You are probably aware that participating in social media sites like Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, has the potential to grow your business. However, with so many options, deciding which is the best social network for your business can be overwhelming.
In this article we are going to solve that problem, by figuring out which social networks your existing and potential clients are using, and why. Once you understand this, you can focus your attention on the 1 or 2 networks that will have the biggest impact on your business.
I’ll Cut Right To The Chase
Businesses that sell directly to consumers, should almost always start with Facebook. The majority of people that use the internet, also use Facebook.
Businesses that sell to other businesses, or business professionals, should almost always start with LinkedIn. Most white collar professionals are on LinkedIn, and they are there specifically to network and learn about other businesses.
The rest of this article explains why, and the times where you may also want to mix in a second network, to target a specific more focused demographic.
Social Network Summary
Who Uses It?
66% of internet users. Men and women all incomes and ages.
20% of internet users. Primarily White collar professionals.
16% of internet users. Young and educated audience.
12% of the internet, primarily younger women.
12% of the internet primarily younger than 30.
What do they use it for primarily?
Keeping in touch with friends and family. Sharing interesting and entertaining content.
For business networking, and as an online resume and rolodex.
Sharing/reading links to news articles and other content, opinions, reactions to live events, personal messages
Keeping track of images they have found that are related to a specific topic or project.
Sharing their original photos and videos with friends and followers.
What types of businesses succeed there?
Local businesses and large business to consumer businesses.
Businesses that sell to other businesses and business professionals.
Big brands, Businesses with a young tech savvy customer base.
Businesses that sell to a younger female audience and whose products are represented well visually.
Businesses targeting young consumers.
How do businesses use it?
Small businesses use to connect with clients in their local community. Big businesses use it to build their brand amoung individual consumers and seem more “human”.
Business networking, getting warm intro’s to cold leads, participating in industry specific groups to showcase expertise, figuring out who you need to speak to at a specific business.
To interact directly with their client base by providing useful/interesting content, answer questions, and responding to compliments and complaints.
To create boards with images of their products as well as images that fit within the theme of their business.
To communicate with their existing and potential customers in a visual way.
Example of a successful business
Check your network for those sharing updates and participating in groups.
Social Networks In Detail
Who Uses Facebook?
When facebook first came out it was restricted to college students. What a difference a few years make. Now almost everyone that spends any time on the internet has a Facebook account.
Here is a breakdown from a recent Pew study, which gives more detail on just how broad Facebook’s reach is:
What People Use Facebook For
First and foremost, people use Facebook to keep up to date on the happenings with their friends and family. Because people are connecting with friends and family on Facebook, it’s a “casual network”. This is in contrast to LinkedIn (discussed below), where people go to connect with other businesspeople.
People share pictures from their lives, post status updates on how they feel about this or that topic, and share interesting, useful or entertaining content they find on Facebook and elsewhere.
How Businesses Use Facebook
By setting up a Facebook page, small businesses can have a presence on Facebook where they can share photos, status updates, and messages. When people “like” your page, they become your “Facebook Fan”.
While you can market on Facebook, you need to develop a causal relationship with your fans first. To do this, most Facebook experts recommend following the 80/20 rule. Spend 80% of your time on Facebook posting entertaining, useful, or otherwise interesting content. Once your fans begin to interact with your content, then you can start sprinkling in sales messages as well for the other 20%.
Types of Businesses Facebook Works For
Since Facebook is a causal network, businesses that want to build a relationship with consumers in their local market, and those that cater directly to consumers.
Who Uses Twitter
In comparison to Facebook, Twitter has a much smaller user base that is generally younger and more educated.
What People Use Twitter For
People use Twitter as a way to share pictures and 140 character messages with their friends and followers. People share opinions, reactions to live events, personal messages, and links to news articles and other content.
Because tweets are limited to 140 characters, you can keep up with a wide variety of topics on twitter. I personally follow hundreds of people on twitter, and it’s a great way to keep up with the small business space.
How Businesses Use Twitter
One of the best things about twitter is that you can “talk” to anyone that has a twitter account. Whenever someone includes your twitter handle in a tweet (for me that would be @davidwaring) you are sent an alert from twitter.
Most big brands are on twitter so that when someone compliments, complains, or asks a question about their company, they are right there to answer. If you are in a business that needs to be in with tech savvy users or journalists, twitter is also a great way to interact with those people.
Types of Businesses Twitter Works For
Twitter works best for big brands and companies that focus on tech savvy users. If you are a local brick and mortar business, then Twitter is likely not the social network that is going to get you the most bang for your buck. The user base is too diverse and not big enough.
