Too Many Social Networks… Which Ones To Choose?

By | October 9, 2016

Social media could be a very scary subject to many businesses. You hear all the time experts talking about what a powerful force it has become and that every business should incorporate social media into their marketing strategies.

Did you know that according to PRB, the worldwide population is 7.4 billion? Out of those 7.4 billion people, almost half of them (3.17 billion) has the internet. Of all that 3.17 billion internet users, 2.3 billion people are active on social media. Facebook itself has 1.71 billion monthly active users.

And as you can see in the graph below, it is expected that by 2020, there will be nearly 3 billion active social media users worldwide. That’s almost every internet user we have today.

Total users of social media

This is huge. Social media has opened totally new opportunities for business. There has never been easier to reach new audiences on the other side of the world then it is now. Social media gave us a chance to target potential customers more precisely, more flexibly and much much cheaper than any other marketing channel before.

And companies noticed that very quickly. According to Brandwatch, social networks earned approximately $8.3 billion from advertising in 2015. And it is growing every year.

When you see all those numbers and facts, you get so excited, and you want to jump into all this social media marketing world right away. But then you stop. There are so many social networks these days that you don’t know where to start and what to choose. Sometimes you might hear people saying that you should participate on every platform, but it is impossible for a one-man team to do. It requires investment and resources which you might not have. So what do you do then? You just pick a one or a few social networks that best suit your business and you concentrate only on them.

In order to make those decisions, you need to answer some questions about your business and capabilities of your marketing department.

1. What is your budget?

You’ve probably read many articles telling how you can easily promote your products or business through social media for free. Some of them are true and really helpful, but most are just fancy texts to get clicks. Also part of them concentrates on businesses which already have large audiences, so if you are not one of them, then these tips won’t work.

To make it clear, I do not state that it is impossible to achieve good results on social media without any investment. On the contrary, there are few social networks where you can be very successful without any budget, but they are not for everyone. And having a budget might save you a lot of time and make things much easier. It is all up to you.

So, you need to decide what size of budget you might dedicate to the social media. You can use this budget in many different ways:

  • It can be used for paid advertising
  • You can use it for hiring an advertising agency or social media specialist
  • You can use it for creating content (texts, visuals, video)
  • Also, you can use it for buying third-party tools to ease administrating your social media accounts

All of this might make your social media marketing more efficient. There are some specific tasks that you will definitely not be able to do by yourself. So you have two choices: hire a person who can do or choose another social media platform where this kind of task is unnecessary. Both ways are good; it is just a matter of priorities.

2. Are you willing to spend part of your budget on paid advertising?

This could be one of the most important factors in your decision-making process. For example, if you are a totally new business and haven’t build your audience yet, then concentrating on social media platform, like Facebook, without any advertising budget could be a suicide. The platform is built in a way that at some point you will have to spend money on advertising if you want to reach a larger audience.

But if you already have a decent audience, let’s say an email list or traffic to your website, then it could be a good starting point to grow you social media accounts without any budget. However, at some point, the growth will slow down significantly, and you will have to make a decision: are you satisfied with a slower growth or are you willing to invest money to keep the growth steady?

Keep this in mind when planning your budget. If you don’t want to spend any money on paid advertising now, ask yourself will you be willing to do it in the future when the time comes?

3. How much time can you dedicate to social media?

The answer will influence not only the platforms you should use but also the number of networks you will be capable of administrating. The questions you should ask:

  • Are you going to create every content by yourself or is there someone else who will be doing that?
  • Are you going to use paid advertising?
  • If yes, then are you going to do it by yourself or will you hire someone?
  • Are you going to engage and answer all the questions on social media by yourself or is it going to do it someone else?
  • How many hours a day/week can you or your employees dedicate to social media tasks?

Once you answer these questions, you will have a better understanding of time and resources you have for this task. Do not try to do everything by yourself if you do not have enough time and knowledge. There’s nothing worse than a low-quality social media marketing. Everything you do must be high-quality and on time. So, if there is someone in your company that could do something better than you, involve him in this process. If not, then hire someone from outside the company.

