Guest Post by: Monica (Market Sentinel)

People always ask us what the “best” social media channel is for their particular marketing strategy. If you play it by the numbers, Facebook rocks them all: last January, reported that Facebook had over 133 million unique visitors (UVs), compared to YouTube’s 97.7 million and Twitter’s paltry 23.5 million. How many Facebook fans do you have?

Then again, the percentage of Americans who are aware of Twitter (87%) is almost equal to those who are aware of Facebook (88%) according to Edison Research. Wait, let’s not all sign up for Twitter now.

So what is the best social media channel for online marketing? Like most questions of its ilk, there’s no one definitive answer – it totally depends on your business, your brand, and your customers. So before you sign up for a Twitter account just because it seems like everyone else has one, ask yourself this

  • What am I trying to accomplish? “Get involved with social media” is not an acceptable answer. Are you trying to get hits to your website? Understand what consumers say about your brand? Connect with other industry leaders? Think about what you really want to get out of your efforts. Then ask yourself…
  • Who am I trying to reach? Chances are you’re trying to reach your customers – existing and/or potential. But who they “are” goes deeper than age, sex and location. What are they talking about? Where do they talk about it? Do they like YouTube? Are they heavy tweeters? Forum posters? Blog fans? Find out who your customers are, where they’re talking, and what they’re talking about, and you’ll better understand how they use social media and which social media channels are worth your time.
  • Which channel will bring the most value to your audience? Probably the toughest question to answer, but also the most important. Fact: deliver value to your audience and your social media campaign will flourish. It’s not important enough to just be “in it”, you have to give something back if you expect anything in return. Useful content, customer support, entertaining videos, whatever it is, it better be good for your audience.

Got it sorted? Now here’s a few options:


Examples: @Zappos, @americanapparel, @ScottMonty (Ford), and more

What you can do with it: network with industry members, exchange news with other users, engage with customers.

Who it’s best for: B2B brands looking to interact with other industry professionals. Can also be used by B2C brands to engage with customers and offer customer service (see Zappos).

Company blog

Examples: Signal vs. Noise (37 Signals), FastLane

What you can do with it: Establish expertise in your industry by providing  content such as analyses, how-to guides, interviews with experts and other high-value posts.

Who it’s best for: B2B brands as blogs typically require prior knowledge and interest in the industry.

Read more: How to create a successful company blog [Mashable]


Examples: Heinz, BMW, and more

What you can do with it: Gain new fans through existing fans who introduce your brand to friends in their network. Post interesting links, videos, images, promotions, and pretty much anything that you think your fans would like. Also good for getting feedback and comments from customers and “fans” of your brand.

Who it’s best for: B2C brands with a large enough customer base to have “fans”. People have to know you know to want to keep up with you along with their other friends.

Video sharing

Examples:  Barrack Obama (YouTube), Old Spice

What you can do with it: Gain link popularity by posting entertaining videos and adverts.

Who it’s best for: Small and large businesses, both B2C and B2B, can build buzz for their brand by creating a popular video. Even if the video doesn’t “go viral”, it can be great support to existing campaigns.

Social Bookmarking

Examples:  Digg, Delicious, StumbleUpon

What you can do with it: Drive traffic to your content by posting and sharing links. Easy to integrate into existing campaigns.

Who it’s best for: Anyone can benefit from social bookmarking, but don’t expect it to be your one stop social media shop. Social bookmarks work best alongside other efforts such as blogging or Facebook.

Read more: Leveraging delicious and social bookmarking for B2B marketing []

The list goes on

I’ve listed the major channels for social media marketing, but there are some less obvious channels that might also be worth exploring depending on your business:  image sharing (e.g. Flickr), podcasts, wikis, Foursquare, LinkedIn, the list goes on. It might seem daunting, but if you can answer the questions at the beginning of the post, you should be able to narrow your options considerably.

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