Becoming Platform Perfect: Which Social Media Tools are Best for You?

Columns - PPMA Pulse

September 21, 2016

In an age when new social media tools are developed every day, with a select few successful enough to go “viral” (need I say Pokémon Go?) or become routine (have you checked Facebook yet today?), marketers are hungry for the latest information-sharing platforms. This isn’t surprising considering 62 percent of U.S. adults consume news via social media, according to Pew Research Center’s report, “News Use Across Social Media Platforms 2016.”

And yet, there is a clear disconnect between wanting to use social media and understanding it. Social Media Examiner’s 2016 study, which surveyed more than 5,000 marketers, indicates the primary question marketers want answered (92 percent) is which social tactics work best. Likewise, 86 percent of respondents aren’t sure which tools are ideal to streamline social media management.

These are startling numbers considering everyone is quick to use the “next big thing” on social media to grow their businesses.

So, where does that leave you, the digitally driven marketer in the pest management industry?

FINDING THE RIGHT FIT. Understand and accept that not all social media tactics are equally strategic for your business.

Identify what platforms are appropriate for your company, and leverage one or a few, instead of all, to jumpstart your online efforts.

Michael Patterson, a digital marketing specialist at Sprout Social, wrote for Adweek that you should first target your demographic, and then understand how that group of people operates online, to learn the social tools best for you.

MEASURE PERFORMANCE. Look at how your social pages are already performing. Patterson explained that this reveals useful behaviors among differing demographics in addition to Google Analytics. There might be another platform worth adding to your wheelhouse; or, you could find that your current tools aren’t so strategic and it’s time to move in a new direction.

CONSIDER YOUR END GOAL. Is your goal to drive traffic to your website? Perhaps you want to increase brand awareness, or for people to share your information that potential customers may see through an extended network. Different ambitions require varying online tools that meet select needs, so be sure to make it a priority to learn the basics of the best-known social tools.

To help get you started, here’s a high-level overview of the key players in the social media arena and the needs they serve:

FACEBOOK. Facebook is the longest-standing social media platform. Pew Research Center’s 2015 findings indicate it’s still widely used by the masses, with 70 percent of users logging on daily. Pew cites that 72 percent of online American adults use Facebook; and when you look at users by age, 82 percent of online adults ages 18 to 29, 79 percent ages 30 to 49, 64 percent of those ages 50 to 64, and 48 percent of those 65 and older use Facebook. That’s a big audience range. Having withstood newer, competing platforms, Facebook is well-rounded with minimal boundaries — users can post content of any length and share text, videos, photos, links and more. It offers great flexibility compared to other programs with limitations, like Twitter’s character count.

One big challenge is that Facebook often changes its algorithm to dictate what appears in newsfeeds, pressuring brands to continue to evolve their efforts and drive ad dollars to maximize their presence. This obstacle is an example of platforms changing their models rather quickly, bringing to light the importance of staying updated on news in the social media industry. Of course, such a demand isn’t new to the average marketer, who already consumes news for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

TWITTER. Twitter is most appropriate for quick information sharing. Its 140-character limit per tweet fits well for on-the-go consumers who need snippets of information quickly and don’t want to scroll through a long list of imagery. It has become the go-to source for breaking news. According to, Twitter is widespread and serves as “…an effective channel for handling customer service. For example, if you maintain an active Twitter presence, customers who are also active on the platform will seek you out to express concerns or share their praise.”

LINKEDIN. LinkedIn is especially effective for gaining clout within your industry and recruiting talent to your company. It also speaks to a slightly more mature audience. Pew Research found it’s the only major social media platform for which usage rates are higher among 30- to 49-year-olds than among 18- to 29-year-olds. LinkedIn is also a vehicle for sharing your own published content. This helps you develop a unique voice among peers, and even potential investors, and establish thought leadership in your industry.

SNAPCHAT. Snapchat is uniquely visual and not for the slow photographer. It only allows you to post photos and videos taken in real time, and the posts have expirations, requiring swiftness and creativity on the fly. Snapchat has fun tools like filters and Geofilters, art that can be customized and used over your snaps to help followers feel engaged. These especially can be useful to make your followers feel like part of the action while sharing an extreme infestation or offering advice. If your target audience is older, Snapchat may not be for you, as it’s most used by millennials.

INSTAGRAM. Instagram is all about visuals, from still photos with beautiful filters to short videos that you can play on a loop. The tool is best if your target audience isn’t interested in reading and instead enjoys skimming a series of images. advises, “…It’s important that the person running your account has a good eye for detail and has at least basic photography skills, so that the photos and videos posted to your account are high-quality.” Quality is what draws followers to your company’s website for exploration. Links only can be posted in the user’s biography, though, posing a challenge for those marketers looking to drive traffic to external sites.

PINTEREST. Pinterest resonates exceptionally well with women and those interested in compartmentalizing their ideas visually in what are known as “boards.” With the click of a pin, a follower is directed to an external website, like that of your company or a relevant news story. It’s also particularly beneficial for active shoppers. Pew Research Center’s 2015 study found, “47 percent of online shoppers have made a purchase based on a Pinterest recommendation” and “81 percent of women online trust Pinterest as a reliable source for information and advice.” This can be advantageous if you’re interested in sharing professional tips for your followers to reference as a guide.

BE SMART, STRATEGIC, SCRAPPY. As you consider your next social media move, think about your goals, dig into metrics reports and learn how users are already engaging with your content. This will save you time, stress and frustration.

Remember that in order to be successful, you don’t have to do it all, but you do have to be smart, strategic and maybe just a little bit scrappy. Enjoy the exciting journey of exploring and building your digital strategy — it’s a fun space with limitless opportunities.

Mannes is executive director of the Professional Pest Management Alliance/vice president of public affairs for NPMA. Visit