Updated: May 17
Knowing where your target audience is spending time is how you decide which social media platforms to use. Match channels to achieve message penetration.
Social media is at the forefront of a company’s digital strategy today, it is the online tool employed to highlight and introduce a sales and marketing campaign, allowing the organisation to engage with, reach and target key audiences more effectively across multiple platforms.
Twitter is for sharing news
Twitter is used for sharing news and ideas and trending topics with a wide audience. If there’s an international disaster or any breaking news, Twitter is the place to go to find out more. I have tweeted an airline from within an airport to find out what’s happening with a delayed flight, including an associated hashtag in my tweet, and I get an answer pretty much immediately.
Twitter is still the dominant microblogging platform used by the media, by brands and by public relations’ professionals to share news, updates, event coverage, and so much more.
In April 2021, the CEO of Google Cloud put out a tweet that he had joined Twitter, taking the opportunity to announce a new partnership and the message sparked good engagement:
Twitter chats in 2021 are still popular and personally I have enjoyed, and learned from them during lockdown due to being able to spend time chatting with people all over the world in a friendly and safe space. The chats are at a scheduled time every week when audiences come together to discuss brand-related, industry and\or trending topics taking place in our communities. Twitter chats are wonderful for networking.
Twitter Spaces arrived in 2021, a platform for users to have live conversations, also at a scheduled time. A rival to Clubhouse?
Age demographics of Twitter users: Oberlo.com states that 63% of users is between 35 – 65 years and that the platform has 192 Million active users every day.
LinkedIn is the professional network
LinkedIn, owned by Microsoft, is the largest professional network on the internet. It started off as the ‘go to’ platform for recruitment but that has changed and today, it is first and foremost a place for professionals to network, share leads, ideas, and promote their brands. It is a dynamic social media platform that integrates many features that are commonly seen on other specific social media platforms such as Facebook – much to the chagrin of the more serious LinkedIn strategist – and Twitter.
LinkedIn is also an extremely important platform for a company page, from which to communicate its specialties, including messages about its key people and good news stories.
It is free to use, however many in sales and in business development roles will pay for a LinkedIn premium account, which provides monthly InMail credits allowing you to message anyone, even if that person isn’t a connection. It will also let you see who has viewed your profile. Furthermore, it is believed that the LinkedIn algorithm will favour those who pay by showing your content to a wider audience – but only if you are a consistent user of the platform and it can recognize you for that reason!
And then there is Sales Navigator, which provides deeper intelligence, including letting you track how recipients of your comms are engaging with it, giving you insights in real time. I have tested the Smart Links solution and am a fan.
Instagram is the visual space
The stats on Instagram, owned by Facebook, show that more people are using the platform compared to some other platforms, such as LinkedIn and that it has launched a ton of features to help businesses promote and sell directly from the app. Technology companies like SAP Accenture Tencent IBM ComputacenterUK have IG accounts, as do banks Bank of Ireland and telecommunication companies Vodafone.
Instagram, a photo and video sharing social networking service owned by Facebook, now has over one billion users and people spend an average of 30 minutes on the platform, primarily for visual content, such as images and video.
Now that Instagram is ten years old, it has become more of an established platform like Facebook or Twitter and became more popular in Western Europe in 2020 with a 17% growth, according to this HootSuite blog.
Facebook connects people with friends and family
Facebook is the biggest social networking site in the world now, but others emerging from other countries are rising in popularity among various age cohorts. According to Hubspot “Ultimately, Facebook’s purpose is to connect people with their friends and family. People use Facebook to share photos, videos, and general updates on their lives.”
Not only for friends, technology companies like to have a presence on Facebook: United VARs
Sproutsocial, in its 20 Facebook stats to guide your 2021 Facebook strategy says that “While Facebook users can be found at all ages, 72.8% are within the 18–44 years old range.” India, followed by the United States, is the biggest user of Facebook.
YouTube, owned by Alphabet (Google), is one of the dominant platforms and is the number #2 search engine behind Google. Many have gravitated to YouTube due to the power it has in creating content visually and to be able to share these stories and perspectives through video for the world to see.
It’s an interesting one because its use doesn’t drop off with age. Although women use the platform, the number of men who use YouTube is slightly higher. The top reasons people are on YouTube are for entertainment and to relax. Also, many people enjoy YouTube for its how-to videos. It’s the most popular social network among internet users in the U.K, with 80% of people reporting that they use the platform, surpassing even Facebook – source: Statista.
Clubhouse is not even a year old (June20) and is an invitation-only social networking, iPhone exclusive app, based on audio-chat. You can either initiate or listen to conversations and it’s described as part talkback radio because you can raise a virtual hand to join the conversation taking place on stage. The clubs take place in ‘rooms’ and the app grew significantly in popularity after Elon Musk was interviewed by the GOOD TIME club in January 2021.
It’s rapid popularity – particularly in the States and the UK – is down to users having the flexibility to either keep their conversation private or broadcast it among thousands of people, in real time. I have listened to Elon Musk, Bill Gates, Gary Vaynerchuk, Drake and James Sommerville (ex Coca Cola), and to the digital artist, Beeple, a couple of weeks before he sold his NFT (non-fungible token) for $69 Million.
The first conversation I listened to on Clubhouse was a group of Silicon Valley geeks who worked in robotics ‘back in the day’, marvelling at the development of AI (artificial intelligence) and its accessibility. Quite frankly, I felt privileged to be listening to them talking and reminiscing.
Pinterest is for millennial mums
Pinterest is a visual social media platform, of great interest to women in the 18-24 age range. It’s a fun and “sticky” platform—that is, people don’t simply pop in for a few minutes—they stay for much longer. Also of interest to marketers is that Pinterest users are there to buy, so it’s very good for ecommerce.
With Pinterest, you create boards organised by your own ideas, so it’s much easier to find things later. It’s also a great place to search for visual content. For example, if you want a green dress, but don’t know what kind, Pinterest’s guided search will narrow your search. Then you can “pin” that dress to a board and purchase it later, if you like.
According to HootSuite, the division between men and women is narrowing now, with 60% of its users female in 2021. I haven’t been on Pinterest in years, but when I was, I had fun.
Social Media user numbers
Social growth has accelerated significantly since the outbreak of Covid-19 and is not going to go away any day soon.
User numbers increased by more than 13% over the past year with nearly half a billion new users, taking the global user total to almost 4.2 billion by the start of 2021. On average, more than 1.3 million new users joined social media every day during 2020. Source: Datareportal.com
Where do you and your brand belong?
If you are unsure which social platforms your brand should target:
- start with asking who your target customer is and then look at where are they likely to consume content;
- think about what is required, relevant to the buyer’s challenges and interests, and decide where is best to share this content;
- and mapping the customer journey, look at the channels to best keep your brand’s key messaging top of mind. It may not be on social media.
For the purpose of this article I included the more established channels – as well as mention new audio apps – in the Western world and those with most traffic.
To conclude, social media provide a personalised, online networked hub of information, dialogue, and relationship management. These new communication technology tools allow individual users and organsations to engage with, reach, persuade and target key audiences more effectively across multiple platforms. [Freberg 2016] from the chapter social media for public relations in the Fifth Edition of Exploring Public Relations and Management Communication by Stephen Waddington and Ralph Tench.
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