The importance of social media for building brand awareness, increasing web traffic and generating leads is undeniable. While the specific benefits of each social platform vary, all provide one crucial benefit to businesses – the ability to create a dialogue with your target audiences.
Which platforms should your business consider? Well, it depends. Every company’s situation is different and there are several questions to consider when qualifying platforms.
- Who is your target audience? What social channels are they active on?
You can build a following, distribute content and engage with followers on almost any platform if you really want to, but will you attract qualified followers? The best way to ensure success from the start is to choose a platform that your target audience uses and then engage them with strategic, focused messaging.
- Which platform supports the type of content you want to distribute?
Not every social media platform fits every content format or message. In addition to understanding your target audience, you need to determine how you want to deliver your message (video vs news bite, formally vs informally, etc.) and pick the platform that best supports your type of message. Conversely, if you know you want to use a specific social media platform, tailor your content to fit that platform’s personality or dynamic.
- Can you devote resources to manage your social presence in both the short- and long-term?
There’s a difference between having a presence on social media and being active on social media. Being a passive user may work for your personal social media accounts, but your business social media accounts require strategic planning and active management. If you’re unable to devote resources to maintain frequent content distribution and to engage your audience, initiating a half-hearted social media presence may reduce your credibility, making your social media accounts appear dated, neglected or irrelevant to users. Many businesses hire professional marketing partners to assist with social media planning and management to avoid this situation.
Now that you’ve answered these questions, let’s address some statistics for the major social media platforms.
Since its inception over 12 years ago, Facebook has garnered more than 1.55 billion worldwide monthly active users (MAU), with 72% of online adults using the platform. Usage is most popular among women. Around 83% of parents are friends with their teenager on Facebook, which has contributed to the shift toward an older overall demographic. It is still possible to reach the younger audience on this platform, though if your primary target audience is 17 years old or younger it’s probably not the best choice unless it can be justified by a secondary or tertiary audience.
Facebook tends to be best for B2C, products and local or regional businesses.
Age – 82% of online adults, ages 18-29, use Facebook
Gender – 76% of all female-identified U.S. internet users use Facebook
Income – 72% of all Facebook users have incomes over $75k
Education – 74% of all Facebook users have some form of higher education
With 35.3 million monthly users and 414 million total users, LinkedIn is the go-to platform for professional networking. The site is particularly popular among college graduates, those in higher-income households and the employed. This past year, in a 2015 Social Media Marketing Report, LinkedIn surpassed Facebook as the #1 most important social platform for B2B marketers. It remains the only platform where those ages 30-64 are more likely to be users than those ages 18-29.
LinkedIn serves as a catalyst in attracting business clients, building networks, generating awareness, driving website traffic, launching products, recruiting talent and generating leads.
Age – 82% of users are between ages 30-65+
Gender – 56% of LinkedIn users identify as male
Income – 75% of users have incomes over $50k
Education – 50% of users have some form of higher education
Just over 6 years old and with 66.9 million monthly users, Pinterest is used by 28% of adult internet users in the U.S. An online ‘pinboard’ or ‘bookmarking tool,’ Pinterest content is visual, i.e., images or videos. Pinterest allows users to create and share ideas and products and has a high conversion rate from browser to buyer. Those who are referred by Pinterest are 10% more likely to make a purchase on e-commerce sites than users of other social networks.
Pinterest is a preferred platform for many B2C marketers who want to share products and product demos, as well as lifestyle and industry-relevant content.
Age – 34% of users are between ages 18-29
Gender – 42% of all female-identified U.S. internet users use Pinterest; 13% of all male-identified U.S. internet users use Pinterest
Education – 32% of Pinterest users have some form of higher education
Since its inception almost 6 years ago, Instagram, a Facebook-owned platform, has garnered roughly 400 million monthly users and 75 million daily users, making it one of the most rapidly-growing and engaged social networks. Its per-follower engagement for brands is 58 times higher than on Facebook and 120 times higher than on Twitter.
Instagram, which supports visual content, allows marketers to showcase products and services via images or video. From increasing awareness via paid advertising to increasing brand loyalty via organic posts, this platform is a great selection if your target audience fits within Instagram’s demographic profile.
Age – 53% are between ages 18-29
Gender – 51% of Instagram users identify as male
Income – 26% of users have incomes over $75k (52% over $50k)
Education – 24% of users have some form of higher education
Established in 2005, this Google-owned network is used by a third of all internet users. With around 215.6 billion total monthly users, it reaches more 18 to 34 and 18 to 49 year-olds than any cable network in the U.S. Its relation to Google facilitates a higher ranking for its content on Google search engine results pages, helping marketers with search engine optimization.
YouTube is the second-largest search engine, a go-to resource for how-to content and online video streaming.
Age – Majority of users are ages 25-34
Gender – 54% of users identify as male
Income – 46% of users have incomes over $75k
Education -45% of users have some form of higher education
Ten-year old Twitter is used by 20 percent of the entire U.S. adult population, maintaining around 80.1 million monthly users. Its 140-character post limit allows marketers to update customers and prospects with the latest news, products, services and happenings. And I mean “latest.” Content distribution on the platform is an endless river. Due to the overall volume and brevity of content, a higher frequency of content distribution is necessary as compared with other social networks.
Over the last several years, many brands have adopted Twitter for distribution of timely product updates and news as well as for customer service. Twitter can also be an effective resource for entrepreneurs and small-to-medium sized businesses seeking to increase awareness quickly and efficiently, particularly via hashtags.
Age – 37% of users are ages 18-29; 25% of users are ages 30-49
Gender – 22% of all male-identified U.S. internet users use Twitter; 15% of all female-identified U.S. internet users use Twitter
Income – 54% of users have incomes over $50k
Education – 30% of users have some form of higher education
Mobile-driven, the Snapchat messaging platform allows users to capture short “snaps” of images and video and to add text, filters and various other features to them. Messages are viewed by recipients once, for a limited period of time, and then disappear. Content is also posted by brands and friends in the form of a daily ‘story,’ allowing users in the same network to view it at their discretion within a limited period of time. Snapchat has 100 million daily users, and there are 400 million snaps per day. The platform is popular among college students.
Businesses with a creative and urgent message may find Snapchat effective for promoting discounts, contests, events and time-sensitive updates to users who fall within the network’s youth-oriented demographic.
Age – 45% of Snapchat users are ages 13-24; 26% of Snapchat users are ages 25-34
Gender – 70% of Snapchat users identify as female
Income – 62% of users have incomes over $50k
Education – 70% of post-secondary students use Snapchat
Regardless of the social media platform you choose for your business, remember the success of your effort depends on understanding your audiences’ social media preferences and then fitting your message to your audience and the chosen platform. Once you get your content out there, don’t forget to engage with your audience and reply to any comments or questions that your users pose. The great benefit of social media is its ability to create opportunities for dialogue.