Whether it’s driving sales, reaching a wider audience or raising brand awareness, social media is one of the most popular forms of online marketing.
Businesses and brands often struggle to identify the relevant platforms for their social media marketing and this can result in audience alienation. Each social network comes with its own set of preconceptions and the wrong choice of network can completely contrast a brand’s identity. For instance, Instagram’s casual and creative character would be in juxtaposition with the serious and analytical nature of an accountancy firm. That isn’t to say brands should completely rule out certain networks and those looking to redefine their brand identity may find the right choice of social media channel can help them do just that.
It’s unrealistic for a brand to be active across any more than two or three social networks at a time. Social media and community management is time consuming and producing content, tracking engagement, and responding to interactions on multiple networks is a massive undertaking. In addition, being present on too many social platforms can dilute a brand’s message via oversaturation of content. Whilst backlinks to a website can help increase its rank within search engines, running the same content across multiple social channels can actually have a negative effect on a brand’s search engine optimisation as repeated content is often flagged as spam.
One of the first steps in choosing social networks is identifying your brand’s audience. Demographics such as age, gender, location, ethnicity, employment status, and education all inform your audience’s social network preferences and this should influence your brands choice of platform and the kind of content that will feature. For example, if market research indicates your audience is mainly men over the age of 40 you are more likely to reach this demographic via Facebook than on Instagram.
Once you’ve located your audience’s preferred networks consider what kind of content it is most likely to engage with. Is your audience more likely to engage with image content, polls, blog articles, or videos? Again, this is something demographics can inform but something as simple as AB testing (comparing two types of content to see which performs better) will serve as a good indicator of the direction you should be heading. Remember, different platforms will better support different types of content.
Facebook is the social network market leader with over 1 BIL active users. User gender ratio is the most balanced of all the social networks though users identifying as female do dominate the network ever so slightly. 74% of Facebook users are university graduates and the majority of users come from urban or suburban areas. Facebook is most popular with users aged between 18 to 29.
- Image and video friendly with an ‘Album’ collection feature.
- ‘Events’ feature is almost exclusive to Facebook.
- Brands can use Facebook as an individual user, a ‘Group’ or a ‘Page’; each comes with its own features and the latter two offer insights and marketing support.
- Facebook prioritises paid advertising in News Feeds, meaning posts from competitors an audience member isn’t following could be more likely to appear in their feed than posts from your brand.
Twitter has over 3 MIL active users with a fairly even gender split that is slightly dominated by male identifying users. The majority of Twitter users are 18 to 29 years old and the platform is comparatively less popular with older audiences with only 10% of its users being over the age of 50. The average Twitter user is a university graduate, who earns £60K+, and works in a ‘technical role’.
- Twitter users consider the platform a resource for news, information, and trends.
- Brands can create their own hashtags and take advantage of those that are trending.
- Users expect brands to be direct due to the 140 character limit.
- The 140 character limit can encourage multiple posts from a brand which run the risk of looking like spam.
- Hashtags can easily be hijacked by trolls and competitors with can sabotage marketing endeavours.
Out of all the social networks, Instagram is most popular with the young professional age range (18 to29 year olds) with over half its user base falling into that demographic. The dominant gender identity on Instagram is female with the vast majority of users being university students. Instagram’s focus on photo and video content makes it popular with millennials.
- 50% of Instagram users already follow a brand or business.
- Visual content is the most engaged type of content on social media.
- Very few users over the age of 30 makes it difficult for brands to reach certain audiences or expand their bracket.
- Platform is more suited for brands marketing a product or 'visual' service. For example, a decorating brand is likely to flourish on Instagram whereas solicitors may struggle.
Pinterest almost entirely consists of female identifying users with a fairly even age split. Pinterest users are more likely to attend or have attended university and tend to have more disposable income.
- Pinterest has the highest amount of clicks to direct sales of any social media website.
- The platform encourages users to link to content sources which is great for back-linking to your brands website.
- Heavy visual element makes it perfect for lifestyle brands and product marketing.
- Gendered audience can limit marketing reach.
- User engagement primarily comes in the form of ‘pins’. Whilst there is a comments function, Pinterest is not a very conversational platform.
LinkedIn boasts a user base of 347 MIL with the gender divide slightly favouring male identifying users. Out of all the social networks LinkedIn has the monopoly on users aged 30 – 49 and the over half its users are university graduates. In addition, LinkedIn users are some of the highest earners amongst the social networks with over 44% making more than £60K a year.
- LinkedIn is one of the main business to business platforms.
- Users are encouraged to create article style content offering business insights. This is a great tool for positioning a brand as industry experts.
- Brands can make connections with more than just clients. They can meet influencers and prospective employees.
- There’s almost no scope for consumer marketing on LinkedIn.
- It can be difficult for relatively unknown brands to make connections as users are more selective about whom they engage with.
Brands should always take the time to develop a dedicated social media strategy. Whether your goal is to increase brand awareness or market a specific product, it’s important to set attainable goals and measure success. As a general rule, brands should focus activity to one or two social media platforms and be careful not to copy content between them; instead consider cross promoting content. Remember, you are not limited to the networks listed above. There are a wealth of social platforms at your fingertips from Myspace and Tumblr to Snapchat and Periscope.
Social channels require daily upkeep, constant attention, and a dedicated response team in other to thrive. This can be difficult if peak times for audience engagement contrast working schedules. Identifying and engaging your audience, managing multiple social channels, devising campaigns, and measuring successes is a full time job that brands can find themselves underequipped to deal with. Outsourcing to an agency with a dedicated team of social media and community managers ensures your brand has a constant supply of content and your audience is satisfied.
Whether you’re looking to drive sales, expand your audience, or increase awareness of your brand, Jelly offers perfectly tailored social media marketing. Let us optimise your social media strategy, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.