How to Pick A Social Network

social networks

No one has the time to post, engage or maintain a presence on every social networking site.  Truth be told, some networks may not be suitable for your business and the time spent trying to woo customers can do more harm than good.  There’s nothing more deflating than a page with no followers – something that’s bound to happen if you’re in the wrong place.

You’ve heard the old saying – “know your customer”.  So to get the most bang for your time and buck, pick the network that best matches your customer demographic.  Then concentrate on understanding how that network, including paid advertising, works.

We’ve rounded up the latest demographics on the most popular social networks to help you decide. This week we’ll start with the big 3  – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Facebook

With the largest world-wide membership Facebook attracts a varied audience.  About 87% of members live outside the US, so if you’re looking for international customers, this is the place to be.

Once skewing decidedly younger, Facebook’s demographics have flattened out over time.  Though younger adults still comprise the largest user base, their numbers have been dropping with the over 45 group and seniors making up the fastest growing demographic in the last few years.

You’ll find a fairly even distribution of education and income levels as well as location (rural/urban/suburban) though urban dwellers participate more frequently than those in other locations.  And while there are more women on Facebook than men, the 10% difference is not as great as on other social networks.  Women, however, are more likely to engage and share on Facebook.  Plus, they’re more likely to check out a brand page on Facebook than men.

Twitter

Though only about 17% of internet users have a Twitter account, they tend to be young and living in urban locations.  But as with Facebook, the older crowd (females in particular) is gaining ground.

It’s important to understand why people use Twitter and how that would fit into your marketing strategy.  The consensus seems to be that users want to communicate with others (friends or people they don’t know/want to know) or share and/or find the latest news or content they find interesting.  If you’re in a service or information industry Twitter might be an ideal venue to share knowledge and build your expertise.

But because of the short life span of a tweet, using Twitter to gain business is an art that takes some time to master.  And while sponsored ads have had mixed results for small businesses, there is some promise for mobile campaigns since the ads are right in the targeted user’s feed in a relatively unobtrusive way.

LinkedIn

The network for professionals, LinkedIn has users from all over the world – and they‘re likely male with the once almost even gender split demolished in the last few years.  Users have higher incomes and education levels than on other networks and are older (35 and above).

In the past few years, membership growth and site visits have nearly doubled but actual page views have remained flat or decreased slightly.  And while US users dominate, international users have increased substantially with the UK, India, Brazil and Canada at the top of the list.

You’ll find that there’s not as much public interaction on LinkedIn.  The action is more behind the scenes as users use the site to find potential clients, keep tabs on current clients and follow companies.  That said, LinkedIn is ideal for B2B companies looking to for business – and that want to be found – in the domestic and international arena.

Check in next week when we’ll take a look at Pinterest, Instagram and Tumblr.

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