There are a lot of social media websites out there. You could spend hours each day on marketing on them, but which social media sites will give you the best results?
That depends on you and your target market.
Social media websites will rarely do you any good at all if you don’t put some effort into it. If you just sign up and drop your link in, you probably aren’t going to see much benefit from any of them. Occasionally, a business will have some success on a social media site they weren’t even trying for because visitors keep sharing them, but that’s an exception, not the rule.
Which Social Media Sites Have The Right Demographics?
Every social media site attracts a somewhat different demographic, and this is what you need to look at as you figure out which social media sites to use. I’ve pulled some demographic information from Pew Research Center to get you started, but you may decide to look deeper.
To make the most of this information, of course, you need to know what your target market is. How old are they? What gender? What are their interests?
YouTube is huge. You may think of it as a video sharing site, but it has its social media side too. 73% of American adults use YouTube. 94% of 18- to 24-year-olds use it, making it a great option if you’re seeking a younger audience.
In other words, video is huge. If you can add video to your marketing mix, you have the chance to reach a lot of people.
Facebook is the other big one. 68% of American adults use Facebook. It’s widely used by most demographics, although people are frustrated with Facebook’s privacy issues.
If you’re looking at a younger audience, 78% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Snapchat. That’s a lot. Snapchat offers ways for businesses to advertise on their platform. Snapchat can be extremely effective for advertisers, offering twice the visual attention of Facebook, beating out Instagram and YouTube as well.
You can use Snapchat to build your business free as well, of course. You have to understand the limitations of the platform and tell interesting stories to attract followers.
Twitter attracts only 24% of American adults but jumps up to 45% of 18- to 24-year-olds. They increased the maximum tweet length to 280 characters a while ago, which is a huge help to marketers.
Many bloggers love Pinterest. The visual style is highly appealing, and for the right business, the demographics are great. It only gets 29% of American adults overall, but 41% of women. Pinterest is particularly popular for crafting and recipe websites, but many other niches do well there.
LinkedIn is a great choice if you’re targeting college graduates in a professional capacity. 50% of Americans with a college degree use LinkedIn, but only 9% with a high school diploma or less. LinkedIn is very much focused on professional networking, so it’s probably not a good choice if your business doesn’t relate to that. B2B can do well on LinkedIn.
Instagram presents special challenges to marketers, as you cannot put live links in your updates. You can have one in your profile, but that’s it. Still, Instagram attracts 35% of American adults and 71% of 18- to 24-year-olds. Some marketers do very well with Instagram.
You can view more details of the demographics from the Pew report through this link.
Where’s Your Target Market?
Demographic information is only helpful if you know enough about your target demographics. They aren’t always what you think they are.
If you know your competition, you can take a bit of a shortcut and see which social media sites they’re having success with. Take a look at their social media buttons. Many sites show how many shares they’ve received on individual posts and pages as a form of social proof. This can help you decide where you want to focus your efforts as well.
Visit their social media pages as well, especially for social media sites such as Instagram, where you can’t otherwise see how well they’re doing.
Using this data from your competition is not the only thing you should do, of course. It’s just a starting place. You can experiment with other social media. You might find a place to focus where your competition is not.
Seek out references to your best keywords on the different social media sites. Don’t do this by just typing your keywords into a search box. Learn how to use hashtags to search them and see how often your keywords are used that way. Take a look at the content you find this way and the accounts it’s attached to. This can give you both inspiration and people to follow on those sites.
How Do You Use Social Media?
How you use a particular social media site depends on which one you’re using. What works well for one may not be the best way to build a network on another.
How often you should post on which social media sites varies tremendously. Some do poorly if you post more than once or twice a day, while others need frequent posts if you’re to do well at all. I’ve pulled data from this Coschedule post on how often to share on social media. I also looked at when social media users are most active through SproutSocial. The best times may vary somewhat by niche as well as by social media site. Don’t forget to consider the time zones of your target market when posting.
On any social media site, being overly promotional is not a good idea. People aren’t there to have things sold to them. They’re networking because they enjoy it, to build their own business, to get good information, that kind of thing. If you do nothing but say “buy, buy, buy,” they’ll unfriend you as fast as they can.
