There has been lots of debate in the last year about which social media platform deliveries the best ROI for marketers. With the exponential rise of platforms like Snapchat, Periscope, Medium and the fall of others (Google + R.I.P kind of), marketers should be wary to scrabble for the next big platform. 

Each platform has its own benefits, and you could argue that they all play a part in engaging with potential customers. But which social platform should you be pouring the majority of your efforts into? Which should you be ignoring? 

Let’s start from the beginning, before ploughing any amount of your marketing budget into ‘doing social’ it is key to understand the role that you see social media playing in your campaign. So you’ve got a ream of beautifully creative posts ready to go, but what is the intent of your content? Most marketers should be aware that the days of just posting content on social networks for amplification are over. 

To really win on any social platform, it has to be specifically designed and thought out for that platform.

When running a sustained period of social media activity, either as part of a campaign or from a day to day plan, it is important to establish from the outset what you want the user to do with your content. Do you want awareness, engagement, followers or conversions to your site? To clearly define this we’ve found it useful to categorise different types of activity into the following simplified groups:

Traffic driving
  • Content that intended to drive traffic from our social channels to another destination. This is primarily a click-through response.
In-channel Engagement
  • Content that encourages our audience to interact with us directly within that channel e.g. likes, comments or retweets.
When we’re planning social activity, we’re constantly asking ‘what is this content doing?’

Facebook
Now with over 20,000 people on the site every second, Facebook is an obvious platform for brands looking to reach a large audience. And it can certainly deliver both of the aforementioned results if used correctly, but that doesn’t mean you should use it to the exclusion of other channels. Facebook is expanding, with the rise of its video capabilities and Instant Articles it’s clear that it doesn’t want to be outdated or pushed out of the centre of social networks by new kids on the block. Whilst Facebook’s younger audience consider it less essential then their other networks such as Tumblr, Snapchat and YikYak – however, they’re still using it for events, groups and messenger at the moment.  

Topical posts are still a great for brands and companies to join in with the community. This year ‘Back to the Future day’ and Trafalgar day happened to land on the same day, leading to a great opportunity for the Royal Navy’s social media. Our creative department quickly pulled together a post with the theme of ‘Jack to the Future’ and it has proven to be the most popular post to date on Facebook (and Twitter) for the Royal Navy with a reach of nearly 200,000 people. And involvement from RAF Recruitment in the comments. 


This is a great example of our In-Channel engagement metric, the posts weren’t designed to drive conversions or take users off page, they were simply for the Royal Navy community to engage with and possibly expand our reach. 

Instagram
Instagram is well known as the channel to use if you want to engage with younger people, with usage at 41% among those aged 16-24 and at 35% among 24-34's. This is proven by people like Kendall Jenner (43m followers) and Taylor Swift (58m followers) ‘winning the internet’ this year with their popular channels. 
Whilst Instagram is seen as a visual platform, which usually excels for FMCG brands, there have been lots of creative social strategy for less obvious brands to succeed on the platform. 

A great example of this is General Electric, who have a huge following on Instagram and would possibly be considered a typically ‘boring’ industry. However, with some great photography, audience persona research and appealing to their niche followers they’ve created a real asset for their brand. 
Don’t discount your brand from the Instagram world, there may be a whole audience waiting to see your content. If your main aim is to drive conversions rather than awareness and engagement, then maybe your marketing efforts would be served best elsewhere as Instagram hasn’t developed its click through rate metrics yet. 
 
Twitter
Twitter is a great channel for brands to be on, regardless of your industry like Facebook it’s not a social platform that is only for conversation between users. One of the ways Twitter has been fantastic for brands and customers alike is the ability to have an immersive customer experience. 

Most people reading this will have complained to a brand about a service at some point on Twitter, whether it’s a restaurant, clothing company, car park, make up brand, acupuncturist, you name it and someone has complained about it on Twitter. The difference is that on Twitter you’re able to manage that conversation and experience publically – of course this is two-fold. On one hand your brand may be seen replying to a customer politely and resolving their issue then and there. On the other hand it may be a complete disaster. But either way, it’s seen that you tried to help.

This function is only a part of your brand on Twitter, it’s also a great platform for running campaigns, driving engagements and unlike Instagram is great place to drive conversions. Twitter has lots of different capabilities including finding the perfect influencers for your brand. Your Twitter strategy should be in-line with your Facebook strategy, but remember as we said at the start, they are different! Don’t post like you would on Facebook on Twitter and vice versa. 
It’s clear that whatever channel or combination of channels is best for your brand, social media should be a part of your overall digital marketing offering. To ignore these channels would be ignoring lots of potential opportunities.  

Whichever channels you choose to embed into your campaign the key to success is not new, users are still looking for authentic engagements with brands. Strong content will always deliver engagement across social media.

Win this, and you too could win the internet.

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