In today’s world, social media has become an extremely necessary tool to grow for anyone who needs an audience. Social media has created business opportunities and provided a source of income for several freelancers. Influencers on social media are now using their following to advertise brands and businesses.
Instagram influencers, Twitter celebrities, Facebook pages with a huge following are all sought after by big companies.
But one question that comes up again and again among budding creators is how to grow their social media following, and which is the right platform for them. All social media channels offer different advantages for different types of creators.
Using all social media platforms at the same time can lead to social media fatigue very soon.
While there are several articles that explain how to grow your social media presence, in this article, I highlight some key aspects that one should consider while getting started building their brand on a social media platform.
While comparing different social media platforms, I take into consideration three main factors: Discovery, Reach and Effort. I’ll define Discovery as the ability to find your target audience. Reach can be defined as how much of your target audience you can get to. I’ll say the effort is the amount of time and money investment required to reach your target audience.
I think the most important thing for a creator in early phases is testing your creation with a target audience. Once you see something is hit with a very specific audience, you need to think about how you can grow your reach to other people. Hence, thinking about your target audience, which social media platform they are on and reaching out to them is important. You should spend time on finding your target audience in the early phases of your career as a creator.
Let’s break down these factors for different social media networks –
With 2.32 bn monthly active users, Facebook is undoubtedly the largest social media platform in the world. It is likely that you have a Facebook account already. If you do, starting to build your brand on Facebook would be easy with your friends and family already connected to you.
If you don’t have a Facebook account, it still can be assumed that a lot of your friends are on Facebook, so connecting with them on Facebook would be as easy as sending a Friend Request.
For building your brand, it is important that you start by creating a Facebook Page. A Facebook Page is like your website but restricted to Facebook. Think of it as a way to showcase what you do to your target audience.
There are several online resources that can help you set up excellent Facebook pages. To start, you can take a look at differences between pages and profiles, as stated by Facebook here.
Let’s look at how Facebook performs on our comparison metrics:
1. Discovery: In terms of discovering your target audience, the Facebook search bar is your first friend. Putting in keywords revolving around your content will help you discover groups that are similar to what you are already doing. By joining similar Facebook groups or following pages, you can understand what people are doing in these communities. However, groups can be restricted, and not all groups will be spam-free. So, getting access to the groups’ content might have roadblocks, thus taking a lot of time to access and research.
2. Reach: With Facebook, once you set up your Facebook Page and make it public, you can invite all your friends to like and follow the page. Depending on how many friends you have on Facebook, you can target your reach. If you have 500 friends, you can get 500 followers with a few simple clicks. If you have a wider network, you can get more followers through this network. At the same time, since 30% of the world is already using Facebook, with a single Facebook page, your page is available to this audience.
3. Effort: To build an initial following on Facebook is easy, but to maintain the growth seems to be the hard part. Getting the first 100 followers for your Facebook page can be easily done by sending requests to all your friends. However, once you get to this point, it becomes really hard to grow, because you don’t know how to reach out to a larger audience. The only way to grow your audience would be to promote your page in related groups, personally asking people to share your page with others and grow over time. This is a painful growth process, which will take at least a couple of years to build a good number of followers.
With a billion monthly active users, Instagram is probably the next biggest social network platform you want to look at. Considering its appeal among the younger audiences and its features geared towards creators, it is worth trying out and seeing if it helps you engage with your audience.
Let’s take a look at Instagram based on our three parameters:
1. Discovery: With pictures and videos as the core piece of engagement, Instagram attracts the younger audiences (ages 15–30). With a bigger focus on hashtags, once you start populating your Instagram account with photos, suggestions for similar photos and profiles become more relevant to your profile. It is very easy to find people who have the same interests as you. As a result, building a good Instagram profile can be valuable if you want to attract younger audiences. Hashtags will take you a long way in discovering like-minded people on Instagram.
2. Reach: With features that attract the younger audiences, if your target audience is under 35, you should think of Instagram seriously. It is very easy for you to discover others, similarly, others can discover you with equal ease. As long as you keep posting photos consistently, you will grow over time. Reaching out to new people would seem like an organic process. Yet, one of the problems Instagram faces is the huge number of bots that follow profiles just to increase follower count. Be wary of using bots yourself, as they could be good in the short run but affect you in the longer run.
