Back in October 2016, our team weighed in on the question du jour for digital marketers: Snapchat, Instagram Stories, or Both? Fast forward a few months and the question seems quaint, thanks to the launch of a host of new storytelling and ephemeral messaging platforms.
Now organizations must choose from Snapchat, Instagram Stories, Facebook Messenger Day, Medium Series, and possibly Facebook Stories, a feature being piloted with Facebook users outside the U.S. That wailing sound you hear is digital marketers and community managers bemoaning a host of new platforms and tools to choose from, manage and populate with content.
Don’t let the host of new channels scare you. The fundamental skills you have as a digital expert will see you through. Here’s our advice on how to decide which platform to embrace—if any—to meet your communication needs.
What are your goals?
Everything a communications professional does should be tied back to your organization’s communication strategy, which ultimately ties into the overall business goals.
Are you trying to raise awareness for your organization, or for a new product or service? Then Instagram, with its 600 million users, may be the best bet.
Is it all about positioning members of your organization as thought leaders in your industry? Then you may want to develop a long-form Series on Medium, taking an in-depth dive into an issue that’s relevant to your organization.
Is it all about driving registrations, purchases or other conversions? Messaging or Story-like platforms may not be the best tool for driving users to take action, as it’s typically a means of personal communication and users are less likely to make a purchase or take action. Consider using messaging platforms to handle customer feedback or answer questions from those who are further down the conversion funnel.
Paradoxically, keeping the big picture in mind may help you narrow your focus.
Who are you trying to reach?
Finding the platform that’s right for you comes down to determining the demographics of your target audience and determining which platforms these audiences favor.
If your organization wants to reach young, tech-savvy early adopters, Snapchat may still be the way to go—although influential users and analytics firms report a decrease in Story views since the launch of Instagram Stories. When it comes to sheer numbers, however, Snapchat is dwarfed by Facebook and Instagram, so if you’re looking for a large audience, it may be best to share Story-like content on these networks.
What are your resources?
For our clients, the decision is often made when it comes to the resources they can dedicate to a new channel. Most digital marketers have a presence on Facebook, and many have adopted Instagram in recent years. On the whole, organizations have been slower to embrace Medium or Snapchat.
It takes time to develop a content strategy for each platform, source the content, and manage your community or respond to private messages. If your social media team is already struggling to keep up with the channels you have, consider experimenting with the new tools on Instagram and Facebook before developing a presence on a new platform.
As legacy channels develop new capabilities and startups enter the market, it can be overwhelming for social media professionals to determine which to embrace—or push back on a leadership team that wants embrace each new feature in a quest to be perceived as innovative and edgy. But if you take a moment to consider your overall goals, audiences and resources, odds are you’ll make the right call for your organization.