In this age of interconnectivity, social media is a dominant force fueled by the demands of the empowered consumer.
- GlobalWebIndex reports that the average Internet user spends 28% of their online time on social media sites.
- 47% of Millennials say their purchase decisions are influenced by social media
- 84% of social media users worldwide have “liked” or followed a brand or product on social
Social media is where your consumers choose to hang out, seeking out interconnected platforms for recreation, inspiration, news, relationship management, shopping, and everything in between. Social media is not merely a PR tool; it’s become a necessary component of any digital marketing strategy. To maximize value and avoid unnecessary spend, brands and marketers must develop an informed multichannel strategy that starts with a solid understanding of the target consumer. It’s easy to be tempted to be everywhere at once, but the best social media strategies maintain constant engagement, to retain current followers and attract new ones. With this in mind, let’s dive into the specifics of the eight most popular social media channels so that you can focus your efforts on developing a powerful presence where your consumers already are.
As the long-reigning giant in social media with about 1.59 billion monthly active users, Facebook has earned a place in any social media channel strategy.
Audience: While female Facebook users outnumber males, at 77% and 66% respectively, it is a great network for reaching either gender. Since Facebook was first conceived to be a social network for college students (with an @Harvard.edu email address mandatory for signup in the early days), it stands to reason why approximately 74% of American adults with a college degree are on the platform. Teenagers, however, are increasingly reporting that the social giant is irrelevant to them, favoring counterparts such as Twitter or Instagram. At 14%, the majority of Facebook users are based in the U.S., while India, Brazil, Indonesia, and Mexico all have strong user bases of their own.
Content & Behavior: From a content standpoint, it’s important to consider that Facebook is relatively fast-paced; most experts agree that a Facebook post has a period of about 3-5 hours before views and engagement taper off. It is also the most versatile of the platforms, lending itself well to text content, images, videos, links, and questionnaires. The most recent data collected by the Pew Research Institute reveals that the top-cited reason by women for using the site is to view photos and videos, while most men report that they do it in order to share content with many people at once. The site is now more than 10 years old, but usership remains high largely because it is already so high; people want to manage relationships with peers who are still heavily represented on the platform.
Strengths: With over 70% of all Internet users represented on the platform, Facebook is beneficial both for reaching your target consumer and for enabling users outside your target market to discover your brand. The platform is also equipped with an Audience Insights feature that will allow you to view and analyze publicly-available information about the people who choose to follow your brand. Facebook Contests are another great tool to help you engage with your followers while giving them compelling reason to share your brand content (just make sure to adhere to the Facebook Contest Guidelines).
Audience: Twitter has a reputation as being THE social platform for marketers trying to reach young users, and for good reason: Twitter’s rapid pace lends itself easily to usage by a young demographic, with about 37% of adults aged 18-29 represented on the platform. Following that same logic, Twitter is also an excellent means of reaching the coveted and evasive teen market, with roughly 24% of teens represented on the platform. However, Twitter’s most distinct advantage lies with international consumers: over 77% of the platform’s user base lives outside the United States.
Content & Behavior: Roughly 80% of Twitter’s users access the platform on mobile devices. Suitably, Twitter content itself is limited to a mobile-friendly format by the platform, but keep in mind that the same should be true for any external content that you share in Tweets. Avoid linking to content that isn’t optimized for mobile, as doing so will affect users’ perceptions of your usefulness as an account to follow. Additionally, consider that the rapid-fire nature of Twitter content means that any Tweet you send has less than an hour to draw engagement from followers (many say less than 30 minutes). As a result, you are typically free to re-share content to Twitter, as the quick pace makes it unlikely that doing so will irritate your followers.
Strengths: Twitter enables you to maintain a constantly-open lane of communication with your consumers. By Tweeting out pithy information about events, special offers, or new products, you can generate leads, increase sales, or invite feedback about your offerings from users. Twitter is also an excellent tool for researching trends that are relevant to your consumers, and spending time on the platform can give you a read on what your consumers think of your own brand or your competitors’. Furthermore, the skimpy character limit will force you to adopt some level of colloquialism. Even if Twitter moves forward with the rumored switch to 10,000 characters, 140 will remain the limit for expandable Tweet previews, so it will pay to embrace that format. Use this as an opportunity to craft an engaging personality for your brand. Experiment with lingo and acronyms that you see your consumers using. Just keep in mind: if it feels unnatural for your brand to type it, it will probably feel inauthentic to your followers.
