“Every time you use a QR code for your business because you can, and not because you should, whether your market wants them or not, a kitten dies- a sweet innocent kitten.”
– From QR Codes Kill Kittens by Scott Stratten

A little over the top? Sure. But Stratten, a top social media influencer, certainly makes his point: Stop marketing from a check list, especially when it applies to your social media endeavors.

Stratten fills his book with ineffective QR code placements, mocking the placement of these bar codes on billboards, the back of semi-trailer trucks and other places where they can’t be scanned by their targeted audience.

QR codes failed to gain traction as a marketing tool because they were not practical in many uses. The businesses that tested the water with QR codes were more than likely following the `next big thing.’ Don’t follow the next big thing for your social platform. Instead, find the right thing.

Understand what platforms are right for you. Facebook may have the most users, but you probably should be on Instagram if you want to connect with Generation Z (the generation after millennials).

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Social marketing starts with a thoughtful strategy. Here are four platforms to consider and how to make best use of each.

Facebook is an easy go-to platform because it is the biggest, with 1.55 billion active users. Data gathered by the Pew Research Center also shows Facebook users are more trusting and the most engaging audience on social media.

Facebook, however, can be tricky for businesses because it values organic posts, which can often be lost in a person’s news feed. You need content that connects with people and will get shared. I would post two to three times a week at least, but avoid posting too much at the risk of annoying your audience and drawing negative feedback.

The better the content you post, the more your audience will engage. The more your audience engages, the more your post will be seen by others.

Twitter announced this year that it was allowing users to create and share native video up to 30 seconds in length. The move has been widely embraced and is proving to be an effective tool.

According to a study by Socialbakers,brands increased engagement by 216 percent posting native video instead of third-party videos.

Twitter takes commitment from a business. Tweeting at least three times a day is a must, along with proactively re-tweeting and following trending topics and influencers who will connect you with your target audience.

Instagram has the youngest audience of all the social platforms and is great for reaching Gen Z. It focuses on having quality images, good descriptions and appropriate hashtags. One unique feature of Instagram is the ability to see the number of posts under a hashtag before posting. This allows a business to get better reach per post. Instagram also allows 3-15 second videos. To stay active and engaging, I would recommend posting at least once a week.

Pinterest has the most specific audience, with females making up 71 percent of its users. If you are trying to follow the latest trend – just checking off the list – this is the platform that could be a complete fail for you if you don’t have the right content. Done right, Pinterest could be a great platform because it tends to allow pins to live a lot longer than a typical post.

Because of the audience and the fact that Pinterest is ideal to visually feature products and services, some of the successful businesses come from the fashion, interior design, fitness, and DIY sectors. Lowes, for example, does a great job with a board (or page) of pins (or posts) featuring easy to build house projects, such as shelves, benches and tables, using wood products.

Don’t’ Forget: Content for one platform doesn’t necessarily work in the same form on a different platform. The message may be the same, but the way you say it may need to change. And know who you are talking to.

Designing a strategy for social media is not about following a check list. Don’t follow the next big thing. After all, we want to keep the kittens safe.