Instead, give quality information to bring people to you. If you sound like an expert and they need what you have to offer, they’ll decide to do business with you.
One thing that is valued by most social media sites is consistency. Don’t keep changing your post frequency. Your fans and followers will come to expect a certain number of posts per day from you, even if it’s more than the usual for that platform.
Most social media platforms love hashtags. They help people find your content. Even Pinterest likes hashtags now.
While you can learn some things just by reading online about the social networks you prefer, you will probably get faster results if you take an in-depth course. Sign up for one only if you have the time to put what you learn into practice. There is absolutely no point in paying for something and then never using it. A good course will help you avoid making too many mistakes with your social media.
These are, of course, affiliate links to the courses, but they are ones I consider to be good choices and have good reviews.
The key to YouTube starts with making great videos, but that’s not where it ends. Your videos must be discovered by viewers, or it all means nothing. You need to learn how the YouTube search algorithm works and which techniques will bring your videos to the first page of YouTube so that they’re seen by potential viewers.
Course recommended: A Million Subs In A Year: YouTube Marketing and YouTube SEO
You have so many options to market your business on Facebook. Starting a Facebook Page for your business is a must, but many businesses find starting a Facebook Group is even more powerful.
Most people suggest posting on your Facebook business page no more than twice a day, with once a day being ideal. This is especially true for promotional posts. If you’re being social and fun, you can probably get away with more, but be extremely careful that you do not post excessively or your reach will decrease and your fans will view your posts as spammy.
Businesses on Facebook often complain about how algorithm changes make it hard to reach their fans without paying for ads. It’s a legitimate problem. Facebook changes their algorithm often, and that can be a real headache. Paying for ads can be well worth it, however, once you know what you’re doing.
In general, you want to post on Facebook on weekdays from about 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with Wednesdays and Thursdays performing best. Saturdays, evenings and early mornings have the least engagement.
Course recommended: Facebook Ads & Facebook Marketing MASTERY
I have not used Snapchat myself, and know very little about it. Hubspot recommends posting a Story only once or twice per week on Snapchat. Then spread your Snaps out through the day. You should also consider that not everyone has the sound turned on when they use Snapchat, so including text in your Stories is very helpful.
Course recommended: The Complete Snapchat Marketing Course
Twitter is one of those places you can post a lot. 15 times a day is recommended, with several retweets of someone else’s content. Some recommend up to 50 or more tweets a day. Tweets disappear quickly as new tweets appear, giving each tweet a short lifespan if no one retweets it.
Don’t batch all your tweets into a short time frame, of course. Spread them out. Twitter does best on weekdays, with Fridays being the best around 9-10 a.m. Mornings are better than the afternoon in general, and weekends don’t do as well, with some exceptions.
Twitter has recently become more picky about the reuse of content. It used to be that you could use a scheduler to post the same tweet over and over again for as long as you liked. These days, Twitter views that as spam.
They prefer that you either rewrite the tweet in a new way each time you share a link to the same site or retweet your original tweet. Twitter is looking for more original content. This makes using schedulers such as HootSuite more difficult but not impossible. You just have to put a little more time into your individual tweets.
Course recommended: Twitter Marketing: 2 Minutes A Day To 10k Twitter Followers
Pinterest marketing can be a lot of fun, so long as you don’t fall for the time sink. Give it half a chance and you’ll probably find an interesting recipe or something to catch your eye.
There are a few key things you must do on Pinterest. The first is to create some keyword rich boards for the content you’ll pin from your own site. Make sure you add them to an appropriate category and give them a good description. You will want to follow relevant pinners and build up your own following.
Make sure your create your account as a business account to make the most of Pinterest. This will give you access to analytics and the ability to make your pins into rich pins.
Joining group boards on Pinterest is an excellent way to get your pins out to a wider audience, but be picky. Niche boards are usually far more powerful than “pin anything” boards, even if the “pin anything” board has a larger following. Pinterest prefers to see your pins categorized properly.
Pin a lot. Recommendations run from about 15-30 a day according to the Coschedule post, but I’ve seen many pinners swear by a higher number.
