Choosing the right social media platform can be hard. Especially if you’re just starting out with your blog or your business. So, which social media platform should you use?
I can’t give you a straightforward answer, so don’t be expecting one. It all depends on your niche, your target group, and other factors.
Read on as I break down the facts about the main social media platforms you can choose from. I also give suggestions in which cases you should use a particular one.
We live in a social media-driven world. Everything around us revolves around social media. One way or the other.
According to Wikipedia, there are 210 major active social media platforms.
(Yes, I’ve counted them all.)
And the list does not even include the mobile-only platforms.
Add the tiny, extremely specific and the local ones, and I bet there are several thousand.
In fact, a new platform launches almost every day. They’re all hoping to be the next Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Some might grow and become major players, but the majority of them you will never read or hear about.
But the fact of the matter is, when you’re just starting out, you should focus (a.) on the major platforms, (b.) on the ones that are on the rise, but are still not crowded (meaning the competition is still low), or (c.) the ones that are ultra specific for your niche.
I strongly recommend that you focus just on 2-3 platforms. When you’re building an online business, time is hard to come by, so don’t waste it on doing stuff by halves. It’s better to absolutely own one platform than to have mediocre profiles on many.
Also, carefully read the next sentence.
The number of followers does not equal influence.
Now keep that in mind. We’ve come a long way since influence was measured by the number of followers.
When you’ve grown to a certain point, you’ll need to expand your influence to other platforms as well. In fact, I got a task for you as soon as you’ve finished reading this. Go to every social network you can think of and create a profile. This way you’ll have reserved your (brand) name. At least for future use.
OK, now that we got that covered, here’s my list of social media platforms you should choose from:
First, to answer the most common question “how many?”. How many users are there on each platform. Mike Alton regularly updates the numbers in his Social Media Active Users by Network infographics. As you can see Facebook is by far the largest social media platform there is.
But that doesn’t give you a clear picture. I mean, should you really decide which social media platform is right for you solely based on its size? “More users” translates to “more competition”.
Harvard IOP Poll shows the fastest penetrating social network among millennials is Snapchat, closely followed by Instagram. They grew 8% and 7% in millennials category in a year respectively.
When it comes to growth in active users, Pinterest takes the stand. They almost doubled their numbers in a single year.
If you take a look at the demographic composition, you see more established social networks such as Facebook and Twitter are dominated by older age groups. While on the other hand younger platforms are dominated by the youth.
That shouldn’t come as a surprise. Facebook’s active user growth comes from older age groups (your mom and grandma joining the party) and new markets. While the youth is shifting to the new platforms. It’s just not cool to be on the same platform as your mom is.
Take the facts and statistics into the account, but, more importantly, answer these questions:
It’s hard to say when not to focus on Facebook. 72% of adult internet users use Facebook. That’s 62% of the entire population. In addition, 82% of people in the age group 18-29, and 79% of those in the age group 30-49 use Facebook. If your ideal customer lives in the 21. century (meaning he uses the internet), then it’s highly likely he has a Facebook account.
With so high numbers comes as high competition. The Facebook news feed is a super crowded place. So don’t let the numbers trick you. Organic reach is extremely low (3-5%), and you will be forced to pay for exposure.
Luckily for you, Facebook ads can be one of the best ways to promote your content. They should be an integral part of any social media strategy.
If your content comes in video format, then YouTube should be your first choice. Think, where do you go to watch video content? There’s only one possible answer – YouTube.
Many of the searches are for “How to” videos. If you can offer this type of content, you could make something happen on YouTube.
Because it’s owned by Google, it’s great for SEO and brand exposure.
Google+ is one of the biggest social platforms, but don’t be fooled by the numbers. It can be quiet at times. Yet, it has its loyal fans. Quiet also means there’s little competition. I can also confirm it impacts SEO, and surprisingly I do get a nice amount of traffic from it.
If you’re more into pictures than words than Instagram is for you. Even though its engagement rates are falling, also due to increasing number of active users, it is still the king of engagement. Users are more likely to interact with posts on Instagram than on any other social network. In addition, posts have a very long life, extending to almost a week.
What’s more, you can post videos too. Apps such as Instagram’s own Hyperlapse makes shooting videos a simple task.
Instagram works really well for visual based businesses, like art, food, retail, automotive industry, and fashion.
Its users often overlap with Twitter so it can be good to use them together.
Twitter is a great option if your target audience is “information junkies” as Michelle Manafy calls them. If your content is relying on topic-based news and timely insights, Twitter is for you.
It’s great for driving traffic, increasing brand awareness, and engaging with your consumers. Although you need to take into consideration that everything happens so fast. In 10 or 20 minutes your tweet is already a thing of the past, so you need to post multiple times a day.
The best if your market is B2B. If your content is related to work, business connections and networking, then try LinkedIn. It’s worth taking into account high income and education levels of the average user. It offers strong penetration among people aged 35 or more.
It’s great for engaging in deeper conversations with influencers, gaining advice, and exchanging ideas. LinkedIn is about enhancing your business, your brand, and your profile through the power of networking.
If your target group is predominately female, you should try Pinterest. A whopping 80% of users are women. Also, if your business falls into categories such as fashion, food, or DIY, there could be a good fit.
Given their strong connection with Shopify, Pinterest is also great for online stores. Building traffic and brand awareness is also a strong suit.
A study from The Social Habit showed that men and women have a different motivation for going to Pinterest. Men are usually looking to actively shop and women to get creative ideas. But what is more important – people go on Pinterest specifically because they want something.
Targeting teens? Get on Snapchat right now. It’s totally mobile-based, one of the fastest growing mobile apps. Much like Pinterest, the majority of users are female (71%).
Unlike other video-based social platforms, Periscope focuses on live video. It gained a lot of traction in the second part of 2015, and we are yet to see if the hype will continue. Most users are under 25. There are also two similar platforms out there – Meerket and Blab.
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