There is no denying that social media is changing the landscape of online marketing.
An estimated 2.3 billion people from all around the world are using social media everyday and around 30 percent of all referral traffic is from a social media site. This alone should be enough to motivate any business big or small, to be present on social media.
Today, around 90 percent of small businesses are present on social media but in this competitive market simply having a presence is just not good enough.
With so many businesses on social media all competing for your customer’s attention it is important that you are not just on social media but that you are dominating it in your field.
Having a dominating presence on social media allows you to gain more traffic, leads and sales, which of course is highly desirable for any business. It also allows you to become an influencer or industry leader and turns your social media strategy into one that is lucrative and profitable.
There are many social media platforms out there that are being utilised by businesses every day. The most 10 popular include-
All of these social platforms draw in millions of users everyday and all of them are unique and offer something different. But, it is also important to understand that your business can’t be king of them all. In fact, your business may not even be suited to being on certain social platforms.
In 2015, statistics showed us that 10 percent of businesses spent nearly 20 hours per week on social media marketing and this number is steadily increasing. Some businesses even have a dedicated social media manager.
If you cant afford a social media manager or your time investment is not leading to a positive ROI, it may be because you are spreading yourself too thin or targeting the wrong social sites for your brand.
Choosing the right social network for your business will depend on who your audience is and what your goals are.
It is also important to keep in mind that you have to focus your attention on the social platforms that will help you to reach your ideal audience in an effective way.
The reality is that your brand cannot successfully dominate all social media platforms. In order to truly succeed and beat out your competition, you have to focus on just one or two and learn how to master them.
As Scott Levy from Entrepreneur.com states-
“Most people and companies can’t be amazing one every platform; that takes a huge amount of bandwidth and resources. Instead of having a sub-par representation in a lot of places, be awesome on a few of them.”
To determine which social media platforms are going to be most lucrative and beneficial for your brand, it is important to have a basic understanding of how each platform is used….
Understanding How Each Social Media Platform is Used
Facebook is one of the most popular social platforms around. In the US, around 72 percent of the population use Facebook. That is a huge statistic and proves the power of being present on such a platform.
Facebook is great for any business or niche. It allows you to share images, text, articles, links, videos and even run your own ads or “boosts”.
Here are the main demographics using Facebook-
- 1.44 billion monthly active users
- 77 percent of women and 66 percent of men use Facebook in the USA
- 82 percent of adults aged 18-29 and 79 percent of adults aged 30 to 49 use the platform
- 74 percent of people on Facebook are University graduates
- 72 percent of people using Facebook come from households making over 75,000 per year
- The top 5 countries for Facebook users in order include- USA, India, Brazil, Indonesia and Mexico.
2.8 million Australians use Twitter and it is even more popular in countries such as the USA and Canada. In fact, around 18 percent of all internet users use the microblogging site.
Twitter allows you to share links, videos, images and text that is no more than 140 characters long. It is popular for sourcing news, trending events, hashtags and for sharing links.
Here are the main demographics using Twitter-
- 24 percent of men and 21 percent of women use Twitter
- 37 percent of users on Twitter are aged 18-29
- 27 percent of users have incomes of $75,000 or higher
- 30 percent of users have graduated University
- 77 percent of Twitter users live outside the USA
Instagram is definitely one of the rising stars of social media. Owned by Facebook, the platform has nearly 500 million active monthly users and is rapidly growing to be one of the most popular social networks.
Instagram allows you to share short videos and images and is highly visual, therefore it suits lifestyle, food, fashion and luxury brands.
Here are the main demographics using Instagram-
- 29 percent of women and 22 percent of men use Instagram
- 53 percent of Instagram users are aged between 18-29 years of age
- 28 percent of users make under $30,000 per year
- 26 percent of users make over $75,000 per year
- 31 percent of users have completed some university
LinkedIn is known as the social media site for business professionals. It is aimed at connecting employers and employees and is also great for networking and making industry contacts. It is also great for B2B brands.
The platform has nearly 400 million users and is used in over 200 countries around the world. In Australia, there are approximately 6 million active users.
LinkedIn is a great place to share your resume, links, blogs and information about business.
Here are the main demographics using LinkedIn-
- 28 percent of males and 27 percent of females use LinkedIn
- 31 percent of LinkedIn users are aged 30 to 49 and 30 percent are aged 50-64
- 32 percent of those using LinkedIn live in urban communities
- 44 percent of those using LinkedIn make over $75,000 per year
- 50 percent of LinkedIn are University graduates
Pinterest is churning out many surprising success stories. The social platform has over 100 million active users, many of which are female and many of which are looking to purchase products.