Recently, Pinterest has stated a preference for a variety of descriptions on pins. This makes scheduling more difficult, as tools such as Tailwind allow you to quickly schedule a bunch of identical pins. You have to do extra work to vary things. Make sure you create multiple pinnable images for each post. You never know which will take off best until you test them. Vertical images with a 2:3 ratio do best.
Pinterest currently gives priority to the first five pins you do each day, starting at midnight UTC. Pinterest activity peaks at about 9 p.m.
If you want to know when your best time to pin is, use Tailwind. Tailwind’s SmartSchedule will post pins at the time that is best for your industry, and by when it sees that you get the most engagement.
Course recommended: Pinterest Marketing: Using Pinterest for Business Growth
LinkedIn is another of those sites that does not tolerate a lot of posting from businesses. Posting once a day is plenty.
If you want to do more, join LinkedIn groups and interact with people there. Be careful how promotional you get. You need to be seen as a quality resource. Be the trusted professional you want to be seen as, not the person who’s only interested in the next sale.
LinkedIn engagement is better Tuesday-Thursday, with Wednesdays from 3-5 p.m. being the best.
Course recommended: Linkedin Marketing: B2B Sales & Lead Generation From Scratch
Even with its disadvantages, I know a lot of marketers love what they can do with Instagram. You should only post once or twice a day on Instagram, although a few people report doing well with more, even 10 times a day. Be careful about how often you post, and see what works for your audience.
Being heavily promotional is not likely to work on Instagram. As always, provide value. You can use Instagram to give a little behind the scenes look at your business as well as to promote.
Weekdays do better than weekends on Instagram, and you should post first thing in the morning. Later posts can do well going into the afternoon.
Course recommended: Instagram Marketing 2018: A Step-By-Step to 10,000 Followers
How Many to Use?
You can’t do a good job of using all social media websites, not even if you only stick to the big ones. There’s too much to do.
You’ll be better off if you can pick a couple to focus on. Get good at marketing on them.
Dividing your efforts dilutes them. There’s a balance between being available on a variety of networks and being unable to keep up.
As with any other sort of marketing you haven’t tried before, start by using just one social media site. Figure out what you’re doing. Get some fans, friends, followers, whatever they’re called. Get comfortable.
Even though each site takes a slightly different approach, you can take some of what you learn from each site and apply it to the next one while continuing with the sites you’re already on. You’re learning how to bring in business with a possibly more personal touch than other forms of marketing may have been for you.
Social media marketing isn’t something that comes naturally for everyone, but it’s a big help for bringing in traffic and business if you use it right. Give yourself some time and really pay attention to the learning process. You might find it a lot of fun as well as profitable.
Should You Automate?
Within reason, automation of your social media efforts is a great idea. It’s too hard to keep up otherwise.
I use HootSuite to automate many of my posts. It works with Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Pinterest. Its Pinterest tools are not as powerful as what Tailwind has to offer, so you may want a subscription to that as well.
What you cannot automate is the social side of social media. You need to interact with people appropriately, retweeting interesting tweets, for example, or replying to comments. Spending a few minutes on social media is a great way to handle those parts of your day when you know you have limited time to get something done.
You also need to be aware of current events when you automate. If a big event happens, make sure you don’t have any inappropriate posts going out at that time. A reference that is perfectly innocent at other times may be taken as offensive if something has gone wrong.
Do not try to automate your following of other users. Take some time to find them.
I also do not recommend using software to follow and then unfollow anyone who doesn’t follow you back. I know many bloggers worry about their following/followers ratio, but it’s really not that big of a deal in most ways. Follow people because you want to see what they post. Many social media sites now see a high rate of following and quick unfollowing as a sign of spam.
How Long Does It Take To Know Which Social Media Sites Work?
We all want fast results with social media. That would be nice, wouldn’t it? But that’s often not the way things go.
Social media results take time, just like anything else. Don’t compare yourself to the people who have tens of thousands of followers. Most of those have been at it for years.
Work on improving what you’re doing instead. You can get ideas for what works by watching the people who are successful at social media, but in the end, it’s up to you to stand out. If you’re nothing but a copycat, you’ll never stand out.