When clients task us with selecting the right social media platforms for their audience, I always think of the knight guarding the Holy Grail in Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. If you choose poorly and fail to identify the correct metaphorical cup from which your target audience drinks, well…you know what happens.
(Pro tip: that reference will go over well on Facebook, not so much on Snapchat)
Figuring out which social media channels are right for your client requires some homework – you need to know who your client’s target demographic is and compare that to what you know about who uses each social media channel. It’s unrealistic to devote the necessary time and energy to having a sustained presence on every network, so it’s vital to familiarize yourself with the social channels that best align with your client’s business, and focus accordingly so you’re not spreading your resources too thin.
With that in mind, here are some facts about each platform that will help you determine in which sandbox it’s best to play.
With more than 1 billion active daily users, Facebook is the granddaddy of social media networks. But that’s the thing – it’s an older audience. Men and women in the U.S. ages 25-54 make up 32% and 29% of Facebook users, with only 9% between the ages of 18-24. Simply put, if you’re looking to attract young people, Facebook is not recommended. However, we have one client looking to reach people 50 and older, and have enjoyed immense success with Facebook. Older users who aren’t as tech savvy as Millennials or GenX still know how to navigate Facebook because they’re familiar with it after 13 years of existence. So if your audience skews a bit older, take advantage of the 44% of users who check Facebook multiple times a day.
If you’re looking to reach people quickly and have a client who is flexible enough to tie in to breaking news and current events, then Twitter and its 320 million active daily users is a great option. While you’re limited to 140 characters and the platform has seen some high profile users leave due to instances of anonymous attacks and high levels of hate and vitriol, one witty tweet on a relevant hashtag that’s trending can lead to some widespread exposure. Also, if customer service is a need, Twitter is a fantastic way to put customers directly in touch with a business. Companies who remain active on Twitter and genuinely engage with interested users will begin to earn added praise and brand credibility.
Is your goal marketing or brand-building? The answer to that question will go a long way toward determining whether or not you use Instagram. With 500 million users and more than half checking the app every single day, brands with products or services that are visually appealing should start building a presence on Instagram. If you can post compelling pictures and video on a consistent basis, then you’ll find an audience here. But it’s tougher for marketing purposes because clickable links are not allowed in individual posts, making conversions a challenge. The audience skews younger as you can only post pictures using the mobile app, and niches such as food, art, travel, fashion and visually appealing subjects tend to have the most success.
If you need to reach young people, then you need to be on Snapchat. Although it only has 100 million daily active users, 60% of that U.S. audience is under the age of 24, consuming 30 minutes of content every day. Older users are confused by the service, which features videos and photos – often using “filters” that add to the visuals – that delete themselves after a certain amount of time. The upside off this fleeting type of content is the videos and pictures don’t have to be overly polished with a lot of expensive production value. If your brand has compelling behind the scenes footage or can tease new products that engage young people, then an investment in building a Snapchat audience is worth your time. Just don’t expect older users to jump ship from Facebook any time soon.
Videos are huge right now, and YouTube (owned by Google) remains a central hub of video content. If you or your client has the means to devote the necessary time to conceptualizing, filming, editing video on a consistent basis, then creating video can be a huge plus. The videos can then be used in other ways such as being embedded in company blog posts, and work best when there is a creative, visual, or educational component.
Is your client in the fashion, art, home décor, or food industry? Are you trying to reach mainly women? Then get on Pinterest immediately and harness their users made up of 42% women – 34% of whom are between the ages of 18-29 and 28% between 30-49. It’s easy to feature products and using the Pinterest Buy button makes the purchase of that product a simple click away.
Your audience and campaign goals will determine where you land, but wherever you end up just know that good content and compelling storytelling still rules the day. Find the places where your audience lives and spend your time, energy, and resources on cultivating them there. There’s no need to create a presence on Facebook if your audience is under 25, and spreading yourself too thin will only serve to hurt the brand in the long run.
Have fun, and choose wisely!