Some social networks like Facebook or Twitter require a 24/7 monitoring and fast reaction to everything that is going on these platforms. It might become like another customer service channel. So, be sure if you have enough time and resources to handle such a challenge. If not, then maybe you should choose different platforms like Pinterest or Snapchat that are not so time-consuming but still, very effective marketing channels.

4. Where is your audience?

Before starting any marketing campaign, you need to know your potential customers. The same rule applies to social media. Do you want to reach as many potential buyers as possible? Then you must know their habits and where they spend most of their time. You can achieve this in three different ways:

  1. Spy on your competitors. Analyze companies that are leaders in your niche. They probably have already gone through all this platform-choosing process, so they know where their audience is. This is a good sign that you should be there as well.
  2. Analyze influencers in your niche. Influence marketing is gaining more and more traction in almost every niche. You might also be interested in this type of marketing sooner or later. Usually, influencers are active on 1-3 social media channels. Find where they are active, and you’ll find where your potential customers might be.
  3. Ask your current clients. Sending a short e-mail with simple questions like which social networks are their favorite and how much time they spend on them could provide you invaluable information. Do not be afraid to interact with your customers. Just keep the conversation as engaging as possible.

5. What kind of content are you going to publish?

Every social network is different. What works well on one platform doesn’t mean will work on another. You need to decide what kind of content you are going to provide. Is it going to be blog posts, video clips, professional photos, graphical images or a mix of everything? Depending on your type of content, you will have to choose social networks that best suit you. For example, Pinterest and Instagram are good for visual content while Twitter is popular among bloggers and media companies. But on Facebook, it is a good practice to use all kinds of content. It is all up to you and your resources.

 

Once you have answers to all these questions, you should have a better understanding which social networks are good for you. If you are not familiar with most of them, then it might be a good idea to register and test each platform first.  To help you out and save some time, I am going to walk through some of the most popular social networks on the market. This guide should give you a better understanding of each platform, how it works and what kind of audience you can expect to find there.

Facebook

Interesting facts:

Facebook without a doubt is the king of social media. With 1.71 billion active users every month, it is a place where almost any business could find its audience.

As Facebook describes itself, the platform could help you reach these business goals:

  • Drive online sales
  • Increase local sales
  • Promote your app
  • Raise brand awareness

Besides these four benefits, Facebook also could be used just to drive targeted traffic to your website.

One of the key elements to Facebook marketing success is an exceptionally high-quality content. With over billion active users and over 50 million active business pages on Facebook, the competition has become very intense. The algorithm that filters every news feed and shows only good quality engaging content and the decreased reach for business pages changed the rules of social media marketing on Facebook. You cannot win on this platform with quantity. Only well-prepared content could bring beneficial results.

Facebook accepts almost any type of content. It can be plain texts, links, visuals or videos. Not so long ago, a new feature rolled out allowing users to broadcast live video feeds through their smartphones. This kind of content gained its popularity very quickly earning brands a massive increase in engagement. It does not require any exceptional investments, so almost anyone who is not afraid to stand in front of a camera could leverage this practice to their advantage.

Also, Facebook has a very powerful advertising platform. One of the key advantages of Facebook advertising is its flexible targeting options. According to Facebook, compared to the average online reach of 38% for narrowly targeted campaigns, Facebook is 89% accurate.
It allows you to target people based on various demographic features like country, city, gender, age, education, etc. Also, you can dig deeper and target by interests and user behaviors. Facebook pixel allows businesses to track every movement of each visitor on their website and then retarget showing relevant ads based on their actions. It has various types of advertising options and a very flexible payment plans. You can start your campaigns with as low as $5 daily budget.

As I already mentioned before, Facebook has such a large audience that almost any type of business could find its potential customers. So, there is no single great advice who should be on Facebook and who should not. However, the only thing that could stop from participating on this platform is your budget. If you are not willing to spend money on paid advertising, especially if you are starting everything from scratch and have no audience, then this place might not be for you. Because of the limited reach on Facebook, only businesses that have tens of thousands of followers can get any decent results without spending money on advertising. If you are not one of them, then you should consider either dedicate some money or leave this platform for the future.

