These days, it’s common knowledge that Social Media can be a great way to grow your business. But the sheer number of social media platforms can leave business owners and even marketing professionals feeling overwhelmed. “If we a have a Facebook page,” you think, “we’ll also need a Twitter account. And a lot of successful people post vlogs of themselves, so we’ll need a YouTube account as well— but wait, so many kids are using Snapchat now, we’ll need to start putting out shorter videos twice a day” ….and just when you get all that going and are barely hanging on, you realize that your competitor is gaining loyal customers from Instagram while you’re one tweet away from a stroke.
Maybe it sounds exaggerated, but this exact same drama is playing out within countless companies all over the world. What’s the way out of “tactical marketing hell” as Ramit Sethi once called it?
It Starts with Knowing Who Your Customers Are
The solution to high ROI with social media marketing is rooted in understanding who your customers are. Assembling a well-designed Buyer Persona is not limited to identifying and understanding your ideal customer’s needs, wants, hopes and fears. You must also determine their preferences, habits, and how they spend their time. This includes what social media platforms they use, and how frequently.
A well-researched Buyer Persona is the foundation of any successful marketing effort. If you haven’t already done so, check out our guide to building a Buyer Persona and download our free persona template now.
Having said all that, you came here for answers, so let’s go through an honest comparison of some of the more popular social media platforms and see which ones will offer you the maximum ROI.
With 2 billion+ users, it’s the biggest social media platform in the world. There are numerous ways to take advantage of Facebook, ranging from a simple fan page which can act as your “home base” on the platform, to paid advertising options which allow you to research who your customers are, and target ads with an incredible level of precision and specificity.
While some people still think social media is mainly for young people, that’s not the case with Facebook. As of 2017, 78% of Facebook users in the United States were over 25 years old, with the 25-54 age-range making up 61%.
Facebook offers an advantage over other platforms in the sense that it is a “full service” social media platform. Facebook acts as a second website for your company, an advertising platform, and a customer service/engagement tool all at once, allowing you to promote your business and interact directly with your customers, even in real time.
Bottom line: If you only have one social media account, Facebook is probably the best place to start. It’s easy to set up, easy to use, and given how many people are using it coupled with the sheer variety of things it can do, it’s a great idea to set up a page to steer people toward your site.
Whether you’re a savvy marketer or an industry thought leader who likes to speak directly to your customers, Twitter is still the medium of choice for quickly blasting out concise messages and sharing your thoughts with the world in a stream-of-consciousness manner. But is it a good fit for your business? Let’s see what the data says.
- 51% of active users follow brands and companies they like
- 90% of those active users do so in order to get a heads-up on discounts and promos— if you’re already doing this, Twitter is an excellent way to expand your reach even further
- Each month about 313 million active users are on Twitter, the majority in the United States
- User base divides pretty evenly between males (47%) and females (53%)
- Majority of users around the world (74%) are 15-25 years old
Bottom line: Twitter is ideal for engaging with your audience, promoting brands and new products, as well as discounts, contests, limited-time promotions and sharing company news in a rapid, up-to-the-minute way.
The world’s most popular video-sharing service (and second largest search engine after Google) is also an excellent marketing tool. The fact is that video is an incredibly effective way to communicate and build trust and credibility with your target audience.
A case can be made that video is, some ways, the most effective marketing medium there is. Why? Because it most closely simulates interacting in real life and speaking directly to a customer. Video allows for nonverbal communication such as body language, as well as the aspects of verbal communication like tone, which can be more challenging to convey by text. Everything from copy to images and infographics, to music and the spoken word, are combined to form videos. Because it is both visual and auditory, people can absorb information better through this multi-channel communication method than almost any other medium.
Videos are also excellent for producing viral content: video shared over social media generates 1200% more shares than images and text combined. Videos are also a fantastic way to demonstrate your expertise in an industry and why your products are better than your competitors.
If you’re going to embrace video, YouTube is unquestionably the best place to start. The majority of 18-34-year-olds prefer watching YouTube to cable television, and it’s perfect for sharing vlogs (video blogs) and other useful, informational content on your other social media accounts. Some 90% of online shoppers report finding videos useful in helping them make purchasing decisions. (Source)
Bottom line: Remember— most people are looking for answers to a question or solutions to a problem when they search online. Many people are visual learners and look for a quick video to explain what they want to know. YouTube can be an excellent way to provide that content to your target market and redirect them toward your site where you can continue guiding them through their Buyer’s Journey. While highly produced videos can be expensive and time-consuming to make, it may be worth incorporating them into your larger Inbound Marketing strategy.
Instagram is ideal for sharing images and short videos that will appeal to very targeted niches and position your company as an influencer in that niche. With 600 million users, Instagram has a comparable user base to Twitter, but it is also different in several ways:
- Most Instagram users are between 18-29 years old
- 80% of users are outside the US (whereas Twitter is very US-dominated). Despite this, 70.7% of US businesses used Instagram for the first time 2017
- As of March 2017, over 120 million users have visited a website or contacted a company based on an Instagram ad
- 50% of users follow one or more companies on Instagram, and 60% have used it to learn more about a product or service (Source)
Bottom line: Instagram is perfect for targeting young markets with visual content that builds brand awareness and distinguishes you from the competition. Oh, and in case you were thinking about Snapchat— you may want to reconsider. While Snapchat still has a large Gen Z user base, Instagram has been devouring its market share thanks to the new Instagram Stories feature. Snapchat use among top influencers is down 33% according to Hubspot, and many of them have opted for Instagram instead.
This is an interesting one. Pinterest functions as a sort of online bulletin board which allows you to “pin” visual content that interests you or your audience. This platform sits on the opposite end of the “bells and whistles” spectrum from Facebook; it is inherently simple. It’s designed only for collecting and sharing content rather than creating it— and it works.
One thing that distinguishes Pinterest from other platforms is that its users are overwhelmingly female (80%)— although this is slowly changing.
Here are some other eye-popping stats:
- 150 million active users monthly (70 million in the US)
- Two-thirds of content on Pinterest is related to a brand or product
- 87% of users have purchased something they’ve seen on Pinterest
- Users are 36% Millennials, 34% Gen Xers, and 18%, Boomers
- 80% of Millennials claim that Pinterest helps guide their purchasing decisions
- Majority of users are in Urban or Suburban areas
Bottom line: Pinterest is best for posting compelling visual content that displays your brand and directs traffic toward your website. If women make up your target market (especially younger women), this is one to consider.
The most “professional” of all social media platforms (no silly cat videos here). Previously designed as a networking tool for job seekers, it is now common for businesses to create dedicated profiles as well. Similar to Facebook, LinkedIn allows you to share video, images, and written content. It also enables users to start their own LinkedIn blog associated with their profile.
- 467 million users, with 106 million active users each month (Source)
- LinkedIn is perfect for displaying industry expertise and B2B lead generation
- 61% of users are 30-64 years old
- 94% of B2B marketers make use of LinkedIn for content distribution (Source)
- A great tool for job postings and locating great candidates
Bottom line: LinkedIn has a more serious and professional atmosphere than other platforms, so it’s perfect for those who know that their customers are more interested in competence, data, and facts than flashy marketing. B2B marketers are strongly encouraged to look into LinkedIn.
While there are certainly other platforms we can explore, this should give you a basic sense of where your social media efforts will get you the most results. As always, success comes down to understanding your Personas and their behaviors, as well as a willingness to experiment. Check out our free Social Prospecting Workbook, full of easy to understand tips on leveraging the power of social media to grow your business.