By Will Hockin,
With so many social media platforms available to businesses now it can be very tempting to jump on as many as possible in the hope of reaching as many potential customers as possible. Hopefully, if you’re reading this, you know that that would be silly – a complete waste of your time and effort. If that’s news to you, then please trust us. It’s a waste of your time.
Too often, we see company websites that list every single social media icon under the sun on the header or footer. You’ve probably seen them too – that accountancy firm that’s on Pinterest, Snapchat, Instagram and Google + for example. Why?! It’s madness.
Every platform has its own strengths and weaknesses and its unique characteristics and demographics. No social media is all things to all people. You need to find the ones that best suit your target audience and your business. In total, that should be no more than three. Why three? Because any more than that is too difficult to do well and once you get past three it really is diminishing returns.
So, let’s take a look at the major platforms and decide which is the best approach for your business. (Google + doesn’t count as a major platform by the way – remove it from your website now!)
The naughty cool kid at school. Despite everything wrong with it, and there’s plenty, people just can’t stay away from Facebook and it draws businesses in like nothing else. Perhaps that is understandable, 44% of the UK’s online population use it more than once a day, and only 21% who are active online don’t use it at all. Historically seen as a young person’s platform, Facebook is increasingly becoming attractive for older generations. The largest age group in the UK is between 25 and 34, and we have recently seen a surge in over 55’s signing up.
If your target audience is aged 30 and above, Facebook may well be a platform your business should be active on, but there are some points worth bearing in mind. Facebook is arguably one of the hardest platforms to get noticed on as a business. Facebook’s algorithms mean users see less from brands on their feeds and primarily posts from friends and family. Recent studies have suggested as little as one in twelve of your followers will see your organic posts.
That leaves you in a tricky predicament. Either you pour some money into Facebook advertising, or you have to post so regularly it takes up far more of your time than you ever intended. As an aside, if you’re an e-commerce business, Facebook Ads can work extremely well.
Twitter boasts over 13 million users in the UK. Primarily a platform for the sharing of news, blogs and articles it is also becoming a hotbed of heated debate and digital discussions. Twitter in the UK has a very diverse range of ages and genders using the platform, but compared to Facebook, has a slightly younger feel. Twitter is fantastic for brands – the average user follows five businesses, and 80% of users have mentioned brands in their tweets.
If you’re interested in interacting and having direct conversations with your target audience then Twitter could work very well for you. Twitter users are generally more receptive and willing to engage with brands than on other platforms. It is also fantastic for brand-to-brand interaction, so if you’re B2B then Twitter also makes sense.
Lastly, if you’re producing lots of blogs and articles and part of your marketing strategy is to monitor industry news and make comment, this is extremely effective on Twitter. People love staying up to date on Twitter and digesting new content.
Instagram has established itself well and truly as a major player in the social media world. Getting taken over by Facebook probably helps with that! What makes Instagram so popular is that they really understand their target market and what they can offer. It’s an incredibly visual platform with a very young demographic – over 59% of users are under 30.
Because Instagram is very clear in what it is, and who its users are it is relatively easy to decide if you need to be on there. Quite simply, if you have a young target audience and a visual product or a visual aesthetic for your brand then it can work very well. 80% of Instagram users follow a business as well – they’re receptive to brands.
LinkedIn is incredibly popular in the UK. In 2016 they reached over 20 million UK users – that’s almost a third of the UK population, which if you think that it’s for people of a working age is even more remarkable. Because of LinkedIn’s popularity and its focus on being a ‘professional’ social network, deciding whether or not to use it is actually very simple.
If you’re a B2B company, then you should be on LinkedIn. It really is that easy. I could very easily leave it at that, but you’d feel cheated, so I’ll write some more. It’s worth bearing in mind with LinkedIn that it is an individual network first before it is a company network. By this, I mean that people on LinkedIn interact on a person-to-person basis rather than person-to-company or company-to-company. That being said, it is very simple to set up a company page on LinkedIn and having a presence is essential. The activity of your employee’s individual accounts should all contribute to the company effort.
Regardless of demographics, being active or not on YouTube is a fantastically easy decision.
Do you create regular, long-form, video content? No? Don’t bother.
Yes? Then bother.
YouTube is actually the internet’s second largest search engine, behind Google. That’s how much it is used. A billion hours of video are watched every day, and 74% of users will watch brand videos on a more than weekly basis. Seriously, if you’re video-heavy then get on YouTube.
This one is slightly trickier. Not many people really understand Pinterest and how to use it, but those that do use it are incredibly loyal. In a nutshell, Pinterest is an online ideas board where people can collate and catalogue images they find. Typically, its demographics are those interested in projects, interior design, cooking etc. Overwhelmingly, Pinterest is a female network, with an 81% user base. The average age of users is around 40 so this gives you a very clear picture of the Pinterest audience. This will either resonate with your brand very clearly or not at all – either way, you know what to do.
Likewise, if you’re a brand that has very visual products or services then Pinterest can work very well. Think interior designers, kitchen manufacturers, lifestyle brands, fashion brands. If you ever use mood-boards or put collections together then Pinterest can be great at driving traffic to your website.
Just kidding. I’m not qualified to talk about this. It’s also the reserve of the really big brands, and something tells me they won’t be reading this.
Every platform is different and not everything will work for your brand. Figure out who it is you’re trying to reach and then have a look at which platform works best for that and fits best in the characteristics of your brand. You may end up with a different answer to the one you expected. As I said at the start, please limit yourself to three. Concentrate on these and do them very well. Think quality over quantity.
Once you’ve decided to stop using those platforms that make no sense for you, remember to go and remove them from all your materials as well. You don’t want to be directing people to an empty and inactive page – it looks all sorts of bad.
You may have noticed I feel quite passionately about brands using the right platforms. But I feel it’s justified, it would make the online world an infinitely better place. There would be less irrelevant noise and brands would actually see higher engagement and better returns as well. They just need to be brave and accept that Facebook doesn’t work for everyone – stop flogging that poor dead horse.