Social media is one of the most prolific ways to market your business, but the social landscape is changing. Five years ago, social media was dominated by Facebook, with only one or two rivalling platforms there for company. These days, the average person can have in excess of half a dozen social profiles across numerous networks, making it harder for businesses to find their audience.
We’ve recently been working on an exciting proposal for a client, and have unearthed some pretty impressive stats about who is using social media, and more importantly, which platforms they’re using. Of course, not every social network is right for every business, so here’s our run down of who’s on which platform, and which is best for your business.
Who is using social media?
Which social media platforms you should be embracing depends widely on who the target audience for your business is. It’s a well-known fact that Facebook is the largest and most active social network, accounting for 15.8% of all time spent online, but if your audience isn't there interacting and engaging with brands, you may as well be invisible.
Of the 64.1 million UK population, there are 38 million people have social media accounts. Of these 38 million active accounts, 32 million people access social media via their mobile device. This is a huge shift, and means you should be optimising your content for mobile and tablet users. If you don’t, you may well see a significant drop in engagement and interaction with your business.
Social media is still growing, too, with a 6% rise in the number of active accounts in the UK since January 2014. 89% of adults aged between 18 and 29 are now on social media, with 65% of adults aged between 50 and 64, and rather surprisingly, almost half of adults aged 65+ owning at least one account. If your audience weren’t on social media before, the chances are they will be now.
Which social media platform is best for your business?
Facebook is a great platform. Not only does it have by far the largest user base of any other social network, it can be fairly easy to get your content seen by more people if you can figure out how to get your content through Facebook’s organic reach algorithm.
Over the course of the past couple of years, organic reach on Facebook has plummeted. The network themselves pin the blame largely on the sheer amount of content being produced, citing that there are over 1,500 stories that could appear in a person’s News Feed every time they log in. Each person’s News Feed also now ranks content based on how relevant it is to them as a person in order to boost engagement. Users don’t get a say in what they see, but can tell Facebook if they see something they don’t want to. It seems that quality content is key when it comes to beating the Facebook algorithm.
Different types of posts (status, photo, video and link) can perform better than others on the platform. In a major reversal, photo posts are now the worst performing type of update by brand pages. According to new data from Socialbakers, photo posts are half as likely to be seen as videos, the new way in which Facebook is encouraging engagement. However, this means that Facebook can be a great tool when used as a form of brand awareness as videos on Facebook are racking up over 3 billion views per day. Posting updates that encourage interaction with the brand at key times of day mean that you can create a fantastic, interactive community and therefore boost your brand’s name in their eyes.
Ultimately, the only way to guarantee the maximum number of people see your content on Facebook, is to boost posts and pay for the engagement it brings. The platform’s advertising system is one of the more sophisticated and long standing across social networks and is fairly easy to use, with a few options to boost your page in different ways depending on your needs.
Best for: B2C businesses who have money to spend on advertising to boost engagement, or simply want to raise awareness for their brand.
Twitter can be a fantastic tool for engaging and interacting directly with your target audience, whether it’s B2B or B2C, and is the closest thing to face to face interaction via social media.
Firstly, it is always worth tracking your competition and seeing what kind of content they are creating and sharing with their audience. It’s important to be approachable and personable on Twitter as this will encourage followers to interact with you and will leave your brand in their mind (and notifications feed.)
Unlike Facebook, Twitter has practically no hoops for you to jump through if you use your common sense, however it is worth noting that up to 98% of your tweets will go relatively unnoticed by the majority of your audience as there’s so much content being shared. Looking at analytics and working out when your audience are online will maximise the likelihood for engagement as well creating quality content that will help attract new followers and keep them engaged over a period of time.
Twitter also has an advertising arm that allows users to do multiple things depending on what they would like to promote and what their overall aims are. Whether the aim is to boost follower numbers or website clicks or conversions, there are numerous ways to do it on Twitter including promoting individual tweets, promote entire accounts, or promote a trend.
Best for: A good all-rounder. Great for businesses who want to target and engage with their customers, but equally good for raising a brand’s persona in the B2B market.
Instagram is a fairly new addition to the social media world but has quickly established a key audience with 26% of online adults using the platform on a regular basis. Instagram is perfect for businesses as it boasts 15 times more engagement than Facebook, Twitter or Google+ and is now a key sales channel. Instagram is especially beneficial for companies who have a visual brand and want to appeal to a B2C audience, but equally useful for a B2B brand who want to showcase a more approachable and personable brand online.
Like Twitter and Facebook, it’s important to update Instagram at key times of day to maximise engagement and interaction with your profile. Instagram is also a great platform to engage in some collaboration with other brands or influencers in order to boost the reach of your page and the awareness of your brand.
With a community of over 300 million, it’s perhaps a little surprising that advertising on Instagram is a fairly new addition to the platform, with the option only being rolled out to a small number of brands in the UK in late 2014 and it still not being widely available now.
Best for: B2C companies with a visual brand, or B2B companies who want to showcase a different side to their business.
Google’s social media offering, Google+ is possibly one of the most misunderstood social platforms out there. However, with over 340 million users, Google+ is the second largest social network and is certainly not one to be ignored as it also has some key features that could amplify your presence across the Internet.
