Most articles written about social media focus on what kind of content you should be posting and when you should be posting it to maximize your business’s reach and your followers’ engagement. But there’s an equally important item to consider before you even start creating posts: Which networks should your business be on? The number of social networks—and number of people using each network—is growing every year, giving business owners more options than ever to connect with consumers online. However, no individual small business has the marketing bandwidth to curate content for every social network out there. So how to you decide where to invest your time and energy?
A Few Things to Consider
1. Your Industry
Think about consumers in your particular industry. What are their interests? Where do they tend to spend time online? What kind of content are they looking for? Based on the answers to these questions, you’ll be able to select the social networks that will appeal most to your intended audience.
2. Your Strengths
Do you write killer articles on your business’s blog? Do you spend after-hours taking photos of your products, or creating behind-the-scenes video tours of your store? Do you collect inspirational quotes and love sharing them with others? Whatever medium excites you, make sure to join the social networks that take advantage of your passion. Posting should be fun, not a chore!
3. Your Time
The limiting factor in social media marketing is usually time. How many hours a week can you reasonably dedicate to posting content, fielding customer service requests, and interacting with followers? From there, you’ll be able to determine how many networks you can maintain-without sacrificing your sanity.
A Profile of the Top Social Networks
Social networks like Facebook and Twitter have become ubiquitous; others are growing rapidly, but aren’t as widely known. Below is a brief profile of the most widely-used social networks.
- Number of active users: 1.1 billion
- Demographics: 67% of adults in the US use Facebook; appeals more to women, 18-29 age bracket
- Content: News, stories, photos, videos
- Number of active users: 1 billion
- Demographics: 67% of adults in the US use YouTube; appeals more to women, 18-34 age bracket
- Content: Videos
- Number of active users: 343 million
- Demographics: 24% of adults in the US use Google+; appeals more to men, 18-34 age bracket
- Good for: News, stories, photos, videos
- Number of active users: 259 million users
- Demographics: 20% of adults in the US use LinkedIn; appeals to 35-54 age bracket, men, higher income and education
- Content: News, business-related information, job listings
- Number of active users: 232 million
- Demographics: 16% of adults in the US use Twitter; appeals to 18-29 age bracket, urban residents
- Content: News, photos, videos
- Number of active users: 150 million
- Demographics: 13% of adults in the US use Instragram; appeals to 18-29 age bracket, women
- Content: Photos, short videos
- Number of active users: 70 million
- Demographics: 15% of adults use Pinterest; appeals to women, more affluent user base
- Content: Photos, GIFs, infographics, other visual content
- Number of active users: 40 million
- Demographics: Younger audience, mobile users only
- Content: Short videos
The Bottom Line
Choosing which social networks your small business will be a part of is the first step on the road to success. Consider your audience, business needs, personal interests, and features of existing social channels. Then you’ll be able to nail down which networks you want to invest in for the long haul.