Here’s an interesting statistic: 88% of U.S. businesses are using social media for their marketing. If you’ve ever tried to get everyone inside your business on track with anything, you know how difficult it can be to get everyone to agree on doing things the same way.
So if the vast majority of companies in the country agree that they should be using social media for marketing, you can bet that there’s probably something to it.
These days, every business needs to be using social media. It’s a vital tool for engaging with customers, raising brand awareness, and driving sales.
Of course, there are a lot of different options when it comes to social media platforms. And it can be difficult to decide where to invest your time and resources.
Facebook is still the king of social media in a lot of ways. Over 2 Billion people log into Facebook every month, which makes it the most popular platform by a wide margin.
Facebook is also popular with business, with 42% of marketers citing the platform as key to their overall digital marketing strategy.
Altogether, the platform is a good place to start for any business. It has a number of analytic and business tools that can make planning and executing marketing campaigns easier if you’re unfamiliar with social media marketing. And it provides a useful space to engage with your customers and spread the digital word of mouth.
With that being said, there are some downsides to starting out on Facebook. The first is money. Facebook advertising works by paying to promote your posts to people you think might be interested in it. Without a healthy advertising budget, you’re likely to struggle to get the sort of reach you need on the platform.
The second issue with Facebook is that the user base tends to skew older. The majority of users are over 25, with the 25-34 demographic accounting for the largest percentage of users. For companies that sell products and services geared towards this demographic, that can be a plus. But if your target demographic is younger, you might want to consider another platform.
With that being said, Facebook is really the standard for social media marketing. And there is a certain expectation among customers that your business will have a Facebook page where they can connect with you. Even if you don’t do much marketing on the platform, it’s a good idea for any business to set up an engaging page and spend at least a bit of time managing it.
Instagram is a rapidly-growing platform. Some have even suggested that it could overtake Facebook sometime in the next few years. It’s also a particularly popular platform for the 18-29 demographic. 59% of people in that age bracket use Instagram.
If you’re unfamiliar with the platform, it’s essentially photo-based. Users upload photos which their followers can then engage with through comments or likes.
The format lends itself to businesses that can provide attractive photos of their products, like lifestyle brands, restaurants, and apparel companies. But with a little creativity, it can be a useful tool for any brand.
Like Facebook, you can pay to boost your posts, and the site offers analytics tools to help you plan your strategy. But there’s also a lot of content on Instagram, which means that most posts are never seen. Part of that is Instagram’s algorithm, which favors content that already has a high level of engagement. So if you’re marketing on Instagram, you may have to shell out a fair amount of cash to get the reach you want.
Instagram does boast the highest engagement rate of any platform, so if you’re willing to put the work in and your brand is geared towards visual content, it can be a good option.
Twitter is a bit different from other platforms in that it focuses on short (280 characters and under), written posts, though you can also post pictures on the site.
This format makes Twitter best-suited for directing users to your own site. So if you’re a digital publisher or media company that frequently posts new content you want to direct followers to, Twitter is a good choice. And you can pay to promote tweets to help with reaching new followers.
Otherwise, you can use Twitter as a way to quickly get information out to the followers you already have or interact with them directly. Most major companies use Twitter for just that.
Users on Pinterest post, or “pin”, images on their personal page which other users can then pin on their own pages. Like Instagram, this means that it’s primarily useful for companies that can provide engaging photos for their marketing.
The major advantage of Pinterest over other platforms is that its audience is primarily female. So if your business specializes in products or services for women, the platform is great for reaching your target audience.
Companies that specialize in beauty products should find Pinterest particularly useful. They can provide great images and DIY tips that will engage their followers.
And while Pinterest’s audience still skews female, the number of men using the platform is growing. So men’s lifestyle companies can still find a lot to like on Pinterest.
Ultimately, which platform you decide to use will depend on the needs of your business.
Start by identifying your target demographic. If your target demo is broad and skews older, Facebook is a good way to go. If you want to appeal to younger people, try Instagram. And if your target demographic is primarily women, Pinterest might be the best bet.
Second, identify which platform your brand is best suited for. If you want to market through images or video, you might find yourself gravitating towards Instagram or Pinterest. But if you want to provide general content and engage with your customers directly, you might want to use Facebook instead.
And of course, there’s no reason you can’t try a number of different platforms until you identify the one that suits your needs. As with any marketing medium, keep a close eye on your statistics and don’t be afraid to try something new.
Wyatt is a writer and your friend. You can get in touch with him on Twitter @WyattRedd.