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From startups to major multinational corporations, social media marketing has become one of the essential subdisciplines of the marketing field. With such a diversity of platforms, however, it can be difficult to identify which platforms are worth engaging with for each business.

Social Media Explosion

Social media platforms have exploded since the early aughts and the advent of classical platforms like Friendster and Myspace. While Facebook followed shortly after and Twitter was not far behind itself, today’s social media landscape has developed into a few well-developed and sophisticated platforms, plus various other platforms that come and go.

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While platforms like Pinterest, Tumblr, and Snapchat certainly have their use cases and scale, the Big 3 continue to be Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram, plus YouTube, which may or may not be a social media platform depending on who you ask.

Understanding the Social Media Landscape

With the addition of up and coming platforms, such as TikTok, it can be difficult for even a digital native to navigate the social media landscape from the marketing perspective.

At their core, though, the platforms must be considered as communications channels, like billboards, television ads, and magazine. Just like these traditional forms of advertising, each social media platform has its own set of use cases.

Keeping this in mind can be helpful for determining which platforms are worth utilizing. The key is to find where these platforms’ use cases align with your own objectives.

Aligning with Platform Use Cases

There are several questions you can ask yourself as you begin to layout the foundation of your social media presence:

  • What stories do you have to tell? This begins with understanding what your brand and product stories are and determining which platform matches the kinds of content you will create to tell your stories.
  • What audience do you want to reach? Each platform has its own targeting capabilities and segmented audiences. Keep in mind that there are nuances to this. It’s said that Facebook is more heavily populated by heavy users, but younger age segments dominate each of the major platforms (although consumers 50+ do use Facebook more than any other platform).
  • What objectives do you have? This comes down to serving actual business needs, whether that means engaging with customers on Twitter, generating leads on LinkedIn, or driving traffic through Facebook.

Putting Social Media to Work

Understanding the key social media platforms is just one piece of understanding your target audience and how to best serve their needs. By finding where your objectives overlap with each social media platform’s use cases, you can begin constructing an efficient and effective social media marketing plan.

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