The first thing to be aware of is that your Google+ page can do wonders for your SEO ranking. Each individual post on your Google+ profile has its own URL, meaning it can rank in search results that your website may not, if it generates interaction with your audience. Each share or +1 of your content acts as a recommendation which in turn influences what people see when searching on Google. A wise tip would be to make sure you add the +1 button to your company’s blog so people can share content directly, without the need to visit your Google+ page. The more content you post, the stronger your presence can be. Simple.
Google+ also integrates with other Google products including YouTube and Gmail. Creating either a YouTube or Gmail account automatically means you have a Google+ account, whether you want it, or not. Google also integrate Google+ profiles into their other products, meaning profile thumbnails from recipients can appear in Gmail, and comments on YouTube videos come automatically from your Google+ account.
Best for: Businesses who want to do well in search rankings and a good alternative to Linkedin for B2B marketers looking to build professional networks and communities.
Also owned by Google, YouTube is the world’s biggest video sharing site. With impressive stats including 4 billion video views per day by 1 billion people and 6 billion hours of video watched every month, it’s easy to see why 57% of marketers are using YouTube. Not only do people respond positively to visual content, it’s also easier to get your company ranking on Google with a YouTube video than it is a website.
YouTube is extremely mobile friendly, with 1 billion views per day on a mobile device. This means your content can be in the pocket of your audience whether they’re at home on their computer, or out with their smart phone.
As well as creating your own content and having a YouTube channel of your own, YouTube also has an advertising arm that shows adverts before videos on the platform. Advertisers can select their target audience by gender, age, interests and location and companies only pay when someone chooses to watch their ad.
Best for: Any business that can create great video content, or those who want to advertise their products / services to a captive audience.
LinkedIn is the ultimate platform for businesses who are focused on B2B and want to aim their content directly at decision makers.
With 200 million members, LinkedIn is a sizeable platform that allows businesses to set up a ‘company page’ in order to promote their products and services. If updated regularly with good, compelling content, a company page can be really effective in promoting a business to professionals. Individuals can also get active on LinkedIn in groups that allow people to start discussions about relevant topics which is great for lead generation.
In a similar feature to Facebook, LinkedIn allows users to sponsor posts and put money behind them in order to boost reach and engagement with precise targeting. Professionals on LinkedIn are also more receptive to business messages, as it’s the nature of the platform.
LinkedIn also has a place for B2C companies, as after all, professionals are consumers too!
Best for: B2B businesses looking at targeting professionals and decision makers.
Pinterest is possibly the most visual social network out there. Similar to Instagram in that it is an image sharing platform, Pinterest is actually quite unique and a must have if your company is e-commerce and visual.
On first glance, Pinterest looks like a pretty platform for sharing images of home décor and weddings. However, according to a social commerce study by Shopify, the number of orders through Pinterest has increased by 79% since 2013.
Pinterest is driving 7% of web traffic that sites receive, second only to Facebook. It is also the most mobile social network, with 75% of usage taking place on mobile devices. Sharing is prolific on Pinterest with 80% of pins being repins, in comparison to only 1.4% of tweets being retweets on Twitter.
Similar to Facebook and Twitter, Pinterest also has an advertising feature that allows users to promote pins and make them appear at the top of people’s search results and category feeds. Unfortunately, Promoted Pins is only available to businesses based in the United States at the moment, but it’s only a matter of time before we see them appear across the pond.
In addition to this, Pinterest also has a feature called ‘Rich Pins’ that include extra information right on the pin itself. Rich Pins include the ability to embed a map, address or phone number into your pin, making it easy for people to buy your products by embedding a product pin – allowing users access to real time pricing, availability and where to buy, and article pins that include headlines, authors and story descriptions, allowing users to save content for later. There are also Rich Pins for movies, recipes and apps. These extra details make your pins more useful and shareable, therefore widening your reach and increasing both brand awareness and potential sales.
Best for: Highly visual brands and e-commerce businesses whose audience is prolific on mobile.
Snapchat probably isn’t the first platform you think of using when promoting your business, but it really does have a place for companies.
Since launching in 2011, Snapchat has built up a healthy number of users, with 100 million monthly active users who send over 400 million snaps per day. The main audience for the platform are people between the ages of 13 and 25, with 50% of users aged between 13 and 17, and only 19% over the age of 25.
The platform can be used by businesses in a number of ways including offering exclusive discount codes, behind the scenes footage, competitions and new product previews. The platform is also great for companies who want to deliver an urgent call to action to create excitement among their audience. Snapchat’s Stories feature allows brands to string a series of photos and videos together in order to tell a story or send a message directly to their audience who can then view the stream an unlimited number of times over 24 hours.
Snapchat has also recently launched its advertising arm, that allows companies to pay for snaps to appear in users’ recent updates feed. Businesses can also pay for ad placements in the Stories live feed. However, advertising on Snapchat will set you back a pretty penny, with a rumoured price of $750,000 a day as reported by Adweek, significantly higher than other social networks.
Best for: Visual brands with a younger target audience of 13 – 25.
So, which social network really is best for your business?
This all depends on what you’re looking to achieve from being active on social media, whether it’s lead generation or brand awareness, and who you want (and need!) to reach. It’s also advisable to build up your social platforms over time, and only commit to additional platforms when you have the resource to update them regularly.
Which social media platforms does your business use? If you’d like advice on which social networks are right for your company, don’t hesitate to get in touch.