Overwhelmed by the idea of social media marketing for your business?
Maybe you feel stretched thin across all your social media accounts, or haven’t even gotten started yet because you’re frozen by “analysis paralysis.”
When it comes to marketing your business, social media isn’t just fun and games. There’s content strategizing and campaign planning, update optimization, ROI tracking, and more to worry about.
But even before all that, you have to decide which social media networks you’re going to join.
In a perfect world, you’d be able to build a presence on every social media platform available — but as a small business with limited resources, that’s just not possible. Spreading your resources thin across multiple platforms just isn’t an effective solution. A sparsely-updated or abandoned account is worse than no account at all.
With limited time and resources, how do you choose which social media networks to invest your time in?
With so many popular platforms to choose from, it depends on your business, your style, and your target audience. Here’s a rundown of the top seven most popular social media networks, and which ones could be the perfect fit for your business.
Top Social Media Platforms & Their Audiences
As the most popular social media platform, Facebook seems like an obvious choice to start with. But is it the right choice for your business?
Facebook is still by far the most popular social media network, with over 70% of Internet-using adults using the network according to Pew Research. However, Facebook’s growth has begun to level off as other popular networks enter the scene.
The only demographic that’s still growing quickly is senior citizens. Over half of all online-active adults over 65 are now on Facebook — that’s over 30% of all senior citizens in the United States! So if you’re looking to reach older adults through social media, Facebook is the obvious choice.
However, just because older adults are using Facebook in increasing numbers doesn’t mean that it’s losing popularity with the younger crowd. While rumors of Facebook’s declining popularity with teens abound, the facts just don’t back them up. Facebook still remains the top social network for teens, and has more daily teen users than any other platform.
Should Facebook be your priority? Overall, if any of the following apply:
Your target audience encompasses a broad demographic (all ages, international, etc.)
Your audience is primarily adults over 65, teens, or women
You want to be able to interact and engage with your audience (not just post announcements)
…then Facebook should be a priority for your social media marketing strategy. To get started, read our guide on effective Facebook marketing.
Along with Facebook, Twitter is usually touted as one of the top social media networks. But is your target audience on Twitter?
The largest demographic group on Twitter is millennials. Twitter does have more male users than female: Pew reports that 22% of men use Twitter, but just 15% of women.
Twitter’s audience is just a fraction of Facebook’s, with about 23% of online adults on the platform (compared to 71% on Facebook). In terms of engagement, about two-thirds of Twitter users visit the site on a daily basis.
Could Twitter be a good investment of time and resources for your business?
Demographically speaking, if you’re trying to reach millennials, especially men, then Twitter might be a good bet for you.
However, it can really depend on your niche or industry. Many niche topics have active communities on Twitter, and yours just might be one of them. Before deciding whether or not to dive into Twitter, take a look around the site and try to get a feel for whether your target audience is present and actively engaging on the network. If they are, Twitter could be a valuable part of your marketing strategy for building brand awareness and driving traffic to your website.
Google+ is a much more specialized social network than Facebook or Twitter. It’s heavily skewed towards male users: over 71% of its users are male. The typical Google+ user is about 28 years old, male, and technically-oriented (the site is popular among engineers, IT professionals, designers, etc).
But demographics aren’t the only measure of whether Google+ should be a part of your social media strategy: being active on Google+ comes with great SEO benefits for your website. After several experiments, Moz concluded that Google+ is a superior platform for SEO, and that sharing your content on Google+ can have significant effects on your website’s search engine rankings.
Moz and other SEO specialists also agree that the benefits of Google+ for local businesses make the network crucial. If you’re a local business, you should verify your business’s information on Google+ at the very least, so that your business’s website, contact information, open hours, and more will show up in local searches.
Is Google+ the right choice for you? If you are…
A local business
Looking to target a young adult, male, technically-oriented crowd
Want your social media activity to have direct SEO benefits for your website
Unless you’re looking for a job, LinkedIn might not have occurred to you as a social media platform to market your business on. But depending on your business, you could be missing the perfect opportunity.
LinkedIn is actually one of the most popular social media networks, with almost a third of Internet-using adults active on the platform (a much larger audience than Twitter). And that share gets much higher when it comes to Internet users with a college education: over 50% of them use LinkedIn.
LinkedIn is especially popular with employed professionals in higher-income households. Its core demographic are adults age 30 to 49, and the average annual income of its users is $150,000.
If your target audience is…
30+ years old
…then you should consider focusing your efforts on LinkedIn. Start by creating a LinkedIn company page for your business, and consider posting content using LinkedIn’s publishing platform.
LinkedIn is also the best platform for generating B2B leads, Kissmetrics found, while other social media networks don’t come anywhere close.
Pinterest is a heavily female-skewed social media platform. Almost half of all women who are active online have a Pinterest account. Most of them are older millennials and Gen X, and more likely to be higher-income.
If your target audience is…
Around 30-50 years old
…then Pinterest may be a great choice for you.
Pinterest is obviously a very visually-oriented network, so it works best for business who have images to share. But creating your own images doesn’t have to be time-consuming or expensive if you use online design tools like Canva, so don’t be afraid to give Pinterest a shot.
For those with a younger target audience, Tumblr is ideal. For the 13- to 25-year-old crowd, Tumblr is more popular than Facebook.
It’s not just for kids and teens, though: 88% of users are over 18, and over half of them have at least a college degree.
Tumblr’s users tend to be very active, engaged, and loyal. Many of them spend more time on Tumblr than Facebook or Twitter users spend on their respective platforms.
A word of caution: Tumblr is a somewhat quirky and tightly-knit community, and it can be tricky to get the hang of. If you’re interested in getting started on Tumblr, check out Marketing Land’s guide to marketing strategy on Tumblr, and do some exploring to get a feel for the network before you start posting.
Another visually-oriented platform like Pinterest, Instagram is a fast-growing social network popular among younger users. Over half of all Internet-using adults age 18-29 now use Instagram, and 90% of its users are under 35.
Hispanic and African-American Internet users are very likely to be Instagram users, as well as women, and members of higher-income households.
If your target audience is…
Teens or young adults under 35
Hispanic and African-American
…then Instagram could be a great fit, especially if you have a lot of visual content to share, or are looking for another network in addition to Facebook, due to their integrated features.
Again, since this is a visually-oriented platform, you’ll need to have images to share with your audience. Check out Social Media Examiner’s guide to using Instagram for business to get started.
Getting the Best Results
This guide should give you an idea of what social media networks will get you the most results from social media marketing, if you only have the resources to devote to one or two.
Are you actively marketing your business on social media? Which networks work best for you? Share in the comments below!
Article by KeriLynn Engel
KeriLynn Engel is a copywriter & content marketing strategist. She loves working with B2B & B2C businesses to plan and create high-quality content that attracts and converts their target audience. When not writing, you can find her reading speculative fiction, watching Star Trek, or playing Telemann flute fantasias at a local open mic.