There are numerous popular and well established social media networks, but when it comes to social marketing, it takes a lot of resources to have a strong presence on all of them. However, if you focus on the social networks that are most used by your target audience, in terms of both age and gender, you’re more likely to get your message to the right people and make the most of your social media marketing efforts.
To help you out, here’s our roundup of six of the most popular social media networks: a few details, pros, and cons about each.
This is the big one. Facebook has a whopping 1.65 billion (with a b!) active monthly users. Pretty much everyone is on it, which gives you lots of reach, but also makes it harder to figure out who you’re reaching. One of the best things about Facebook is that it’s continually evolving, as evidenced by new features like Reactions and Live. And while its focus on visual and video content is appealing, the downside is that younger users are not as active on the network, as they tend to prefer platforms like Twitter and Snapchat. Still, if you’re trying to connect with GenX members or Baby Boomers, Facebook is a good place to be.
The real time information feed that is Twitter may not sound like much on paper, but it’s immensely popular, with 310 million active monthly users. It definitely skews to a youngish crowd, with half of all Twitter users under age 44 and a quarter under 34. While the recent switch to an algorithmic timeline isn’t entirely popular, and the platform as a whole tends not to stick with new users (there are lots of abandoned profiles), those who do use it tend to prefer it over other networks for its simplicity and ease of use.
True, YouTube is more of a video sharing platform than a social network, but it is significant, which is why we’ve included it here. The site is ideal for hosting any video content you might use for social media marketing. It has about a billion users worldwide and reaches more 18-49 year olds than any cable network. Plus, 80% of views are from countries other than the US, which is huge if you’re trying to reach an international audience. By creating a channel and encouraging subscribers, you can increase the number of times your video gets watched, and you can also embed your YouTube content on Facebook, your website, or any other platform.
Instagram is pretty much all visual, and it’s huge among the millennial and teen crowd. The network has 400 million active monthly users, and posts to it can sync with your profiles on other networks, a post on Instagram can, for example, be posted simultaneously on Facebook, killing two birds with one stone, so to speak. If you’re looking to reach a younger audience and you’ve got great images, Instagram is ideal. You’ll need a mobile device to use it, though, and the increase in paid advertisements on the network is starting to invade on organic content (a turnoff for many users), but younger users still flock to it and use it with a high degree of frequency.
If women are your target demographic, you’ll definitely want to put some effort into marketing on Pinterest. The network has 100 million active monthly users, which is lower than the others mentioned here, but 85% of those are female. With Pinterest, the big focus is on attractive images: make things look appealing, and you’ll get lots more pins. And, if you’ve got the budget for it, there’s also the option of promoted content.
Snapchat is the platform of choice for teens and millennials, so if you’re aiming at a younger crowd, this is the one you’ll want to pay attention to. Users over, say, 30 tend to eschew Snapchat, and there’s still some lingering perception that people use it for sexting, but the kids, as they say, love it. There are 200 million monthly active users, though the lack of analytical data makes it hard to track the successfulness of snaps. But again, if you want to reach the younger generations, it’s in your best interest to have someone on your team who can learn and effectively use this network.
You may notice that Google+ is mysteriously absent from our list. Even though the site claims that it has over 400 million users, there simply isn’t a high level of user engagement on Google+. Sure, Gmail is successful, and other Google apps have lots of users, but the company simply hasn’t had much luck with social networks. (Its first ill-fated attempt, Orkut, closed for good in September 2014.)
Still, there are six big social media platforms that are successful, but you can’t effectively get messages out on all of them unless you’ve got a huge social marketing team. However, focusing on the one or two used most frequently by your target demographic should yield the best results.