In fact, in a survey over 70 percent of Pinterest users stated that they visited the site to get inspiration on what to buy.
Pinterest is a great place to share images such as photos, drawings, infographics and visual blog posts. It is also the perfect place to share images of your products and services.
Here are the main demographics using Pinterest-
- 42 percent of users are women and 13 percent of users are men
- 34 percent of users are aged between 18-29 and 28 percent are aged between 30 to 49
- Over 50 percent of Pinterest users live in the suburbs or in rural communities
- 34 percent of users have an income of over $75,000
- 32 percent of Pinterest users have graduated University
Google+ is a great social network to be on if SEO and page ranking is a high priority. It currently has around 300 million active monthly users.
The platform is a great place to share videos, links, blog post and images. It is also a great place to network with employers and employees.
Here are the main demographics using Google-
- 74 percent of users are male and 26 percent of users are female
- 55 percent of users are based in the USA
- 28 percent of users are aged between 15-34
- 70 percent of brands have a presence on Google+
- Google+ averages a growth rate of around 33 percent each year
Snapchat is one of the newest and most popular social networks to hit the digital scene. Snapchat shares over 400 million snaps every day and is rapidly increasing to become one of the most popular social networks.
Snapchat is a great place to share images and videos that are taken in real time. It is also the perfect place to reach a younger audience.
Here are the main demographics using Snapchat-
- 70 percent of users are female
- 71 percent of users are aged under 25 years of age
- 62 percent earn under $50,000 per year
Every business will be different when it comes to selecting the best social media platform to dominate, but if you want to choose the perfect one for your brand, here is how to begin-
How to Pick the Perfect Social Media Platform for Your Business
Step#1: It All Starts With Knowing Your Audience
The start of every good marketing strategy is knowing your audience. Chances are you probably already have a good indication of your audience’s age, gender, education, income and location, but you also need to dig a little deeper.
In order to really understand your audience, you also have to gain an understanding of their interests, values, fears, wishes and the things that challenge them.
This level of understanding when it comes to your audience, is going to not only help you pick the best social platform to work your magic on, but it is also going to ensure a greater ROI on all of your marketing campaigns.
Once you have discovered the needs and desires of your audience, you can then determine which social platform your audience most frequents.
Step #2: Identify Which Social Networks Your Audience Use
By understanding each of the social platforms you may be able to piece together where your audience is most active.
For example, if your brand sells luxury fashion items for females aged 20-35, it is probably a good call to assume that Instagram and Pinterest are going to be your go to platforms.
But if your answer is not as clear cut, or if you want to be certain of your decision, here is a more strategic approach-
- Use a platform like Buzzsumo to determine where your industry or niche is getting the most engagement. To use Buzzsumo, simply type in a keyword relating to your industry or niche. The program will then reveal the most shared content across all the top social media platforms and which networks are most popular.
- Make a short list of the most popular networks and then cross reference them to the age of your target audience. Here is a quick reference to help you:
- Under 25- Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr
- Age 25-44: Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Google+, LinkedIn
- Over 45: Facebook, Linkedin, Reddit, Instagram, YouTube, Google+
- Next, cross reference your Buzzsumo findings and the age of your demographic with what each platform is known for. Here is quick reference to help you:
- Image based: Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat
- SEO: Google+
- Video: YouTube, Facebook, Vimeo, Snapchat
- Business: LinkedIn, Google+, Twitter
- Blogs/Links: LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+
By assessing where your keywords are most popular, to looking at the age of your audience and the type of content that you want to share, you should have a pretty good indication of where your audience hangs out and which platform may be the best option for your brand.
But before choosing the one platform that you are going to dominate, it may be worthwhile actually test running it first.
Step #3: Do a Test Run and Scope out the Competition
If you have the time and resources, running a campaign on a few of the top social networks can be a great way to determine which one is going to perform best.
This can be costly and time consuming however, so another cheaper and quicker alternative is to see what your competition is doing.
By looking at where your competition is most popular, it will help you to take a lot of time and guess work out of what is going to work for your brand. Chances are if it worked for your competitors, it will also work for you.
Besides stalking your competitors on social media, there are a few others ways you can reverse engineer what they are doing and what is working-
- Quintly: this tool helps you to track your performance against your competition and gives you an overall look at how you are fairing in your industry. By looking at these results, you can determine how your brand is ranking on certain social media platforms and with engagement rates.
