With billions of people using one social media platform or another, brands large and small are understandably turning to the social Internet as part of their marketing strategy, anticipating an increase in spending from 11 to 19 percent on social channels in the next five years.
However, it’s important, especially for small businesses, to make sure that you’re putting your company on the right platforms and posting content that does well to make the most out of your social media marketing.
“One of the biggest challenges we face is creating the right content for the right channels,” said Kipp Bodnar, chief marketing officer for HubSpot. “We've found that audience expectations vary from medium to medium, meaning that you need to tailor each piece of content to the specific needs of that channel. What drives engagement on Facebook won't evoke the same response on Twitter. Understanding those differences, and having a framework in place to address them, is crucial to achieving a high ROI on your social efforts.”
It may seem tempting to give your business as many channels as possible, but choosing the most effective ones for your particular brand and giving it your all will see much better returns than stretching yourself thin across efforts that no one really sees.
The first step in determining where to concentrate your social efforts is to understand who uses the different platforms, and for what purpose.
According to survey data from the Pew Research Center, 65 percent of U.S. adults use Facebook, with the percentage of users staying fairly high in age groups from 18-64. Usage drops to 41 percent of those 65 and older, compared to 81 percent of 18-29 year olds who use Facebook.
Usage of Instagram and Twitter is significantly lower and demonstrates a more distinct age gap of the users.
For Instagram, 35 percent of adults use the platform, with 64 percent of 18-29 year olds using it compared to 40 percent of 30-49 year olds and 21 percent of 50-64 year olds.
Twitter follows a similar pattern: from 24 percent usage across all adults, 40 percent of 18-29 years olds use Twitter, compared to 27 percent of 30-49 year olds and 19 percent of 50-64 year olds.
These numbers can be extremely helpful if you’re trying to target a specific audience, and much more detailed statistics can be found quite easily online so you can make sure that whatever you are posting on social media is being seen by the right audience for your business.
The slower, more communicative nature of Facebook allows for more long-term engagement with branded content, and the depth of information available on company pages encourages communication with the brand.
Twitter, which limits postings now to 280 characters, is a more fast-paced platform, useful for quick, easily-digestible information. Whereas Facebook is primarily designed to connect with friends and family, Twitter offers its users a way to connect with the wider world, including the brands they love (or hate).
Together, Twitter and Facebook make up 98 percent of traffic referrals to both longer and shorter articles online, and can be good for driving traffic to your company’s website or other interactive content.
Contrarily, Instagram doesn’t offer many opportunities to provide links to external content, but it can still be very useful for brand discovery and consumer engagement, especially if your brand is particularly visual.
With 80 percent of Instagram users reporting they follow at least one brand, and consistent content engagement often higher than on other social media platforms, Instagram is undoubtedly a good way to build brand relationships, though not as directly effective at converting leads.
Interestingly, one survey found that 96 percent of people talking about a brand on social media were not following the brand itself. Thus, when you analyze the effectiveness of your social media marketing, you can’t only pay attention to follower count; monitor and analyze the way people talk about you online for a more insightful perspective.
Additionally, if your brand is sparking a lot of conversation on a platform you’re not on, it might be worthwhile to create a profile to interact with that audience. While there are plenty of statistics about social media, successful social media marketing requires attention and adaptability for your unique situation.
The ways an individual uses social media and the ways a brand uses social media is different, and they should be. For brands, social media is increasingly a way to reach out to individual consumers, but if you’re not reaching out to the right people in the right ways, you could be missing out on valuable revenue and relationships.
Consider carefully your brand’s position in the market, your target audience and what you want to accomplish through your social media marketing. With that and the wealth of knowledge available about social media usage, you can more simply understand the world of social media and discover the right place for your brand within it.