By now, the idea that a social media presence is critical for business has been beaten into you mercilessly for years (yes, we are guilty of this as well). So let’s assume that you are convinced and are ready to take the leap. The problem now – which of the ten or more social media platforms are best for your business? Or is it a good idea to participate in all of them? Don’t panic – here’s some information that should make the decision easier.
First Things First
The first question you need to address should be an easy one – who is your audience? Are you marketing to business or consumers? If consumers, are they predominantly male or female? Young or old? Are you selling a service or an actual product? Is it a product used in leisure activities or is it related to business? Once you can clearly identify your customers (and, of course, those groups you want as customers), we are ready to dive right in and get started.
Facebook is ubiquitous in nearly all B2C social media strategy discussions for many reasons, but here’s just one good one – it has about 1.4 billion active monthly users. The user group is slightly skewed towards females, and the most active users are in the 25-55 age bracket. Businesses on Facebook are trying to build brand awareness and loyalty through engaging with their audience. If you are a business ready for a leap into Facebook, here are a few considerations:
- The general tone is casual and friendly, making it great for local business.
- It is visual friendly, making it easy to showcase products and services.
- Its audience is getting older, especially the over-55 set.
- Younger users (25 and under) are increasingly using other social media channels.
- You must post frequently (daily is best) to keep an audience.
LinkedIn has been called Facebook for business, and it is used in many of the same ways. While its most active users encompass the same range of ages (25-55), it is skewed more towards males. But its primary business use is essentially the same – business development through engaging with your audience (although it is mainly B2B). A few more thoughts about LinkedIn:
- The tone is professional, but businesses of all sizes can find value.
- There are more than 350 million active monthly users.
- It is possible to build credibility and establish yourself as a subject matter expert.
- LinkedIn groups are great for networking, advice, and for building an audience.
- It will take time (and a body of “work”) to build your audience.
If your business thrives on real-time communication with individuals and businesses, then Twitter is for you. By searching for hashtagged keywords (like the name of your business), you can zoom in on any discussions that interest you. But this is a double-edged sword – keep in mind that it works in reverse as well. Here are some more details about Twitter:
- There are more than 300 million monthly active users.
- You can search Twitter for (for example) discussions about your business.
- It is easy to join a conversation and participate in a constructive way.
- Users will also expect you to address tweeted inquiries and criticisms in real time.
- The most active age demographic is the 18-29-year-olds.
This is a visual sharing platform, so it is best utilized by businesses that have visually-pleasing products. Think nature, fashion, food, entertainment, art, some manufacturing companies (high-end furniture, automobiles) – these are naturals. Instagram (and also Tumblr) function like Twitter, with hashtags to aggregate topics and make them searchable, along with the ability to share images you like with others.
- There are more than 300 million monthly active users.
- It is easy to search and share content on this channel.
- The majority of Instagram users are under the age of 35.
- If you want to target millennials, this is the place.
If your business markets primarily to women, then Pinterest might be exactly what you need. It is image based and has been described as an online scrapbooking site. About 70% of its 70 million users are female – this includes nearly half of all women online in the U.S. The demographics are a bit more spread out, with about half of users under the age of 35. Like Instagram and Tumblr, businesses that have strong visuals can do very well on Pinterest.
- The tone is mom-centric, do it yourself friendly.
- About 28% of Pinterest users have a household income exceeding $100,000.
- More than half of daily users consult it for guidance while in a store.
- About half of Pinterest users have children.
With over 300 million active users, Google+ has become a valuable (and somewhat controversial) social channel for marketers. And its demographics are totally different than the others mentioned today – users are predominantly (nearly 75%) male and young, with an average age of 28.
- A typical user is a self-described “techie” – an early adopter of technology.
- Typical “professions” are students, IT, and creative pursuits like blogging and photography.
- Google+ user numbers may be artificially inflated by Google business practices.
- A Google+ presence generally improves the overall search ranking of your business.
We have only scratched the surface today – there are many other social media channels that are worthy of investigation by business owners, like Reddit, Stumbleupon, Snapchat, and the Capo di tutti capi of video, YouTube. Here is a great infographic that provides user details of the ten most popular social media channels.
Know your audience, then do your homework and find out where your customers spend time. It might be on one channel or on multiple channels – go there and engage! If you’re not listening to what your customers are saying about you, maybe your competitors are…