At over 400 million users, the growth of Instagram outpaced both Facebook and Twitter in 2015.
Audience: Instagram usage skews slightly female, with 29% of women in the US represented on the platform. In addition, the user base is overwhelmingly young, with 53% falling into the coveted 18-29 range. Users are distributed relatively evenly between income brackets and levels of education, although there is a slightly higher representation of users with some college experience than without. As of September of last year, over 75% of Instagram users live outside the U.S., with more than half of the 100 million most recently-joined users residing in Europe or Asia.
Content & Behavior: Instagram’s visual interface invites content that is highly focused on self-presentation and social validation. People use the platform to communicate visual “statuses” of themselves, many of which are self-regulated so as to portray a curated image of the self to the digital community. Well-composed Instagram posts can be as visually appealing as a glossy magazine ad, so Instagram content images that are accompanied by ecommerce links are easily shoppable. Since Instagram users view content from the accounts they are following in one single stream, it stands to reason that typical Instagram content will notice a drop in engagement after about 6 hours of being posted.
Strengths: According to recent Forrester research, engagement with brand posts on Instagram is the highest of all the major social networks, ringing in at 2.27%. This is likely due to the visual nature of the platform, as people are attracted to visual content. In addition, if you have a brick-and-mortar location, Instagram can be an excellent tool to help you understand which products consumers are excited about, even if they haven’t bought them yet. Shoppers may be sharing images of your product with your location tagged, and in order to see those shares, you need only to snap an Instagram shot of your physical location and tag it, and you’ll be connected with other content tagged to that location.
As the pivotal social media site for professional networking, LinkedIn has undergone steady growth since its inception, with about 400 million current users.
Audience: LinkedIn membership shows a nearly even split between male and female users, with the most representation within members ages 30-64. Notably, users are about twice as likely to be urban or suburban dwellers than rural residents. In addition, nearly half of U.S. adults who earn more than $75,000 per year have LinkedIn accounts, as do half of all adults with a college education. Though the largest concentration of LinkedIn users reside within the United States, the platform is popular across Europe, Asia, and Latin America, with user counts totalling in the tens of millions. LinkedIn reports that more than one third of all professionals on the planet maintain accounts through the platform, and that overall, they exhibit many qualities that are attractive from a marketer’s standpoint, including strong brand loyalty, low price sensitivity, and high buying power.
Content and Behavior: As a professional networking site, it’s often assumed that LinkedIn is only appropriate for B2B marketers. However, research has shown that that is actually not the case. One reason is that the business-forward atmosphere on LinkedIn means that brand-centric content is generally well-received, even if it is irrelevant to the poster’s own work. For instance, if a LinkedIn user who works as a copywriter posts about an innovative new technology product, her connections will see the value of the post despite the fact it’s unrelated to her professional work.
Strengths: The high education and income levels of LinkedIn users make the platform a good fit for marketing of “aspirational” brands in industries such as high-end auto, travel, technology, and luxury goods. In addition, the professional atmosphere of LinkedIn means that content on the site is seen as more trustworthy and more worthy of consumption than content on other social media sites or publishing platforms.
With roughly 200 million monthly active users, the short-form video app is a hotbed for funny or visually interesting content.
Audience: Vine’s audience skews heavily toward the younger end of the spectrum. Pew Research found that 24% of all American teens use Vine, and 71% of the platform’s users are members of the commonly-targeted Millennial generation. American’s are most heavily represented in Vine’s user base, which counts roughly 14% of the U.S. population within its reach. Vine also maintains a strong presence among international teens in particular, with significant reach in India, Australia, Canada, and the UK.
Content & Behavior: Vine videos are limited to 6 seconds long, and are commonly looped more than once by users. Vine itself is an incubator for fast and far-reaching trends, as it is common practice by vine users to emulate actions or jokes seen in popular vines.
Strengths: The app integration offered by Vine can make it a lower-cost alternative to YouTube video content. In addition, the simplicity of the app makes it easy to capture and share updates and events in real time.
The visual bookmarking tool and content discovery platform boasts about 100 million monthly active users.
