Posting, pinning, tweeting, snapping… the list of social media networks — and terms for posting content on them — seems to never stop growing. For social media marketers who stay in the loop, it’s tempting to take advantage of every brand new network that pops up. After all, isn’t the point of social media to find new ways to engage with your audiences and customers?

It’s true, these platforms are all about engagement — but quality is better than quantity. Some social media networks are more useful to your brand than others, and these often depend on which industry you’re in.

Here are the key factors to consider when determining where you should expand your social media presence.

Understanding Your Audience

Consider how companies advertise through traditional channels, like television and magazines. From soap operas to Sunday Night Football, different programs attract different audiences, right? The same concept goes for websites. I can guarantee that Architectural Digest and Forbes have very different audiences. When companies advertise, they research the best places for their ads to engage with their target audience; and, ultimately, sell their products and services.

Of course, social media is a whole different beast, but you can still use the same strategic mindset. Top sites like Facebook boast more than 1.1 billion unique monthly visitors. With that kind of traffic, it seems odd not to consider creating a company page for users to “Like.” Similar to traditional media, however, some social media sites attract certain audiences; whether they are based on age, gender or interests.  Here are some key examples:

  • 85% of Pinterest users are female, and around 300 million Pinterest boards center around fashion.
  • 72% of online U.S. adults use Facebook at least once a month.
  • 28% of U.S. teens named Snapchat as their favorite social media network; Instagram came in second at 27%.

Before running to the trendiest social media channel, do some research to see if that site is being used by people within your target audience. It also helps to research examples of how other companies are using that social platform, to see if those match your strategy, capabilities, and goals.

Understanding the Network

With the array of new social media sites springing up, most of us are drawn to being “early adopters” and jumping on board with whatever seems like the next big thing. Sometimes the payoffs can be huge, like with video platform Vine, which reached 10 million users within the first four months after its release. More often, however, new sites burst into the mainstream only to disappear and never be heard of again. A perfect example is the social site Peach (I know, who?). Joe Lazauskas wrote a great post-mortem about Peach, in which he explains how brands like J.Crew flocked to the site in early January; but, by the end of the month, nobody cared. Meerkat had a similar fate, as did Ello (if you haven’t heard of these sites, consider it just more proof of my point). Even Google+ failed to gather consistent usage, despite the company’s dominance in other online domains, like email.

It’s always good to have new social sites on your radar, but as a marketer, it’s wise to give the network time to grow, to see if it has the staying power you’re looking for. Otherwise, you could risk wasting hours building your company’s presence, only to see no returns when users lose interest in the whole platform. It’s wise to examine your competitors’ social media strategies and see how you can make those similar channels work for your business. If every one of your competitors is advertising on Facebook and you are not, you’re already way behind.

Today’s Rising Stars

You’re already familiar with the leading social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram — but, which new sites should you keep your eye on? Let’s discuss a few younger sites that have gained popularity over the past couple years:


If you’re looking for a way to establish your company as an authority leader, look no further than SlideShare. This platform allows you to upload slideshows and videos, against the backdrop of a slick design (Forbes calls it the professional YouTube). SlideShare’s integration with LinkedIn makes it a great way to leverage your existing professional network to share informative content.


Since its relaunch in March 2015 after being bought by Twitter, Periscope’s subscriber base has grown to more than 10 million. The app allows people to live stream to viewers around the world, offering an engaging and instantaneous way to reach your consumers. Businesses like Red Bull and Spotify have turned to Periscope for broadcasting exclusive interviews, live Q&A sessions, and sneak-peeks at upcoming products.


It’s not a GIF, and it’s definitely not a Vine, yet somehow Instagram’s newest feature is well on its way to proving itself as a key to content creation on the popular social network. With Boomerang, users download an external app where they are able to quickly create animated GIFs that play backwards and forwards in a 1-second loop, hence the name “Boomerang.” Brands such as Purina and Timberland are already integrating Boomerang into their content strategy due to it’s ease of use and visual appeal. 

Where to Take Your Social Media Strategy

There’s a lot to consider when trying to expand your social media presence. Every social media site has unique restrictions on posted content (Vine limits clips to 6 seconds; Twitter limits posts to 140 characters). These limitations — as well as the site’s user experience design and capabilities — influence the type of user who flocks to them, and the style of content that’s best-suited for sharing. Some sites never gain a strong following, despite massive media attention when they launch. Everyone wants to be present on the newest site, but trendsetting isn’t everything. The key is finding a site that works with your audience, goals, and social media strategy. Don’t be on all the platforms; be on the right platforms.And when you are ready to expand, always have a clear strategy in place for your new venture.

Remember, your business does not need to be everywhere. Research your competitors and be selective with your social media time and energy to garner the best results.


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