One of the main causes of a failed social strategy is prioritizing the wrong social media platforms. It’s an understandable mistake to make—social media is fickle, and staying on top of the new channels, trends, and current best practices takes a lot of time and dedication.

That whole “takes a lot of time and dedication” thing doesn’t resonate with business owners who have a to-do list longer than a line at the DMV. So, I’m never surprised when one of the first things they ask during a consultation is, “which social media platform should my business be on?”

Tricky question, and since you’re reading this, you’ve had the exact same one. I’ll tell you this: Before I give our clients any sort of recommendation I always need to know—and so should you—three key things:

  1. Are you B2C, B2B, or both?
  2. What’s your target audience?
  3. What’s your overall goal?

That’s what you really need to focus on. If you know the answers to those three questions, it’s relatively easy to pare it down to a solid two to three platforms to dedicate your time to.  (Side note—Yes, a solid two or three; no more. Unless you have a giant team to manage them all, do not try to be on too many social media channels. They each take time, and you won’t see results unless you put in the man-hours.)

By now you know that social media marketing matters for your business. Great work—you’re already miles ahead of other CEOs. However, there are dozens of niche social media platforms (like Nextdoor and MeetUp). To save you time and help you prioritize, I’ve broken down (and only included) the five best social media platforms for marketing, including their main audiences and top industries for the channel:

  1. Facebook
  2. Twitter
  3. Instagram
  4. LinkedIn
  5. Pinterest

After you’ve answered the three questions above and matched your answers with the top platforms, you’re well on your way to a successful social media marketing strategy.

Which Social Media Platform Should Your Business Be On? Answer These Three Questions First

1.     ARE YOU B2B OR B2C?

Are you B2B or B2C? Because that changes things. Unfortunately, we’re not yet to the point where people go to social media sites when they want to buy things. There are exceptions—like looking for local goods on Facebook’s marketplace—but a general rule of thumb is that people on social media are at the very top of the sales funnel. What this means for you is that you might be targeting your ads and social media strategy for the wrong buyer’s stage. Unless your product can be an impulse buy, the likelihood of them traveling all the way down that funnel instead of scrolling to the next post in their feed is slim to none.

The best B2B social media strategies aim to gather leads and generate interest in your product. Do this by regularly blogging, creating lead magnets like case studies and e-books, and promoting your company on the best B2B platforms like LinkedIn.  

Be careful, however, because the dynamics of B2B buying have changed, and your target audience might be on other channels.

2.     WHO IS YOUR TARGET AUDIENCE? THESE 10 QUESTIONS WILL TELL YOU

Every once in a while, I’m served an ad that is blatantly ill-targeted. I’ve gotten bad ads for everything from jock straps (true story) to herbal supplements for overweight pregnant women (also true).

I’m a female, I’m not overweight, and I’m as likely to get pregnant as a new parent is to get away for the tropics on a whim.

Every time I’m served these types of ads, two thoughts run through my head:

  1. That business just wasted money on me.
  2. That business should fire whoever is in charge of their ads targeting

When you target the wrong audience, you’re wasting your money—no ifs, ands or buts.

Take out a piece of paper, right now. Write down the answers to the following 10 questions:

  1. Where is your audience located?
  2. What is the average age and gender of your target buyer?
  3. What’s their average income?
  4. Are they homeowners?
  5. What are their hobbies?
  6. What industry do they work in?
  7. Do they have kids?
  8. What challenges do they face, and what problems do they want to be solved?
  9. How do they get their information (are they tech-savvy or more traditional)?
  10. Which of all of the above are my top-paying and most loyal customers?

There. You’ve just profiled your average buyer.

Stuck? A handy—and simple—tool you can use to profile your target audience is Facebook’s Audience Insights.