Audience: It’s common knowledge that Pinterest users area overwhelmingly female, with about 42% of online adult females using the platform as opposed to just over 13% of online men. The user base is typically on the younger end of the spectrum, with 34% of adults ages 18-29 represented on the site. In addition, Pinterest users are more likely to have attended college than not; 32% of college graduates maintain accounts, along with 30% of adults who’ve completed some college, but not graduated. Pinterest is second to LinkedIn in users’ household income; 34% of adults making over $75,000 use the site, compared to just 22% of adults earning $30,000 or less.
Content and Behavior: Pinterest has the longest content lifespan of any of the major social networks, capable of attracting engagement and driving traffic for many weeks, months, or even years. Valuable pins attain the coveted “evergreen” status, meaning that their relevance and importance to users endures long after the initial post date. In addition, although Pinterest is often hailed as the social platform for reaching female consumers, it’s important to note that in fact, male usership is growing rapidly, at a much quicker rate than that of females. There is, however, a stark difference in the way male and female Pinners use the site. Women in general tend to use the site as something of a digital wishlist, searching out and pinning objects to use for inspiration (or aspiration), but that they seldom plan to actually buy. Men, on the other hand, use Pinterest to track and organize items they plan to purchase or ideas they intend to bring to reality. Overall, the most pinned content topics on the platform are Food & Drink, DIY & Crafts, Home Decor, and Holidays & Events.
Strengths: Pinterest is an excellent tool for CPG brands, particularly because of a relatively new feature: the Buy button, an integrated ecommerce button that allows users to securely purchase goods without navigating away from the Pinterest interface. In addition, since it is known that male Pinterest users are typically in the market for the items they pin, Pinterest is an excellent tool for capturing the valuable attention of men who are ready to purchase.
In the realm of social networking sites, Google+ is a breed all its own. User demographics are scattered, and stats are evasive. A probable explanation for this is that the network reportedly has about 2.2 billion members. This number is staggering, dwarfing other social channels, even Facebook. However, it is estimated that less than 10% of those account holders have ever posted a single piece of content. Why? Because Google+ accounts are automatically assigned to every person who creates a Gmail account. It’s the only social media platform that cannot call itself “opt-in”. Here’s what available information tells us:
Audience: Data collected by StatisticBrain indicates that Google+ users skew overwhelmingly male at 74%. Over half of users are based in the U.S., followed by India, Brazil, the United Kingdom, and Canada.
Strengths: Although stats about this platform are murky, you shouldn’t automatically write it off. One major benefit of Google+ is that its seamless integration with Google search imparts high SEO value to any content shared through the platform. In addition, Google’s algorithm will rank your content higher in searches that are run by people who follow you on the platform. Google Hangouts can also be a great tool for customer service or for hosting tutorials or other video
Every digital marketing predictions list we’ve read in the last year agrees that video content will explode in 2016. And with good reason: as the digital space becomes increasingly cluttered, consumers have learned to tune out all but the most engaging content. Watch time on YouTube is doubling year after year, and the message is clear: consumers are seeking out YouTube content at a rate that far exceeds traditional television.
Audience: Although overall viewers of YouTube content represent a pretty even split between male and female, men tend to spend about 44% more time on the site than their female counterparts. Top content topics for men include gaming and sports, while women favor cosmetics, skincare, and music videos. Although about 1 billion people (nearly a third of all Internet users worldwide) have a Youtube account, the most recent Pew data uncovered that about 63% of all Internet users view content on the site, even though many of them do not maintain accounts themselves. YouTube overall reaches more people in the 18-49 age range than any cable network in the United States. From an international perspective, it’s important to note that about 80% of views on YouTube content come from outside the U.S.
Content and Behavior: Mobile YouTube viewership is on the rise, showing a 100% increase year over year. In fact, over half of YouTube video views are on YouTube. YouTube content performs well on other social media channels, as sharing of video content is popular and lucrative.
Strengths: YouTube videos enjoy a long lifespan when compared with most other social media content, and evergreen content such as tutorials and reviews is a great way to maintain activity on your channel. In addition, YouTube’s integration with Google helps YouTube content to rank well in SEO.
Revamping your presence on social media sites can be daunting, because you’re visible to consequential consumers who are fluent in the social space to a degree that many brands and marketers are not. Could your organization benefit from guidance from a group of influential consumers who already command strong, trusted presences on social media? Download our eBook: 8 Things You Can Ask Influencers to Do for Your Brand, to learn how influencers can help introduce you on social channels and help you maintain an engaging social media strategy.