How do I choose which social media to use?

Which social media is best for my small business?

I’ve been asked this question in several different ways lately and the question is always too broad.  Which social media should you start with? Which is the best for marketing?

Let me put it another way:  Which is best, a hybrid hatchback or a seven-seater 4X4? If you have a family of five and regularly holiday in the Okavango, a hatchback might not be ideal. If you’re single, a weekend in the bush is your definition of hell and you care about your carbon footprint…  You get the picture; there just is no correct answer.

The same is true for media selection. You need to set parameters. Choosing the right media, whether traditional or social, is entirely dependent on your brand, your target market and your objectives. So who are you talking to?  What do you want to tell them?  Why? How?

If, for example, you market hand-crafted chandeliers, you probably want to talk to people who are interested in décor, perhaps affluent home-owners. If you’re selling outdoor water tanks for rainwater harvesting, your target market might sound the same.

But that doesn’t mean they’re identical. One may be more fashion conscious while the other might be driven by ecological concerns.

If you’re marketing a law firm that specialises in contract law, the target market will probably be different than that of a firm focusing on personal injury cases. In each case, you need to tailor your message, your tone and your environment to suit your market, and the medium you choose may differ too.

You don’t need to be everywhere

Each social media channel has its own look and feel, its own personality. Your brand might benefit from being on several different channels, but that can take a lot of resource and you may need to limit your choices. So evaluate which platform best suits your needs.

If you were going to place an ad in a magazine, you’d look at the profile of the readership, their age, gender and lifestyle. You’d take a look at the magazine’s editorial context to see if it suited your brand.

So go and take a look at the various social media. Decide where you believe you’ll find your target market, and where they’ll be most receptive to you. And always remember that you don’t necessarily represent your target market.

Facebook

Facebook has a slight female bias (57%) and, contrary to what many people think, has an older bias, with 46% of users over 45 years, and a further 22% aged between 35 and 44. More than half of Facebook users have a tertiary qualification. Largely used for personal networking, Facebook also offers business opportunities too.

LinkedIn

Linked In is a business network, and almost 1.4 million South Africans visit Linked In each month.  82% of users are older than 25, including 17% who are over 54. Linked In is skewed to men (61%) and most users have a tertiary qualification. A full 25% have a post graduate qualification.

Content tends to centre on professional and business expertise and solutions, personal improvement and career advice. It’s also used extensively in the HR field.

Twitter

Twitter users are almost equally split between men and women, with a slight bias to women (53%), but a very clear youth bias, with 74% of user aged between 15 and 25. Another 15% of users fall into the 26 – 35 year age group. Content is very diverse, but messages are restricted to 140 characters.

Pinterest

The profile of Pinterest is very strongly women, and in South Africa is skewed to women aged between 25 and 35. Content tends to be very visual, focusing on fashion, décor, design, cooking, weddings, arts and crafts and travel.

Google+

Google+ has a male bias (62%).  The average user is an English speaking student, aged around 24, male and single. This platform is almost a combination of LinkedIn and Facebook and is used for both business and personal networking. Owned by Google, you may achieve better organic search results if you include Google+ in your social media plan.

Slideshare

Slideshare has a very slight female bias and a strong bias to post-graduate qualifications. This platform is accessed most often at school/ university and at work, rather than home, clearly indicating how it is used for research for academic and business needs. Content is very diverse, but tends to be business-related.

YouTube

60 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, including everything from business and academic advice, to proof of stupidity (amazing how people upload videos of themselves or their friends making complete fools of themselves!) and full length movies.

It is clear that while 18 – 34 year olds dominate the user profile, YouTube’s reach of all segments, even senior citizens, is extensive.

You need social media

Social media might intimidate you, but the research is clear:  you can’t ignore it. Of course, choosing the right social media platform for your brand is only part of the challenge. More importantly, you have to create a content marketing strategy, to ensure that you deliver the kind of information that matters to your target market.

Ann Druce

Ann Druce

Ann Druce heads up Octarine, a marketing communications and advertising agency, where she focuses on marketing strategies for clients in the service, professional and industrial sectors. Ann specializes in clear, relevant messages that reach their target markets. Prior to Octarine, Ann spent 15 years in marketing management for major companies including Unilever and Adcock Ingram before joining Draft FCB. Connect with Ann on LinkedIn or Google+ and follow @AnnDruce on Twitter.
  • Lance E. Carlson

    Hi Ann, I thank you for the breakdown of all of these major avenues of social media. I am sure the numbers and gender breakdown are similar here in the U.S.

    I was particularly surprised by the Google + being that much male dominated and the Facebook feeding the over 45 crowd.

    Great work Ann,

    Lance