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Which social media platform should I use for my business?

Updated: Feb 3


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A small business quick reference guide to using social media - updated 2024


Did you know that nearly three quarters of the UK population are actively using social media and 62% globally? Each of us spends an average of 2 hours and 23 minutes on social platforms each day according to research by Global WebIndex. Interestingly, although the average daily time spent on social media has reduced, user growth continues.


But which platforms should you use and how should they be used to help your business? Here are some of the basics you need to know.


Facebook


Facebook is the biggest social network with 2.93 billion active users, and nearly 45 million users in the UK. Facebook is ideal for connecting people with your business.


The largest age group on Facebook are 25 to 34-year-olds. 57% of its users are male and 43% female. People spend 38 minutes a day on the platform so it can be big business for businesses if you get the formula right.

The influx of recent baby boomers on Facebook highlights why it’s such a prime place to run ads, particularly among older demographics who have more money to spend.


You can use Facebook to share photos, videos and company updates. From a business perspective, the site can be more low-maintenance than other social networks. But the average life span of a post is six hours so ensure you fully leverage every post.


Because of its mass reach, many businesses historically found Facebook useful to connect with customers. However, this is no longer as straight forward. Facebook's rules and algorithms make it hard to ensure your followers see what you post via organic reach. In fact, only 10% of your total page likes see your posts. And according to Rival IQ, the 2021 median average engagement rate per post (by follower) on Facebook is 0.064%, across all industries.


To succeed as a business on Facebook, you need to pay to play through paid campaigns which can be expensive. On the plus side, Facebook knows a lot about its users, and it uses this information to your advantage when you purchase ads. Find out more about implementing Facebook campaigns.


Facebook’s most recent move is to make the platform more transparent to users and give more control to them as to what they do and don’t see. Emphasis is now placed on making content as relevant and engaging as possible using video and Facebook Live.


Facebook Messenger can be another highly rewarding platform. It allows you to send direct messages to your audience at no cost.


And many businesses have set up specialist groups as a way to engage with their audience so think if this may be relevant to your business.


Nina Mace Founder of Nina Mace Photography is a huge advocate of how Facebook can add tremendous value to your business. She confirms in the early days, it was used to drive local awareness by showcasing work and allowing clients to share with their friends and family members. However, in recent years it has evolved into a community platform allowing greater engagement with her audience. She adds "My group has allowed me to create real relationships with my clients and in turn, I've a better understanding of their wants and needs.  This informs all of my marketing and gives focus to what I'm communicating. I launch live sessions where I speak to hundreds of my group members at once allowing me to share useful content and those watching can respond to the conversation in real-time."


Facebook badges

Instagram


Instagram is a visual social media platform based on photo and video posts. The Facebook-owned network has over 1 billion active users. This platform is almost entirely mobile and has nearly an equal ratio of male to female users. 71% of its users are under 35, so it does tend to have a younger demographic compared with Facebook so do consider consider your audience fit.


More artistic niches tend to excel on Instagram and it's important that the person running your account has good photographic skills. You can also use free photo libraries to find high quality imagery. If you can find the right hashtags and post intriguing photos, you can make this platform work for your business.


Instagram stories launched in 2016 as their own version of Snapchat's 24-hour stories. It has been highly successful and offers a creative and dynamic way for businesses to engage. In fact, one out of the three most viewed stories are published by businesses. Find out more on how to use Instagram stories. The introduction of Reels highlights Instagram’s intention to continue competition with TikTok attracting a younger audience. Research shows the tremendous value of influencers on Instagram ideal for motivating shopping. Instagram Reels are 15- to 90-second multi-clip videos which get priority placement in search results and on the Instagram explore page.


According to Rival IQ, engagement rates are significantly higher on Instagram compared to Facebook. The 2021 average median engagement rate per post (by follower) is 0.67%.


X (formally Twitter)


X is the third most popular social network in the UK, where you can share short text updates (of 180 characters), along with videos, images, links and polls. You can interact with other users by mentioning their usernames in your posts, so it's ideal for quickly connecting with people.


X averages 238 million daily active users worldwide. Due to its wide reach, this platform is not only ideal for marketing your business, but also effective for handling customer service. The latest research shows a slight skew of male users accounting for 56% of all users and it has a slightly older base with nearly half 30 – 49 years.


If you have interesting content, the platform is great for quickly spreading the word. Retweeting and sharing other users content is easy to do. Hashtags help boost posts, and if a user with a large following retweets you, your content could go viral.


