Which Social Media Platform is Right for Your Business?
Love it or hate it, social media is here to stay, and it should be part of your business’ marketing strategy. According to data from the Pew Research Center, about seven-in-10 Americans use social media to connect, access news, share information, and find entertainment. Use has steadily grown over time, from five percent of American adults using at least one social platform in 2005 to 72 percent using at least one social platform in 2019.
The best way to reach and engage with your consumers or prospects is to first know where to find them. People use different social media platforms for different reasons. Social media habits also vary by generation.
Here’s a look at some of the most popular platforms, how they’re used, and how they can be good for marketing.
Facebook is by far the most popular social media platform with 2.6 billion monthly users worldwide and 190 million users in the United States. It has a wide generational reach, as well.
The platform includes users from Gen Z (1995–2015), Millennials (1980–1994), Gen X (1965–1979) and Baby Boomers (1944–1964), but their user patterns vary. While Boomers spend more time on the Facebook Feed compared to younger generations, Millennials and Gen X are more likely to follow brands on Facebook.
To make your marketing strategy worthwhile on Facebook, it’s going to take a budget. Facebook ads and promoted posts have the ability to reach your existing audience and those who have similar interests. Ad accounts in particular allow you to get very granular when it comes to defining a target demographic.
Another option for Facebook is to make use of its live video streaming capabilities. These are prioritized by the platform and more likely to show up in a user’s newsfeed.
The United States leads the world in Twitter users, with an audience of 68.7 million. Its most popular accounts are those of celebrities and former president Barack Obama. Twitter has 152 million users worldwide.
Gen Z is the most active group on Twitter, with 44 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds using the platform; 26 percent of users are in the 30–49 age range. In the United States, more men use Twitter than women.
In general, users look to Twitter to form new connections and have conversations with people they wouldn’t otherwise meet and access, follow news and politics, see real-time updates, and scroll through endless amounts of easy-to-digest information.
Brands can reach a large number of people quickly. Twitter allows you to engage with a broader audience and make your brand known. If you use the appropriate hashtags, interact with followers and influencers, and create interesting content, the platform can expand your reach and drive traffic to your website.
Like Facebook, Twitter also has an ad program that allows brands to boost post visibility and target a more specific demographic.
This business networking platform has 170 million users in the United States and is easily the leader in that space. While its users span across generations, 40 percent are age 46–55 and only 19 percent are age 15–25.
Regardless of age bracket, people generally use LinkedIn to connect with other professionals in their field, build their professional portfolio, search for jobs and candidates, and stay up to date with industry news.
LinkedIn is a great platform for B2B marketing. It’s specifically designed to help professionals engage with each other and with brands. There are even guides put out by LinkedIn itself to help you use the platform to its full potential.
Instagram is a close second to Facebook when it comes to popularity, with over one billion monthly users worldwide. According to Statista, a market and consumer data provider, the platform is on pace to reach over 130 million users in the United States by 2022.
Its popularity is largest among 18- to 34-year-olds; about 29 percent of users are 18–24 and 33 percent are 25–34. The most used feature is Instagram Stories (pictures, videos and other content that’s live for 24 hours before disappearing). Gen Z users are most likely to follow brands on Instagram and spend a larger amount of time engaging with Instagram’s feed and stories.
Stories can be used to promote original video content, drive traffic to your website, and engage with followers through quick surveys.
Pinterest functions like a virtual catalog. The platform has about 442 million monthly users worldwide, including 98 million in the United States. According to Pinterest Business, more than 60 percent of its global audience are women, and Gen Z and Millennial users are up 50 percent and 35 percent year over year respectively. Pinterest reaches 83 percent of women ages 25–54 in the United States.
Popular topics that see strong user engagement are very visual; these include fashion, home and garden design, and DIY projects. The platform is often used to inspire new ideas and start new projects—tasks that frequently involve making a product purchase.
Brands can use Pinterest’s interactive insights tools to gain a deeper understanding of audience demographics and behaviors.
YouTube, now owned by Google, is the biggest online video platform. Over 100 countries around the world have versions of YouTube. The video platform has over two billion users logged in monthly. Each minute, more than 500 hours of content is uploaded to YouTube.
Like Facebook, YouTube also has a wide generational reach. Baby Boomers spend a fair amount of time on YouTube; 38 percent trust a brand that has videos on its products more than a brand with no videos, and 72 percent find video helpful when making online purchasing decisions. Gen X, Millennials and Gen Z all use YouTube when deciding what to buy; in the United States, it reaches more 18- to 49-year-olds than any cable network.
Video content is a powerful way to reach potential buyers. The key is to create helpful videos for your target demographic and make them easy to search by using the correct keywords.
Choosing Your Platforms
You don’t have to be on every platform to have a successful social media strategy. This is especially true if you have limited resources when it comes to creating content.
In order to increase visibility and engagement on any platform, you’ll need to post regularly and show followers useful, engaging content. Social media algorithms, which determine how visible content is on a given platform, tend to deprioritize accounts that don’t stay active or see much engagement from users. When an account’s posts get deprioritized, they reach fewer users.
It’s better to have one or two successful social media accounts that reach your intended audience than to have several under-performing accounts that lack engagement.
Selecting the right platform comes down to knowing the target audience for your product or service. Once you identify this group, you can opt to use the social platforms they prefer. For example, if you’re targeting 18- to 34-year-olds and your product or service has visual components, Instagram is a good choice. If you’re trying to reach people between 50 and 64, Facebook is a better choice than Instagram.