Twitter

Interesting facts:

If Facebook is all about the quality of your content, then we can bravely say that Twitter is more about the quantity. It is like a real-time platform where all the information from around the world is gathered in one place. It is a place where most of the breaking news are published first. Because of such an information overflow, every tweet you post has a very short lifetime period. Somewhere around 20 minutes and less. That’s why users, especially brands, are publishing 10-20 tweets a day. Otherwise, they might get lost in the crowd and never be seen by potential customers.

One of the Twitter’s unique features is its 140 character limit. Maybe at first it might look like a very inconvenient feature, but in time it has become a signature of the Twitter platform and a very powerful tool for brands and people to express what’s on their minds.

What’s great about this platform is that you do not need a budget to grow your visibility on Twitter. With a smart strategy, creativity, and hard work you can achieve incredible results.

However, if you have a budget and want to speed up everything, then Twitter has a very decent advertising platform. Even though it is still in a development mode and not as powerful as Facebook, you can definitely squeeze some great results. It does not have any high budget limits, so you can easily run a few campaigns by yourself to see if it is worth your time and money.

Who should be on Twitter? Well, first of all, this platform is very popular among bloggers and startups. Bloggers could easily express what’s on their mind and engage with like-minded people. Startups very often use this platform for quick updates about their development process. Also, media companies are having huge success on Twitter because all the latest news are published here. This is a place were controversial information goes viral. Finally, sports and entertainment businesses use Twitter for live commenting, surveys, contests and any other updates in real-time.

Many companies use this platform as a part of their customer service. This is a place where people complain about brands or ask them questions and expect a quick response. If your marketing strategy is to build trust and relationship with your customers, then you must be on Twitter as well.

This platform could be a great place to get your first visitors to a new website if you are totally new in the niche.

Linkedin

Interesting facts:

LinkedIn has a little bit different audience. If people on Facebook and Twitter are gathered to have fun, relate with their friends and family and share interesting news, then LinkedIn was built for professionals who are looking for new job opportunities, new business connections and to share their expertise. This is probably the only platform that people can use in the office during working hours without getting any warning from their bosses.

By the way, in 2015 LinkedIn surpassed Facebook and became the number one most important social media platform for B2B marketers. It just shows how many professionals are on this platform.

So, what is it good for? First of all, it is one of the best places for companies searching for new specialists to hire.

If you are here for marketing reasons, then this is a perfect place for brands which are looking for educated, having high incomes and taking top positions at their companies customer.

If you are in the B2B segment, then this is one of the best places to reach CEOs of many companies in many different industries. Usually, brands use LinkedIn for establishing their businesses as leading industry experts.

Pinterest

Interesting facts:

If you are planning to spread the word about your company through visuals, then Pinterest is a place to be. It is one of the top social media platforms to drive direct traffic to your website. People referred by Pinterest are 10% more likely to buy on your website than people referred by any other social networks. While most of the social media platforms are used for building relationships, Pinterest, on the contrary, is the network to grow traffic, sales, and leads.

What is great about Pinterest is that people do not visit this network just to look at what other people are doing or following. Users come here for inspiration or a certain topic. This makes it a great opportunity for businesses to be exposed to a wider public. Also, unlike other platforms, Pinterest encourages to take action. It could mean clicking a link to read an article or buying directly from the Pinterest screen.

Who should be on Pinterest? First of all, as I mentioned before, e-commerce businesses are seeing great results on this platform. It is very convenient for them to showcase their products with prices and direct links. Also, brands related to fashion, food, travel, design, weddings, photography and other businesses that produce lots of high-quality visuals see incredible results on Pinterest. Even many bloggers report that this social network is one of the top traffic sources for their websites.

