Facebook. Twitter. LinkedIn. Instagram. Pinterest. Snapchat. Tumblr. Vine. YouTube. Flickr. And those are just the social media sites we could think of in 30 seconds. There are countless — truly countless — others. So how do you choose the best social media platform to market your business, and inform and connect with your customers? Check out the guide below for a run-down on which social media networks attract which audiences and how you can tap into their demographics.
Let’s start with LinkedIn, the ultimate in networking websites. It’s the virtual equivalent of attending a networking happy hour. It gives you the opportunity to connect with people you already know, but also to point you in the direction of opportunities in your industry. Don’t make the mistake of assuming LinkedIn is just a digital resume. Yes, professionals use it to share past accomplishments and accolades and positions, but it’s also a great place to connect with people in your field that may not be directly in your network. If you’re looking to connect with other professionals in your field, LinkedIn is the place for you.
LinkedIn can also be used to generate awareness for your business. Post blogs from your website, reviews from customers, and recent professional acknowledgements. This will help you build your professional base online, which hopefully translates to connections in your offline life.
Once only available to college students, Facebook is now the default social networking site for most individuals and businesses. From a consumer standpoint, we would seriously question a company that didn’t have an active presence — or any presence at all — on the site. Facebook passed 1.19 billion active monthly users last quarter, so it’s a safe bet that your target audience — of any age — has some sort of presence on the site.
The audience has slowly evolved from an exclusive club for college students and teens to an older generation of their parents and grandparents, who have signed up with the site as a way to keep in touch with their children, grandchildren and friends. In fact, a survey released in November by the Pew Center for Internet and American Life found that Facebook’s largest growth over the previous year came from users 65 years of age and older. (Read more on that study here.)
And you need look no further than AARP and its social media presence as proof. What started as a way to get those nearing retirement to think of AARP has quickly evolved into a much more targeted social media strategy encouraging older Americans to “get on board” with social media. Sharing everything from how to save money for retirement to the latest celebrities turning 50 (Mary-Louise Parker and Adam Duritz of Counting Crows, most recently), AARP now has more than 1 million likes on Facebook.
So while Facebook used to be the ultimate way to connect with the younger generation, you should be looking to target older generations with your Facebook marketing strategy. Facebook offers highly targeted paid advertising, so you can hyper-target your audience to include everything from their interests to geographic location to age and lifestyle.
Have news to share or something to say that needs to reach followers quickly? Twitter’s your best bet. Twitter may also be the most interactive of the social media sites, allowing people to quickly respond, retweet and save content.
Looking to build your customer service ratings? Keep a close eye on your Twitter feed, and then stay on top of questions, complaints, and suggestions from followers. It’s the ultimate way for consumers to interact and connect with brands, so it’s critical for you to pay close attention to what they are saying about your company — and then respond quickly and effectively.
A study by Edison Research found that while 87 percent of the survey’s nearly 2,000 respondents had heard of Twitter, just 7 percent of them actually used the site. Eighty-eight percent had heard of Facebook, and 41 percent were users. Definitely numbers to keep in mind when considering the best use of your social media resources. Read more from that study here and some other surprising Twitter stats here.
Among industries active on Twitter, the travel and tourism industry is definitely at the top. In the fourth quarter of 2013, airlines were the most socially active — and therefore most responsive — industry on Twitter. The telecom and finance industries rounded out the top three. KLM leads the way, with 1.09 million followers, and gets huge bonus points for its innovative customer service strategy. Check out the image below for an example. KLM takes customer service to the next level, showing the expected waiting time for a reply to a question or comment.
With attractive photos and clever videos, Instagram has quickly become popular among the younger generation, as well as brands and individuals related to fashion, fitness, food and travel. While millennials are fleeing Facebook, they are joining Instagram. More than 90 percent of the 150 million users on Instagram are 35 years old or younger.
Victoria’s Secret, Nike and Starbucks are among the most popular brands on Instagram. Business Insider has a great list of the 20 brands that have mastered the use of Instagram. See all 20 here.
In the fitness world — particularly yoga — challenges, giveaways and daily updates are making for lucrative new careers for some. Just Google “yoga on Instagram” and see how many top 10 lists you find. And just as exciting as it is on Twitter to get a retweet from a brand you love, imagine the thrill when your biggest fitness inspiration follows you on Instagram. And consumer loyalty goes even deeper as they “regram” your photos, tag you in photos, and participate and share in your giveaways and challenges. So for those in the fitness industry, foodies, travel bloggers and the like, Instagram is the place to be. Read more on Instagram’s demographics here, and be sure to check out our Instagram Cheat Sheet for Business here.
In the wedding industry? Interior designer? A DIY mom (more than 50 percent of this site’s users are mothers)? Pinterest is your site. More than 68 percent of Pinterest’s daily users are women. Everything from recipes to outfit ideas to baby announcements and wedding centerpieces are shared, pinned, and repinned on the site. It’s the ultimate DIY paradise, and a great place to shared those “how to” blog posts and ideas. Check out this Hootsuite blog for five brands (including Nordstrom and Etsy) that are doing it right on Pinterest.