Every business needs a social media presence. Social media supports your website, integrates with SEO and advertising, expands your reach, and builds a community around your company. It’s a part of your brand story, and impacts how you’re perceived. But in order for it to be effective, you need to choose the right social media platform for your business.
After discussing this at some length with a friend who was asking exactly this question, I’m here to help you figure that out – using alcoholic beverages as an analogy!!
Yes, you read that correctly. We’re going to compare the most popular social networks and their audiences to popular drinks and the people who enjoy them.
A huge part of successfully using social media in your digital marketing strategy is identifying the personalities of your company and your audience – then choosing the optimal place for them to get together. The ‘flavour’ of your social platform is the foundation on which your content, ads, and even posting schedule should be built.
Cheers! Let’s get started.
Is there a right or wrong social media platform for my business?
The short answer is no. A solicitors or a small plumbing company can be successful on Instagram. A nutritional supplement company can tap the power of LinkedIn publishing. And you can totally have white wine with chicken wings.
There isn’t a ‘right’ drink that you have to pair with your meal, and there’s no ‘right’ social network for your industry or business type. What matters most is that you understand your business, your audience, and how social media fits into your digital strategy. If you’ve got that locked in, and you’re committed to creating the kind of content your audience wants, the best platform for your company should feel obvious.
How to identify your brand personality
As I mentioned, choosing a social media platform for your company has a lot to do with personality. And just like every business needs social media, our companies need personalities, too.
A huge misconception is that personality only matters for B2C companies selling to the ‘Generation Z’ crowd. But personality isn’t about trying to be quirky or funny or flashy – it’s simply about making a lasting impression. And if your website and social media have no personality, you’ll be instantly forgettable.
For instance, apparently 62% of B2B buyers make their choices based on digital content alone? And a single bad website experience makes B2B users 88% less likely to ever visit it again. (Blue Corona)
The words and images you use should come from the tone you want to evoke. Think of it this way: you can’t use the same packaging on a 6-pack of cider as you would for a £100 bottle of wine. Likewise, you can’t stick your name and logo on six social channels, post the exact same content with the same copy, and expect top results.
I am in the process of writing a complete guide to creating a brand playbook for your business. I will be posting a link to it on the blog shortly, however it will be worth a read for any business without brand guidelines, or those considering a rebrand!
Here are the four key takeaways:
- Identify your business goals – who you are, what you do, and WHY you do it
- Think about what makes your company special; your differentiator plays a huge role in your personality, because it needs to come across even when you’re not directly talking about it
- Use branding exercises (or the awesome Brand Deck) to choose a set of words that describe how you want to be perceived; this should guide all creative (copy, imagery, video) choices
- Study competitors’ websites, social media profiles, and ads to get a sense of the creative assets that they’re using and their corresponding audience responses
How to pick the right social media platform
While considering each social media platform, keep these questions in mind:
- Who is your target audience, and which platforms do they use most?
- What story are you trying to tell about your business, and your product or service?
- What kinds of content do you plan to consistently produce?
- How will social media support your website?
Now, let’s meet the contenders!
Facebook is a big-name, easy-drinking lager (Heineken, Fosters or San Miguel) or an affordable wine (think E & J Gallo). It’s reliable, familiar, and it gets the job done. Try as they might, other social media platforms can’t dethrone this household name.
Sixteen years after its inception, Facebook still reigns as the most popular social platform. It’s the place you go to keep up with family and friends, or snoop on people you used to know. We check Facebook several times a day, often without even thinking about it.
- Facebook has 2.45 billion monthly users
- Facebook ads are among the most affordable ads for small business, and its marketing features extend into Instagram (which is owned by Facebook) and Messenger
- Businesses can now host live video events and even charge admission, adding a revenue stream
- Facebook has even added a brand new Shops functionality, which is a free online storefront for small businesses
- Facebook reviews and your business profile details factor into your website’s SEO
- Facebook also has the widest age spread, with high daily usage among those 18-54
- It’s the content distribution channel of choice for marketers
Like a lager or reasonably priced wine it’s consumed pretty much universally, even by those who regularly splurge on craft beers and European wines.
LinkedIn is the number one social media platform for professionals. It’s classy, like a fine red wine or a tumbler of whiskey. That isn’t to say that LinkedIn can’t party – but everyone will bring a gift for the host, nothing will get broken, and guests will help tidy up before they head home.
- LinkedIn has over 690 million members
- There are over 3 million company pages
- LinkedIn is the second most popular social media platform for B2B
- LinkedIn ads are also particularly powerful for B2B companies, because they offer methods of targeting that no other social media platform can match: education, and job experience or title
- It has a built-in publishing platform, Pulse, where businesses can create articles that gain broad reach and drive traffic back to their websites
LinkedIn isn’t weighed down by cat videos and gossip; content shared on LinkedIn is intended to raise a company’s profile, connect with other businesses, and nurture recruitment. It’s the third most-used method to reach out to potential job candidates (aside from phone or email).
