Which social media channels are most effective for my business?

Is there a difference between the social media channels in terms of how effective they are for different types of businesses? I'm a retailer for instance.

Top voted answer
Brad Lyons

Brad Lyons, Consultant at

Regardless of the product your selling you should have a Facebook account. Social media is powerful and can be both rewarding and damaging to your business. For example if you have bad customer service your social media page will turn into a complaints board the world can see.

Before you think about setting up a social media page you need to make sure your customer service and products are ready for it.

Facebook and Twitter are the most popular however new social media platforms are always being developed. When it comes to knowing what social media site is best for you, the only way of knowing is by conducting some research on your existing customers.

Look at where your website traffic is coming from, are people finding your website from Google, Yahoo, Facebook or other sites. Best way to find out is spend the time setting up an account on the top 20 social media sites and watch the traffic coming into your site. In your web hosting Cpanel you will see a web stats program that will tell you this.

Ask questions. Ask people when they go to the checkout where they found you. You could have a million people view your website that come from Facebook however the majority of the people completing an order could be coming from a smaller site.

Trial and error is the best way to find this out. There is no secret to marketing. It comes down to research and trials.

Before you start on social media you should have some basic stats on pre-social media.

How many month views does your website have?

What is your conversion rate from visitors to sales?

Number of site visits per country

Number of sales by product

Put together some stats before you start any marketing campaign so you can accurately measure the success. Then you will know what is and isn't working for you.

Federica Spooner

Federica Spooner

Thanks for that Brad! That's great advice. So I guess I'll really have to make sure I'm ready before I launch any major social media campaigns.

Jef Lippiatt

Jef Lippiatt, Owner at Startup Chucktown

I would also add that you should determine the platforms you participate in based on your business and goals. The top 2 that come to mind for retailers are Pinterest and Instagram as they both lend themselves to featuring your products if you are a retailer. Twitter is a good place to connect and get feedback. I try to avoid Facebook so I can't give you insight on that platform but there are plenty to use to your advantage. I will say if you aren't familiar with the platforms reading an overview (best practices) is a good place to start. If that isn't up your alley you can try to ask a friend that uses the platform you are considering.

Philip Brookes

Philip Brookes, Director at

The key with any form of marketing is to go to where your customers are. Depending on your industry, I may be able to provide some insights as to where that is. But it's safe to say that there's wide variety.

For example, Twitter is extremely well known and you'd think it's a "must have" - however, there's a lot of dormant accounts on Twitter and it tends to be very polarising. It's big for journalism, activism, tech, marketing, travel, and celebrities to name the obvious. There's also a significant user base of millennials chattering with their friends. Conversely, you don't find a lot of senior level execs with enough time to hang around on Twitter throughout the day.

While I'd recommend that most businesses should at least establish a Twitter account to reserve the handle and listen for any mention of their business (e.g. an unhappy customer?) it may not be pertinent to invest further resources into Twitter. But if I were a tech company I'd certainly be active there, or if I had an indoor trampoline centre I'd also try to connect with my target audience (including existing customers) with both free and promoted Tweets.

This same philosophy/logic can be applied to every other social media channel - Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, etc...

The only one I'd say almost certainly you should be on is Facebook - simply because so many people use it. Particularly if you're a retailer, it's almost certainly worth having a presence and a strategy to engage. And Facebook enables you to get in front of your target audience very accurately at reasonable cost even though you may not know who they are specifically and they have never heard of you before.