3. Effort: This depends on the type of person you are. If you are a person who has a lot of pictures that you can share, Instagram is the easiest tool to do that to build a following. One photo a day is an excellent benchmark to start with. Clicking a picture, applying filters and putting enough hashtags in the comments would take <5 minutes of your time. The process would seem effortless if you keep doing this over time. Initially, it doesn’t matter what you post, as long as you post consistently. Later, you can tailor your profile to promote your creation on it. The effort to grow organically on Instagram is lesser as compared to Facebook, provided you don’t get fatigued just by the thought of sharing pictures. However, if you don’t have a lot of pictures to share, then Instagram is probably not the best avenue for you. Keep reading 🙂
Twitter started off as a micro-blogging tool before it developed into a marketing behemoth. Twitter was one of the first social network platforms to embrace hashtags, and how! With its character limit, Twitter encourages the usage of shorter sentences to convey messages to people. The social network has 300 million + monthly active users, which is a very big audience.
1. Discovery: The best part of Twitter is that profiles are public by default, so discovering other people is very easy. If you want to find people who tweet about something, just search for hashtags and you’ll end up on people who are passionate about that particular issue. Click the Follow button and send them a personal message to connect! It is that easy. You can even search using Topics, which make sure that you can find people with similar interests.
2. Reach: Over the past 2 years, Twitter’s user base has stagnated. However, with the right hashtags, you can reach out to all the people who follow that hashtag. And if you post a tweet that someone else finds worthwhile, they can retweet it, thus sharing it with all of their followers. It is fine to ask people to Retweet if you want attention, just make sure you don’t do it every time. But if you’re like me, none of your friends is still using Twitter, so getting an initial boost from your followers might be hard. One number that I’d point out here is that only 16% of the users have more than 100 followers.
3. Effort: This is where Twitter excels. Typing 280 characters takes 2–3 minutes at most. Time to think of a tweet could be longer, but the execution time is minimal. Since your Twitter profile is public, people can find you not just on Twitter, but also through Google search if your profile has content relevant to them. At the same time, embedding tweets into your website or your blog is a common pattern that creators follow. If you find your community on Twitter, then building a good Twitter profile is very easy. Tweeting consistently is easy, and can be worth the effort.
LinkedIn is a professional social network. If you are a creator who does something for a professional audience (such as posting thought-leadership articles) getting engagement on LinkedIn might be important. If you want to grow your professional network, then too, LinkedIn can be a great tool. LinkedIn had 260 million monthly active users, as of December 2018.
Let’s look at LinkedIn in terms of our parameters:
- Discovery: On LinkedIn, you connect with your peers, similar to how you connect with friends and family on Facebook. You can look up profiles of people on LinkedIn, but if they are private, you don’t get to see the profiles. Also, messaging users is not always free. In some cases, you need to get a subscription to LinkedIn Premium, which would enhance your profile. Therefore, unless your audience is strictly a professional audience, I would not spend a lot of time on LinkedIn. However, if you are someone who is looking to get in touch with marketing agencies for influencer marketing, having a LinkedIn profile that is updated every few months makes sense. Marketing agencies may use LinkedIn to discover influencers like you.
- Reach: On LinkedIn, you need to purchase tools to reach out to people who you don’t know. So, I would state reaching out to new people on LinkedIn as hard. But if you can afford the cost of LinkedIn Premium, it is easy to message people outside your professional network.
- Effort: Creating a profile doesn’t take a long time. A LinkedIn profile is like your resume. Posting content consistently on LinkedIn might bring more people to your network, but the effort would be too much. Because the expectation on LinkedIn is that you’ll be a professional person, it might be awkward to keep posting updates all the time. It can get hard to come up with new content ideas that you can keep sharing on LinkedIn. Though LinkedIn has hashtags, you might not see any significant gains from hashtags unless you put in a lot of effort.
Social media is one of the most important marketing engines today, so considering these factors early on can bring you a lot of focus. At the start of your journey as a creator, don’t think of focusing on more than 2 social network platforms. Instagram, Facebook are easy winners, but I would suggest focusing on one of those depending on your audience.
Twitter is an important one just because the effort required to engage is very less. Twitter also has a culture of discussion and debates, which can be a significant way to engage with your audience. Especially for writers, an excellent writing community exists on Twitter.
I thought about including Pinterest and other social networks in this analysis but wanted to see how people react to this first. Let me know if this article helped and which social network platform you would like me to analyze.
Thanks for reading!
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