LinkedIn is a refined drink, sipped slowly over highly engaging conversation. If you want to get your name in front of the businesses most likely to buy from you, this is your place.
Instagram is like a cocktail so pretty you have to pause and gaze at it (or snap a photo) before taking a sip. It can be classy or silly and a little vain, and that’s what makes it a lot of fun.
- Instagram has over 1 billion users
- Those people spend an average of 28 minutes per day on the platform
- Although 110 million of its users are from the U.S. (its largest audience), 89% are from outside the country and it’s the fastest growing social media platform in Canada
- 200 million Instagram users visit at least one business profile per day (Hootsuite)
- Although it’s most popular in the 18-30 age bracket, 71% of B2B companies have an Instagram account according to the 2020 Social Media Marketing Industry Report
- Facebook’s brand new Shops functionality, a free online storefront for small businesses, can also be hosted on Instagram
Instagram is a fantastic place to ‘humanise’ your company or business, showcase your values, or to elevate your brand with striking images and video.
A survey released by Facebook (which owns Instagram) revealed that people perceive companies who use Instagram as popular, creative, entertaining, relevant, and committed to building a community. Those people use Instagram to discover, research, and make buying decisions about products and services.
Like making a gorgeous cocktail, quality Instagram content takes dedication and attention to detail – but the payoff is a delightful and highly memorable impression.
Just be careful that the taste lives up to the presentation 😉
YouTube is like a seasonal beer on tap, because no two breweries will do a summer or winter beer the same way. What you get might be fun, smart, and highly educational… or it might be a rubbish skip of low quality and poor taste.
- YouTube has over 2 billion active users
- People watch over 1 billion hours of video on YouTube every day
- It’s the world’s second most popular search engine (after Google, which owns YouTube), processing over 3 billion searches per month
- One of every two Internet users around the entire world uses YouTube
- Users spend an average of almost 12 minutes watching YouTube videos every day
- It reaches more people between the ages of 18 and 49 than all U.S. cable TV networks combined
- 60% of users would make a purchase based on advice from a YouTube creator over a TV or or movie personality
- 53% of B2B marketers create organic content for YouTube, while 11% pay for ads on the platform (preferring the preroll, skippable ad format)
YouTube is a great place to add depth to your business content by creating videos and playlists, and engaging with your audience, while boosting your SEO. Think about it – when you type a search into Google, any video results are displayed above the page and post URLs. By creating videos around your target keywords, you can appear above your competitors.
People turn to YouTube to learn a new skill as often as they do to find hilarious entertainment, so there’s no need to try to fit into a specific content or personality box – you could find success creating how-to videos, topic awareness content, customer success stories, case studies, or expert interviews.
When it comes to YouTube, you want to be the tasty beer that’s so good, people stockpile bottles for the off-season. If you don’t feel like you have the time or budget to regularly create good videos, pick a different platform.
Pinterest is a totally over the top fancy cocktail (an ultimate bloody Mary for our U.S. friends); it costs more than your meal, but it’s so worth it. You want to stick some prawns on top? Onion rings? Pakora? Tiny burgers? Whatever! The sky’s the limit!
- Pinterest has 360 million active monthly users
- There are more than 2 billion searches on Pinterest every month
- 71% of global Pinterest users are female
- 40% of U.S. dads use Pinterest, primarily to search for products, healthy recipes, and home projects
- 89% of U.S. pinners use the platform to inspire their purchases
- Shopping is the top priority for 48% of all Pinterest users
- 25% of B2B companies have said they use Pinterest for business
- Pins have the longest shelf life of any type of social media post, because they don’t get buried in an algorithmic timeline – they can always be discovered, pinned, and repinned from other users
- Pinterest ads can potentially reach up to 169 million people
Pinterest’s vibe is positive and inspirational. It’s a great place for companies to share engaging content around products, data, and values or causes. Video, infographics, and GIFs perform well on Pinterest.
While other social media platforms use AR for selfie filters, Pinterest Lens allows users to take a photo of something they see and then search Pinterest for similar content. And a new Lens-powered feature called Try On lets people virtually try certain products for sale on Pinterest.
Like a super exotic cocktail, Pinterest caters to a specific audience that’s willing to spend more for an elevated experience. You need to bring your A-game to meet their expectations.
Twitter is like a game of “surprise me!” roulette with shots at the bar. Sometimes it’s highly informative, sometimes it’s super entertaining, and other times you have no idea what just happened.
- Twitter has 330 million active monthly users
- There are 145 million daily users, including 16 million in the UK, with more than 79% outside the U.S.