Who Uses LinkedIn
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, which aim to serve the general population, LinkedIn is aimed exclusively at professionals. As a result, LinkedIn’s user base consists mainly of people in their twenties and above, with average annual incomes higher than $30,000.
What People Use LinkedIn For
LinkedIn is one part online resume builder, one part global networking event, one part online forum, and one part online Rolodex. People use LinkedIn to market themselves to prospective employers, headhunt employees, demonstrate their skills and expertise, build professional relationships, and communicate with people in their industry.
How Businesses Use LinkedIn
LinkedIn is awesome for connecting with business professionals directly. Once you have connected with someone on LinkedIn, messages that you send them show up in their email. This makes LinkedIn a great way build stronger relationships with potential clients and people that you “sorta know” from the industry.
LinkedIn also allows you to see who the people that you are connected to are connected to. This makes it a great way to see who you and your target customer know in common, and to get warm introductions to cold leads.
There are many industry specific groups on LinkedIn. People go there to ask and answer questions, and share industry information. This can be a great place to showcase your domain expertise, and find customers who are directly interested in your product or service. If you start a LinkedIn group then you also have the ability to email everyone that is in your group.
Because most white collar professionals are on LinkedIn, it is also awesome for recruiting and hiring.
Types of Businesses LinkedIn Works For
LinkedIn should be the first network Businesses that sell to other businesses and business professionals focus on.
Who Uses Pinterest
Unlike other social networks, which have a fairly even balance between male and female users, Pinterest is predominantly used by women. Even amongst women, young women are the most likely to use the service regularly.
What People Use Pinterest For
Pinterest is a very visual social network that is based around sharing high-quality pictures. Most users “pin” and “repin” pictures that others create, rather than storing and sharing their own content. Users often create “boards”, which are groups of images around a specific theme.
As an example, if someone was planning on remodeling their kitchen, they may create a kitchen remodeling board. As they searched for things like their new sink, counters, and cabinets, they would “pin” pictures from around the web of examples they like.
How Businesses Use Pinterest
Businesses use Pinterest to share pictures of their products and services directly, and to curate photos that are related to their business. This can help you establish yourself as an authority in the field, and encourage people to come to your Pinterest board for inspiration and advice.
As an example, if you made wedding dresses, you might have a board that has your wedding dresses. Included in that board or as a separate board you might also have pictures of famous brides wearing different dresses that you did not make.
Types of Businesses Pinterest Works For
Pinterest works best for products and services geared towards young women. Pinterest is also best suited to businesses that can take advantage of the visual impact of Pinterest, by highlighting their products or services in photos.
Who Uses Instagram
Instagram is a photo sharing social network that is extremely popular with young people. As the Pew study found, people under 29 are more than 4 times more likely to use Instagram than those 30 and above.
What People Use Instagram For
People primarily use Instagram on their phones, to share original photos and videos with their friends and followers. You can share these photos directly through the Instagram app, or post them on Facebook, Twitter, or a number of other social networks. In addition to posting their own photos, people also use Instagram to view an updating stream of photos and videos posted by the people they follow.
How Businesses Use Instagram
Businesses use Instagram to communicate with their followers in a visual way, much like Pinterest. Unlike Pinterest, however, Instagram users are generally not organizing images around a specific theme.
In addition to posting pictures of their products and services, businesses will use Instagram to show their company culture. They do this by posting pictures of employees, events, and office space.
Because Instagram automatically integrates with Twitter and Facebook, it can be a great add-on network. Instead of posting pictures directly to Facebook or Twitter, post them to Instagram, and have them feed into your twitter and/or Facebook accounts.
Types of Businesses Instagram Works For
Instagram works best for businesses targeting young consumers.
The Bottom Line
You should now have a good overview of the top 5 social networks for marketing your business. If you sell to individual client’s start with Facebook. If your client base is made up of a lot of young people, then also consider adding Instagram. If your products or services are primarily for women the consider adding Pinterest.
If your products are targeted to businesses and/or business professionals, then focus on LinkedIn.
Now that you know which social network you want to focus on, it’s time to learn how to get the most out of it. If you have decided to start with Facebook then we have a complete series of articles on how to market your business on Facebook starting here.
Next monday we will be starting a similar series of articles on LinkedIn marketing so stay tuned for that.
FREE Facebook Advertising Guide! Click Here to start advertising today in less than 1 hour with these 6 steps