January 14th, 2014 by James Scherer
Have you jumped into social media feet first? Is your business now on every social site? Or have you shied away from the rapidly changing social landscape?
As a business owner or marketer, you don’t have infinite time and resources to be everything to everyone. You can’t afford to be on every social site, but you can’t afford to ignore them either. It’s more important to choose the sites that work for you, your business goals, and your customer wants - and then to engage on them well.
In this article, I’ll give a comprehensive overview of the 6 major social sites (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Google+ and Pinterest) with tips on how to best use them.
Before we start, I’d like to make it clear that the sectors I’m naming are not the only sectors that will work for those social media platforms, nor are those social media platforms the only sectors that will work for those sectors.
There’s an exception to every rule for every platform. For instance, the Brimfield, Ohio Police Department has 135,000 Likes on Facebook (13 times the population of the city of Brimfield, Ohio). Can we learn something from the story? Yes. Does it mean your business will find the same success? I’m afraid not.
I’m going to back up every assertion I make with statistics, but even so, feel free to disagree in the comment section below. In fact, I encourage it!
Facebook is still, far and away, the most popular social media platform
It boasts 1.19 billion worldwide users
73% of the US adult population
The most evenly-distributed demographics of any platform
While not the best platform for sales generation (in my opinion Pinterest has that honor, as long as your brand fits its niche) it is definitely the best platform for increasing awareness of your brand. The sheer reach of your brand’s content on Facebook makes it a must-use.
The targeting capabilities in the Facebook advertising tool have been changing the way we advertise online. Because users put their personal detail onto the platform, we can target based on those details. Imagine targeting your ad not just by basic demographics, but by job title, the age of a user’s kids, the fact that they recently returned from holiday. The list goes on.
Something to be aware of, however, is the dramatic generational changes happening at the top. A study by PiperJaffray of over 5,000 teenagers found that the number who consider Facebook the most important social media site has fallen 10% in the past year. The well-documented decrease in popularity has been widely put down to the increase of parents on Facebook - a fact that, understandably, has terrified 17-year-olds everywhere.
Which businesses should be on Facebook?
All of them. Facebook is the only social media platform that you need to be on no matter what field your business is in. We at Wishpond have, over the past year or so, taken an in-depth look at Facebook for different industries. Check out the Facebook section of the Wishpond blog for how-to’s for both B2B companies and B2C. And if you’re just wondering about how to generate more Facebook Likes for your business, check out our comprehensive guide.
4 Top Tip(s):
Facebook Posts with a photo generate 120% more engagement than simple text.
Posts shorter than 250 characters have 60% more engagement than longer posts
Thursday and Friday have 18% better engagement than other days of the week
Question posts have double the engagement of non-question posts
Despite being, arguably, the second-most recognized platform out there, Twitter is fourth in usage
18% of the US adult population
However, those who do use Twitter use it more frequently than other platforms, with 46% logging in on a daily basis.
A great part of Twitter for business is that its users have a higher tendency to Follow brands there than they do on any other platform. Users are on the site to keep up-to-date about what’s going on, which is why celebrities and musicians do so well. In fact, so many Twitter-ers are there to listen and learn that only 60% are actually actively posting!
The majority of users who follow a brand on Twitter do so to take advantage of offers, contests and exclusive discounts. Keep this in mind when pushing your products. Instead, try pushing the deals you’re offering.
Which businesses should be on Twitter?
I recommend Twitter to all SaaS companies, marketing companies, sports-related businesses, and all news organizations. Here’s why: Twitter, more than any other platform, is inextricably tied to in-the-moment developments. If your sector or business is based around things that are happening now, you need to be on Twitter.
Generate interest in your brand by being the go-to source on Twitter for developments in your sector. Pay close attention to new technologies, case studies and reports, news events that will affect you
Twitter is also essential for relationship-building with influencers and communication with your customer-base. This makes it an important platform for marketers from every industry.
Top Tip: Since Twitter’s recent addition of inline images in mid-November, it’s become pretty apparent that including a picture in your Tweets increases engagement. Social-media company Buffer has seen an 89% increase in Favorites with images over those without, and a 150% increase in Retweets.
