With Instagram’s identity crisis afoot, many online business owners are searching for new strategies for their audience building. Here are some ways to make the right decision for your business.

As a coach for early stage entrepreneurs I support my clients to not only figure out what kind of business they are building, but also how they want to promote their business.

Making decisions about marketing channels only gets harder the more options we have at our disposal, and the more complicated when those channels seem to change their rules of engagement almost daily.

Ahem we are looking at you, Instagram.

So what are the rules of engagement here?

Most businesses will need a way to reach new customers aka growth as well as a way to nurture them through the sales process. Some businesses manage to do both things on the same platform but typically you will require a mixture of methods e.g 1 x social media platform and 1 x closed community or email list.

If you are feeling a bit lost here or in need of a review of your platform strategy, allow me to share 4 steps that I take clients through to help them make this important decision.


Step 1 – Know your Goals

What does your business need most from you right now? Is it new business? Brand awareness? To build a community? To grow your audience? For you to hone your personal brand?

Get clear on what good looks like and any relevant metrics that would support this goal. Followers don’t automatically equal sales, remember.

So instead, develop some KPIs that will allow you to track progress here such as leads or conversations.


Step 2  – Know your Platforms

This step requires knowing the different types of platforms that are available to you, as well as their associated risks and rewards. This link has a great updated list of the seven biggest social media platforms right now and the stats associated with them.

Remember that platforms can change their algorithms, go bust or get acquired overnight, so its a big risk to only have one platform going without also developing an email list or other ways to reach your people.


Step 3 – Know yourself

An often overlooked part of the marketing channel decision is figuring out what you would most enjoy. Are you partial to long, deep conversations? A podcast could be great for you. Do you love bringing concepts to life in engaging and creative ways? Perhaps YouTube. Good with words and getting people to take action? Try Twitter. Prefer the low-budget, off the cuff style of communication? TikTok could be for you. Highly visual and love curating? Try Pinterest.

Ask yourself not only what are your strengths and weaknesses are but also where do you ENJOY hanging out online?


Step 4 – Know your audience 

Based on your goals set out in step 1, consider what your audience needs to know from you in order to trust you and engage with you. Where do they like to hang out online? Where do they consume information and how do they make purchasing decisions? Any platform decisions should also consider how they will be able to find you and get to know you properly.

A word to the wise, though. Do not worry if you aren’t sure where the biggest number of your target audience are hanging out only. There are enough people on all the major platforms for you to build a successful business using!


Decide, commit and run with it!

With all this information ready, you are in a good place to make a decision.

Remember, good beats perfect here. So any decision is better than no decision – it can be easy to stay stuck in analysis paralysis but much better to start making progress on a channel and learning than to wait on the sidelines until you’re sure it is the right channel for you. You’ll learn from trying!


Leave a comment – what are you doing about your platform decisions lately?



Ellen Donnelly

Ellen Donnelly

About your author

Ellen Donnelly is Founder and Chief Coach at The Ask. She provides early stage founders and startup communities with coaching, workshops and content so that they can build businesses doing work they love. She’s a Londoner with a decade working as a talent consultant for tech startups before training as an ICF accredited coach and building The Ask.

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