In the previous post, I wrote about the importance of using a platform that does what you want it to do. I explored how I was using Instagram to drive traffic to my website and newsletter. This strategy wasn’t working as I wanted it to, because Instagram isn’t build for that. In this post I’ll help you choose the right marketing platform(s) for your small business.
In order to figure out where to spend your time + energy when marketing your small business, you need to answer a few questions.
#1: how does a platform work?
Take a moment to understand how a channel or platform works and what it favours. This does not mean spending hours thinking about the all-elusive algorithm, but it does mean taking some time to look at what a platform is meant to do. Knowing this will help you choose a marketing platform for your business.
For instance, does the platform or channel allow direct links to your website, blog, or products? What kinds of posts does it favour? Both Instagram and Pinterest are fairly clear about this, and Facebook has tips for small business owners as well.
Another important thing to take into account is what people spend time doing on the various platforms. Take a look at these figures about what visitors of Facebook (incl. Messenger), Instagram and Pinterest mainly use the sites for.
The first reason people hang out on Instagram is community. The second is to be entertained and the third is to follow/find information about brands/products. If you’re a small business owner who spends a lot of time marketing on Instagram, this ranking might make you pause.
Facebook and Messenger are even more community-centred. Consequently, both are great for spreading the news about local products and businesses.
The number one reason people spend time on Pinterest is to follow/find information about brands/products. This is excellent news if you are a small business owner (and if you’re someone looking for that information). Entertainment is reason two people spend time on Pinterest, and the third is to post/share.
Looked at this way, Instagram and Pinterest are opposites: their top threes are exactly mirrored. This difference shows that both are fundamentally different platforms. Not in the least, of course, because Pinterest is often described as a visual search engine, rather than a social media platform in the more traditional sense.
Of course, a true comparison of platforms is hard to come by. Yes, it’s likely that of the X percent of people who have a Pinterest account, many do the same kind of research about brands on Instagram too. Or they might not.
However, being aware of these differences can help you decide which platforms to focus on. Do remember that you don’t have to be on all platforms, and you don’t have to be on your chosen platforms all the time. Rather, in a balanced marketing ecosystem, each channel has a different role or purpose.
The overview below of overlap between users of the different channels neatly demonstrates why we need to be clear on the distinct role each platform has. Judging by the overlap between many popular platforms, users themselves distinguish between how and why they use various platforms. As small business owners, we should do the same.
#2: where do your people hang out?
Finding your audience is notoriously hard. Yet knowing a little bit about demographics can be really useful in choosing between, for instance, Instagram and Facebook.
For example, at 38 years old, I am apparently part of a minority on Instagram: only 30% of Instagram users are above the age of 35 (according to Hootsuite). Aiming for an older demographic? Facebook’s users generally sway older than Instagram’s: 74% of their users are 35 to 54 years old, and 52% 55 and older (64% are 12-34 years old) (Hootsuite’s Facebook statistics).
#3: what works for your life + your business?
Finally, the good news is that, according to Hootsuite’s report on social media platforms, “[t]he average user has accounts on 8.4 different social platforms. 98.7% to 100% of users on the major social networks use other platforms”. And, as the overview above showed, 99.8% of Instagram users use other social platforms. So if you’re not catching them on Instagram, you might catch them on Facebook or Pinterest (or whatever your platform of choice is).
Even better news is that it’s your business. There are so many guides and blog posts out there telling you what you should do as a small business owner.
Most importantly though, whatever you do, please make sure that it fits in with your life and your business. If Facebook makes you miserable, stay away from it. If Reels fire up your creativity, make Reels. If you love how much scheduling you can do for Pinterest, experiment with Pinterest. Choose a marketing platform for your business that feels good.
The bottom line of all this?
When choosing a marketing platform for your small business, you need to be really clear on what you want that platform to do for you (creating a marketing ecosystem is a great first step for this).
And, just as importantly, it needs to fit in with your business and what makes you feel good. Marketing should feel like something that ties in organically with your business and your life. It shouldn’t feel like a job in itself.
Want more help creating a marketing strategy that feels good (and doesn’t feel like a whole other job?).
Read all my marketing blogposts here.