As far as posting times go…
Note the spike during the morning commute (when everybody on public transit is bored) and the fall between 6 and 7pm, when everyone is eating dinner. Thanks to BufferApp for the research!
Coming up fast on Twitter is Instagram, with 17% of US adults on the site.
Interestingly with Instagram, though it’s the fifth-most-popular social media platform, it has the second-most devoted users.
Instagram is the only platform that is actually skewed towards blacks and Hispanics
57% of users access the site on a daily basis, only 6 points behind Facebook, and 11% ahead of third-place Twitter.
The most important factor for Instagram marketers are the age demographics. Although only 17% of US adults are on the site, a full 43% of mobile owners aged 18-29 are on the site.
Which businesses should be on Instagram?
Image-friendly businesses like restaurants, clothes and fashion, food, architecture, technology, designers, etc.
Because of the dominance of the 18-29 age group on Instagram, businesses with that target market should also be on the site
Remember that Instagram users are all amateur-photographers, so you can’t just snap an image of your newest dessert and expect it to go viral. Put time and energy into your images and you’ll get far better engagement than otherwise.
If you’re struggling for content for your Instagram profile, just think about making your business look awesome. Show the fun stuff you’re doing, how exciting and innovative your office is. Also pay close attention to current events and holidays, as Instagram (like Twitter) is closely involved into what’s trending.
Top Tip: User-generated content gets better engagement than content generated by businesses (and takes some of the strain off social-media managers as well…) Why not try out an Instagram photo contest to generate leads and create a catalog of great images you can use down the line?
Google+ users are 67% male
The majority are in technical and engineering fields.
The average age, somewhat surprisingly, is 28.
Although the platform boasts 540 million users, only 300 million or so are active (the huge number of users can be put down, in large, part, to Google’s purchase of YouTube in 2006).
Google+ is ideal for content sharing. Its compatibility with YouTube, the Google Hangouts function (which makes video conferencing a cinch) and Circles and Communities (which make segmented sharing easy) all function to make brand awareness and content marketing simple.
Which businesses should be on Google+?
Tech and engineering companies as well as marketing individuals. The top three brands on Google+ are Android, Mashable and Chrome, with Android leading the pack by a significant margin.
That said, Google+ is an individual-friendly platform (thus why I included marketing individuals). The Communities function works well to give businesses from all sectors a place to find like-minded individuals and businesses. If you’re interested in learning more (or providing information) about your field then Google+ is the place to do it.
Top Tip: Since Google’s Hummingbird algorithm was integrated into SEO in August, social shares have become a high priority for online business. In fact, Google +1’s are one of the most important factors in determining SEO - more important, in fact, than any link-building you’ve been devoting so much time toward. Focus on increasing social shares through social linking, intriguing images and content, and (here’s the toppest tip of them all) including social share buttons or a toolbar on your site’s pages. That last one can increase content virality by up to 700%. No typo.
Pinterest has, in the past year, vaulted its way to the #3 spot as most popular social media platform
21% of all US adults using it.
84% of those users are female - which makes it the second most popular site by far for this demographic.
Pinterest’s demographics are interesting not just because it’s so astoundingly female-dominated, Pinterest also has the second-highest percentage of internet users in the 50,000+/year income bracket, and 34% of Pinterest users have a household income of 100,00+.
In fact, Pinterest has far and away the best ROI for those businesses that fit its demographic base. 70% of Pinterest users use the platform to get inspiration on what to buy (compared to, for instance, 17% on Facebook). So, if your business fits - your business should most definitely sit.
A report from Piqora in November found that the average Pin has a real-world value of 78 cents - making it by far the most valuable social media action that users can take.
The same report found that each pin drove, on average, two website visits and six page-views. This is especially interesting given that last year jewellery retailer Boticca found that Pinterest traffic to their website spent, on average, more than twice as much as traffic from Facebook ($180 vs $85). And Sephora went further, saying Pinterest users spent 15x as much as Facebook users.
Pinterest is perfect for ecommerce businesses, as not only is a pin worth more than any other social endorsement, they stay influential for a substantially longer period of time. This is because, with Pinterest, users simply keep scrolling down their search results (as the page is neverending).
