As all businesses know, content counts. The kind of content you create, like website pages, blog posts, video content, and social media messages, can be a key part of how you market yourself to clients and customers. However, as many companies know, there are a lot of places on which to create or post content — and this leads to a lot of confusion surrounding where to publish, when, and why. Using too many platforms can create unnecessary complications, particularly when you’re still attempting to develop a marketing strategy that resonates.
Understanding the Social Media Landscape
As the world of social media continues to expand, so does the number of content platforms businesses have to consider. In fact, a typical American uses at least three of the eight major platforms. YouTube and Facebook are the largest across most demographics, with a market that reaches around 70% of adults. Instagram comes in third at 37%, followed by Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Twitter. However, demographics play a role here as well: Instagram and Snapchat, for example, are hugely popular among Millennials and Gen Z.
Due to the widespread exposure embracing multiple platforms can provide, many companies feel as though failing to take advantage of all of these opportunities means failing to appropriately reach every member of a target audience, but spreading content across every possible option can be a mistake. Unless your company has the benefit of a large content team and a large content budget, working to create original content for every platform out there can strain your strategy, putting too much energy in the wrong places and leaving inadequate resources to boost your presence in the right ones.
If you’re not sure which opportunities are right for you, a little due diligence can make a difference. This is what you need to know about the top platforms for content distribution.
Arguably the most popular platform across social media, Facebook has over 2.25 billion active users — around a quarter of the world population. A majority of users check their accounts daily and most users regularly use Messenger for communications. Unlike other platforms, the gender split for Facebook users is roughly equal, with 45% of women and 46% of men choosing to follow their friends and family members. Facebook’s best quality is possibly its ubiquitous appeal. Users can post anything, from photos to pictures to text.
As the oldest of the major social media platforms — Facebook launched in 2004 and opened to the public in 2006 — it’s not surprising that the demographics skew older. While around half of 13 to 17-year-olds have accounts, 81% of those 18 to 29 and 78% of those 30 to 49 have accounts, as well as 41% of adults 65 and older — a logical turn as Facebook’s rise to prominence came with the coming of age of the Millennial generation. Teen usage appears to be dropping, however, indicating that Facebook’s reign, at least with the younger crowd, is likely coming to an end. However, currently, it’s still a strong option to target across demographics.
When Facebook Works Best
Facebook is the largest social media platform with the widest reach, making it easy to contact just about anyone in one fell swoop. Videos, live videos, blog posts, and other forms of curated content succeed best, particularly when posts appear to be a natural part of a user’s news feed. For those who post videos on Facebook, it’s best to upload videos directly to Facebook rather than using a YouTube link; a YouTube link looks like any other link, while a Facebook video will play automatically as users scroll past. The Live feature isn’t as popular on Facebook as it is on Instagram, but can still be an effective way of sharing in-the-moment content.
Unlike Facebook, which allows for posts of all kinds, Instagram is specific to photos and videos with a minimal focus on text, which makes it a very particular sort of platform that won’t necessarily accommodate all business needs.
The site has around 1 billion monthly users, the majority of whom are between the ages of 13 and 29. With a younger focus, only 10% of those 65 and older use Instagram, while 72% of those 13 to 17 take part. 63% of adult visitors use the app or website on a daily basis and 76% of young adult users do as well, with 60% checking multiple times per day. Instagram does skew slightly more female; 39% of women and 30% of men are users.
When Instagram Works Best
As a very image-specific platform, Instagram heavily caters toward images, video, and live posts. Any image won’t succeed, however; aesthetic is of critical importance on Instagram. Photos should be high resolution and inspiring, creating content that is intended to inform and share. Even bland or less interesting topics need to be dressed up on Instagram. While this may feel limiting, brands that can find a creative way to spin their content can be very successful.
Twitter, which launched in 2006, is a wildly popular social media site that caters to 330 million active users. Unlike other social media platforms, Twitter has a strict character limit: posts, which can contain images and videos, can only accommodate a max of 280 characters, including spaces. This format lends itself to short thoughts and quips rather than long-form content or thoughtful posts of more than a few sentences. Unlike most other U.S.-based social media sites, 79% of Twitter users do not reside in the United States.
Compared to Facebook and Instagram, Twitter’s market is comparatively small. However, it is very popular in political circles and serves 40% of those between the ages of 18 and 29, as well as 32% of those 13 to 17 and 27% of those 30 to 40. Twitter is not a popular platform for seniors; only 8% of those over the age of 65 utilize the site. 42% of adults who do use Twitter check the site daily, ensuring that most users see their feeds on a regular basis and are likely to notice promoted posts.
