Social media has become a key component of digital marketing. According to recent research, two-thirds of brand marketers are launching new social media programs, while another one in five have programs in development.
Facebook remains the predominant social network — in terms of consumer use and brand marketing. However, the number of social networks is growingly massively. Digital marketers no longer have the luxury of choosing one social network over another. Today, there has to be a well-managed presence on all relevant social channels.
How do you know which social networks are relevant for your brands and will provide the most return on investment? As consumers explore different social media channels, it’s imperative that marketers understand shifting preferences. For example, which social network engages millennials? Baby boomers? There is no longer a “one-size-fits-all” approach.
In terms of number of users, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram are the four leading social networks. Each of these networks attracts a distinct audience and provides a level of engagement. Although Facebook’s growth may be slowing, it still boasts the largest audience in the world with 1.5 billion monthly active users who are highly engaged; 70% log on to the network daily and almost half log on several times a day. Two-thirds of men are Facebook users, compared to 77% of women, according to Pew Research Center. More than 80% of adults who use Facebook are between 18–29 years of age. Nearly half of online adults who are 65 and older use Facebook. More than three-quarters of online adults who are Facebook users make $75,000 or more annually; 72% of online adults who are Facebook users have a college education. Geographically, Facebook users live in all types of locations: 74% of online urban dwellers use Facebook, 72% suburban and 67% rural.
Twitter reached 316 million monthly active users in June 2015, and the majority of them — 80% — are mobile users. Twitter’s audience skews younger, as 32% of online adults who use Twitter are between the ages of 18 and 29 compared to just 13% of online adults who are 50–64 years old. More men than women use Twitter — 25% versus 21%.
Instagram now has 400 million users and the percentage of online adults who use Instagram has doubled in three years. Users are highly engaged, with 59% visiting the site daily, with a higher appeal to women than men.
LinkedIn’s 380 million users tend to be older, employed, and college graduates. About one in five LinkedIn users visit the site every day. Nearly half of online adults who are college graduates are LinkedIn users. LinkedIn is the only one of the four leading social networks in which usage rates are higher among 30–49 year olds than among 18–29 year olds. LinkedIn attracts slightly more men than women.
Pinterest has 100 million users and engagement is rising. More than one quarter of Pinterest users visit the site daily. About one third of online adults are Pinterest users, according to Pew Research Center — a number that has doubled since 2012. Pinterest attracts more women than men.
Snapchat reaches more than 60% of U.S. smartphone users who are 13–34 years old. In total, the social network has nearly 100 million daily active users.
Video-sharing network YouTube has one billion users and reaches 81% of Internet users in the U.S. YouTube draws an equal number of men and women, although men spend 44% more time on the network each month. YouTube’s audience skews young from teenagers through those in their early 40s.
Google+ has 300 million daily active users and has reached 2.2 billion user profiles. Engagement is low, however, as only 9% of users have posted content.
Social media marketing can improve brand awareness, generate website traffic, drive brand engagement or increase conversions. Understanding which social network — or networks — is right for your brand calls for a comprehensive assessment of your organization’s goals, audience, content, and budget. Use the following questions and information as a guideline to determine your answers:
1. If your brand is new to social media or you need to differentiate it from competitors, some part of your investment should aim to grow brand awareness. Look at social channels that have high levels of social sharing, so your brand will benefit from mentions, likes, followers, app downloads or retweets.
2. If generating more website traffic is your goal, analyze where your website visitors come from. How long do visitors stay on your site? Do they read your content and become customers? A detailed analysis can help you determine not only which social networks are sending you traffic, but which ones are sending you valuable traffic.
Social media marketing has become a necessity for business growth and customer engagement. However, the social media landscape continues to evolve and change dramatically. It is critically important to be knowledgeable before you jump in head first into the world of social media.