Social media marketing is an indispensable marketing tool today. According to a 2015 survey by the CMO Council, social media marketing budgets for brands are expected to more than double in the next five years; from 10% of the overall marketing budget, it is expected to increase to 21.4% by 2020. Pumping money into social media is one thing, but brands are obviously concerned about the return on their investment. Keeping this in mind, it is better to focus on certain social networks rather than adopting a ‘spray-and-pray’ approach. Choosing the right social network for your brand will depend on your budget, the nature of your product, your ideal buyer personas and the marketing strategy you employ.
- User Base: The undisputed king of social networks, Facebook has a monthly active user base of 1.49 billion (as of Q2 2015). But its massive user base can also be a limiting factor in your brand’s growth – more users mean there is greater competition for each user’s attention.
- Demographics: Facebook has the widest demographic net in comparison to any other social network. 70% of all online adults are regular users (66% male and 76% female); usage among 18-49 age groups is nearly 80% and a very respectable 60% in the 50-64 age group. 71% of high-schoolers, 75% of college students and 68% of working professionals use Facebook at least once a month. The upshot to all this is straightforward – whatever your target audience is, it is extremely likely that you can find them on Facebook.
- Engagement: Just because your audience may be on Facebook, doesn’t mean you will reach them. Because of the overcrowded Facebook Newsfeed and changes to its algorithms, it is possible that even if a person ‘likes’ your brand’s page, they may never see your updates in their feed. Therefore, to really grab eyeballs on Facebook you need to buy ads and force your way into the Newsfeed, something that can put a strain on your budget.
In summary, if the massive competition and paying for ads doesn’t bother you, Facebook is an easy choice. Apart from marketing your brand, you can also build relationships and conduct meaningful interactions with your customers.
- User Base: After startling growth in its first few years, Twitter’s user base has reached something of a plateau in recent times. Still, it is one of the most popular networks worldwide with 304 million monthly active users (as of Q2 2015). Its bustling population means that your tweets may get drowned in the traffic; hence it is important to tweet multiple times a day.
- Demographics: While Twitter’s user base comprises only 18% of all online adults, its popularity with the 18-29 age group is impressive (31%). Twitter is generally considered to be the stronghold of young, information-hungry users that are comfortable with the fast-paced nature of Twitter interactions. If your product appeals to such an audience, Twitter is a great place to interact with them.
- Engagement: Unlike Facebook, every tweet you send out will reach your followers, allowing you to share updates, information and breaking news with them in real time. It is also possible to boost your engagement by signing up for Twitter’s Promoted Tweets program, by which you can target people that aren’t your followers.
Twitter’s lightning fast world is ideal for brands that are looking to connect with younger audiences and can share useful information in 140-character bursts.
- User Base: The distinguished gentleman to Twitter’s rowdy adolescent, LinkedIn’s user base has been steadily climbing since its inception and now stands at a very respectable 380 million.
- Demographics: Although only 22% of all online adults are on LinkedIn, it especially caters to a large section of the working population with nearly 40% of them being active users. This, along with its popularity among high-income individuals, lends credibility to its claim of being the social network for working professionals.
- Engagement: LinkedIn’s audience is serious and it reflects in the interactions they carry out on the site. LinkedIn users crave valuable business insights, information about jobs and building connections within their industries. Targeting a niche audience on LinkedIn is much easier as users are generally looking for specialized information in their respective fields.
LinkedIn is ideal for B2B companies that can provide industry-specific knowledge to a large base of working professionals.
- User Base: The most popular photo-sharing social network boasts of nearly 300 million active users (as of December 2014).
- Demographics: Although comprising only 17% of all online adults, Instagram is extremely popular with young users, with 37% of 18-29 year olds being regular users.
- Engagement: Instagram is the perfect platform for brands that have the capacity to share unique visual content. With the right use of hashtags and by pairing up with Twitter, Instagram can help your brand dazzle your target audience with sumptuous picture and video content.
Perfect for food, fashion and luxury brands, Instagram has a highly-engaged young, urban user base that relishes multimedia content.
- User Base: The number of Google+ users is a contentious question with estimates varying from 300-500 million active users. Despite its large user base, competition is fairly low, making it lucrative to certain brands.
- Demographics: Similar to LinkedIn, Google+’s user base comprises mostly working professionals (specifically in engineering, software and design) who are on the lookout for industry trends, insight and information. Google+ is also the most male-dominated social network; nearly 70% of the site’s active users are men.
- Engagement: Besides the lack of competition, being active on Google+ also boosts your brand’s SEO; this can amply increase the traffic to your brand’s website. With the right use of hashtags, information-rich content can find its way to the users.
Google+ is good for B2B companies that already have a marked presence on LinkedIn as it caters to a similar audience.
Based on these parameters, it should be possible for you to decide which social network will benefit your brand the most. A concentrated, focused approach to social media marketing is the key to a great return on your investment.
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