Published 02nd June 2016 | Marketing Strategy, Social Media Marketing

Which Social Media Channels Should You Use For Your Business?

With roughly 2 billion people using social networks (that’s nearly a quarter of the world’s population), it’s clear to see why having a social media presence for your business is important.

The platforms are free to use, but using social media channels for marketing and customer engagement takes time to learn and get right. And with time being scarce you can’t afford to spread yourself too thinly or remain inactive for too long without your profile starting to suffer.

As with most things, the 80:20 rule holds true in social media: you need to focus on a few channels and get these well and properly, rather than making cursory attempts to maintain an active and meaningful presence on all of them.

The first problem then is to decide which social media channels are right for your business. This can be confusing and complex, particularly with the frequent new platform launches.

So to help overcome this issue it’s worth running through a few key questions to help identify which social channels to use.

1. Where do my audience hang out online?

The first question to ask is which social media platforms your audience (by which we mean existing and potential customers) use. There’s no point spending time on a platform if the people you’re targeting don’t hang out there.

It can be tempting to go with the platforms that you use personally and feel comfortable with. That’s fine if you match your target demographic.

If not you need to look for the channels that are popular among your audience.

2. Where is my audience active?

Check out companies in your industry who are already established and doing well on social media. Chances are they’ll have tried a few sites and figured out what works best, saving you some of the legwork!

Look at what social media sites they have profiles on and ask yourself:

“Are they active?”

If they used to post frequently on a channel but are no longer active, it could be a sign they weren’t seeing any engagement or return. However, if they’ve never posted they’ve clearly not given it a chance.

“Are they engaged?”

Lots of followers do not equate to an audience. Social media sites are rife with fake accounts (the Next Web, reported that anywhere between 67.65 and 137.76 million Facebook accounts are fake. This is why buying followers is such a big mistake for companies; you’re pretty much guaranteed to be buying fake accounts.) Engagement (how many likes, shares and comments their posts have) shows there’s an active audience.

3. Where is my audience searching?

Increasingly, people are using social media platforms as search engines, rather than merely a way to catch up with friends.

Ensuring you’re active on these sites, means you have the opportunity to appear in social media search results.

4. (If you’re already using social media) Which channels are bringing us traffic?

Sometimes the answer to which social media channel you should use is right in front of you.

If your business already has social media accounts set up, look at how many visits your site is getting from those. (You can find this in Google Analytics under Acquisition & Social & Network Referrals).

The Supreme Six

Digital marketers often talk about the Big Three (Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn). We think this too limiting as it misses out the more visual sites which can be hugely effective for certain industries.
We’ve put together a list of what we feel are the most popular and effective social media channels. What we like to call the ‘Supreme Six’!

Facebook
Launched in February 2004, Facebook is the largest social network. It has more than 1.3 billion users, nearly half of which are active each day and spend an average of 18 minutes per visit.
It generates up to 645 million local business page views per week and, with each Facebook user connected to an average of 80 pages, groups, or events, there’s a tangible marketing opportunity for many businesses.

Facebook has an extremely diverse demographic making it a great starting point for most businesses. It’s worth noting however that some B2B (business to business) companies have struggled to get engagement on the platform.

Twitter
Started in March 2006, Twitter has certainly spread its wings in the social media space. They have 310 million monthly active users, and at least 29% of these are active several times a day.

Perhaps, even more than lead generation, Twitter excels at developing brand loyalty and advocates for your company. 85% of Twitter users “feel more connected” to a business after they follow them on Twitter.

It’s also a great way to connect with your customers. People often tweet about negative, and positive, experiences with a company, giving you an ideal opportunity to shine at customer service.
Twitter is a great place if your target audience is a younger audience (37% of adults 18–29 use Twitter). It’s worth noting, if your company does gender-based targeting, that while gender demographics are very close at the moment (24% of adult men & 21% of adult women use Twitter) the number of male users has increased a good deal more than the number of female users over the previous year.

LinkedIn
LinkedIn was created in the same year as Facebook; it currently has 433 million members and is often called the world’s largest professional network. (It’s worth noting that only 25% of their users use it monthly.)

As a business orientated network, LinkedIn is THE platform when it comes to B2B marketing (and is less effective for B2C – business to consumer). Users want serious, professional and useful information.

LinkedIn is the first social network where the majority of users don’t fall between the 18–29 year old category (31% of adults aged 30–49 use LinkedIn). Gender demographic is pretty close, with 28% of online men and 27% of online women use LinkedIn.

According to LinkedIn, the fastest growing demographics in its network are students and recent college graduates, making up over 39 million users.

Pinterest
Pinterest is much newer to the social party. It launched in March 2010, and grew from 5 thousand to 17 million users in just 20 months. In September 2015 the company confirmed they had more than one hundred million monthly active users.

Pinterest requires quality visual content, businesses that create this can flourish. Popular categories on the site are DIY projects, fashion, exercise, beauty, photography and food. That’s not to say that businesses outside of these categories can’t succeed, they just need to creative with their approach.

Initially Pinterest users were predominately female (85% is the stat that often gets banded about). However Pinterest’s US male user base increased 73 percent in 2014 and is continuing to grow, so don’t rule out this platform on the basis of your target demographic being male.

Business wise, 27% of its members use Pinterest daily, 93% of pinners have made an online purchase in the last six months and two-thirds of the content that people Pin comes from business’ websites

Instagram
2010 was clearly the year for visual social media, with Instagram launching 7 months after Pinterest. Instagram is free app which can be downloaded onto iPhones and some Android devices as a photo-sharing program. (This platform, unlike the others, is almost entirely mobile and posts will work best if loaded through a mobile rather than a PC.)

In April 2012 Facebook shocked many by acquiring Instagram for $1 billion, four years on and the platform now has more than 400 million monthly active accounts.
The majority of users (70%) are female between the ages of 18-35. Popular subjects to post about are food, art, travel, beauty and fashion.

YouTube
YouTube is the most popular video site and has an estimate of over 1 billion unique visitors every month, with over 100 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute.

With one in three visitors sharing a YouTube video after watching, there’s no denying that it’s an important social network. It’s also the second largest search engine in the world (beating Bing and Yahoo).

Not surprisingly, the YouTube market is competitive. You need to be able to produce videos that invite engagement, sharing and that users will enjoy. YouTube is for you, if your business can visually show how your services, products and employees are different (think ‘how to’ tutorials, cooking lessons, life hacks etc.).

Takeaway

Social media will look different for every business, region, target audience and personal style. The more you use it, the clearer which channels work for your business will become.

If you’d like to have a chat about which social media channel is right for your business, and putting an effective social media marketing strategy in place, we’d love to help.

Call our friendly team for a chat on 01763 877110 or click this link.

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