From Twitter to TikTok, social media is dominating the online marketing domain. Actually, social media is ruling the world. An estimated 3.2 billion people, or four out of every ten on the planet, use social media, including nine out of ten Millennials and five out of ten Boomers. And the average user spends nearly 2.3 hours a day on their favorite platforms.
With that in mind, it’s no surprise that 73% of marketing experts say social media is “extremely” or “very” effective for business. Half of social media users go to their platforms of choice to research products before buying, and 71% of happy buyers recommend products to friends and family using social media.
Clearly, social media marketing is critical to brand awareness, communication, and sales volume. But with more than 50 social media sites available, how can a small business owner decide which ones to use? And what’s the best way to make social media marketing work for you without breaking your budget or eating up your team’s time?
Use This Guide Of The Top 10 Social Media Platforms For Business To Find Out How To Make This Powerful Channel Work For You.
About the Platform: Founded in 2004 and still master of the social media universe, Facebook is one of the oldest and best-known platforms. This social media giant now boasts 2.45 billion users worldwide, and about 1.3 billion people use Facebook’s Messenger app at least monthly. Five new profiles get created on the platform every second. Facebook also owns other major social brands, including Instagram and WhatsApp.
Who’s On It: Facebook is the established social media neighborhood, not the hip new development site. Its largest block of users falls in the 25-34 age bracket although 50% of 18-24 year olds say they check Facebook first thing in the morning. Interestingly, more than 47 million people over age 65 also use Facebook, and it is this demographic’s preferred social media platform (followed by YouTube.) Slightly more women than men are active on the site, and the largest blocks of users are in India, the U.S., Indonesia, and Brazil.
What Businesses Will Benefit from It: Any business can benefit from a presence on Facebook. The platform’s size, broad-based popularity, and dexterity with communication facilitation make it the go-to spot for companies of all shapes, sizes, and industries.
Strategies for Effective Marketing on the Platform: Videos and friendly posts are popular, and paid ads are the least effective form of advertising on Facebook. Our takeaway? Avoid talking at your audience. Instead, use Facebook to engage your customers and learn more about them.
About the Platform: LinkedIn began in 2002 as a professional networking site. Originally, the platform existed only as an online connection point for professionals with pre-existing real-life relationships. In 2016, however, Microsoft acquired LinkedIn, and the site became more dynamic. Today, 660 million people in 220 countries connect using LinkedIn.
Who’s On It: 57% of LinkedIn users are men and 43% are women. More than 1/3 of these users are between 30 and 49 years old. Half of all Americans with college degrees use the site, spending an average of 17 minutes per month on the platform.
What Businesses Will Benefit from It: LinkedIn is the second most popular platform for B2B marketers, coming in just behind Facebook.
Strategies for Effective Marketing on the Platform: Video, live-streaming, 1500-character posts, and long-form articles can all provide high-value content on LinkedIn. Here again, the key is effective engagement with other users, not just set-it-and-forget-it advertising.
About the Platform: The fastest-growing and second-most-popular social media platform in the English-speaking world, Instagram maintains more than 1 billion monthly active users. A subsidiary of Facebook, Instagram can easily republish content originally developed for its parent platform.
Who’s On It: Instagram users are more likely to follow brands, interact around products, and make buying decisions based on social media than users of other platforms. 71% of Instagrammers are under age 35, and 71% of U.S. businesses are on Instagram.
What Businesses Will Benefit from It: Any B2C business can probably benefit from an Instagram presence.
Strategies for Effective Marketing on the Platform: Grow your follower base quickly, post regularly, engage with influencers, and push inspiration over sales.
About the Platform: Begun in 2006 as a microblogging and social media platform, Twitter allows users to communicate in blurbs of 280 characters or less. After its founding, the company quickly grew in size and influence until 2015 when its growth slowed. Today, Twitter maintains 321 million active users and is a major communication tool for leaders and influencers in multiple industries.
Who’s On It: Twitter’s users trend younger with 14% between ages 18 and 24, 21% between 25 and 34, and 19% between 35 and 44. They also tend to be more male, urban, and affluent than Facebook or Instagram users. And many of them rely on Twitter for their news.
What Businesses Will Benefit from It: Twitter is particularly helpful for businesses that want to promote blogs, podcasts, and other long-form content. It’s also a great place to connect with customers and do effective customer relations and brand management.
Strategies for Effective Marketing on the Platform: Debate and banter; build a brand voice; create content around events and holidays. Follow Wendy’s for an excellent example of a business using Twitter well.
About the Platform: Quora began in 2009 as a question-and-answer site on which users could ask and answer questions as well as rank the answers provided. Today, more than 300 million people use the site, and it is valued at $2 billion.
Who’s On It: About one out of every three Americans uses Quora. 57% of its users are male, 65% hold a college degree, and more than half have a household income above $100,000 per year.
What Businesses Will Benefit from It: B2B companies can find Quora especially useful as can founders of entrepreneurial enterprises.
Strategies for Effective Marketing on the Platform: Quora is the place to demonstrate your expertise. It can also serve as an effective site for B2B ads since these tend to be priced low in relation to their potential reach.
About the Platform: The crowd-sourcing review site Yelp began in 2004 and is now a public company raking in $943 million in annual revenue and employing more than 5,500 people. The site gets about 141 million unique visitors each month and has roughly 148 million reviews. Recently, Yelp has appeared to be in competition with Google, which also offers crowd-sourced reviews.
Who’s On It: Pretty much everybody who uses the internet checks Yelp at least occasionally before patronizing a new business.
