Each social media site has its own quirks, advantages, and flaws. This post is designed to help you decide what platforms you should use to create profiles for your business. Some are are poorly designed these purposes; and some have practically everything you could ask for. Let’s take a look at what each platform has to offer. Statistics refer to the United States only, from the year 2019.
The Heavy Hitters: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn
When discussing social media, you’ll of course need to acknowledge the juggernaut in the room: Facebook. This platform is far and away the most widely-used platform in the US. If you’re only going to have one social media platform, it should be this one.
- You can share informational updates, pictures, videos, and so much more.
- Facebook also has extensive marketing tools that allow you to “boost” posts to reach even more people–and facebook ad are relatively cheap when compared to other advertising methods (and are infinitely more targeted to your customer base)
- The site as 1.19 billion users.
- Facebook Insights is a free tool to help you understand how your fans are interacting with your page, to help you fine-tune your marketing strategy
69% of US adults use this platform
63% of men, 75% of women
Ages 18-24: 76%
Ages 24-29: 84%
Twitter has 126 million users; only 22% of US adults use the platform, but many of the users are from other countries. Compared to other sites, Twitter is fairly simplistic: you can “tweet” messages up to 280 characters; when you ask someone to list off social media sites, Twitter is usually in the first four that they mention.
- Short but sweet: Twitter forces brevity because you’re only allowed 280 characters.
- Capability to share video and pictures.
- Brands have made very strong impressions via their Twitter profile; just look at Wendy’s sassy Twitter account for an example.
One of the downsides of Twitter is that it is easy to allow your account lapse. If you’re not tweeting regularly, it’s easy for your fanbase to lose interest. Another disadvantage is the sheer number of accounts (including fake accounts) out there. This can make it difficult to reach your target demographic at times.
I would generally not recommend Twitter as your primary social media account. Instead, have your primary account be Facebook, or perhaps Instagram. Twitter helps you flesh out your online presence.
22% of US adults use this platform
24% of men, 21% of women
Ages 18-24: 44%
Ages 24-29: 31%
Instagram is immensely popular with young people. While only 37% of the total adult US population is on Instagram, 75% of those aged 18-24 use this platform. If your target demographics fall into this category, then this site is well-worth it. Other benefits of Instagram include:
- Visual focus: I you have a physical product to offer, or a service that is photogenic, then Instagram is very supportive for your content.
- Easy-cross posting: A picture can be posted anywhere. Content from Instagram translates easily to other social media profiles, and to your website or blog.
- Created for mobile: Virtually everyone today has a smartphone. This site is designed to be attractive to mobile users; capturing the attention of your audience while they’re on the go is an added bonus.
- Hashtags and location tags: You can hone in on your target demographics with even more ease by using specific hashtags to locate your audience by interests and keywords; you can also hone in on them based on where they’re located.
Many companies use Instagram as their primary social media presence; it is certainly a platform with a lot of clout. However, there are some drawbacks. First, if your target demographic is over 30, many of them won’t be on this platform. Secondly, images must be uploaded via a smartphone or a PC application. This difficulty may turn off some business owners.
37% of US adults use this platform
31% of men, 43% of women
Ages 18-24: 75%
Ages 24-29: 57%
This platform may not get as much traffic as others on this list, but it is used by almost half of US Adults aged 24-29. The reason this platform was included was because having a LinkedIn profile for your business lends to the impression of professionalism.
A LinkedIn page can alsos serve as a temporary online presence while you’re getting your business website set up. Most LinkedIn pages don’t post regularly, but the page can still be immensely useful. Considering that a presence on this platform can be extremely low-maintenance (posting once a month can suffice), it is very much worth setting up a profile here.
27% of US adults use this platform
29% of men, 24% of women
Ages 18-24: 17%
Ages 24-29: 44%
The Niche-Noteworthy: Pinterest, YouTube
Not everyone is on Pinterest; however, those people who are into Pinterest are really, really into Pinterest. If your target demographic is women between 18 and 50 years old, this platform is the place to be. Some of its advantages include:
- It’s easy to drive to external sites. Each image you “pin” is hyperlinked to the original source. Referral traffic from Pinterest is greater than such traffic from YouTube and Twitter
- All posts are public. People on Pinterest don’t have to “follow” you in order to see your content. In fact, they don’t even need to have a Pinterest account.
- Comments are optional. Everyone knows that a comments section can be like Russian Roulette. This option allows you to avoid that scenario entirely.
- Conversion rates are higher. People use Pinterest to research ideas and projects that are important to them. Because of this invested interest, they are already in the mindset to buy or sign up for something. Conversion rates are about 2.5x higher than they are on Facebook and Twitter.
28% of US adults use this platform
15% of men, 42% of women
Ages 18-24: 38%
Ages 24-29: 28%
Out of all the social media sites listed here, YouTube is by far the most widely used. It has even more users in the US than Facebook. However, despite having more users, it isn’t the ideal site for many businesses on which to create a profile.
YouTube deals primarily in videos. If you create a profile on this platform, you’ll need to populate it with videos in order to stay relevant. And video production can be time-consuming and costly.
However, if video production is already in your skillset, or you have a big enough budget to pay someone else to manage and populate this profile, it would be well-worth your while; after all, over 90% of young adults use this platform.
73% of US adults use this platform
78% of men, 68% of women
Ages 18-24: 90%
Ages 24-29: 93%
The Forgettable: Reddit, SnapChat, Tumblr
Reddit is a platform that really isn’t designed for businesses. It is a series of forums (known as “subreddits”) based on specialized interests where people share videos, pictures, stories, and information. It is virtually free of advertising (aside from the common sidebar ads).
To contrast: Facebook has created a system wherein you businesses can pay to have their content boosted to appear in more people’s feeds. Reddit has no such system. Therefore, users of Reddit tend to react negatively when they see businesses promoting themselves on the site. If you are going to engage with potential customers on Reddit, make sure you understand the platform and your target demographic thoroughly.
11% of US adults use this platform
15% of men, 8% of women
Ages 18-24: 21%
Ages 24-29: 23%
Snapchat is in a funny position for entrepreneurs. Nearly seventy-five percent of 18-24 year olds use the site, but it is difficult to use as a business. The site mostly consists of friends who send each other images and videos.
It is difficult to connect with people you don’t already know; therefore, it can be hard to run a business profile. After all, your customer base needs to be bigger than just people you already know. .
24% of US adults use this platform
24% of men, 24% of women
Ages 18-24: 73%
Ages 24-29: 47%
Tumblr has fallen so far from mainstream usage that a comprehensive overview of its demographics isn’t available. Fair to say, you can probably skip this platform.
Notable Mentions: Google and Yelp
These are not technically social media sites, but they are very important to consider when launching a small business. Nowadays people often won’t even visit your website before deciding to do business with you; they’ll just look at your reviews.
If you don’t have reviews on Google or Yelp, you might as well not exist. People will likely pass you over. Why risk doing business with someone who hasn’t been vetted when there are dozens of other options listed, with five-star reviews, no less?
You should carefully consider what each platform has to offer before deciding which is right for you. You’ll need at least one social media platform to get started; if you have the time and/or budget, you should have multiple. If you have multiple social media profiles, take a look at our next article in the Social Media Series which will tell you all about social media management and scheduling tools.
Numbers taken from Pew Research