Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Snapchat, Ello, Instagram… While having options can be great, it can also lead some businesses to inaction; many become intimidated by the sheer number of choices. Which social platforms are worth the investment of time and effort? Which networks offer the preferred content format for your audience (e.g., video, images, audio or text)? Which ones are most likely to result in a positive ROI for your business?
These are all important questions to consider when choosing which social networks to incorporate into your social media strategy. However, one of the most important questions you need to ask – before you ask any others – is this:
Which social media channels are being used by my target market?
When you can accurately answer this question, you can invest your resources more wisely and you have a much better chance of engaging with your audience.
To help you with this process, this article will provide an overview of the top social networking platforms, including demographics and the types of businesses that are most likely to find success on each one. If you’re still not convinced social media marketing is right for your business, check out my articles, The Top 10 Benefits of Social Media Marketing and Myth Busted: My Industry Isn’t a Good Fit for Social Media.
This is the most popular network with the largest number of active users, and businesses looking to reach a broad, diverse audience must be active on Facebook. With 1.35 billion monthly active users (that’s 71% of all adult online users), Facebook is a must for businesses in every niche and industry. Love it or hate it, your target market is present and active on Facebook!
All businesses should set up business pages, and smaller businesses may find Facebook groups beneficial in terms of forming communities, getting to know the needs of customers and clients and offering value through increased engagement or training.
Pew Internet Research points out that Facebook users tend to be more trusting, have closer relationships, and get more support than those on other social platforms. This is an important finding to consider as you attempt to build and maintain trust among your audience on Facebook.
Twitter is another platform that any business can benefit from. It has a broad user base comprising around 19% of all online adults, and virtually any business that takes the time to find and connect with their target market can get great results from the platform.
Twitter tends to be most popular among the 18- to 29-year-old crowd, and is used considerably less among those aged 50 and over. In light of this, it’s not surprising that 23% of Twitter users report earning less than $30,000 per year.
While the actual numbers can be hard to come by, SiteProNews puts the number of registered Google+ users at just over 1 billion (yes, you read that right). Now, before you rush over there to beef up your currently neglected profile, keep in mind that these numbers are probably greatly inflated for a number of reasons:
- Many businesses have a Google+ profile in order to boost their SEO visibility. However, they don’t regularly use the network for social sharing or interacting with their target market.
- Because Google products are so integrated, total users included in this number are likely to include all people with a Google account – not just those who actively use Google+.
- With the push to set up Google Authorship (before it was officially discontinued by Google), many businesses set up a page solely for this purpose.
In terms of demographics, men are more likely to use the platform (62% compared to 38% women), and it is most popular among 25- to 34-year-old users.
For businesses looking to reach tech-savvy professionals, Google+ may be worth the time and effort. According to Global Web Index research, Google+ users largely identify as being in IT, engineering, or self-employed. In fact, almost a third of IT workers surveyed said they’re active on Google+.
Businesses looking to reach a younger, trendier audience should take special note of Instagram. According to a recent report from BI Intelligence, Instagram is now the "it" network among young, wealthy users. In fact, 83% of U.S. teens from wealthy households are now active on the platform. The report also shows that over 50% of teens and early-20-somethings use the network.
If you have a high-end product or service that’s interesting to the teen/20s market, Instagram may be an important network for you – more important than even Facebook or Twitter in some cases.
Businesses looking to reach mid- to high-income, educated women (moms in particular) should be active on Pinterest. If you’re in the food or drink business, Pinterest may be the most effective platform for you; according to a BI Intelligence report, content related to food and drink accounts for 18% of all items shared.
Due to the heavy image sharing component of the platform, virtually any product or retail business can make good use of Pinterest. Businesses specializing in fashion, accessories, home decor, arts and crafts, and design should be able to garner great referral traffic and leads from the network when used properly.
If you’re looking to reach educated professionals, LinkedIn should be your network of choice. According to research by BI Intelligence, 38% of college-educated adult web users are on LinkedIn; not surprisingly, the user base is also slightly older, with 27% of users being in the 30- to 49-year-old age category.
There are slightly more males on the platform, and a higher percentage of users don’t have children (particularly if you compare it to a platform like Pinterest). Users also tend to report higher incomes than on other networks, with the majority earning $100,000 to $150,000+ annually.
Perhaps LinkedIn’s most valuable uses are finding B2B networking opportunities, establishing yourself as a thought leader in your field, participating in LinkedIn groups and scouting out and connecting with potential employees.
YouTube is another network that offers access to a large and diverse audience. It has over 1 billion monthly users, and all businesses will find their target market on the platform.
Here’s some important demographic information about YouTube users:
- Men aged 18 to 24 who use YouTube are prone to offer advice on electronics.
- 54% of all teens are on YouTube; in fact, YouTube reaches more teens than the next 4 niche sites combined.
- 60% of all online women are active on YouTube (and women account for half of all YouTube users).
- 59% of all Hispanics are on YouTube, so businesses looking to reach this market should test out the platform.
I obviously didn’t cover every social networking site above. However, businesses in every niche and industry should be active on at least one of these platforms. Most social media experts recommend being active on at least 3 or 4 platforms, as this is quickly becoming the industry average.
Which social media channels are you active on? Which ones are most effective for your business in terms of engagement, traffic and leads? Share below!