How to Figure Out What Media Work for You

Or: Why Twitter Works for You… Or Not.

Everyone has at one point been told, “there’s this new thing out there, it’s called __________. It’s really big, everyone’s on it, and we should be too.” How can you tell if this new media will be useful for your business or organization?

First off, no matter what anyone else says, you don’t need to be on whatever new media they’re talking about right this second. For most new media, there’s a period of time where it’s uncertain if it will actually take off or not, or how it can be used for business or nonprofit marketing. It takes a while for best practices to be established, no matter the platform. You don’t need to rush.

Ok, well if we can take our time and choose our media wisely, what should we be looking for in a marketing platform? There are a couple different considerations that need to be thought about when you’re looking to start any kind of marketing.

There are a couple major categories of marketing communications tools with some significant overlap between them. Online, there’s text-based platforms, image or photograph-based platforms, audio platforms, and video platforms. There’s also physical media such as business cards, posters, and books. Each type of physical media does link with other categories, but because such a large portion is digital, physical media deserve their own space.

We’ll be going through a lot of different kinds of media for the rest of this article. One of the main factors that you need to remember is that none of this is worth anything if your target audience is not using the platform. Being present where your target audience naturally looks should be the most important aspect of your marketing platform decisions. If your target audience is already present, then you have the great opportunity to start and join conversations with them.  


Physical Media:

  • Posters:

o   Pros: Very cheap to produce and distribute, street level impressions, potential collaboration with local businesses/community centres/organizations

o   Cons: short lifespan, easily removed/covered, easy to ignore details

  • Billboards:

o   Pros: High visibility along streetsides, many impressions if placed along a commute, mass market (general, not targeted), can have long lifespans

o   Cons: Can blend into landscape, location dependent, no detail, mass market

  • Public Transportation ads:

o   Pros: high visibility to a passive audience, many impressions, potentially mobile, mass market

o   Cons: Need to purchase a large number of spots for effective coverage, mass market

  • Business Cards

o   Pros: Moderate detail, cheap, personal, portable

o   Cons: Require timing to give out appropriately, Easy to lose, short lifespan once handed out

  • Flyers:

o   Pros: Cheap, easily saturates a geographical area,

o   Cons: Often ignored, can have impression of “junk mail”

  • Books:

o   Pros: Builds credibility, Long lifespan, can be cross promoted with many other media, potential marketing partnerships

o   Cons: lots of work, large upfront cost, might not sell

Overall, physical media can be very important for organizations that exist in a small geographical area. They are also very useful if you are trying to get a foothold in a new geographical area and can build anticipation for a new location’s grand opening.


The next couple of sections are digital platforms, and therefore have little to do with the physical location, but much more to do with the digital location that surrounds them. These digital locations can be the starting point for engaging your audience in discussion, although some platforms are more conversational than others. See if any of the following are right for your organization.

Text based platforms:

  • Website:

o   Pros: control over message, easily edited, easily accessible, detailed, easily measurable, can be owned by your company

o   Cons: Difficult to promote without other platforms, needs continued support to remain relevant, can take a significant investment to set up well

  • Email

o   Pros: Direct access to your audience, readers have opted-in, full control of message, facilitates private conversations

o   Cons: Can have very negative reactions if abused, difficult to build an email list from scratch without other media

  • Blog:

o   Pros: Good method to gain leads, can increase credibility if well written, can start discussions with readers, easily linkable, long lifespan,

o   Cons: Needs a platform behind it (website or external), requires continuous effort

  • Facebook:

o   Pros: Large audiences existing on the platform, sharable, easily links with other media, strong messaging service

o   Cons: Primarily pay for views, Potential viral backlash, requires constant management, potential content ownership challenges

  • Twitter:

o   Pros: immediate reach, easily grows with an initial fanbase, easily connect with other orgs and politicians, public conversations, keep up to date on emerging trends

o   Cons: very short post lifespan, framing and tone mistakes are costly, difficult to be heard in the flood of tweets

  • LinkedIn:

o   Pros: professional environment, connect into relevant industries, find potential employees, useful for professional event promotion

o   Cons: not useful for finding consumer customers, can be difficult to start conversation

  • Reddit:

o   Pros: large number of potential supporters, niche based subreddits, viral potential, can serve as customer support foundation

o   Cons: Self promotion is typically rejected, difficult to build a following

Image based platforms:

  • Instagram:

o   Pros: Easy to engage with other posts, useful for showing customers interacting with your brand, can lead to discussion, hashtags lead to search visibility

o   Cons: easy to look out of place, requires quality images, limited image formats (only square images)

  • Pinterest:

o   Pros: Easy to curate content, easy and low risk shares,  

o   Cons: Difficult to connect with other users, self promotion is ignored or removed, requires high quality images, ROI is questionable

  • Snapchat

o   Pros: Quick posting of image and video content, can show the business personality,

o   Cons: Only one way messaging, content is deleted after 24 hours, no sharing, no links

Video based platforms:

  • Youtube:

o   Pros: Free promotion to audience that is interested in similar content, very sharable, links from videos add to SEO efforts, possible income from ads, free uploads

o   Cons: Requires a large effort to build a personal following, no control of related videos, negative comments on videos are common

  • Vimeo:

o   Pros: Creative video platform, Strong privacy options, easily embedded into websites,

o   Cons: Relatively smaller audience, cost for frequent uploads or large videos

  • Television:

o   Pros: Existing viewership, potential marketing deals with television stations

o   Cons: Very expensive, requires high quality production, mass market, no control of ads or other content

By the way, television is on here as an example of another video based platform. Other than news placements, and short ads on local stations, I cannot recommend television networks as a marketing platform for a small organization.

Audio based platforms:

  • Podcast:

o   Pros: Focused audiences, low production cost, potential to engage with industry influencers, high quality production establishes credibility

o   Cons: No existing audience, can be difficult to market, requires licensing fees for using copywritten music

  • Radio:

o   Pros: Cheap to produce in collaboration with an existing station, existing audience, choice to connect with relevant stations, can engage with audience (call in show)

o   Cons: Mass market, no control over surrounding ads, high listener timeslots can be expensive.

I hope that this rundown of the pros and cons of various media has been helpful for you. If there’s a medium that I’ve missed that you use, please let me know at Matthew@MatthewDyck.ca or tweet me @MatthewDyck_ca.

One thing to remember as you look at getting into a new media platform: if you have a strong foundation of supporters, then they can often help you jump start your new accounts. Momentum is a huge factor in social media, so a sudden rise in followers will often lead to higher placement for other potential followers. Let your existing audience know that they can now find you on this new platform, and they will likely help you establish your presence there.

As you go and evaluate your media choices, keep it simple.