This article is based on research for our recent eGuide, Building your employer brand with social media.
Chances are, your business is on social media. Chances also are that you’re not using it correctly. Maybe you have an account with whatever social media platform was popular at the time you signed up, and you post here and there when you think of it. Or, maybe you joined everything and spend way too much time and energy trying to keep up.
As with any form of advertising and marketing, it pays to be strategic: you’re better off choosing one social media platform and using it to its full potential.
When it comes to choosing the right platforms, there are a number of things to consider, from core audience (it doesn’t make sense, for example, for a cupcake bakery to focus heavily on LinkedIn) to how your content will fit within its framework.
Here’s a guide to choosing the right social media platform for your business:
With more than 1.5 billion active users, Facebook is the largest social media platform – and the go-to for most brands. Facebook lets visually appealing and informative content shine, and is a great way for you to gather feedback from your customers (Intrepid Travel, for example, uses its reviews to help potential clients choose tours). Just be sure to monitor comments and respond in a timely manner – it matters to your audience.
Audience: Typically between 15-49 years old (according to a recent study, 91% of millennials have Facebook).
Best for: Businesses looking to build long-term relationships and provide customer service to their clients.
The catch: It operates largely on a pay-for-play model, which means that your posts won’t reach a large audience unless you’re buying advertising or paying to boost your posts. That said, for as little as $3 you could reach up to 500 people.
Instagram has 400 million users, and racks up some of the highest engagement rates of any platform. It’s visually appealing and creative content that sees more engagement here; commercial real estate company CBRE, for example, showcases architectural wonders from around the world – a combo of buildings they own and other eye candy. Remember to think about hashtags: while Facebook and Twitter use one or two hashtags per post, Instagram allows for – and encourages – as many as possible, as long as they are relevant.
Audience: 90% of users are under the age of 35 (because it’s still a new platform, users are young).
Best for: Businesses with visually appealing content looking for brand promotion.
The catch: It’s difficult to get direct ROI. It’s hard to link to a webpage anywhere on your profile except in your bio, which makes Instagram better for brand promotion or supporting other social media efforts.
Twitter blends together all means of creative communication, including vidoes, photos, and text. You can also use features like polls and, of course, hashtags to catch the attention of its 320 million users. Case in point: Charmin (yes, the toilet paper brand) has garnered over 70,000 followers with catchy hashtags, interactive twitter polls and fun videos. You need to engage your audience if you expect a return – while Twitter does allow pre-scheduled tweets, you should combine them with regular live posts (ideally every 15 minutes) to increase engagement.
Audience: It’s the most diverse in terms of age groups, but there’s a solid number of users between 18 and 50.
Best for: Businesses with plenty to say and a desire to connect directly with consumers.
The catch: If tweets aren’t live or trending, they can have a short lifespan. For high engagement and a decent follower count, you need to be very active.
#CharminAsks: The person who rolls under, is..
— Charmin (@Charmin) September 30, 2016
Contrary to popular opinion, Pinterest is not just for foodies, travelers and brides-to-be. With over 100 million users, it has its fair share of the market – plus, it’s one of the only platforms where older content can still do well. The companies that do best blend branding with trending topics (Pantone, for example, creates boards based on seasons or holidays, seamlessly integrating in its own product). When pinning content, it’s important to optimize your images. Websites like canva.com feature drag-and-drop templates to help you make engaging layouts quickly (just remember to include a link to your website).
Audience: 85% of users are female and 67% are millennials (if your brand is geared toward young women, it’s a no-brainer).
Best for: Businesses that create original content or sell interesting products.
The catch: It’s is generally slow moving in the beginning and can be difficult to get a very large following. However, if you have fresh and regular content, it’s an ideal platform.
Created originally as a digital networking platform, LinkedIn has become a powerhouse for small and fortune 500 companies alike, with close to 100 million users. If you conduct business with other brands, you should have some sort of presence on this site. While there are varying opinions about what should and shouldn’t be posted on the platform, a good rule of thumb is to stick to content that is relevant to other businesses. 3M, for example, gained nearly a million followers by showcasing the company’s personality, with features on current employees and posts about how it’s giving back to local communities.
Audience: Over 50% of users are between the ages of 30 and 64.
Best for: Businesses that work with other businesses and want to add clients to their Rolodex.
The catch: Unless you’re a recruiter or a school, you shouldn’t be selling anything directly to the LinkedIn audience. You’re selling your brand, not any specific products.
For more social media stats, check out Smart Insights’ Global social media research summary.