users
    • Those people spend an average of 28 minutes per day on the platform
    • Although 110 million of its users are from the U.S. (its largest audience), 89% are from outside the country and it’s the fastest growing social media platform in Canada
    • 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile per day (Hootsuite)
    • Although it’s most popular in the 18-30 age bracket, 71% of B2B companies have an Instagram account according to the 2020 Social Media Marketing Industry Report
    • Facebook’s brand new Shops functionality, a free online storefront for small businesses, can also be hosted on Instagram

Instagram is a fantastic place to humanize your company, showcase your values, or to elevate your brand with striking images and video.

A survey released by Facebook (which owns Instagram) revealed that people perceive companies who use Instagram as popular, creative, entertaining, relevant, and committed to building a community. Those people use Instagram to discover, research, and make buying decisions about products and services.

Like making a gorgeous cocktail, quality Instagram content takes dedication and attention to detail – but the payoff is a delightful and highly memorable impression. Just be careful that the taste lives up to the presentation.

Get started on Instagram with these guides:

Instagram Marketing: The Definitive Guide (Later)
Instagram resources, guides, and training courses (Later)
Instagram Marketing: The Ultimate Guide (Hubspot)


 

YouTube

YouTube is like a seasonal beer on tap, because no two breweries will do a summer or winter beer the same way. What you get might be fun, smart, and highly educational… or it might be a dumpster fire of low quality and poor taste.

photo of a flight of seasonal fall beers in front of a display of a pumpkin and other fall decor

YouTube is a great place to add depth to your business content by creating videos and playlists, and engaging with your audience, while boosting your SEO. Think about it – when you type a search into Google, any video results are displayed above the page and post URLs. By creating videos around your target keywords, you can appear above your competitors.

People turn to YouTube to learn a new skill as often as they do to find hilarious entertainment, so there’s no need to try to fit into a specific content or personality box – you could find success creating how-to videos, topic awareness content, customer success stories, case studies, or expert interviews.

When it comes to YouTube, you want to be the tasty beer that’s so good, people stockpile bottles for the off-season. If you don’t feel like you have the time or budget to regularly create good videos, pick a different platform.

Get started on YouTube with these guides: 

YouTube Marketing: The Ultimate Guide (Hubspot)
The Complete Guide to Building a Successful YouTube Channel (QuickSprout)
The Beginner’s Guide to YouTube Marketing for Small Businesses (WordStream)


 

Pinterest

Pinterest is a totally over-the-top fancy caesar (an ultimate bloody Mary for our U.S. friends); it costs more than your meal, but it’s so worth it. You want shrimp on top? Onion rings? Pakora? Tiny burgers? The sky’s the limit.

photo of a bloody mary cocktail with a tiny hamburger on top

Pinterest’s vibe is positive and inspirational. It’s a great place for companies to share engaging content around products, data, and values or causes. Video, infographics, and GIFs perform well on Pinterest.

While other social media platforms use AR for selfie filters, Pinterest Lens allows users to take a photo of something they see and then search Pinterest for similar content. And a new Lens-powered feature called Try On lets people virtually try certain products for sale on Pinterest.

Like an exotic caesar, Pinterest caters to a specific audience that’s willing to spend more for an elevated experience. You need to bring your A-game to meet their expectations.

Get started on Pinterest with these guides: 

Pinterest resources and guides (Pinterest for Business)
The Ultimate Guide to Pinterest Marketing (Later)
How to Use Pinterest for Business: “Getting Started” Guide for Beginners (Post Planner)


 

Twitter

Twitter is like a game of “surprise me!” roulette with shots at the bar. Sometimes it’s highly informative, sometimes it’s super entertaining, and other times you have no idea what just happened.

photo of glowing shots in different colours at a bar

Twitter is great for news. You can get a lot of information quickly from world leaders, media, and organizations. But because Twitter is like texting to the entire world, you can also read a ton of trash talk (‘mean tweets’ about celebs are so popular that they have their own late-night show segment). And sometimes your feed is nothing but the repetitive ‘inspirational’ leadership quotes from companies that have been working the same Twitter strategy since 2016.

At this point you might be thinking, why the heck would I use Twitter for my business?

