If you’re new to the social media space or trying to refine your social media marketing strategy, you’re probably wondering which networks are worth your time and investment. This process can be overwhelming and difficult to navigate, which is exactly why we’re here to help!
First let’s take a closer look at what we’re dealing with.
A Glance At Social Media, Generally
For those of you social media newbies, you should get yourself acquainted with some of the major players in the social space (for those of you who are acquainted with most social media networks, you can probably give this section a quick skim for a little refresher if you so desire). They are: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Reddit, and Tumblr.
According to the Pew Research Center in 2014 more than 74% of online adults use some social media networking site. Facebook leads the way of all networks with 71% of online adults having an account. To put those percentages in perspective, Facebook has around 1.15 BILLION active daily users, about 60 percent of which are women. And to put that giant number into perspective, the Huffington Post reported earlier this year that if Facebook were a country it would be the most populated country in the world.
Aside from Facebook, other social media networks include Twitter, a real-time micro-blogging network limited to text with 140 characters or less; LinkedIn, a space designed to connect professionals; Google+, the Google version of Facebook; Instagram, a photo sharing network; Pinterest, a network that allows users to pin items to a visual pin board; SnapChat, Vine, and YouTube, all of which are video sharing networks; Reddit, the 21st century spin on an old fashioned message board; and Tumblr, a social space for blogging.
It’s important to understand that each social media network attracts very different kinds of people and demographics. For more specific information about network usage and demographics, click here.
Now that we’ve got an idea of what social media networks are out, how do we choose which one is worth the time and effort of curating and creating content?
Selecting the Right Networks
The first step in narrowing down the search for social media networks is to identify the target markets for you or your business. Who are you or your business trying to reach? Is your business B2B, B2C? Who are your potential customers? All of these answers about your target audience should weigh heavily in determining which networks are best suited for you and your business.
Take this as an example: A production company that hosts events for business owners and entrepreneurs is looking to advertise their next big event on social media. Which networks should this company focus on?
Since we know that this company’s target audience involves business owners and entrepreneurs, LinkedIn would seem like the ideal place to start advertising due to its heavy population of young professionals looking to network.
Twitter is another great way to spread your brand’s message while constantly reaching new people for free, simply by identifying and using popular hashtags relevant to you and your business. Despite being the most popular social network, Facebook is a mostly closed universe in which the reach of your posts or page are limited to people who have already actively sought you or your business out by searching for you and liking your page or profile. Using something as small as a hashtag (or #hashtag) on Twitter can dramatically change the influence of your post and exponentially increase your overall reach to new users.
Don’t be mistaken: Facebook is important on its own because it gives your audience a page to seek out in a familiar space. And, if nothing else, the vast majority of online adults use Facebook, so why not brand yourself there too.
On to another example! Businesses geared towards younger demographics should utilize networks that are more frequently trafficked by younger users. Those networks include Tumblr, Instagram, SnapChat, Vine, and YouTube. The same would be true if a business targets primarily women as customers — networks like Pinterest and Facebook would play significant roles in developing a social media campaign because of their predominant use by women.
So the long story short? Consider your target audience, make your move, and don’t be afraid to be in multiple spaces (like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram) all at once. Having multiple social media profiles can help strengthen your brand identity and encourage users to follow you on other networks.
Choose Your Network, Stick to It, and Listen
Regardless of what social media networks you end up selecting for you or your business, they all require equal amounts of planning, preparation, and curation. Oh, and stellar content, compelling graphics, and calls to action.
For anyone managing multiple social media accounts, you might consider trying your hand at using a social media manager, such as Hootsuite or Buffer. Both of these sites have free platforms that allow you to create and schedule posts across most social media networks and also provide some free basic reporting.
Beyond any one social media network, every social media network enables you and your business to receive feedback. It’s perhaps one of the most important and often underrated aspects of social media, to listen to feedback from your audience and respond appropriately. Feedback from social media will allow you to more easily evaluate and adjust your marketing strategy or content approach when needed.
Choosing the right social media network isn’t an exact science, but understanding who uses which networks is a giant step in the right direction. If you can understand who is using which, it then gets easier for you to align your target audience with a network so you can focus your message on people who are more receptive to it.
By now you’ve hopefully gotten at least a basic understanding of how different social media networks can be and maybe even, which networks are right for you and your business.
Only one last thing to do: get out there and get networking!
This post was written by:
Social Media Coordinator
Princeton Internet Marketing