When Twitter Works Best
Twitter is best for circulating information that already exists in other forms, like posting links to blog posts and news articles, sharing funny ideas, jokes, or gifs, and posting images and video content. Due to the size limitations on posts, information must be very brief. Some companies, like Wendy’s and Merriam-Webster, have allowed these caps to work for them, using Twitter as a way to incite humor and attract Millennials and other fans of quirky marketing methods.
Considered the only professional social media site, LinkedIn is a fantastic way to connect B2B companies and individuals for networking and employment. With 590 million registered users nationwide and a roughly even split between male and female users, LinkedIn is arguably the best place to find information about things like university education and career history — as opposed to favorite bands and superficial interests.
As a site that caters toward professionals seeking advancement and industry growth, LinkedIn is most popular among those aged 30 to 49, with 33% of this demographic making use of the site. 29% of those 18 to 29 use LinkedIn, as do 24% of those 50 to 64. As is to be expected, those aged 65 and older have a minimal presence. Due to its purpose, LinkedIn is primarily used by college graduates and those with a high household income. 50% of users have at least an undergraduate degree; in contrast, only 9% hold just a high school diploma.
When LinkedIn Works Best
LinkedIn is a professional platform, so content that is more educational or career-oriented in nature is the most successful here. Things like infographics, blog posts, and industry news will excel; for those who like to share data that may have an impact on future employment, there’s nowhere better than LinkedIn.
A virtual bulletin board of sorts, Pinterest is the smallest of the major social media platforms with 250 million total users. The site skews heavily female; 41% of women and just 16% of men make use of the features. Much like Twitter, a majority of users do not live within the U.S.
Pinterest is a platform with a younger demographic; 34% of users are between 18 and 29 and 34% of users are between 20 and 49. Due to the nature of the site — sharing images to public or private bulletin boards based on topic or theme — it’s popular for those who are planning weddings or collecting ideas for things like fitness or home decor.
When Pinterest Works Best
Like Instagram, Pinterest is a primarily visual platform. Long-form written content will not succeed here; instead, attractive or intriguing images that inspire sharing are the most successful. Things like infographics, innovative or unique products, and step-by-step instructions, like hair or beauty tutorials, get the most shares. Pinterest is extremely effective for selling products; 61% of pinners, the colloquial name for site users, made a purchase based on seeing an item on Pinterest.
A youth-focused platform that is best known for its ability to send messages that disappear within seconds, Snapchat trends the youngest of all major social media sites. While it is now possible to share content that does not automatically delete, the high level of secrecy within this platform made it a popular choice among college students upon release.
Today, Snapchat has 186 million daily users, most of whom are female: 31% of women are users, while 23% are men. The vast majority of users are young; the platform is used by 69% of those 13 to 17 and 68% of those 18 to 29. Just 3% of users are over the age of 65. 77% of those 18 to 29 check the app at least daily, with 68% checking in multiple times a day — a benefit for companies who want be sure their content is seen.
When Snapchat works
As a platform based primarily on youth and discretion, Snapchat is a great alternative for those who are selling to teens and young adults. Images and on-trend video clips are the most effective, providing a way for teens to stay connected without feeling as though they are on the receiving end of obvious ads.
Making the Right Choices
You understand the breakdown, but how do you make a choice?
Unfortunately, there’s no one strategy that works for everyone. The platform or platforms you choose will depend solely on the unique brand, goals, and message you want to communicate with your target demographic. When analyzing your options, keep these kinds of questions in mind:
- How old is your key market? Is your product for teens and preteens, or is your business focused on older adults? Is there any gender breakdown in who may use your services?
- What is the nature of your product or service? Can it be showcased best with text, images, or video?
- What is your budget for promoted or sponsored posts? Is it adequate for advertisements across platforms?
- Is your market local or national? If local, a site that allows for more specific targeting may be a benefit.
- Do you have user personas that can be matched to social media use?
- Do you sell products that can be showcased in photographic ads or services that may need text descriptions?
How your business operates and how you are best positioned to market yourself will have a significant effect on how you should approach marketing. For example, a teen clothing brand will likely see more progress on Snapchat and Instagram than Facebook and Pinterest, while a new line of green cleaning products is most likely to succeed on Facebook rather than Snapchat. It’s up to your marketing team to consider the available statistics and the most successful post types to come to a final determination.
It may be tempting to attempt to post on as many platforms as possible, but this usually isn’t the best strategy. Instead, it’s best to focus on what makes the most sense for your specific company. From the broad reach of Facebook to the more specific demographics of Snapchat, there’s a right fit for everyone. Not sure where to begin? Get in touch with RivalMind today to ensure you choose the ideal platforms for your company.