- BuzzSumo Influencer: this tool allows you to create a list of influencers in your industry that are popular and are generating high levels of engagement. By looking at where influencers are sharing their content, you can then mimic or emulate what they are doing to gain similar results. Of course, what works for someone else may not work for you, so just remember to stay true to your brand and your message.
Once you have been able to determine what your competition is doing, you should have a pretty clear indication of which social platform is going to work best for your brand.
Step #4: Start Becoming the King of Your Chosen Social Media Platform
In order to really dominate a social media platform you have to start building a base of loyal followers.
This really requires you to have an understanding of the platform and a solid understanding of your audience. On top of this you need to promote and share messages that are authentic and provide valuable information and entertainment.
No matter what social platform you go for, creating engagement is going to be your number one priority.
There are many ways to create engagement, but according to Buzzfeed, one of the most viral sites on the internet, when the following emotions were stirred, their content was more likely to go viral-
- Heart warming
They also found that the “content elements” most likely to earn high engagement rates included (in order) images, facts, charts, quotes, videos and some type of interactive content.
Trending news, health and fitness, cats and dogs, babies, long life and love were also some of the most frequently visited topics.
Every brand is different, so experiment with different content types and work out what your audience are most likely to respond to.
It is also important when building up your social profile to get a good mix between promotional and non-promotional content. Current trends suggest that you can post one promotional link for every 20 pieces of content shared.
As you start building more loyalty, you can then start increasing the number of promotional links.
Keep in mind that social media is not necessarily about pushing or selling your products, service or expertise. Instead it is about building brand awareness and developing trust between you and your ideal customers.
Step #5: Keep Testing, Measuring and Experimenting with Your Results
Building a rabidly loyal following on social media takes time and is not something that can be achieved overnight.
Whatever social media platform you choose to go with, you must keep testing, experimenting and tracking your results.
A good way to do this is to use a social media scheduling tool like Buffer or Hootsuite. Not only do these tools help to manage your social media content, but they also allow you to easily track how your audience is responding to what you are posting.
Most of the social media platforms also have analytics and tracking tools built in, so get to understand the data and keep monitoring your progress.
It is also important to remain active and engaged on social media. Here are a few golden guidelines to follow for each platform-
- Facebook: post 1-2 times per day, share a variety of content from images to videos and links, respond to comments, like and share other content
- Twitter: post 4-7 times per day, share snippets of information and photos, use hashtags, retweet and like other content regularly
- Instagram: post 1-2 times per day, share high quality images, use hashtags, like other images and follow those similar to you
- Google+: post 1-2 times per day, share links, images and infographics, respond to comments and share other content
- Pinterest: post 1-5 times per day, share high quality images, slides and infographics, like, follow and pin other user’s content
- LinkedIn: post 1-4 times per week, share high quality blog articles, links and infographics, add contacts, offer recommendations and share relevant articles
- Snapchat: post 1-3 times per day, share real time events and videos, follow users similar to you
These guidelines will give you a good starting point when it comes to growing your following on social media. Just remember that you also have to be active and “social” in order to improve your engagement levels.
As Business Insider aptly states-
“Social media is a long game and while it is a bit of a cliche, it is all about relationship building. Brands with the patience to stick to a smart strategy will see it pay off in the medium and long term.”
If your business wants to stand out from the crowd and tap into a huge source of traffic, referrals and customers, it has to be present on social media.
There are so many social media platforms out there that trying to be a dominating force on all of them is not a practical move. Instead, focusing on just 1 or 2 platforms and becoming a master of them is a much more effective strategy.
Facebook is currently the most popular social networking site out there, however it may be interesting to note that more Fortune 500 brands are adopting Twitter over Facebook.
In fact, over 73 percent of Fortune 500 companies are active on Twitter, whereas only 66 percent are active on Facebook.
Even though Fortune 500 companies seem to favour Twitter, the platform that your brand chooses to focus on will depend on many factors such as-
- Where your audience hangs out
- Where your keywords or niche is gaining the most attention
- The age and demographic you are trying to reach
- The type of content you are wanting to share
Whatever social networking tool you choose to focus your attention on, the most important thing to remember is that your social strategy should be rooted in building awareness and building a strong relationship with your audience.
Social media is a place to be social and is where your audience goes to get to know the tone, style and message of your brand. This means that whatever you share on social media has to be aligned with your brand’s higher vision.
Choosing the perfect social media platform ultimately comes down to what your brand is trying to achieve in both the short and long term and what the ultimate goal is for your business.