Social media is one of the best ways to reach out to new and existing customers but with so many popular platforms to choose from it can be difficult to know where you should invest your time and money.

Finding the right social networks for your business can enable you to focus your efforts where they will be most effective. The best social networks for your business will depend on the types of products or services you’re selling, who your target market is, and what kind of brand image you are trying to cultivate. With over 87% of all adults in the UK using the internet daily or almost every day in 2019, according to the ONS, this is an overview of the Western platforms to provide you with an indication of what works and where.

Facebook

Established in 2004 and since floated on the New York Stock Exchange – the NASDAQ, so owned by shareholders which means detailed annual reporting and summary quarterly is required and appears on the Facebook investors page. At the time of writing this post, Facebook had just under 2.5 billion monthly active users – it’s still a major platform to be considered.

It’s also a fast moving and evolving platform, responding to issues and privacy concerns.

Facebook Content Type

Create a page to tell people about your business and then post regular updates including photos. You can manage events through Facebook and communicate directly with customers through comments and likes. It’s also important to consider your page as a community and this requires preparation.

It’s key to share ‘rules of engagement’ and explain when you are and are not available and where support can be found. Facebook is one place where unhappy customer do vent their frustrations, so it’s key to monitor and manage this.

Facebook Business Tools

Facebook is possibly the world’s largest advertiser and Facebook Ads can target people by demographics and their interests on Facebook. You can also use Facebook Messenger to create ads that will encourage people to send you a message when they click on them. Automated messages can be set up so they get a quick response.

Facebook Demographics

Facebook has the widest range of users and is especially popular in the older age groups. It is the most popular social network in the UK with 71% of adults using it.

Facebook is best for…

Sharing targeted ads on social media. Customers will also expect you to have a Facebook page with some basic information about your business so it’s essential to create one.

 

Twitter

Established in 2006 and current has over 150 million monthly active users. Twitter has stopped reporting daily users and is focusing on its monthly stats. One of the key aspects to Twitter is that since 2006 every tweet has been indexed in Google which means that tweets help your SEO, so strategically it’s a great platform to use.

Twitter Content Type

You can post photos and short tweets with hashtags that can help people to find them. You can also retweet other people’s posts and connect directly with other Twitter users.

Twitter Business Tools

There are a range of ways businesses can use Twitter. Hashtags, which were created by researchers, not Twitter, can make your posts stand out or help you connect to a wider conversation.

Polls can be a good way to encourage people to interact, although they are fairly binary with yes / no type responses. Twitter also provides an ad function. Similar to Facebook’s systems and this allows promoted tweets to enhance your visibility. Some companies like Aldi have created promotional posts that are not ads, so the posts are engaging and then shared, but at no cost for the ‘ad’.

 

Twitter Demographics

There are 150+ billion users worldwide and around 13.6 million users in the UK, it is more popular with men who make up 60% of users.

Twitter is best for…

Businesses that can update frequently or that work in fast-paced sectors. Many users will engage actively with posts so it is essential to be able to respond quickly in order to manage your reputation.

YouTube

People often wonder if YouTube is a social media platform – well, it is and it isn’t. Owned by Google and it claims over 1 billion downloads. It’s become a popular TV streaming service. The challenge I find with the ads in YouTube is that you’re shown and ad (the rewarded video) and can then see what you want to watch when this has passed, so you may block out the ad in order to get to what you’re really seeking.

YouTube Content Type

Create and share your own videos and playlists or connect with other users through comments. The downside is the time is takes to create video.

YouTube Business Tools

YouTube Ads can be targeted to people who are watching relevant videos. Text ads are an affordable option but you can also create video ads to be shown during other people’s YouTube content. You don’t have to pay if the viewer skips your ad, but there have been issues with inaccurate reporting of the results,

YouTube Demographics

Said to be one of the most popular social sites in the UK with more than 37 million users. YouTube attracts a wide range of people including older viewers who aren’t active on other networks.

YouTube is Best for

Creating engaging, shareable content that you can also post to other social networks or your website and providing valuable content such as instructional videos or showing off one of your products. Businesses that are willing to invest more in creating content and building their brand reputation.

 

Instagram

Owned by Facebook and seen by some as a quick way to make money – How to get 1 million followers on Instagram is a popular post we shared last year.

Instagram Content Type

This is designed as a visual medium and so it’s mainly photos and videos. These can be organised into stories and other formats to increase engagement. It’s also wise to use the bio area well and change the link on a regular basis.


Instagram Business Tools

You can use Facebook’s ad platform to run Instagram  ads and promoted posts can help you to reach more people on Instagram and you’ll get data on who has seen and interacted with them. Instagram requires a lot of effort in finding images and there are ways to improve engagement to ensure the effort of creating the content pays off. To manage Instagram there are scheduling tools that can be used, but you’ll need to be aware that these can go wrong and result in a negative situation.

Instagram Demographics

There are slightly more popular with women who make up 56% of users. At least 80% of users are following at least one business so it can be very effective for marketing.

Instagram is best for…

Instagram works well for food, fashion and travel. Landmarks are creating ways to better facilitate photo sharing and there is now a list of the top instagrammed landmarks. Many users include visual industries and brands that want to work with influencers.

 

LinkedIn

One of the longest established social media tools, LinkedIn was founded in 2002 and is owned by Microsoft. This means it’s starting to connect Office 365 and the different elements of this to ensure a more frictionless approach to the platform and the wider Microsoft offer.

LinkedIn Content Type

There are two steps to using LinkedIn for business. Firstly to ensure your team have strong professional profiles for themselves. Secondly, a good company page. The individual professional profiles can showcase the qualifications, experience and professional achievements of the whole team.

TIP – LinkedIn mentions ‘school’ – it really does not mean your junior school it means higher education. If you don’t choose to or get the opportunity to attend a college or university, think about the courses you’ve attended – they may well be accredited by learning institutes that you can include in this space..

LinkedIn Business Tools

LinkedIn provides a range of items – some may disappear as Microsoft becomes more embedded into the system. At the moment you can join or form a group to connect with people in your industry. Plus there a range of ad options available.

LinkedIn Demographics

LinkedIn is said to cover 200 countries (there are around 225 countries worldwide) and every CEO has a LinkedIn profile – some use them well, some don’t. There are more than 27 million UK-based profiles, with a skew towards men who make up 60% of these profiles.

LinkedIn is best for…

Seen as the top B2B platform, it is mainly used for recruitment, networking and checking out the competitors. It has become a bit of a sales space and we’re expecting Microsoft to address this in time.

The key is to find the platform that allows you to express your brand effectively and to connect with the right people.