Make sure you tie this in with our blog on how often you need to post on social media
What’s the best social media platform for small business, micro business and startups?
One of the biggest problems small businesses, micro businesses and startups have with social media is spreading their resources too thinly. People set branded accounts on several social media platforms and try and cover all bases, but end up failing at getting results on any at all because their efforts aren’t targeted. If you are a one or two person business where social media is a small fraction of your job role, it’s a much better strategy to concentrate all your efforts on one or two platforms that best reflect what your brand is about and build up a following there.
So which ones should you choose? I’ll run down the pros and cons of picking a particular platform over another.
the demographics of facebook users are much more uniformly spread across age ranges than other social media
Audience: 30 million users in the UK across all demographics.
What that Audience Consumes: Facebook loves content for the ‘heart’. People go to Facebook to be entertained and moved by things that make them cry, inspire them, or make them laugh. Images, video, and things that people really relate to on an identity level (e.g. a post on ‘ten things only people who went to school in Norwich in the 80s will remember’) do well on Facebook. If you and your brand can’t produce content that does that, you’re better off sticking with another platform.
Pros: Facebook is ignored at its peril for one simple reason – sheer weight of numbers. Facebook has around 30 million users in the UK alone (about 50% of the population) and claims to have 1.5 billion users worldwide. This means it is at least twice as big as its nearest social media rivals. It also attracts a full range of ages and genders.
Cons: Facebook has made it harder and harder to cut through for free, to the point now where it is basically a ‘paid’ platform for businesses. In other words, if you post an update from a branded page, unless you pay for that update to reach your followers, it’s likely that you will only reach a small fraction.
Who should use it: If you are a B2C business looking to reach a lot of people, you need to have some kind of presence on Facebook.
Audience: 14 million users in the UK. The audience skews young: 40% of the users are 16-24. 60% are female. So if you have a young female target audience Instagram is the place to be.
What that Audience Consumes: Instagram is obviously very visual as every post has to be led by a photograph or video. So if you produce visual products or can tell a visual story about your business Instagram will be useful. However images of things you might not think of as particularly visual – e.g. inspirational quotations – also perform well. So while it’s not essential to have a visual product, it is essential to have a visual eye.
Pros: It seems easier to attract attention on instagram than on other platforms as there’s a very heavy emphasis on showing users new content that they might be interested in. Heavily tagging photos and using hashtags allows for new content to potentially reach wide audiences.
Cons: Instagram is based around smartphones meaning it’s tricky to schedule updates in advance. So posting on instagram is (currently) a daily task. You also need to create visually interesting images in order to stand out from the crowd.
Who should use it: Visual Brands, experiential brands, anyone marketing to 16-30 year olds.
Audience: Twitter has around 12 million users in the UK.
What that Audience Consumes: Twitter is content for the head. It is the go-to place for live, fresh updates. Live events, news, photos, outrage at current events, and social justice all do well on Twitter.
Pros: Twitter has the most 3rd party tools available in order to build an audience, making it comparatively easy to target users who will be interested in your brand. It is also very searchable and allows you to easily follow, and contribute to key conversations about your subject.
Cons: On the whole twitter operates in real time. Twitter’s famous 140-characters-or-less posts, unlike Facebook’s, are displayed in the order in which they were posted (although a few of the most popular tweets are now held back and displayed to users when they log back in). So that means that posts are forgotten very quickly. The average twitter user will log on once or twice a day and scrolls through about 15 minutes of tweets on their timeline, meaning you need to be posting every 15 minutes on twitter in order to guarantee reaching your audience. This is a very tall order for anyone except large media brands who are pumping out huge amounts of content or other institutions such as financial services, who need to communicate regularly updating data.
Who should use it: Anyone looking to build a brand around live events like conference producers, or a product that is associated to live events e.g. sports equipment manufacturers, or who can regularly give updates on a subject that provides a useful service to a user (e.g. local information). If you can give regular news on your topic, twitter could be for you.
N.B. Journalists and bloggers are very active on twitter. So having a twitter account is essential for research into how to contact media outlets and also for conversations with them. However that doesn’t mean you need to use it for your business.
Audience: Pintrest has an audience of about 10 million in the UK, with a female heavy skew of anywhere from 62-90% of users depending who you ask.
What that Audience Consumes: Pintrest is all about lifestyle. Home improvement, cookery, weddings, fashion and gardening feature strongly – so think of it as the social media version of a glossy women’s magazine.
Pros: A person who sees something they like is more likely to take action on it (e.g. buy it!) after seeing it on Pintrest than on any other social media platform. It’s tagging system can be used to create good visibility and posts are also indexed in google.
Cons: It requires a large amount of updating, with 5 pins a day seen as an optimum amount of posting in order to gain maximum engagement.
Who should use it: Anyone with a visual or lifestyle brand or service, especially if it’s directed at a female market.
Audience: Around 20 million in the UK , focusing on ‘professionals’ looking to network for job opportunities and knowledge.
What that Audience Consumes: Professional news and opinion. Most posts demonstrate the author’s expertise in a field, or opinion on a latest development in the sector.
Pros: The opportunity to write posts (basically short blog posts), which by default will trigger an email notification to all your connections, notifying them that you’ve posted something.
Cons: Regular updates get little cut-through, so it can be time consuming to keep producing linkedin specific content.
Who should use it: B2B companies. Anyone who is looking to be found or recognised as an expert in their field.
Any further questions? Please leave them in the comments below and I’ll get back you