Social media is not completely “free”. While there’s no monetary cost, it can be a big investment of time. That means it’s important to pick the correct tool for your business. Before you start making accounts and posting, know how to pick the correct platform:
Facebook is the world’s second most popular website, right after Google. There were 1.94 billion active user accounts on Facebook, as of March 2017. There are more female users than male users (76 per cent female and 66 per cent male), and age 25 to 34 is the most common demographic (29.7 per cent of all users). Facebook’s busiest days are Tuesdays and Thursdays, and peak hours are between 1 to 3 pm. (Source: Zephoria)
The main draw of Facebook is the large user base. Even reaching a small percentage of Facebook users, such as 0.005 per cent, would mean 97,000 leads. Another advantage is that Facebook offers indirectly “curated” content. In other words, users see posts that their friends or family have liked. They are more likely to click on content, as they know it’s recommended by someone they trust. Facebook’s wall and messenger system also makes it easy to communicate with customers: they can leave posts on your wall, and you can respond directly. For example, say you post that you have 20 per cent discount. A customer can type on your wall, asking if it stacks with their membership discount. You could respond directly on the same page, and other users will also be able to see it.
On the Facebook news feed, newer posts come in at the top, while older posts are pushed to the bottom. On busy news days, your posts might be shoved all the way to the bottom. During major events (such as the World Cup, major political elections, or a big celebrity scandal), your content can be buried under the deluge of new posts. A second drawback is that, if you don’t have the time or manpower to manage your wall, you may send the wrong message. For example, if a customer posts an angry complaint or a question, and you leave it unanswered, it may imply that you don’t care (remember that everyone visiting the page will see it).
– Your product or service is aimed at women
– 25 to 34 encompasses your main demographic
– You have the time or manpower to monitor the Facebook wall, and hold conversations with the audience
– You have the capacity to post two or three times a day (you might also be reposting old content, as it gets pushed to the bottom of the news feed)
Twitter is meant for real time events, and allows you to quickly put out 140-word messages (you can also embed links to articles, videos, and other content). When you tweet, all your followers will receive it (and you in turn receive tweets from the customers you follow). Virality is achieved when a message is “retweeted” between a large network of users. Twitter had 328 million monthly active users as of Q1 2017. Sports made up 51 per cent of Twitter content at the time, and 35 per cent was news and politics. Only 14 per cent of the content was entertainment based. Twitter’s main reach is to the youth demographic, with 55 per cent of users being under 25. Gender information is not readily available.
A large, existing group of people have taken to following Twitter for discounts and promotions. If part of your marketing strategy involves “flash sales”, then Twitter is a good medium for holding your customers’ attention. Twitter, like Facebook, provides good facilities for immediate interaction and feedback. Some airlines, for example, respond immediately to complaints when customers tag them in a Twitter message.
Twitter is a major time commitment. While the messages are only 140 words long, the lifespan of the average tweet is two hours. Someone needs to be monitoring the Twitter account, and talking to customers regularly. Twitter is also text intensive; it is not the best medium for image-heavy content. The tight restriction (140 words) makes it hard to post about technical or complex topics. It’s often harder, not easier, to write posts with fewer words.
- Your product or service is sports related
- You have a lot of flash sales or surprise promotions
- You have the time to make multiple tweets throughout the day, many of which have to be responses to customers
- You can make useful, deep, or funny comments in 140 words
LinkedIn is more of a networking site for career professionals. Over time however, it has also become a tool for marketing. Due to its large network of executives and professionals, LinkedIn is the preferred social media platform for B2B marketing. As of 2014, LinkedIn has 300 million accounts (most of them professionals and executives) across 200 countries. While LinkedIn typically doesn’t generate as many views as the other platforms, it has a much higher conversion rate. That is, while a LinkedIn post reaches a smaller audience, more of that audience are likely to buy – LinkedIn is 277 per cent more effective than Twitter or Facebook in generating qualified leads (this is partly due to the targeted nature of LinkedIn; most of these posts are from B2B companies, speaking to industry-relevant professionals). LinkedIn is also noted for having an audience base with significant purchasing / decision making power. For example, 41 per cent of millionaires used LinkedIn on a fairly regular basis, and many active users are at the C-suite or director level.
Content on LinkedIn can be read by anyone, even if they are not connected to you. This is a big advantage of other social media sites, where your content may only be visible to people who have liked you, followed you, added you, etc. LinkedIn audiences spend an average of 17 minutes a day on the site, and they are accepting of long form content. This is useful for more in-depth information. For B2B content, where you may need to discuss the technicalities of a machine or service, LinkedIn is preferable to platforms like Twitter. (This article is an example of long form content). The biggest advantage is, again, access to a wide network of key decision makers and higher-earning professionals.