What Businesses Will Benefit from It: Small businesses can get a big boost from using Yelp the right way. Larger companies with established brands, however, may get less bang for their buck on the site.
Strategies for Effective Marketing on the Platform: Claim your business page, encourage (but don’t directly ask for) customers to leave positive reviews, engage in apologetic and helpful ways with negative reviews, and generally show your best side. You probably may want to stick with the free service and avoid purchasing ads on Yelp, which tend to be expensive.
About the Platform: WhatsApp began in 2009, and Facebook acquired the messaging company in 2014. Four years later, WhatsApp launched WhatsApp Business, a free communication tool for small businesses. Since then, WhatsApp has grown more popular than either SMS text or Skype, and it is compatible with both Android and iOS phones.
Who’s On It: More than 1.5 billion people in 180 countries use WhatsApp to send about 60 billion messages each day.
What Businesses Will Benefit from It: Businesses that rely on one-to-one rather than one-to-many marketing strategies can get a lot of mileage out of WhatsApp.
Strategies for Effective Marketing on the Platform: Create an awesome brand persona, chat with users, offer help with your product or service, and provide extra benefits or discounts to your connections on WhatsApp.
About the Platform: Created in 2005, YouTube became a subsidiary of Google in 2006 and has since grown to become the world’s second largest English language search engine. About 1.9 billion monthly users upload 400 hours of video content to the site every minute.
Who’s On It: YouTubers cluster in the 18-49 and 75-plus age groups. They are about evenly divided between men and women, and most come from the United States, India, Japan, Russia, and China.
What Businesses Will Benefit from It: Any business can benefit from a YouTube presence. In fact, today it’s as important to be on YouTube as it is to have a Facebook account and to optimize for Google searches.
Strategies for Effective Marketing on the Platform: Create your channel, research your audience, know your competition, optimize your videos, advertise on YouTube, and collaborate with an influencer on the platform. Most importantly, produce outstanding, memorable content.
About the Platform: Launched in 2012 by one of Twitter’s co-founders, Medium is a social journalism site that allows professional and amateur writers to publish and promote their articles. Medium has about 60 million users.
Who’s On It: An estimated 95% of Medium’s users are college graduates, 43% earn six figures or more, and 70% are under age 50. Most users tend to be interested in intellectual questions.
What Businesses Will Benefit from It: Businesses that primarily serve Medium’s user profile and businesses that want to blog but don’t want to host their own content can use Medium.
Strategies for Effective Marketing on the Platform: Publish or republish interesting stories around a common theme within your brand. Link back to your website or blog in your Medium articles. Medium is a long-term commitment, so don’t be discouraged if short-term results don’t seem profitable.
About the Platform: Launched in March 2010, Pinterest is a social media scrapbooking site that now boasts 300 million users. Its CEO describes Pinterest as a “catalogue of ideas” that prompts users to “go and do” instead of sit and watch. After Facebook, Pinterest is the most effective site when it comes to influencing buyers’ decisions with 93% of Pinners saying they plan their purchases using the platform.
Who’s On It: The vast majority of Pinterest users are women. 80% of U.S. mothers go on the site, 60% of new signups are by women, and 93% of pins get posted by women. The active users’ median age falls below 40, and half live outside the U.S.
What Businesses Will Benefit from It: Businesses that sell products (instead of services) directed toward younger women, especially moms, can find their primary audience here.
Strategies for Effective Marketing on the Platform: Using a Pinterest for Business account, create a board with vibrant vertical images and SEO-optimized text. Start a tips board or a collaborative board to maximize the benefits of your primary board. Share pins and pinnable images on your blog and other publications.
About the Platform: This uber-popular video platform launched into the world in 2017 after being a Chinese-only app for about five years. Today, Tiktok has had about 1 billion downloads. It works much like Vine, the once-popular and now-defunct social media site that relied on super short video. Most TikTok videos are about 15 seconds in length.
Who’s On It: The site is extremely popular among youth. Most users are less than 24 years old, but a growing number of adults are getting on the site. About 56% of TikTok’s users are male, and the typical TikToker spend 52 minutes a day on the site.
What Businesses Will Benefit from It: Higher education organizations; businesses that market products or services to teens; any company that can do fun and engaging video content well.
Strategies for Effective Marketing on the Platform: TikTok can show your business’ fun, creative, and playful sides, so create bespoke content for TikTok instead of repurposing video from Facebook, YouTube, or Twitter. What you make doesn’t have to be slick. In fact, it’s better if your video appears rough-cut and authentic. To get initial viewers, use trending hashtags, and be sure to tap into TikTok’s sound gallery to spice up your videos.
Which social media platforms are right for your business? As a rule of thumb, most small businesses should be active on Facebook, YouTube, and one or two other social media platforms that best fit their customer demographic. Spreading out across too many social media sites can water down content and wear out the marketing team. So pick the best sites for you, publish valuable and consistent content, and engage regularly with your customers and prospects. Over time, social media marketing can pay off big for your small business.
Check out all of the articles in the ‘Marketing Strategies Every Business Should Be Using‘ series:
- How Any Size Business Can Have Amazing SEO
- Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for Your Business?
- Pay-Per-Click Advertising: Everything to Know About PPC
- Gain Free Business Exposure by Becoming a Podcast Guest
- How to Become a Trusted Expert with Content Marketing
- Get More Business Referrals by Encouraging Word of Mouth
Stephanie is the Marketing Director at Talkroute and has been featured in Forbes, Inc, and Entrepreneur as a leading authority on business and telecommunications.
Stephanie is also the chief editor and contributing author for the Talkroute blog helping more than 100k entrepreneurs to start, run, and grow their businesses.