Which social media platform should I use for my business?
Updated: Dec 31, 2019
Social media penetration globally is increasing. It is estimated 67% of the UK population are actively using social media and 45% globally. And each user spends an average of 2 hours and 22 minutes on social media each day.
But which platforms should you use and how should they be used? Here are some of the basics you need to know.
Facebook is the biggest social network in terms of recognition and users. With 2.4 billion active users, Facebook is ideal for connecting people with your business.
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. The average life span of a post is 5 hours.
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 can make it hard to ensure your followers see what you post via organic reach. In fact, only 6.4% of your total page likes see your posts.
To succeed as a business on Facebook, you need to pay to play through paid campaigns. 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 Messenger can be another highly rewarding platform. It allows you to send direct messages to your audience at no cost. 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.
With Twitter, you can share short text updates (of 140 characters), along with videos, images, links and polls. You can interact with other users by mentioning their usernames in your posts, so Twitter is ideal for quickly connecting with people.
Twitter averages 336 million monthly 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 60% of all users.
If you have interesting content, Twitter 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.
Twitter 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.
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 81% 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.
Like Pinterest, Instagram is a visual social media platform based on photo and video posts. The Facebook-owned network has over 500 million active users. This platform is almost entirely mobile and has a strong female audience. 64% of its users are 16-29 year olds, so it does tend to have a younger demographic compared with Facebook.
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.
Linked In has 303 million monthly active users and if you are in business to business, it is essential you are on this platform.
Linked In creates many opportunities for businesses to engage over and above blog posts, through advertising, specialist groups, Linked In Publisher (a dedicated blogging platform) and Linked In Messenger. The shelf life of a Linked In post is 24 hours so longer than other platforms.
Video is huge on Linked In and receives higher engagement, so it is worth considering how you can create your own video content.
Snapchat is another mobile-only visual platform. The 150 million 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 is a video-sharing platform with over a billion users, where people can view,
upload and share content. The typical shelf life of a video is over 20 days so it can be a worthwhile investment.
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.
TikTok may be a newbie on the scene but already has 1.2 billion users. 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. Although relatively undeveloped at the moment, watch this space as the platform evolves and exploits advertising.
Start off little and often
With so many platforms, it is important to choose the right one for your business and critically which ones your audience are using. It is far better to select one or two platforms and do them well, then spread yourself too thinly. Social media is extremely time-consuming and requires attention 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 working on social media. However, get it right and it can be extremely rewarding. Good luck!
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 get in touch.