3.     WHAT’S YOUR OVERALL SOCIAL MEDIA GOAL?

I once babysat a cousin of mine who had just discovered soccer. After two hours of chasing loose balls and narrowly avoiding broken windows, I made a deal that I’d keep playing with her until she made three goals. Three goals later, I made to go inside, and she stamped her foot and promptly told me,

“Yes, but THAT’S not the goal,” she said, gesturing to the net. “That is,” and she pointed off somewhere in the opposite direction.

As childish as it sounds, that’s actually how a lot of companies run their social media program. They’ll say, “shoot for the goal,” without telling you (or knowing) exactly where the goal is. Chances are, you’ll have the same results as I had with my cousin’s “three-goal” soccer game—disappointing at best.

One thing to keep in mind is that social media is a “see” platform, meaning people go there to see things, not do things. That makes it difficult for businesses with a long sales cycle to make sales straight from the platform.

The Top 5 Social Media Sites that Are Best for Businesses

FACEBOOK

BEST FOR: B2C, in some cases B2B

TOP INDUSTRIES: Fashion, Auto, E-commerce, Retail, Entertainment, Real Estate, Marketing, Sports, Health and Wellness, News and Information

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: Anywhere from 25 – 55+, both men and women

At the end of Q3 2017, there were over 2.07 billion monthly active Facebook users—1.37 billion of them log onto Facebook daily and are considered daily active users. The most common age demographic is age 25 to 34, at 29.7% of all users.

You need a Facebook presence. It doesn’t matter if that’s one of the main platforms you choose to market on, you need one.

Here’s why: Facebook is considered a local SEO signal, meaning search engines look at your business’ Facebook profile as an indicator when they spit out local search results.

best social media channels for marketing, facebook demographics

Facebook Statistics You Should Know:

  • Facebook users are 53% female and 47% male
  • An average Facebook user has 155 “friends”
  • 77% of college graduates are on Facebook.
  • 77% of adults in the US making over $75,000 a year are on Facebook
  • 88% of 18 – 29 year-olds are on Facebook.
  • 84% of 30 – 49 year-olds are on Facebook.
  • 72% of 50 – 64 year-olds are on Facebook.
  • 56% of online Seniors aged 65+ are on Facebook

Learn More About Facebook:

TWITTER

BEST FOR B2C, some B2B

TOP 10 INDUSTRIES: News and Information, Retail, E-commerce, Health and Wellness, Travel and Hospitality, Telecom, Finance, Fashion, Retail, Sports

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 18 – 29, both men and women

Twitter was on its way out the door until it got a Hail Mary pass from the 2016 election. Now it’s re-emerged as a hub for trends, news, and political rants, all in 280 characters or less.  Another thing it’s good for? Customer service. Whenever I—or anyone in my office—has an issue with a product or service, they Tweet the business. If your business has the right audience and a big element of customer service, I highly recommend making this a platform of choice.

Twitter (and social media as a whole) is becoming a central discovery hub for consumers, so it’s a great place to show off your expertise, products, and creativity.

best social media platforms for businesses, Twitter demographics

Twitter Statistics You Should Know :

  • 36% of 18 – 29 year-olds use Twitter.
  • 23% of 30 – 49 year-olds use Twitter.
  • 21% of 50 – 64 year-olds use Twitter.
  • 42% of Twitter users use the site daily.
  • 8% of US Companies use Twitter for marketing purposes.
  • 74% of Twitter users follow small businesses to get product updates.

Learn More About Twitter:

INSTAGRAM

BEST FOR: B2C

TOP 10 INDUSTRIES: Travel and Hospitality, Fashion, Health and Wellness, Arts and Crafts, Food and Beverage, E-commerce, Beauty, Photography, Auto, Event Planning

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 18 – 35, mostly women, but that’s shifting

Is Instagram the best social media platform for your business? If you’ve got a visual product the answer is yes. In the words of Ben Landers, “Instagram is all the stuff you like on Facebook and none of the crap you don’t like.”