- Of those people, the majority (28%) are 24-34 years old
- Around 70% of users visit Twitter for news
- Twitter is the 4th most popular social media platform for B2B (after Facebook, LinkedIn, and Instagram)
- Twitter ads are most costly than Facebook on average, but Twitter’s boast a higher engagement rate
Twitter is great for news. You can get a lot of information quickly from world leaders, media, and organisations. But because Twitter is like texting to the entire world, you can also read a ton of trash talk: (‘mean tweets’ about celebs are so popular that they have their own late-night show segment). And sometimes your feed is nothing but the repetitive ‘inspirational’ leadership quotes from companies that have been working the same Twitter strategy since 2016.
At this point you might be thinking, why the heck would I use Twitter for my business?
It’s all about the conversational aspect. Twitter is THE place people think to go for quick customer service, and it’s especially useful for SAAS and other tech companies. Popular business messaging platform Slack uses Twitter to share software status updates, to answer customer questions, and to share tips. Social media management tool Hootsuite also has a busy customer support account on Twitter.
Just like asking the barman/barmaid in your favourite pub to surprise you with a mystery shot, you might do REALLY well using Twitter for your business. Or you might stumble away feeling confused and a bit unwell.
Snapchat is a craft cider – that emerging drink trend of the last five years that’s now a regular item on menus and shelves, but it still feels fresh. Snapchat was actually launched almost 10 years ago (2011), so even though it feels kind of cute and ditzy, you can find plenty of reliable Snapchat marketing guides online.
- Snapchat has over 229 million active daily users
- 82% of those users are 34 and under (65% are under 25)
- The average user opens the app’s camera more than 20 times per day
- 40% of users say they discovered a brand from an influencer’s Snapchat endorsements
- Users spend an average of 30 minutes on the platform each day
- Unlike Facebook or Instagram feeds, personal and business content is separated for Snapchat users – so you need to be quite active to maintain a presence
Snapchat is less polished and carefully curated than the cocktails and caesars of Instagram and Pinterest. It’s definitely for the playful, cheeky brands, and significantly more popular with B2C companies.
That isn’t to say it won’t work for B2B – it’s finding footing with certain industries like social media (obviously) and communications. And companies in many industries are using the custom geofilters to attract attention to a location or promotional event.
If this sounds like your target audience, and you want your brand to feel fresh and relevant, go forth and launch your smoked seaweed and elderflower cider. There’s an audience waiting to try it.
TikTok is this year’s drink of choice: a hard seltzer. It’s new, exciting, and way cooler than anything else on the market (although not literally, because they can all be found in the fridge). And unlike other social media platforms, this one is ALL about entertainment.
- TikTok has 800 million monthly users
- The app has been downloaded 1.5 billion times, is currently the most downloaded app in the Apple App store, AND it was the third-most popular non-gaming app download of 2019 (behind WhatsApp and Messenger)
- 41% of TikTok users are 16-24 years old
- People spend an average of 52 minutes each day on TikTok
- TikTok has the highest user engagement rate per post of any social media platform
- Although TikTok’s user base is still largely outside North America (primarily India and China), the number of U.S. users has grown 5.5x in just 18 months
- 15% of video marketers planned to add TikTok to their content strategy in 2020
TikTok is great for those that want to reach a younger audience, be innovators on a new video platform, and primarily share entertaining content. Small business owners with a youthful brand and entrepreneurial individuals (like TikTok’s marketers and designers) can do well on TikTok.
Like alcoholic sparkling water TikTok isn’t the place for every business. Plenty of people prefer beer, and that’s fine! You don’t have to start drinking White Claw just because everyone is talking about it.
Like people who are into sour ales or double-hopped IPAs, Reddit users have very specific tastes. It’s the niche of all niches, while still being a social site. You don’t wing it on Reddit – you need to have a plan that starts with knowing if you belong on Reddit.
- There are over 430 million users on Reddit
- Reddit is more popular with males than females
- There are over 130,000 active communities
- Reddit users view over 21 billion screens of content each month
- 38% of Reddit users are tech enthusiasts
- There are over 46.7 million daily searches on Reddit
- External links are the most popular type of content
- Reddit started offering promoted posts in 2018
Reddit is more of a social forum than a social media platform. It’s the place to go for useful, relevant information, conversations, and data. There are subreddits (Reddit communities) on everything from news, politics, and games to SEO, science, and, of course, stupidity.
It can be a huge asset for businesses that earn Reddit users’ trust, and that’s a process in itself. You can’t just pop onto Reddit, create an account, and start sharing links to your company’s website and trying to host an AMA (ask me anything). You need to spend time commenting, upvoting and downvoting, and answering questions.
Like people who prefer sour ales or extra-hoppy IPAs, a Reddit community will be a smaller but much more loyal and engaged group than typical ‘followers’. If you establish yourself as trustworthy, credible, and not in it solely for promotion, you can use Reddit to grow a real community around your business.