Choose Your Battle Wisely: Which Social Media Platform to Engage?

Posted by John H. Heinrichs

Jan 10

It seems that Social_Media_me_and_other_social_media_systemseveryone is jumping into the world of social media nowadays, and while there are certainly examples of individuals and corporations doing it right, there are seemingly infinite ways to crash and burn.  While I can’t say that I always manage to adhere to it, I try to remember the quote from Benjamin Franklin: “By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”  That’s why of the Five Key Principles of Social Interactivity Marketing we learned from the Handbook of Social Media, I think it’s important to stress the second one, that being influencing and mobilizing social media selectively(Social Systems image by Alexander van Dijk [CC-BY-SA-3.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.)

“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.”

To do it right is to gather as much information as possible in an effort to truly understand your target groups:

  • What are the demographics of your various target personas?
  • What interests do they have? What made them find out your product or service?
  • Which sites do they hit and why? What are they looking to learn and share?
  • How long is the interaction with those sites?
  • How do the users collectively behave and interact with each other?

In the figure below, Pew Research details the profile of the social media news consumer.  Usage of various social media tools are detailed by gender, age, income, education, and other categories. 

Profile of the Social Media News Consumer

It’s not enough to develop a Facebook strategy. Or a Twitter or Instagram strategy. It’s key to keep your social media program focused on whatever it is your target personas are using at the time and engage them in their chosen environment! Different groups will have different demographics and those demographics may clue you in to where you should focus your efforts. While there are a number of sources out there, one of the best is the Pew Research Center. It can show you data on current social media usage overall, as well as the percentage of men versus women who use social media and even get as specific as a profile of the social news consumer. Of course there are no shortage of tools out there, some better than others, and links to a few of them can be found at the bottom of this article.

You must also learn to recognize and engage the network leaders for those various platforms. These people have access to large social networks of their own, and are the folks that are giving advice to your target groups, influencing them and functioning as a hub of ideas, information and opinions. Opinions on *your* products and services! They usually identify themselves by frequent posts including pictures and video, and over time the rest of the community can come to trust them as one of their primary sources of information. They also serve as conduits between social groups; taking information from one network and sharing with another, which further helps to spread your message.

Please comment below on what your favorite social media success or crash-and-burn is!

More Reading:

  1. Pam Dyer, 50 Top Tools for Social Media Monitoring, Analytics and Management, May 13, 2013,
  2. Andrew K Kirk, 4 Social Media Goals Every Business Should Measure, September 17, 2012,
  3. Arielle Calderon, 19 Companies That Made Huge Social Media Fails, May 22, 2013,
  4. Jennifer Lonoff Schiff, 6 Tips to build Your Social Media Strategy, May 8, 2013,


(All credit and accolades for this tremendous blog post go to Robert Pazdan who is the author and creator.)

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