Well said, Ben, and it really hits the nail on the head. Instagram is a photo app, where users upload and share images. While it may not seem like much, this social media platform packs a punch, especially with Millennials. If your business wants to capture this audience and has the ability to create high-impact images, by all means, you should make this platform a priority.

Instagram is owned by Facebook, so they have a lot of the same features and ad targeting options, which makes it a great option for brand awareness and engagement. Be careful, though; Instagrammers expect high-quality imagery that tells a story. Posting stock photos isn’t going to work. If you don’t have a visual product or access to quality photographs, try a different platform.

which social media channels should I use? Instagram demographics

Instagram Statistics You Should Know

  • 59% of 18 – 29-year-olds use Instagram
  • 33% of 30 – 49-year-olds use Instagram
  • 18% of 50 – 64-year-olds use Instagram

Learn More About Instagram:

PINTEREST

BEST FOR: B2C

TOP 10 INDUSTRIES: Retail, Health and Wellness, Travel and Hospitality, Fashion, E-commerce, Arts and Crafts, Food and Beverage, Beauty, Home and Garden, Event Planning

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 18 – 45, mostly women

Pinterest is a hobbyist’s paradise. Ask any woman who is planning a wedding or remodeling a house if they’re on Pinterest, and I guarantee they’ll show you a pinboard dedicated to that event. Even if they aren’t planning something, most people I know have a Pinterest account where they keep clippings of vacations they want to go on, items they’d like to buy one day, and new workout routines.

If your audience is on Pinterest and you have a visual product or offer services that have to do with visual planning—like home remodels, landscaping, event planning, etc.—then this is the platform for you.

social media channels definition for Pinterest marketing

Pinterest Statistics You Should Know

  • 36% of 18 – 29-year-olds use Pinterest.
  • 34% of 30 – 49-year-olds use Pinterest.
  • 28% of 50 – 64-year-olds use Pinterest.
  • 25% of Pinterest users use the site daily, and 31% use the site weekly.
  • 87% of pinners have purchased a product because of Pinterest.

Learn More About Pinterest:

LINKEDIN

BEST FOR: B2B, B2C employment

TOP 10 INDUSTRIES: Financial, Employment, Science and Technology, Legal, Manufacturing, Marketing, Education, Professional Services, Health and Wellness, IT

TARGET AGE AND GENDER: 25 – 45, both men and women

If you are B2B, the main social media channel your business should be on is LinkedIn. Why? Get this: four out of five LinkedIn members drive business decisions, and LinkedIn’s audience has 2x the buying power of the average web audience.

I love LinkedIn, and I’m considered a B2B buyer. I’m on LinkedIn more than Facebook and Instagram, and I’m willing to bet I’m not unique. More and more professionals my age and in Gen-Z are discovering the power of networking on LinkedIn, and that number’s only going to keep growing.

Which social media sites are best for business? B2B social media is LinkedIn

LinkedIn Statistics You Should Know

  • 49% of college graduates use LinkedIn.
  • 45% of adults making more than $75,000 per year are on LinkedIn.
  • 34% of 18 – 29-year-olds use LinkedIn.
  • 33% of 30 – 49-year-olds use Linkedin.
  • 24% of 50 – 64-year-olds use LinkedIn.

Learn More About LinkedIn:

Final Thought on Choosing a Social Media Channel for Marketing Your Business

Understanding which social media platform to use for what will not only save you time, it will help you get further down the path to your goals. However, that doesn’t mean you don’t have to spend a lot of time on it—the social channel’s definition is to be social. We always recommend you spend at least six hours per week on monitoring, posting, and responding alone (Insider tip: use a scheduling platform like Hootsuite to save you some time).  If you’re one of the 33 percent of CEOs that just plain don’t have time to strategize, engage in real-time, and schedule posts, we strongly recommend finding a partner (like Blue Corona) who can do it for you.

The article appeared on Bluecorona.com  

November 28, 2017By Betsy McLeod