How to Pick the Right Social Media Platforms for Your Business

social media icons

I’m going to tell you something you might not expect to hear from a digital marketer: not every social media platform is worth your time. Keeping up with a single platform is a lot of work. Keeping up with four or more is literally a full-time job. And yet, most businesses today think having a presence on every network is important, even if their account has no real information or value.

You don’t need to be a jack-of-all platforms online. The key to using social media to promote your business is going where your audience is. How do you do that? First, you need to know who your audience is. Then, you need to look into each platform’s demographics to see if their users match your audience. To help you get started, here’s a quick rundown of each of the major social networks’ user bases, strengths, and weaknesses.

social media icon - facebookFacebook – Reaches Everyone

Facebook is now the third most-visited site, only behind Google and YouTube. Having a Facebook account is like having a website and a Google My Business listing – it’s something that makes your business credible. It’s worth noting, however, that Facebook’s organic reach has drastically dropped in the last two years as the platform has shifted to prioritizing content from friends and individuals.

Here are a few key stats from Hootsuite’s Facebook Demographics and Facebook Statistics reports:

  • Facebook has 23 billion monthly users.
  • 68% of Americans use Facebook, and more than half of all Americans in every age group say they are on the platform.
  • In the United States, more women use Facebook than men.

Should you use Facebook?

Probably. It’s still the biggest social network, for better or worse, and having a Facebook presence proves legitimacy. Just keep in mind that your reach and engagement won’t be as strong as on other platforms (unless you’re willing to pay).

social media icon - instagramInstagram – Top Choice for People Under 35

Since Facebook bought the photo-sharing network in 2012, Instagram has exploded in popularity, particularly with younger audiences who are less and less inclined to spend time on Facebook. Today, Instagram is an essential part of our current culture, both on and offline.

Here’s a quick look at Instagram by the numbers, courtesy of Hootsuite’s Instagram Statistics and Demographics reports:

  • Instagram has over 1 billion monthly users.
  • 71% of users worldwide are under the age of 35, and 34% of Instagram users are millennials.
  • 2% of Instagram users interact with ads (for comparison, Facebook is the next best and comes in at just 0.22%).

Should you use Instagram?

If your target audience is primarily people under 40, then yes, Instagram is essential. And if your business is very visual, with a lot of quality photography and video, Instagram is a great way to showcase your content. But for organizations that are heavily B2B or focused solely on older audiences, Instagram isn’t the best use of your time.

social media icon - linkedinLinkedIn – Essential for B2B

If your company is primarily B2B, LinkedIn is non-negotiable. Because LinkedIn is a professional networking site, it’s also an important way to prove legitimacy with prospective employees and partners, not just clients.

Here are a few important stats about LinkedIn’s base from Hootsuite’s LinkedIn Demographics and Statistics reports:

  • 154 million Americans have LinkedIn profiles.
  • 45% of LinkedIn users are in upper management positions.
  • 61% of users are between 30-64 years old, and 21% are over 65.

Should you use LinkedIn?

If you run a B2B organization, LinkedIn should be an essential part of your digital strategy. And for all businesses, having a company page with your current logo and correct contact info can help prove legitimacy – especially if you ever plan to use LinkedIn’s hiring and recruiting tools.

social media icon - twitterTwitter – Live and Trending Content

Twitter has a much smaller user base than Facebook or Instagram, and doesn’t benefit from the very specific purpose LinkedIn has. As a result, Twitter can be more difficult to fit neatly into a marketing plan. Tweets have a short life-span, meaning the platform demands a much higher volume of content than any other option.

Here’s a quick look at Twitter’s usage, from Hootsuite’s Twitter Statistics and Demographics reports:

  • Twitter has 326 million monthly users.
  • Only 24% of American adults use Twitter, and they skew urban, educated, and higher-income.
  • 92% of Americans are familiar with Twitter, even if they don’t use it.

Should you use Twitter?

Twitter can be an important way to directly interact with customers, especially for larger B2C brands using it for customer service outreach. Twitter is also extremely important for breaking news and current, minute-by-minute updating to reach both users and the public at large. It’s also a platform that requires a lot of posting and regular attention, making it a high-effort option.

social media icon - youtubeYouTube – Perfect for All Ages

Fun fact: YouTube is the second most-visited website, behind only Google. Not only that, it also reaches across more age brackets than any other platform online. In short, whoever your audience may be, they’re on YouTube.

Here’s a quick look at YouTube’s massive reach, courtesy of Hootsuite.

  • 9 billion logged-in users visit YouTube every month.
  • 96% of American internet users between 18-24 use YouTube.
  • Half of all American internet users over 75 use YouTube

Should you use YouTube?

While we understand that video content can be more time-consuming and expensive to create, there’s no denying that YouTube has the biggest online reach. Video content can also be repurposed on any other platform, which means investing in a YouTube channel can help boost your presence on all social networks.

Other Platforms

Other popular social platforms today cater to much smaller, niche audiences which won’t be right for the majority of businesses. These include:

  • Pinterest – great for lifestyle-focused brands and those focused on millennial women.
  • Snapchat – like Instagram, great for targeting people under 35; however, Snapchat has a much smaller user base.
  • TikTok – The platform has exploded in popularity with people under 25, but it’s also mired in controversy right now and has the least to offer brands and advertisers.
  • Reddit and Tumblr – these networks have small, niche communities with very specific user-cultures. Brands need to be very careful before wading into these groups.

In short, there’s no one-size-fits-all answer to picking social platforms for your business. Once you’ve identified your target audiences, pick the network(s) those groups use and go all-in on. Make that social account shine with regular posts, plenty of useful information, and a fully developed organic and paid strategy. Need some help getting started with your social strategy? We can help with that!

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