Social media offers businesses all over the world the unique opportunity to speak directly with their clients and potential customers alike. So how do you determine which platform is best for your business when it comes to connecting with (and communicating to) those interested in your brand? The main key to knowing which social media platform is right for your business is firstly knowing exactly who your target audience is.
As you may know, Social media allows you to create a relationship between your customers and your brand. Social media allows your business to effectively target specific demographic groups so that they are able to see connections between their problems, needs or desires with your product or service.
Selecting the right social media platform for your business will largely depend on which particular demographic groups you wish to target.
The Demographic Decider
The audience demographics of each social media platform may help you determine which platform is right for your business.
Currently, Facebook's user base is nearly twice the user base of the second most popular social media platform, Instagram.
Facebook has over 2 billion users worldwide, with 47% of those users being over the age of 35.
Twitter, in comparison, have 271 million users worldwide, with 35% of those users being aged between 18 and 29.
Instagram has around 1 billion monthly active users, and of that number a whopping 59% are between ages 18 and 29.
LinkedIn currently has around 550 million users and has been around longer than Facebook or Twitter. LinkedIn, however, sits apart from the other social media platforms as it is a business-focused site.
You can follow the links below to look at detailed, specific demographics for each platform:
Twitter Vs Facebook Vs Instagram Vs LinkedIn
To select which social media platform – or platforms – are right for marketing your business, let’s look at them one by one:
Facebook is the most popular social network among middle-aged adults.
Facebook is popular in both rural and urban areas.
Facebook is popular with those at every income level and those of every educational background.
Facebook users are more engaged than users of other social networks with 70% of users logging on daily and 43% logging on more than once daily.
What do these statistics tell us? Pretty much that everyone who uses the Internet as a communication tool is on Facebook regularly.
Facebook Pros and Cons:
Facebook gives brands the opportunity to create their own business page and offers the tools to be creative, such as live video, offers and slideshows.
If a Facebook user goes ahead and decides to ‘Like’ your page, they become you ‘Follower’ and your posts will appear in their News Feed. Over time, if this user is not interested in your posts and does not ‘Like’ or ‘Share’ them, it is possible with the algorithms that Facebook runs that your posts will disappear from your Follower’s News Feeds.
Facebook’s Page Insights and Analytics will help your business determine if your business page needs improvement or is on track.
Facebook Suitability: Facebook is ideally suited to small business, as it allows you to fine-tune your target audience. You are able to create big bang for small bucks if you use clever content and correct targeting.
Instagram is like breathing for our younger generations. The photo-sharing site’s users are increasing daily. More than half of it’s 200 million active users are between the ages of 18 and 29 - with most of these users visiting the site daily.
Instagram is mostly accessed via mobile and is more heavily-used by affluent youth.
Instagram Pros and Cons:
Instagram is all about photo and video content and is a great way to build a brand community.
Getting the content right and using hashtags (so that users can find your posts) are both key here.
Instagram is designed for customer engagement and visual appeal.
Instagram Suitability: Instagram is great for clothing brands, restaurants, gyms and make-up brands. Hairdressers also do very well on Instagram. If your products and services are image-based, Instagram is a must.
Twitter has become a conduit for news, particularly with users between 18 and 29.
Twitter provides a way for users to follow real-time news feeds, and charges advertisers for the promotion of targeted messages.
Twitter’s users are generally younger, with 95 million in 2014 stating they were aged between 18 and 29; (compared to 54 million users stating their age as being between 30 and 59 and another 44 million users stating their age as 50 and above).
Twitter is far more likely to be used by people living in urban areas and is much less popular with those in rural areas.
Twitter is more popular among the affluent and the highly educated.
Popular with celebrities, politicians, journalists and news outlets, it is also well-liked by businesses in the tech sector.
Twitter Pros and Cons:
Twitter offers you the opportunity to ‘Tweet’ messages of a few sentences in a public way. The content is short and to the point. While good for promoting an event or positioning yourself as a thought leader, any message with substance will struggle here.
Twitter is great for answering customer concerns in real-time (but only if you have the ability to be available to respond in real-time).
Twitter Suitability: Business that want to reach journalists would benefit from Twitter.
You can create a company page, run LinkedIn Polls and participate in relevant groups.
LinkedIn can be used to position your business as an ‘expert’ on a topic by sharing your business knowledge and helping others find solutions to their problems using LinkedIn Answers.
