Facebook used to be cool. More than a decade into its existence, the website boasts the largest active user base of any social network. But how many times have you heard someone say that they wish they could get rid of it? The rapid growth in other platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, and Snapchat indicates that people have a strong desire to be engaged differently. By developing strategies built around the unique features and limitations of these other popular services, smart marketing teams are able to create effective engagement that is natural to users. Companies that invest in these other networks are able to market themselves in a manner that might be more suitable than Facebook for their specific product or service, and they are able to reach specific demographics that are valuable to them by choosing the appropriate social media platform. They begin this process by asking two questions:

1. Is the network a good showcase for what the business does?
Sure, sometimes it’s a slam dunk, but for some companies, the answer lies in how much effort and outside-the-box thinking can be invested to leverage the platform correctly. If what a business offers customers isn’t something that translates well visually, how can they still utilize visuals to tell a story that makes them relatable? If what is offered isn’t easily explained or demonstrated, is there a way to intrigue customers, and motivate them to seek further information?

Canadian banker Scotiabank is a great example: their #thingsorganizedneatly Instagram campaign gave followers the opportunity to identify movies based on a neatly arranged assortment of items, in an effort to build awareness of their credit card program, which offered free movie tickets with the redemption of purchase points.

Just because it isn’t immediately obvious doesn’t mean there aren’t great angles to be found if you’re willing to get creative.

2. Are your target customers active on the network?
This is an easy one. Find reliable analytical data, and make decisions based on a combination of that information and what you think the probability is of your target customers migrating to that social network in the future. Can you drive some of that migration? There probably isn’t much to be lost in the attempt, but assess the costs and benefits of adding a new platform, and decide accordingly. Sometimes businesses, especially small ones, simply don’t have the time or resources to invest in doing this effectively.

Every social network has its own set of strengths and shortcomings. For each that becomes part of your company’s larger social strategy, a plan must be formulated that accentuates those strengths and leverages the challenges. This requires understanding if and how your customers use a particular network, and how the unique characteristics of that platform can be used as an advantage. By establishing some basic questions (like the ones above) to answer before diving into a new platform, the process through which those decisions are made can be streamlined. The result is that businesses are able to focus on the networks that work best for them and their customers.