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Which Social Media Platforms Are Right for Your Business?

Remember the painful days when “social networking” meant awkwardly pacing around a room trying to chit chat enough to eventually get a lead or two?

Things have certainly changed since then in our increasingly online world.

The internet has led to countless new marketing and networking possibilities — so much so that, for those unfamiliar with its inner workings, best practices and unique potential, social media can be an overwhelming frontier that scares them away before they get started.

When the first widespread platforms began gaining steam in the early 2000s, they became go-to destinations for early adopters to communicate and connect with friends and family.
Today, social media has evolved into a place for news, arts, entertainment, discovery, shopping and sharing. Social media has transformed from a niche, nerdy, “college kids and high schoolers only” thing into real and respected big business.

The majority of users are actually using social media mostly to consume and take in content rather than actively posting or sharing content of their own. But by no means does that mean they’re using the platforms any less.

We Are Social and Hootsuite’s latest Digital 2020 Report shows that more than half of the worldwide population are now active social media users. Other research says more than 95% of online adults ages 18-34 follow businesses on social networks, with more than 70% of consumers likely to recommend a brand to others if they have a positive social media experience with the organization.

So, where in the wide world of social media can you find your target market?

As you conduct customer research to learn more about your target audience a helpful inquiry would be which social media platforms they regularly engage with.

You aren’t expected to have a presence on each and every social media network — In fact, we wouldn’t recommend it. First, having a dormant and inactive social media account is unprofessional and looks worse than not having one at all.

Secondly, it’s critical that you’re seen specifically where your target audience is. Even if you haven’t done the research and aren’t positive where your customers spend their time online, knowing their age alone can offer some insight into their social media habits.

The great consumers who have fueled world economies for decades, Baby Boomers have experienced more drastic technological evolutions in their lifetime than they can keep up with. That can mean slow adoption of new trends, but help from children and grandchildren has encouraged Boomers to become more active online as a means of staying connected with friends and family.

Growing up educated and familiar with early computers, video games and the dawn of the internet, Gen Xers were open to the possibilities presented by social media but continued to value pre-social media relationships and the power of landline telephones. By the end of the decade, Gen Xers will outnumber their Baby Boomer predecessors.

When almost every home had a computer and internet connection growing up, Millennials were online for the explosive growth of digital-focused companies and commerce. They’re now the largest and most diverse generation (the last US census counted more than 83 million Millennials compared to 75.4 million Baby Boomers), making them harder for marketers to figure out as interests, habits and preferences vary wildly.

While still too young to have made major business impacts, Gen Z is the next great market of purchasers and consumers brands will want to reach. Social media, smartphones, streaming services and internet access are second nature to Gen Zers, making them much more likely to take to newer, emerging online platforms that their parents and previous generations haven’t yet discovered.

With those generational breakdowns in mind, here are some of the basic demographics, audiences and best business practices that can be expected across some of the internet’s most popular social media destinations:

Facebook

“Facebook” has become synonymous with “social media” to many. It’s the largest and was the first to garner such widespread use, making it the most important for marketers looking to connect with the general public.

Facebook

Daily Active Users:
1.73 Billion

Primary Audiences:
Gen X, Baby Boomers, Millennials

Business Best Practices:
B2C Advertising, General Brand Awareness

YouTube

YouTube's status as the undisputed king of online video can’t be ignored. Marketers are increasingly making video a priority — with good reason. Over 80% of consumer web traffic comes from videos, they’re easily shared and nearly 500 hours of new video are uploaded to YouTube every minute.

YouTube

Monthly Active Users:
2 Billion

Primary Audiences:
Millennials, Gen Z, Gen X

Business Best Practices:
B2C How-To Videos, Product Announcements & Reviews, News & Entertainment, Brand Awareness

Instagram

In addition to being the most visually stimulating of the major social media platforms, Instagram boasts the highest levels of dedicated user engagement, making it an attractive destination for marketers targeting the next (and largest) generation of consumers.

Instagram

Daily Active Users:
500 Million

Primary Audiences:
Gen Z, Younger Millennials

Business Best Practices:
Live Video, B2C Advertising, Brand Awareness

LinkedIn

For business-to-business marketers, LinkedIn leads the pack as the most effective platform for lead generation among fellow professionals. If you’re a small business owner, we’ve covered previously why you NEED to be on LinkedIn!

LinkedIn

Monthly Active Users:
310 Million

Primary Audiences:
Business Professionals, Gen X, Baby Boomers, Millennials

Business Best Practices:
B2B Relationships, Recruitment, Brand Awareness

Twitter

Users may be limited to 280 characters per tweet, but that hasn’t stopped the platform from flourishing with interactions between businesses and consumers. Its instant engagement and up-to-the-minute communication make it ideal for news and direct-to-consumer messaging.

Twitter

Daily Active Users:
152 Million

Primary Audiences:
Millennials, Gen Z

Business Best Practices:
Customer Service, Public Relations, Advertising, Brand Awareness

Pinterest

Curating visual content from the worlds of food, fashion, home décor, gardening and DIY projects has naturally blended Pinterest’s social media space with a retail commerce element and brands looking for high-profile influencers.

Pinterest

Monthly Active Users:
367 Million

Primary Audiences:
Older Millennials, Gen X, Younger Baby Boomers

Business Best Practices:
Visual Advertising, Influencer Inspiration, Product Announcements, Brand Awareness

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What Else & What’s Next?

If the relatively brief but storied history of social media has taught us anything, it’s that there’s always evolution in progress and the next big thing — whether it’s a flash in the pan or becomes an established mainstay — is either already here or just around the corner. And any platform that’s able to break through the noise, establish itself and build an audience of consumers should count on marketers pegging it for their next advertising opportunity.

So, where does your next digital and social media advertising opportunity lie? If you still aren’t sure which social media community is best for your brand or can help you connect with your business’s target audience, let’s talk.

At Collective Alternative, our social media specialists are experts at utilizing each platforms’ strengths to communicate with customers, cultivate engagement and generate new leads.

We’ve literally written the book (well, downloadable resources) on incorporating social media into businesses’ plans for navigating the COVID-19 pandemic. Download your free resources today or schedule a free strategy session to learn more about how we can make social media an empowered part of your custom marketing strategy.

*Statistic Sources: Statista, Pew Research, Hootsuite, We Are Social, Cisco, Tech Crunch, Social Media Today