Is your business on the right social network?
by Leila Ansart, Social Media Consultant, Intuitive Marketing Group
We’ve all heard the expression “a jack of all trades, but master of none”. When it comes to social media, and your business, you want to avoid being lumped into this description. Many companies get themselves set up on Facebook, and add Twitter, or Pinterest, or Instagram, without really taking the time to think through their reasons for doing so, or the strategy involved in that decision.
Each social platform has it’s own demographics and strengths, and by understanding those, as well defining and understanding the audience that you are trying to reach through social media, you’ll be better equipped to make an informed and strategic decision about which platforms are best for your organization.
and % of online adults using it
Typical Age Range
of online adults
Frequency of Use
|Facebook – 56%||Highest is age 18-49 (79-82%),though older adults still make an impact (age 50-65+ = 60%-45%)||70% daily|
|LinkedIn – 23%||Biggest demographic aged 30-49||13% daily25% weekly|
|Twitter – 19%||Most popular in 18-49 age range||36% daily|
|Instagram – 21%||53% of young adults age 18-29(though 25% of adults age 30-49 use the platform)||49% daily|
|Pinterest – 22%||Primarily women age 18-49||17% daily|
Source: Pew Research Center, September 2014. Based on American adults who use the internet
Let’s start with Facebook: A well established network with 1.4 billion monthly users, it is typically the one organizations think of first when considering a social media presence. Users on this platform lean more to a higher female user population, and span in age widely. Teens still consider it important (though not as important as Instagram). Even older Americans are active on this site, in fact, as of late 2014, 56% of all online seniors are using Facebook. These numbers make a strong case for starting here for your business social media presence.
However, changes in the last year to Facebook’s algorithm have organic reach plummeting, causing major concerns from established page managers as to the organic growth opportunity they’ll have in the future. (“Organic” reach refers to what your fans see – in other words, which (if any) of your organization’s posts show up in their newsfeed when they’ve Liked your Page. Since this change in 2014, users are realizing that 2-4% of their existing fan base are being shown their page’s updates. So a page with 500 Likes has the realistic opportunity of having only 10-20 people see their status updates and information. The option, of course, is to pay Facebook for more visibility. You can boost your posts (pay to have more people see them) in order to reach more of your viewers. While this may make sense for some (and you can see results in even a small budget of $5-$10/day), this is a reality that must be considered in your social media strategy. In other words, for your Facebook presence, either establish a budget for getting your audience to see your posts, or focus on other networks with better organic reach.
LinkedIn boasts more than 330 million users, and it’s core demographic are those aged between 30 and 49. Its users are professionals and college graduates and tend to be well educated, and is the only platform where those ages 30-64 are more likely to be users than those ages 18-29. It is pretty evenly split between male and female users. With the rollout of LinkedIn Publisher in 2014, people are spending more of their time on this high-value social network, both sharing their ideas, opinions and expertise, and researching topics as well. If your business or organization aims to reach this demographic, and especially if you have some kind of expertise to share, this network is a prime one for consideration.
As of late 2014, Twitter had 284 million monthly active users, and is used by 23% of online adults. Twitter use is starting to lean a bit more towards male users, while in the past it has been a gender-equal social network. This network is well suited for sharing information and links to published content and asking or answering questions. It’s also a great way to reach out to influencers that may be hard to interact with on other channels as you can tweet directly to them. As users are limited to 140 characters per tweet, conversations must be succinct. Depending on your business and industry, you may find this is a good fit for you.
Instagram, with over 300 million users each month, is used heavily by young adults ages 18-29 (53% of those online) and has experienced huge growth in the last year (up from 37% of online users in this age range in 2013).
But don’t leave out adults age 30-49, as 1 in 4 online adults in that age range are also enjoying this image-centric platform (that now includes video too!). Besides young adults, women are particularly likely to be on Instagram. Engagement tends to be higher here than on Facebook and Twitter, and smart marketers are figuring out how to creatively share content through images to take advantage of this site, for example, creating an image with a text overlay to promote a sale or event and posting it on their Instagram channel. This venue is also great for behind-the-scenes type images/video and sharing your organization’s story in a different way.
Pinterest, with over 70 million users, is a visually appealing social network that is used primarily by online women (42%) as opposed to just 13% of online men (though male usage did increase from 2013). Imagine having 9 bulletin boards up on your wall, each dedicated to a certain topic or theme, where you could collect and organize images, videos, and more. Smart companies use it as a resource for their customers, not only on their own products, but on surrounding products and ideas that those same customers would be interested in. Overall, if your product photographs well and/or value can be offered through virtual idea bulletin boards, this is a great social network to consider.
Facebook remains the most heavily used platform for those engaging with just one social media site—79% of those who use just one platform report choosing Facebook. However, more than 50% of online adults use more than one social network, so having your organization on two networks, at least to start, is a great way to stay ‘top of mind’ with your clients and community.
In conclusion, while formulating your social media plan, if you have the budget and time to pursue several networks at once, then do them all creatively and tailor your content to each one. However, most start-up businesses and non-profits don’t have the resources to spread their social presence out so broadly. In that case, a smart strategy is to choose one or two platforms as your primary networks, and do them very well. Invest in training (or hire a consultant or agency) and learn the best strategies for a few social networks. Decide on frequency of posts and make sure you are consistent. Be present in the community you are building (and please don’t set up your profile and then abandon it – that’s worse than not being there at all). Be sure to answer questions and comments as people post them on your profiles. It is far more important to be present on one or two networks and really execute them well than to attempt being on them all –and represent your organization poorly.
Leila Ansart is a social media consultant who is passionate about helping business owners and professionals present themselves authentically on their social channels.
She offers social media strategy, training and community management, as well as teaching popular classes on how to use LinkedIn effectively for networking and lead generation.