X is ideal for PR and following the media. It is also one of the best platforms to find curated content. Follow 'journo request' hashtags too as a means to try and secure free press coverage.


On the downside, X can be perceived as a high maintenance platform. The average shelf life of a Tweet is just 18 minutes meaning you need to post several times a day for your posts to be seen, so you need to be highly committed to it for it to work for your business.


LinkedIn


LinkedIn has 875 million monthly active users, 16% of which use it daily so if you are in business to business, it is essential you are on this platform. The largest demographic is 25 to 34 years and this younger audience use the platform in more of a community and informal way to keep in touch with their followers.


LinkedIn creates many opportunities for businesses to engage with followers over and above standard posts through advertising, specialist groups, LinkedIn Messenger and LinkedIn Publisher - a dedicated blogging platform. Long-form content gets the most shares on LinkedIn. OkDork.com found that articles around 1900 words were the perfect length for engagement. Also articles with titles between 40-49 characters perform the best on LinkedIn.


Video is huge on LinkedIn and receives higher engagement, so consider how you can weave in your own video content.


The networking site has heavily expanded into content and currently has 150 million subscriptions to newsletters on LinkedIn. Newsletter engagement is much higher than engagement with posts in your feed which is why so many businesses have opted to use this tactic as part of their marketing mix.


The good news is that the shelf life of a LinkedIn post is 24 hours, so longer than other platforms. 40% of LinkedIn visitors organically engage with a page every week which is much higher than other platforms.


Snapchat


Snapchat is another mobile-only visual platform globally reaching three quarters of the Gen Z and millennial populations. The social media app is most popular with both men and woman aged 18-34. The 363 million active daily users can send videos and photos, available for up to 10 seconds at a time, to one another, or post content to their public stories, which disappear after 24 hours. Over five years, the app has expanded to include chat, messaging, image storage, events and media content.


Like Instagram Stories, because posts are so temporary, there is less pressure to create super-polished content. You can also see which specific users viewed your story.


YouTube


YouTube is a video-sharing platform with over 66 billion monthly visits, where people can view, upload and share content. YouTube is the second most visited website in the world after Google. The typical shelf life of a video is over 20 days so it can be a worthwhile investment. People spend an average of 23.4 hours per month on YouTube.


Now owned by Google, the site is a huge hub for news and entertainment. Many businesses on YouTube have a creative, visual or educational component. There's a subculture of vloggers called YouTubers who publish frequent videos and often maintain large audiences.


You can use YouTube to deliver against different marketing objectives. For example to achieve brand awareness brand story videos work well, whilst to generate interest and intent to purchase, product videos and customer testimonials are successful.


TikTok


TikTok has over 100 million active users spending an average of 45 minutes a day on it. It allows you to share a 15-second video. Brands are using it to target Generation Z (those born in the mid to late 1990s), particularly through influencers. A younger user-base presents challenges in terms of ad-targeting, but explains the boom of influencer marketing.


While TikTok has become a popular app for emerging trends, niche communities, and hashtag challenges, it’s also evolved into a powerful tool for businesses. Brands looking to reach new customers are increasingly using the platform. But to be successful on the platform, you need to be actively using it. As like any other platform, you need to have a clear social media strategy and ensure you have the resources in place in manage and sustain it.


Pinterest


445 million people use Pinterest monthly. This visually oriented platform allows users to save and display content by "pinning" digital bulletin boards, which can be organised by category. The platform also has a series of Rich Pins, which brands can use to add imagery or videos to. However, keeping your boards organised can be time-consuming.


It's also more of a niche network with 60% of its users being female. Popular categories on the site are DIY, fashion, exercise, beauty, photography and food so it can be highly effective with targeting.



Start off little and often


Smartphone with social media icon paper cut-outs

With so many platforms, it's vital to choose the right one for your business and select which ones your audience are using. Do your research and choose the platforms wisely. Don't spread yourself too thinly. Social media is extremely time-consuming and requires attention and resource every week. Aside from planning content, there is also the scheduling and posting, interacting and analysing your posts. You can easily spend a few days a week just on social media alone, let alone running the rest of your business. Many business owners outsource to a specialist social media manager who will be able to dedicate quality time to your social media and ensure it delivers against your business objectives.


Social media trends are changing all the time. The platforms are continually bringing out new functionality so you do need to keep up.


For more tips on marketing your business have a look at my blogs how to develop a marketing strategy and small business planning. Or if you would like a chat on how to integrate social media into your business, then please don't hesitate to get in touch.

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