It’s all about the conversational aspect. Twitter is THE place people think to go for quick customer service, and it’s especially useful for SAAS and other tech companies. Popular business messaging platform Slack uses Twitter to share software status updates, to answer customer questions, and to share tips. Social media management tool Hootsuite also has a busy customer support account on Twitter.

Just like telling the bartender to surprise you with a mystery shot, you might do REALLY well using Twitter for your business. Or you might stumble away feeling confused and a bit unwell.

Get started on Twitter with these guides:

Twitter Marketing: The Complete Guide for Business (Hootsuite)
Twitter Marketing: The Only Guide You Need to Succeed (Sprout Social)
How to Use Twitter to Grow Your Business, Traffic and Sales (Post Planner)


 

Snapchat

Snapchat is a craft cider – that emerging drink trend of the last five years that’s now a regular item on menus and shelves, but it still feels fresh. Snapchat was actually launched almost 10 years ago (2011), so even though it feels kind of cute and ditzy, you can find plenty of reliable Snapchat marketing guides online.

photo of a flight of craft ciders

Snapchat is less polished and carefully curated than the cocktails and caesars of Instagram and Pinterest. It’s definitely for the playful, cheeky brands, and significantly more popular with B2C companies.

That isn’t to say it won’t work for B2B – it’s finding footing with certain industries like social media (obviously) and communications. And companies in many industries are using the custom geofilters to attract attention to a location or promotional event.

If this sounds like your target audience, and you want your brand to feel fresh and relevant, go forth and launch your smoked seaweed and elderflower cider. There’s an audience waiting to try it.

Get started on Snapchat with these guides:

Snapchat for Business: The Ultimate Marketing Guide (Hootsuite)
Snapchat Marketing: The Ultimate Guide (Hubspot)
Snapchat Business Centre


 

TikTok

TikTok is this year’s drink of choice: a hard seltzer. It’s new, exciting, and way cooler than anything else on the market (although not literally, because they can all be found in the fridge). And unlike other social media platforms, this one is ALL about entertainment.

photo showing a group of friends raising glasses of clear fizzy beverages

TikTok is great for those that want to reach a younger audience, be innovators on a new video platform, and primarily share entertaining content. Small business owners with a youthful brand and entrepreneurial individuals (like TikTok’s marketers and designers) can do well on TikTok.

Like a hard seltzer, TikTok isn’t the place for every business. Plenty of people prefer beer, and that’s fine! You don’t have to start drinking White Claw just because everyone is talking about it.

Get started on TikTok with these guides:

The Ultimate Guide to TikTok Marketing (Later)
Everything Brands Need to Know About TikTok in 2020 (Hootsuite)
How to Get Started With TikTok: A Guide for Marketers (Social Media Examiner)


 

Reddit

Like people who are into sour ales or double-hopped IPAs, Reddit users have very specific tastes. It’s the niche of all niches, while still being a social site. You don’t wing it on Reddit – you need to have a plan that starts with knowing if you belong on Reddit.

photo of two pints of sour ale next to a sliced grapefruit

Reddit is more of a social forum than a social media platform. It’s the place to go for useful, relevant information, conversations, and data. There are subreddits (Reddit communities) on everything from news, politics, and games to SEO, science, and, of course, stupidity.

It can be a huge asset for businesses that earn Reddit users’ trust, and that’s a process in itself. You can’t just pop onto Reddit, create an account, and start sharing links to your company’s website and trying to host an AMA (ask me anything). You need to spend time commenting, upvoting and downvoting, and answering questions.

Like people who prefer sour ales or extra-hoppy IPAs, a Reddit community will be a smaller but much more loyal and engaged group than typical ‘followers’. If you establish yourself as trustworthy, credible, and not in it solely for promotion, you can use Reddit to grow a real community around your business.

Get started on Reddit with these guides: 

How to Market on Reddit: A Guide for Businesses (Social Media Examiner)
The Ultimate Guide to Reddit Marketing: How to Grow Your Business Using Reddit (Elegant Themes)
How 10 Brands Use Reddit for Marketing (Hubspot)


 

We hope our guide to picking the best social media platform for your business was helpful! Remember that it’s all about your personality. It’s totally possible to be successful on an unexpected platform, if you’re tuned into the tastes of your audience.