While B2C marketing does exist on LinkedIn, it’s just not the best platform for items like shampoos or t-shirts. It’s more time consuming to be connected to someone on LinkedIn than it is to ask for a Facebook like, or to get a Twitter / Instagram follower. You need to go through the process of sending them an introduction message, and it can take a while (up to six months or a year) before you amass a sizeable number of connections.
- You want to connect with key decision makers, rather than just “cold calling” the general online population
- You are more B2B than B2C
- You have a product or service that’s very technical
YouTube is the second most popular website next to Google. As of 2017, it has 1.5 billion monthly active users. Think with Google states that 6 out of 10 people now prefer YouTube content to live television, and that for mobile users YouTube now reaches more 18 to 49-year-olds than any television cable network. 38 per cent of YouTube users are female, 62 per cent are male. User demographic by age is as follows:
18-24 – 11%
25-34 – 23%
35-44 – 26%
45-54 – 16%
50-64 – 8%
65 or above – 3%
Unknown – 14%.
YouTube is the largest video sharing site in the world. Its main appeal is that it has the potential to garner even more views than television ads, at a fraction of the cost; it can be thought of as an “the world’s preferred channel”.
YouTube is owned by Google, so its videos tend to rank high on Google search. In addition, YouTube videos that trend or go viral are highlighted to the entire audience, regardless of whether they subscribe to your channel. Most of the advantages of YouTube are inherent to video itself. You can explain more complex topics without resorting to text. It is also less demanding on the audience than reading.
Making good YouTube videos is expensive. You need proper lighting and sound equipment, as well as scripting and actors; it’s not unusual for some YouTube videos to ultimately cost as much as a television ad (although they are cheaper in theory, as you don’t pay for air time). At present, YouTube is the preferred platform for businesses that need to educate their customers on product use. For example, if your product is self-assembling furniture, you might want to use a YouTube video as both a tutorial, and a promotional tool. YouTube content is high risk, high reward: It’s possible that your $5,000 production will go viral and net you thousands of customers, or it’s possible you’ll just waste $5,000 and two to three weeks of work. Apart from production, scripting a video is a difficult skill set to acquire; you may need the help of a professional. You will also need video editing software such as Final Cut Pro, and the expertise to go with it. One other drawback to YouTube is that some users won’t click videos, such as when viewing your content at the office or on the train. You may have to pair YouTube videos with other forms of content, such as by embedding a YouTube clip in an article.
- You have a sizeable enough budget for making videos.
- You have a new product or service, which the market is unfamiliar with (it’s preferable to show these in action, rather than describing them in words)
- You need to make tutorial videos on how to use your product or service, such as applying your line of cosmetics, or using your line of art supplies
Instagram is a photo and video sharing site, which is owned by Facebook. It has around 700 million active monthly users. As of 2016, the bulk of Instagram users (59 per cent) were aged between 18 and 29. In a recent Pew Research Centre survey 32 per cent of teenagers claimed Instagram to be the most important social media site. This means that alongside Twitter, Instagram is one of the most important social media platforms for engaging a young audience. About 38 per cent of all female internet users are estimated to use Instagram at some point, as opposed to 26 per cent of all male internet users (source: Omnicore). This makes Instagram ideal for targeting women, as it reaches nearly a third of the female Netizen population.
Regarding engagement (comments and responses), Instagram has 10 times the engagement of Facebook and Twitter. This makes Instagram ideal for companies that want fast, real-time responses to their products and services. Instagram is a visually heavy medium, which better suits some products than others. Food & beverage, cosmetics, interior design, apparel, and of course photography businesses tend to prefer Instagram as a showcase. Instagram is, again, an important engagement tool for the youth demographic.
Instagram is not suited to abstract, technical products, such as insurance or accountancy services. Making videos on Instagram has the same issues as YouTube – equipment, scripting, and use of time are all major factors. Another factor to note is the age demographic: Instagram users tend to be young, and on the look-out for things like models, dream vacation pictures, fast cars, and so forth. If your product is for an older crowd, you may not find it useful to spend time engaging this community for now (except for Food & Beverage, which is always relevant on Instagram).
- You run a Food & Beverage business. Pictures of food get significant attention on Instagram, and it is not almost mandatory to put up images of daily specials.
- You have a tangible, rather than abstract product
- You are marketing a lifestyle product, for a youth demographic
No time and no manpower? Here’s what to do next:
We hear you, going digital is a lot of work. No problem – contact one of our expert consultants at Synagie.com, and we’ll help you take the business online. We can handle everything from logistics to your payment portal, so you can stay focused on the major decisions.