How to Choose a Social Media Channel for Marketing

Instructor: Beth Loy

Dr. Loy has a Ph.D. in Resource Economics; master's degrees in economics, human resources, and safety; and has taught masters and doctorate level courses in statistics, research methods, economics, and management.

Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest have opened the doors to companies directly marketing to customers. But which one do we use and when? This lesson reviews what channels companies should use to persuasively market their goods and services.

What Social Media Channels Are Available?

Marketing is to a point where customers demand immediate results, and social media gives us a way to provide that. Communicating with and marketing directly to the customer is so important that companies dedicate very large budgets to both.

We are used to targeting a market, but social media gives us a unique way to engage online customers, drive customers to stores, provide incentives, and advertise a menu of available choices. It's a 24-hour way to stay connected, keep updated, and cross-market products, relationships, and business opportunities. Social media channels give us the opportunity to engage customers like never before.

You want to think broadly when using social networks as marketing tools, but remember to stick to the knitting of your mission. Let's look at Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest to get a better concept of what is available and which channel is better for marketing different ideas.


Facebook is a social network that focuses on a newsfeed where you can share information with followers. Posts can be long or short, show video or pictures, and are rewarded with likes from those who enjoy your posts.

Marketing Strategy: Because Facebook has such a large following and the average person could see hundreds of posts a day, it's better to have a specific goal for each post.

For example, offer something special like coupons with promo codes, sales on new seasonal gear, or a campaign where customers can send in videos to win a prize.

Even when your page is liked on Facebook, your posts might not show in a newsfeed. Being engaging is key to marketing on Facebook. By commenting on others' posts and encouraging your followers to comment on your posts, you can increase your exposure. The more you interact with others, the more traffic you will receive back. It's to every company's benefit to have a Facebook page. If you have limited resources, link your Facebook and Twitter accounts to be sure you cross-market and save time.


Twitter is a social network that focuses on morsels of information. In a single post you are only allowed 140 characters to get your point across. With 140 characters or less, it's up to you to find a way to catch a reader's attention.

Marketing Strategy: Post on Twitter as if you are offering an hors d'oeuvre platter. Small pieces of information that mean something to your followers will get them to sample further. Use hashtags, emoticons, videos, and photos to send a message that expresses more than what you can say in 140 characters.

For example, if you own a clothing business and you have a new product line for winter, post a tweet that highlights your new winter line of boots. It might look like: R ur feet cold? Come c what we have from @vendorofboots ! #bootsale #boots #winter #sale

To attract followers, you can replace some words with emoticons and link an image of a nice looking pair of boots. Pretty much all companies should maintain a Twitter account. How often you update it will depend on your resources. If you can only do a few posts a month, make them worth a follower's time. Quickly engaging followers on Twitter is where you want to focus your marketing efforts.


Google+ is a social network that makes use of other well-known Google services, like its searcher, YouTube, Google Docs, and Gmail. You want to leverage as many of Google's services as possible in your marketing plan.

Marketing Strategy: Find a creative and timely way to start conversations using Google+ Circles. Getting comments, shares, and +1s from these will help move you up in the Google search engine ranks.

For example, say you are a motorcycle dealership, and you want to let your customers know about your products and services. Having individual circles for current customers, potential customers, new customers, and partners gives you the chance to target your conversations and your marketing. Be sure to offer exclusive deals for respective Circles so each group feels important and engaged.

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