For example, let’s say someone types in ‘hosting ideas’ in Pinterest’s search. Because Pinterest’s algorithm is almost completely un-anticipatable, your product will get engagement if it matches those search-words and is awesome. That’s it. Those are the only requirements.
Which businesses should be on Pinterest?
Fashion, photographers, jewellers, home-hardware stores (DIY). The female-dominated, image-dominated facts of Pinterest make it easy for those brands which naturally lend-themselves in that direction, and very difficult for those brands which don’t.
Top Tip: Brands with rich pin integration have a 82% higher repin to pin ratio than normal pins. Rich pins are brand pins with more information than normal pinned images. Most businesses looking to get sales from Pinterest will be most interested in product pins, which include more business links, the price, availability, and where you can purchase the item.
The platform touts itself as the ‘professional social network’, and in that respect it’s accurate.
38% of internet users with an income of more than $75k are on the platform.
79% of LinkedIn users are aged 35 or older, making it the oldest platform in this list.
27% of employed Americans are using the platform as well.
The three dominant sectors on the platform are high tech (14.3%), finance (12.4%) and manufacturing (10.1%). Worth noting is that the legal sector makes up a meager 1.4% of users.
However, only 13% of LinkedIn users are signing in daily. People use the platform to check up on business partners, find jobs, and occasionally network - things they do periodically, rather than on a hourly basis like hardcore users of Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
It is this, despite holding the #2 spot as world’s most popular social media platform, that makes LinkedIn notoriously difficult to find success with for businesses.
LinkedIn is increasingly losing the business networking battle to Google+, whose Community tool is, somewhat inexplicably, winning next to LinkedIn’s groups (despite them being very similar in nature).
All this said, most social media experts are convinced that LinkedIn will grow and thrive - simply because it’s the only social network that is (in the words of the Wishpond CMO) “needed”.
What did he mean? Well, LinkedIn doesn’t have the same ‘fun’ factor that many of the other platforms have. It’s not about spending an hour scrolling through your ex-girlfriend’s pictures from South East Asia, or about adding a filter to your New Year’s pictures, or chiming in on the latest development between Kim Kardashian and… (I don’t even know, Justin Bieber?).
LinkedIn is for professionals, and it’s about professionals. It’s hugely influential in the job hunt, both for employers and applicants. It’s great for networking, and the content sharing function is getting better on a weekly basis.
However, is it a revenue-generating platform like Pinterest and Instagram or a brand awareness increase-er like Facebook and Twitter? I’d say no. But feel free to convince me!
Which businesses should be on LinkedIn?
All professionals should be on LinkedIn, as individuals. I also recommend all professional businesses to be on LinkedIn, though the effort you need to maintain your presence there is significantly less than other platforms. Check in periodically to ensure your profile is stable - but focus your valuable time and energy on the more revenue-generating or awareness-increasing platforms.
There is room for some small businesses to start a conversation or become a trusted source of information with the groups function. I’d recommend all free-lance marketers, bloggers, journalists, designers, etc., to have a significant presence on LinkedIn.
Top Tip: Before joining a LinkedIn group, check its statistics (in the ‘More’ tab below the group’s name). Make sure the demographics match yours, and the group is as active as you’d like it to be. Otherwise you’ll be wasting your time looking for social endorsements that aren’t going to happen.
Hopefully you have a better idea of the nature of the top 6 social networks. I recommend most businesses find the one or two platforms which provide the best return on investment and devote time and energy. However, do your research and watch as these platforms develop. Will Pinterest find a way to break into other sectors? Will LinkedIn develop a tool or facet of its platform that engages with younger demographics or will it fall by the wayside?
- 7 Ways to Increase your Facebook Likes (A Comprehensive Guide)
- 60 Simple Ways to Increase your Twitter Followers
- How to use Google+ to Promote your Blog
- The Science of Turning Instagram Followers into Customers
- Pinterest SEO: A Guide for Businesses
- 10 Tips: How to Use LinkedIn to Drive Traffic to your Blog
What do you think? Did any of the statistics or demographics surprise you? Start the conversation below!