Not all social platforms are created equal. By saying that, I am not delving in social platform bigotry, but simply stating the fact that each platform has its own pros and cons and that not all of them are suited to your business needs. As an example, a fashion brand should opt for a social platform like Instagram, which is more visual in nature so that they can entice people to take action with images of their products. A business selling raw material in a typical B2B scenario would benefit more from a platform known to make business connections possible, like LinkedIn. However, you will be surprised to learn that the majority of SME owners in Pakistan don’t seem to understand this simple fact. Most create a Facebook page as part of their social media campaign irrespective of the nature of their business. Eventually, they discover this is not getting them the leads they want and they end up trashing their entire social media marketing division. Browse Facebook for local businesses and you will see that 50 to 55% of them are inactive. The fact is that there are specific platforms suited to your type of business or even suited for a specific division within your company. For example, it may be best to use Messenger or WhatsApp to deal with customer complaints rather than a Facebook feed.
Now don’t get me wrong; with over two billion active monthly users globally, Facebook and their suite of co-platforms (Instagram, Messenger and WhatsApp) are an essential part of any social media campaign. However, this does not necessarily mean they are your main media for digital communication with your customers. How do you identify the social media platforms that are right for you? Start by considering a few pertinent questions.
1.) What Is the Nature of the Task at Hand? For most businesses, the primary goal is to reach the right consumer audience. However, have you considered the best way to achieve this? For any generic customer reach programme, you have Facebook, but what if you can interest your customers more by displaying pictures of your products? In this case, Instagram would be the primary medium to tell your brand story. Fashion, cosmetic and personal care brands use Instagram more than any other platform, because it is most effective for them. If your customers prefer to read documents that are technical in nature, then Tumblr is a great platform. For time-critical communications like customer support, Messenger and WhatsApp work best.
2.) Where Is Your Competition Communicating? Although not the best yardstick to determine the right thing to do, it helps to know what your main competitors are doing. Are they using videos on YouTube or are they using LinkedIn? Identify which platforms were adopted by your most successful competitors.
3.) What Kind of Content Do You Create? An interesting way to do this is by looking at some of your best pitches that won over customers. What did you do? Did you use testimonials? Did you showcase your show-reel? If you think your best pitch was the video format, then build your primary platform around videos like (YouTube).
4.) Where Is Your Audience at? In business, it is never a good idea to make too many assumptions, yet I see this happening a lot when I deal with my clients – so don’t assume that your audience is on Facebook. Rather, survey a portion of your typical customers. Ask them where they get the information to make purchasing decisions and on which social media platform they spend time. This will help you determine which platform attracts the bulk of your audience. Here is a list of popular platforms that businesses use. Hopefully this will help you make your own decision.
Facebook: A Facebook presence helps a lot for any business. If it is not the primary source for your type of business, it will still have secondary uses. You can have a page that helps employees and customers ‘check in’ or a community page where they can discuss issues related to your industry. If Facebook is the main focus, set up a commercial page as you will be able to boost your posts. Almost 1.6% of Facebook’s global population of 2.2 billion resides in Pakistan. For most people it is the popular way to keep in touch with family and friends. Typical audience age ranges between 18 and 65.
Instagram: It has approximately 6.7 million users in Pakistan aged between 18 and 65. It is a versatile platform to communicate visually and it is helped by a lot of features that integrate its services with Facebook. Instagram, however, requires more commitment than Facebook as algorithms literally punish you for being inactive for extended periods. You need to be regular with your posts and use the Stories feature to give your brand a persona.
Twitter: Although it is an unpopular platform for most Pakistani brands, it is a favourite for news media because it propagates news rapidly. If your business needs to do this, then Twitter will work for you. It is also a great platform for your PR division no matter the nature of your business. Twitter has approximately 3.2 million users in Pakistan with an average age of ranging between 18 and 49.
YouTube: Although there are alternatives to YouTube (such as Vimeo) their viewership shares are negligible. Rivalling Facebook, YouTube has over two billion active viewers and viewership in Pakistan is estimated at about three million. It is the best platform if you require video to communicate with your audience. Combine this with the fact that the younger generation is no longer interested in reading articles and posts and simply want video content, and you have a prime platform to capture young people. With the popularity of the platform surging due to the fact that all major Pakistani drama serials are using it as an alternate to traditional TV, you have a great medium to reach housewives as well.
LinkedIn: If you want to generate leads for your B2B business, LinkedIn is best as all professional contacts are developed through the platform; in fact it is to the new generation what the Yellow Pages were to Boomers. LinkedIn initially started as a job search portal but soon became a complex professional community for business networking. LinkedIn has an estimated 5.9 million active users in Pakistan with an average age ranging between 25 and 65.
Pinterest: This is one of the most undervalued visual platforms. Although it is not an alternative to Instagram in terms of reach, Pinterest users globally tend to spend 60% more on purchasing than Instagram users. Although in Pakistan few brands have explored this medium SEO strategists use it regularly as every link on a Pinterest image is an external link. It has a heavily skewed female audience between 18 and 34. There are as many Pinterest users in Pakistan as there are Twitter users (3.2 million).
To sum up, a number of factors will dictate what your platform strategy should be and you should not blindly put up a Facebook page and assume that to be your social media strategy. Such random decisions lead to frustration, and businesses lose faith in social media altogether.
Syed Amir Haleem is CEO, Kueball and CSO, Skale. firstname.lastname@example.org