Instagram

Interesting facts:

If Pinterest is used for driving direct traffic and sales to your business, then Instagram is a total opposite. Companies use this platform to humanize their brands. People on Instagram are not looking for content that could lead to purchase like on Pinterest. People are coming here to share beautiful pictures of their everyday lives and view what interesting has been shared by users they follow. So successful brands are trying to do the same.

What’s good about Instagram is that you do not need to invest lots of money in professionally created visuals. All you need is a smartphone, and you can create all the engaging content with this one device. This is what makes the platform so attractive.

Almost any business that participates on Pinterest could easily be successful on Instagram. However, this time, the most important part is not about the professionally created product showcases, but something unexpected and unusual done with your camera. Many companies fill Instagram news feed with user-generated content. Sport industry brands very often post inspiring content like quotes or people doing impossible things.

If your main targeted audience is teens, then Instagram is definitely a place for you to be.

Also, some brands that do not produce lots of visual content and their niche is not so entertaining, have found a huge success just by posting photos and videos from their company’s everyday lives. Just by sharing some behind-the-scenes moments of their working process they found a huge increase in brand awareness. So, if you are not sure what kind of content you should produce, then you can always try this strategy. By the way, Instagram marketing could be done with minimal costs, so almost any business could try this platform and find out by themselves.

Youtube

Interesting facts:

People love watching videos, and there’s no coincidence that Youtube is the third most visited website on the planet. 1/3 of all internet users visit this platform monthly. So, if you are producing video content or have a capability of doing that, then you should definitely try this platform.

If you are into beauty industry and your targeted audience is women, then Youtube might be the perfect place for you to be. As you can see the chart below, makeup, skin care and weight loss are the most dominated categories among female audience.

Youtube female dominated categories on social media

As for the male audience, gaming, and sports industries have totally overtaken the platform. If you are into one of those niches, then you will definitely find your place on Youtube.

youtube-male-dominated-categories

Also, one of the most popular type of content on Youtube is “how-to” videos. People are very often coming to Youtube and looking for videos that could help solve their problems or show how to use one or another product. If you can produce this kind of videos, then youtube could be one the most effective marketing channels for your business.

Snapchat

Interesting facts:

This platform is extremely popular among younger generation. 2/3 of all users are under 34. People love Snapchat because it is a much more personal app than any other social networks listed above. Also, the 24-hour lifespan of snaps makes Snapchat a real-time platform, where your newsfeed is filled only with latest stories. No parents and temporary content are the key strength of this app.

As for brands, it would be a bad idea to jump to this platform if you are just starting your business. Snapchat is not a good channel for companies looking for new leads to increase their sales. The platform is more suitable for strengthening your bond with already existing customers in a more personal way. Many companies use the platform like Instagram to post funny, attractive moments of their everyday office lives.

Also, e-commerce businesses use Snapchat to send time-sensitive offers, coupons and other info about their products. Beauty industry brands use this platform to provide short and easily digestible fashion and lifestyle tips. The same could be done in food and traveling niches. Basically, any business that wants to communicate with their audience in a more personal way could join Snapchat.

 

These are the largest and hottest social media platforms at the moment. The popularity of these networks is attracting many marketers, so competition is huge and most of the time it could be tough to get your piece of a pie without a clear strategy. I have not mentioned other social media platforms like Flickr, Google+, MySpace, Reddit, Tumblr, Quora or StumbleUpon that also have a very large user base but are not as popular as the big ones. But you can always try them by yourself. Who knows, maybe you will find your niche there.

Another thing before you start playing with the big boys. It is always a good practice to do the research and look for niche specific social networks. There are lots of platforms specializing on certain topics with millions of active users. Some of them are:

You can find a much larger list here.

These smaller niche-specific platforms usually are not so overcrowded by brands, so it might be easier to find your place. By the way, it requires less resource because you are already reaching a deeply targeted audience. While on the popular social networks, you will have to work very hard first to find those targeted people and then attract them to your business. So be smart and plan everything in advance.

What is your experience on this topic? Which social networks are bringing you the best results?
If you have something to add, I welcome you to leave a comment or message me on Twitter or Facebook.

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