Social media is an excellent and effective business tool. It gives any business the opportunity to expand its reach and engage with customers without costing a dime. However, effective social media will require some planning and strategizing.
The first step to a successful social media strategy is choosing the right platform for your business. Do not stretch yourself thin trying to be on all the platforms all the time. Start with one solid platform that will provide the best return on investment for your company. Let’s discuss the most popular social media platforms for you to make an informed decision about which platform is best for your business.
Eight social media platforms dominate the interwebs: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Youtube, Snapchat, TikTok. Each platform offers its own way to connect with your audience.
My favorite social media graphic explains it best:
As you can see, each platform is social, but how they socialize varies because of their audience and delivery style. Below are simplified breakdowns of each platform, including its usage, purpose, posting style, and target audience.
Social Media Platforms Overview
Facebook is the most widely used social media platform in the world, with over 2.8 billion monthly active users. It is a great platform for businesses of all sizes, allowing you to connect with customers, share content, and create a community around your brand. Facebook’s advertising platform is also one of the most sophisticated, allowing you to target specific demographics and interests.
Instagram is a visual-based social media platform, with over 1 billion monthly active users. It is particularly popular among younger demographics and is known for its visual storytelling. Instagram is ideal for businesses that sell products or services that are visually appealing, such as fashion, food, and travel. Instagram’s advertising platform is also very sophisticated, allowing you to target specific demographics, interests, and behaviors.
Twitter is another popular social media platform, with over 330 million monthly active users. It is known for its real-time, short-form content, which makes it ideal for sharing updates, news, and customer service information. Twitter’s advertising platform is also robust, allowing you to target specific demographics, interests, and keywords.
LinkedIn is a professional networking platform, with over 740 million monthly active users. It is ideal for businesses that want to connect with other professionals, recruit new employees, and share industry-specific content. LinkedIn’s advertising platform is also very sophisticated, allowing you to target specific job titles, industries, and companies.
Pinterest is a visual-based social media platform, with over 400 million monthly active users. It is ideal for businesses that sell products or services that are visually appealing, such as home decor, fashion, and food. Pinterest’s advertising platform is also sophisticated, allowing you to target specific demographics, interests, and keywords.
YouTube is the world’s largest video-sharing platform, with over 2 billion monthly active users. It is ideal for businesses that want to share video content, such as product demos, behind-the-scenes footage, and customer testimonials. YouTube’s advertising platform is also robust, allowing you to target specific demographics, interests, and keywords.
Snapchat is a visual-based social media platform, with over 230 million monthly active users. It is particularly popular among younger demographics and is known for its ephemeral content. Snapchat is ideal for businesses that want to connect with younger customers and share behind-the-scenes content. Snapchat’s advertising platform is also sophisticated, allowing you to target specific demographics, interests, and behaviors.
TikTok is a visual-based social media platform, with over 1 billion monthly active users. It is particularly popular among younger demographics and is known for its short-form videos. TikTok is ideal for businesses that want to connect with younger customers and share creative, engaging content. TikTok’s advertising platform is also sophisticated, allowing you to target specific demographics, interests, and behaviors.
Now that you have a better understanding of each platform and its offering let’s consider four different factors to help you choose which social site is the right one for you.
Start small and focus on one platform. Depending on the size of your business, you will likely use more than one. As a new or small business, it is better to devote your time and energy to maintaining one healthy social media platform rather than spreading yourself thin across multiple outlets.
If you still need help deciding which platform is best for you, review our top four deciding factors that will guide you through your choice.
1. Type of Business
Your product or service is the most important factor. Consider your industry and whether your business is based on visuals. This would be industries such as bakeries, hair salons, beauty, fashion, interior design, and handcrafted items.
Instagram, Pinterest, and Youtube are the perfect place for highly curated aesthetics and professional imagery. If you want to advertise a photography business, an interior design company, or a clothing line, Instagram would be the perfect starting point.
Maybe your business relies on written content and professional connections. LinkedIn is the perfect spot to connect with like-minded business professionals and share deeper content.
Your business could benefit from long visuals like YouTube, which allows users to post longer content to share more information. Youtube is great for building customer loyalty and providing industry expert knowledge to your customers. Video is a great way to connect to consumers dynamically and more personally. Maybe you have a cosmetics company or home remodeling business. YouTube is the perfect platform for “how-to”s and behind-the-scenes content.
2. Size of the Platform
Another consideration is the size and reach of the social media platform itself. All eight options are popular sites, but they do have size and reach differences.
In 2022, Facebook held a commanding lead, followed by YouTube, Instagram, Twitter, then LinkedIn. To give you an idea of the audience, Facebook boasts 2.9 billion monthly active users with YouTube close behind. By comparison, Twitter has 44 million monthly active users. All five platforms hold a large audience, but the differences are still something to consider.
The frequence of posting as well as the algorithm affects each platform differently. Instagram is a platform that provides a “feed” type platform that pulls up images as they occur by accounts you chose to follow. Facebook on the other hand, content disappears more quickly due to the consolidation of groups, business pages, personal content, and ads, so businesses are in a more competitive space.
With larger platforms, you have to fight for space more often and with more competitors. Especially on platforms like Facebook or TikTok which has a quickly revolving feeds.
3. Desired social media persona
Consider the way you want your business perceived and how each platform can help you with building this reputation among its audience. For example, LinkedIn is the ideal starting point for smart sophistication and professional demeanor.
However, if you want to have the choice of image and be able to mold your look and connect more personally to your customers, Instagram is the better choice.
If your image is more fluid and down to earth, TikTok is the fun and authentic platform for you. It is designed to capture quick connections and build a following with videos ranging from entertainment to educational.
Twitter is known for quick updates and constant monitoring of the news, current events, and trending information. YouTube is also more personal and can be as professional as you decide. Youtube is also a great platform for almost any business but does involve more time invested into building long-form content, editing, and posting. Your image is versatile and you will find almost ever industry and brand on Youtube.
Map out your intentions for your business’s social media and how you want to be perceived: this will guide your search.
4. Target Audience
Each platform is tailored toward specific demographics and audiences. Although you will see an overlap in viewers who use more than one platform, most people lean heavily towards one social profile.
Instagram and YouTube are known for their younger audience, while Facebook and LinkedIn captivate a more mature audience. All platforms reach across countries and cultures, but Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube are known specifically for their diverse audience.
You should also consider the interests and professions of each audience. Instagram is up to date on trends and has a large group of influencers. Instagram users range across most businesses and professions. Other platforms are more specialized such as LinkedIn, which caters to professional business owners and employers. The atmosphere of LinkedIn is more serious and intellectual than the standard social media platform.
Each social media platform has a clear outline for its purpose, style, target audience, and its reach. Do your research and analyze which platforms will be a tool to help promote your business in the way you want it promoted. I always recommend creating a profile on Instagram and Facebook (at the minimum) to show business relevance. A clear vision for your business’s social media will often lead you to the right platform.