First of all, it’s worth noting: social media does work for B2B businesses, as we’ve written before, even if that’s contrary to some misconceptions. When it comes to strategic consulting firms, this holds true.
For today’s purposes, though, we’re taking this general statement a step further. Sure, social media works for strategy consultants – but which social media channels are best?
Let’s take a look – but first, let’s establish one important thing.
Social Media Platforms are Designed to Do Different Things
This seems obvious on its face, but it’s something that often goes overlooked when businesses are concerned about simply establishing a social presence. Social media platforms are designed to accomplish different things.
Consider, for example, cars. Do you need a car? For most people, the answer is yes, and most households even have more than one. But a family of six would probably opt for a mini-van over a coupe, because a mini-van has been designed in a way that fulfills their needs. Similarly, most businesses need to be on social media. For some businesses, though, Facebook may be better than Twitter – because it’s designed to do different things.
The best way to choose the best platforms? Understand what you want to accomplish, and understand how the ecosystem of each social media channel has been designed. If the two line up well, then you should probably be on that channel.
Great – now let’s move on to the channels, themselves.
Does Twitter Work for Strategy Consultants?
Ah, Twitter – home of 140-character news stories, trending hashtags, and a breakneck social pace. Twitter is, undeniably, a cool platform. If you’ve followed news at all over the past decade, you’ve probably at least heard reporters reference Twitter as a source. That’s because the channel’s character limit on statuses, text-based format, and searchable hashtags made it perfect for distributing information quickly, from the ground up.
Today, Twitter is still a great platform, but it’s been working its way through something of an identity crisis. Earlier in 2016, there were rumors of a sale (possibly to Google or Salesforce, among other suitors), along with rumors of changing the format of the platform itself – even up to the point of removing the famous character limit.
Consequently, Twitter growth has stagnated slightly. The site still has over 300 million users, though, which means that there is significant potential for reaching an audience. Demographically, the platform tends to swing younger, with 37% of 18-29 year olds using it, compared to just 12% of those aged 50-65. It also trends ever-so-slightly male.
So, is Twitter right for strategy consultants? Well, it depends. If you’re a strategy consultant for a fast-paced industry – say in media training, or public relations consulting – then Twitter could be extremely beneficial.
If you’re in somewhat of a slower industry, it may not be quite as effective.
The Takeaway: Twitter’s large reach and easy content format make it appealing, but it’s worth considering whether your industry fits well with the platform’s fast pace.
Does LinkedIn Work for Strategy Consultants?
Next up: LinkedIn. LinkedIn is interesting, in that it’s the only social media we’ll discuss in this post that is geared towards things outside of casual life. LinkedIn is, first and foremost, a platform for business connection. This means that it’s not the place to post a picture of the salad you had for lunch – it’s the place to post relevant, business-related news, and to forge social connections based on your career instead of your social life.
Consequently, I think LinkedIn is great for strategy consultants.
It allows you to make connections on the premise of business, which is something that can seem disingenuous on other social platforms. The networks tend to be smaller, which is conducive to the personal nature of strategic consulting. And there are an abundance of features – posts, group involvement, public recommendations – that make it an appealing place to communicate the true value of strategic consulting services.
Factor all of that in with the fact that LinkedIn has a (still growing) base of over 450 million users, and the platform has an undeniable appeal. I would even go so far as to say that LinkedIn is the most under-utilized platform for strategic consulting firms.
The Takeaway: With its focus on business, its opportunities for deep communication, and its massive audience, LinkedIn is a great platform for strategy consulting firms.
Does Facebook Work for Strategic Consulting Firms?
And now, onto the biggest of them all: Facebook. So, does Facebook work for strategic consulting firms?
Well, it sure helps that over one-seventh of the entire world’s population is on the platform – and the numbers just keep getting bigger, with over 1 billion people using the channel every month. Basically, what that means is that if your audience is not on Facebook, they probably don’t exist.
As for the capabilities of the platform? They’re impressive. Increasingly, Facebook has been tailored to encompass more and more aspects of human interaction. They recently re-designed their business pages to incorporate more information, even to the point of allowing consumers to purchase directly from the platform. And of course, Facebook is engineered to shine with whatever content you can post, from video (even live video, although we wouldn’t necessarily recommend you start there) to simple text updates.
Simply put, Facebook can do it all. Because of that, though, you’ll want to be careful in crafting your strategic goals for using the platform. You can do almost anything on Facebook, but not everything will benefit your business. Pick the goals that will have obvious business benefits, and gear your content strategy towards achieving those. Ultimately, it’s not a question of whether or not you should use Facebook. It’s just a question of how.
The Takeaway: As the largest social media platform offering a constantly-evolving suite of options for connection, Facebook works for strategic consulting firms. It’s not a question of whether or not you should be on Facebook – it’s a question of how.
Does Instagram Work for Strategic Consulting Firms?
So, how about Facebook’s younger, photogenic sibling, Instagram? This one is a bit trickier. The photo-sharing platform is definitely intriguing for strategy consultants, but it also has its drawbacks.
On the one hand, Instagram has an impressive user base. Surprisingly, it actually has more users than Twitter, with over 500 million. So there are certainly opportunities to gain an audience on the platform.
On the other hand, though, that audience skews dramatically younger (53% of internet users between the ages of 18-29 use the channel, while only 11% of those between 50-64 do). And, the content is simply more difficult to generate for strategic consultants.
The most successful business Instagram accounts tend to be product oriented (think pictures of doughnuts or shoes). It’s hard to generate great photographic content of service firms. That’s not saying that it’s impossible, or that Instagram doesn’t work for some strategic consulting firms. It is to say, though, that it requires more effort. If you’re starting out on social media, this may not be the best platform for you to get your feet wet.
The Takeaway: While Instagram offers the potential for good engagement, it’s hard for strategic consulting firms to realize that potential in an industry that doesn’t easily lend itself to photography.
Should Strategy Consultants Be on Any Other Channels?
So, that covers the main channels. What about the other ones – everything from Pinterest, to SnapChat, to Google+? Well, my advice to strategic consulting firms is this: focus on these channels if they make sense. Usually, though, these will take a secondary importance to the main channels.
That’s because, 90% of the time, these channels will require more effort and pay fewer dividends than the larger social channels. Of course, that’s not to say that SnapChat doesn’t work for strategic consulting firms 100% of the time. And sure, there’s something to be said for differentiating yourself on a platform that isn’t as crowded.
There’s a reason these other platforms aren’t as crowded, though. I would highly recommend, especially if you’re considering a social strategy for the first time, to familiarize yourself with the major platforms before jumping into these.
Through it all, my advice is this: know your business goals, and know the platform. If the platform is conducive to achieving your goals, then go for it.
All this talk of “knowing the platform” might seem a bit intimidating to those who are just getting into the world of social media marketing for strategic consulting firms. Don’t worry! We’re here to help.
At New North, we’re experts at navigating the tricky waters of social media strategy, and understanding how different platforms relate to different business’ objectives. We’d love to hear about your business and help you determine how social media may work for your strategic consulting firm. Get in touch with us for a free review of your marketing, and get started on the right social media track.
Jon is an inbound strategist with a passion for helping clients take the mystery out of their marketing. His goal is to write about digital marketing using as little jargon as possible. He’s watched a few too many Pittsburgh sporting events.