Did you know? The number of active social media users worldwide has surpassed 3.5 billion. That’s 45% of the world’s total population!
And when researching for this article, it was really difficult – actually, impossible – to find a straight answer on how many social media platforms there are out there. Perhaps this is because there are new ones popping up every day, or because some are particularly unique to one country, but from what I can deduce, there are at least 70 note-worthy platforms around the world; from the obvious ones like Facebook and Twitter, to the lesser-known niche communities like Viber and Quora.
Having worked with a number of businesses across the UK, Europe and North America over the past 8 years, I’m going to focus on the platforms I have come across most frequently, as it seems natural that my experience may reflect the needs of other businesses and marketing professionals. My list is of course by no means exhaustive, and by not including one I’m not implying that they’re not relevant, I just wanted to provide some useful insight on the big players, so you can get started with the basics – If you come across a platform that I haven’t mentioned and you need to know more information, please let me know and I’d be happy to help.
So, here I go. Social media, the basics.
Let’s start with the obvious. The biggest of them all, everybody knows it and it features 2.32 billion active users, from your grandma to your neighbour’s cat.
For most businesses, especially B2Cs, Facebook is a great place to start your Social Media pilgrimage. There’s a huge potential audience at your fingertips, it’s mostly free and user-friendly.
Who uses Facebook?
Social media use in general tends to be associated with the younger generations, but if you have an ‘older’ (age 34+) primary or secondary target market, it certainly is one of the best platforms you can choose compared to the other options.
Equally, the majority of users are 18 – 34, so it’s can be a great network for marketing to anyone of adult age, with 50% checking their feeds when they wake up.
Next up, twitter. Another household name, but a lot less popular than some of its rivals.
As a millennial, I love using Twitter to keep up with the news and follow trending topics, which is super easy to do using hashtags.
Text is limited to 240 characters, so keep your message snappy!
Who uses Twitter?
Twitter like to keep their usage statistics close to their chest, but they do boast that advertising on their platform can reach 13.6 million UK adults (24% of our population), so it’s still a very relevant place to be!
Popular with both B2B and B2C businesses, Twitter is a great place to create some buzz around your brand and easily get found by new customers when you use the right hashtags.
I think Instagram is my favourite platform. If you’re creative, it can work for almost any business and if you’re not using it, your competitors will be.
The social network has grown 10 times in the last 5 years and now has over 1 billion monthly active users.
Made up of photos and videos (of less than 60 seconds), Instagram is incredibly engaging and the younger generations can’t get enough.
You can also post stories which only stay visible for 24 hours. This is a great option if you want to post something that’s relevant, but not worthy of staying on your main feed. For example, if you’re at an event, you might want to post a silly photo or ‘boomerang’ of your team having fun.
Who uses Instagram?
As of July 2019, over two thirds of total Instagram audiences were aged 34 years and younger – making it the perfect place to market your business to young adults!
If you’re marketing B2B, I would strongly advise that you have a presence on LinkedIn. Whether that’s as yourself as an individual, or as your business through a branded page, LinkedIn is home to many business decision makers. Over 590 million actually.
If your brand does not suit memes and gifs, but instead writes great technical blogs and wants to show off its office culture, there is no network better suited.
Who uses LinkedIn?
YouTube is a surprising one and its popularity may amaze you. For most people, it probably doesn’t fall into the ‘basic’ category, purely due to the more complicated nature of creating a video. However, I felt it necessary to include as it is increasingly more and more important for most brands.
As you probably know, YouTube is for video. 1 billion hours of it is watched EVERY DAY.
With over 50% of users saying they visit YouTube to find out ‘how to do things’, if your brand is able to produce instructional video content for your products, you’ll have access to a huge audience!
Who uses YouTube?
Appealing to an 'older' audience? Head over to YouTube. 11% of the platform’s users are aged 65+. That’s huge compared to Twitter (6%) or Instagram (2%)! They may not be interested in the unwrapping of a kinder egg, but unlimited how-to videos and product reviews? Hand them over!
Equally, younger audiences love it and the statistics are insane. It’s now become the world’s second largest search engine and most visited site after Google. The most popular brand channel is currently Lego, which boasts over 6 billion views.
How often should I post on social media?
Consistency is key
The key to a successful social media schedule is consistency; consistent quality, consistent timing and consistent messaging.
I recommend posting at least once a day, but if that's not possible, uploading highly relevant and interesting content 2, 3 or 4 times a week can still achieve good results, as long as you are steady in your approach!
What should I post on social media?
Keep your feed branded and your stories relevant
In a nutshell, you’ll be on the road to creating a good profile if you:
Use relevant, concise text
Double-check your grammar
Post high quality images and videos
Use branded hashtags
Use your brand colours throughout
Of course there is a whole raft of best practice techniques I could go into, but if you’re looking for the basics, this will hold you in pretty good stead.
But which one should I pick?
Which social media stage is right for you, depends largely on who your target markets are and what you want to achieve.
For example, when I was working with an innovative B2B tech company, LinkedIn was ideal; it allowed for networking with a qualified audience, fit in with the professionalism of the brand, and did not call for gimmicks or constant light-hearted content. Instead, it allowed the company to showcase the work they were doing with clients, talk about the people behind the product, and publish important news.
In second place was Twitter for its interest in news-worthy content and the ability to network with high-profile potential clients, but a platform like Snapchat simply wouldn’t have been appropriate. At the time, Instagram wasn’t around, but managed in the right way with the utilisation of great photography, I feel that could have worked too.
On the opposite end of the scale, I have managed the social media strategy for a College whose primary target audience was 14 – 19 year olds. In this instance, Instagram, YouTube and Snapchat were the platforms of choice and allowed us to post some really fun content which received great engagement.
Equally, the College wanted to connect with adult students, parents, guardians and local businesses, so Facebook and Twitter were perfect for communicating with these audiences.
I would always suggest using a range of platforms and tailoring your content for each. That way you’ll make sure you’re targeting all your audience segments through the most appropriate channels.
However, if you don’t have time to run 4 or 5 accounts well, pick two or three to focus on and make sure you’re consistently posting high quality content and engaging with your audience.
So there you have it, Social Media 101.
We hear about this marketing tool everywhere we go, but don’t be daunted if your business doesn’t already partake - now is a great time to start.
Hopefully I’ve given you enough insight to get started, but if you need a little extra help, from producing one-off artwork and promotional video to implementing a full strategy, I can help. Visit my Social Media page for more details.