What social media platform should you be on?

Back in spring this was a big question for me. Instagram engagement had dropped by two-thirds for me with the start of the Covid pandemic and I still felt a little uneasy with Twitter. On Facebook I wasn’t getting nearly as much engagement on posts to my own page, and the number “70 people reached” while I had triple that number following the page was making it painfully obvious I wasn’t reaching all the people that claimed they were interested.

So I talked a lot with my artist peers, and saw the question “How do I make Instagram work for me as a writer?” pass by in Facebook author groups a few times. Over the months that followed (and some research), I came to the following answers regarding the question, “What social media platform should I be on?”:

Be where your audience is

Users 65 years and older are the fastest-growing group on Facebook

Instagram’s age demographic skews significantly younger than that on Facebook

Internationally, Twitter’s gender breakdown comes down to 61% men and 39% women as of April 2020 

Some people’s social media philosophy is: Be Everywhere! While there is something to be said for that, the question is if the effort is worth your while. If you’re looking to reach a TikTok demographic, Facebook probably isn’t your best bet for a platform since your audience will be limited. 

What’s your communication style?

Every platform has its own technical abilities, limitations and even etiquette. Instagram requires pretty images, Twitch has “raids” and Reddit has strict policies on self promotion.

Can you draw well, in addition to being a writer? That’s great! Maybe you should be on Instagram! Are you worried about not being able to come up with enough visual content? You can’t post on Instagram without some image, and on top of that, your Instagram audience expects pretty images or video in their feed.

If you’re great at snappy, witty remarks and don’t want to include an image with every thought you want to spew out there, Twitter might be the thing for you. 

One person I talked to had a great new take on social media: they hated commenting and interacting. Therefore, Facebook, Instagram and Twitter algorithms probably won’t do much for them. But platforms like YouTube and Pinterest are more search and suggestion based, which means they rely less on “current” content and allow (even encourage) your work to be found years after you’ve posted. 

There will not be a one size, fits all answer for every artist, writer, creator or entrepreneur out there, because the answer to “What social media platform should you be on” depends on the two factors I just mentioned: What kind of content can you produce, do you interact a lot and where is the audience that will be receptive to what you have to say in the first place?

And lastly, be prepared to put in the work!

I mean… duh, right? The thing is we get lured into buying books, watching videos, or signing up for a mailing list with the promise that the creator in question will give us “10 easy hacks” or “this ONE trick” that will make the followers, likes and comments flood in. These things might be easy or simple, but they usually do require some work – after all, if it were easy AND fast, everyone would be doing it. An example of this is the $1.80 strategy for Instagram. It comes down on leaving your two cents (your thoughts, for non-native English speakers) on the top 9 trending Instagram posts in 10 different hashtags every day (adding up to $1.80). The idea is that by leaving a thoughtful comment, people will notice your account and go check it out. And comments like “Cool!“ probably aren’t going to cut it either. You need to try and provide value so people are enticed to look at your profile. 

Let’s do the math on that for a second. I tried this method myself for a few days. It took me longer than this, but for easy calculations, let’s say that you spend one minute on every comment, from looking up a relevant hashtag to searching for a good post to comment on, to thinking of something meaningful to say in your comment. 9 comments for 10 hashtags means 90 comments in total. So if you’re doing this every day, that means that you’re spending 90 minutes – an hour and a half – every day commenting on Instagram posts. That doesn’t even include the time you’re creating your own content for your profile so people will actually want to follow you after going to your profile. So it’s a simple enough strategy, but it’s going to be time consuming.

Participating in a community takes work, either through commenting and sharing other people’s work or creating the meaningful content that resonates with people. I’m not saying the “10 easy hacks” or “this ONE trick” won’t work, but it’ll take dedication, perseverance and a bit of luck and help from your friends.

Got any other social media tips? Let me know!