Sharing content regularly – as with all social media sites – is the key to your ability to reach and convert using LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is a great way to target your sales prospects. Using LinkedIn’s tools, you will be able to fine-tune to reach your ideal audience.
LinkedIn Pros and Cons:
LinkedIn is a business-focused site – which in itself, depending on your requirements, can be both a pro and a con.
LinkedIn is great for networking opportunities, however due to it’s solely business emphasis, it isn’t as ‘social’ as other social media platforms.
LinkedIn Suitability: B2B companies would particularly benefit from using LinkedIn.
Quality content is another factor that will heavily influence which social media platforms your business focuses its marketing efforts on.
Certain types of content can perform extremely well on some social media platforms, yet will tank on another. Twitter is primarily text-based, and in saying that, the platform is known for posts that are short, sharp, concise and to the point. Conversely, Instagram is an image-based social media platform, and the graphical content shared is generally made up of original photographs and videos, as well as created and curated graphics.
As you take into account the type of content you are prepared to invest the time in curating and contemplate which type of content that will best allow promote your business you may find that the list of social media platforms under consideration for your business’ focus narrows.
Keeping Up With Content
Twitter – what and when to post
Although Twitter increased the number of characters allowed in a tweet from 140 to 280 in November 2017, their post length is still quite limiting. Businesses that use Twitter generally tweet content relating to sales promotions, competitions, data insights, new product releases or funny thoughts on current industry happenings.
Twitter allows for more humourous and casual content than other platforms, such as LinkedIn – so keep your posts snappy and direct. Twitter’s newsfeed is one of the few social media feeds that is still shown in chronological order, so by tweeting several times a day you give your followers more chances to engage with your business on this platform.
Facebook – what and when to post
When you post on Facebook, keep in mind that casual, conversational posts provide businesses with far greater success than sales-driven updates.
Think about letting your audience know about upcoming events, new products, sales and promotions or providing useful information.
Try to share different types of content and track what your audience best responds to.
Businesses that post too often, more than once a day, or too little, once per week, often see a drop in customer engagement rates. Ideally, your business should aim to post once per day – however, you will have to consider how much quality content you have on offer if you are to achieve this.
Post relevant, useful information that allows your followers to draw closer to your brand.
Instagram – what and when to post
As previously mentioned, Instagram is the most image-based of all the social media platforms. Instagram offers different posting formats – short-lived stories and permanent posts.
Instagram is affiliated with Facebook, so paid advertisements that are to appear on your business Instagram account can be created directly within Facebook. You may choose to post short videos, images or photos as a way to tell your brand story or to run promotions.
For ecommerce brands, Instagram offers the ability to tag products from your business’ product feed on Facebook so your followers can shop your Instagram Stories.
Success on Instagram comes down to high quality posts, posted with consistency. Posting multiple times a day on Instagram is fine, so long as you have relevant content and something to offer your audience.
Play around and find what works best for your business – it really will depend on how visual an industry your business works within. For example, where an accountancy firm may find creating Instagram content a struggle, a kitchen renovation company that decides to showcase their ‘before and after’ photographs in their Instagram posts and stories will have an easier time sourcing original, engaging content.
LinkedIn – what and when to post
LinkedIn is a business platform, used by professionals in a networking capacity. These professionals are following your business for relevant insights, information and business updates.
Your employees should be encouraged to follow your business and help share your content with their own networks.
Companies that post at least once per week will see an increase in engagement on their posts. Be sure to post helpful content that provides an informative resource for your followers.
As a business owner, deciding which social media platform you are going to dedicate your time to is an important decision.
Social media, unlike any other form of media, gives you the power to engage directly with your customers to create a very much personal relationship, therefore it is essential you get it right.
Why not have a look at what platforms your competitors are using and analyse their use of these platforms from the perspective of a potential customer. See what feels right and fits with your brand may not be the same as what fits your competitors, after all, your products or services may be similar, but you may be targeting a very different audience.
Remember there is no one-size-fits-all golden rule. At the end of the day, people are unique creatures each connecting with different types of social media posts. Some of the most successful Social Media Campaigns have been very much created on 'gut feel'. So go out there and try a range of different posts and see which platforms and post types work best for you.
**This post was originally published in July, 2019 and has been completely revamped and updated for accuracy and relevance.
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