When you think of social media, which platforms immediately come to mind? A decade ago, you might have said Friendster, AOL, or MySpace. Today, you’d likely say Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
According to Social Media Examiner’s 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report, the most important platforms for businesses are indeed Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter. 54 percent of respondents cited Facebook as the most important, 17 percent chose LinkedIn, and 12 percent said Twitter was the most important one. Blogging came in fourth with 8 percent of the vote. Other social media platforms such as Instagram (1 percent), Pinterest (1 percent), Google+ (3 percent), and YouTube (2 percent) barely registered.
Does this mean that the other social media networks are irrelevant or ineffective? Not at all. However, if you’re not sure where to start, it may make sense to start with the platforms that are widely believed to be the most important by other businesses.
Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, and blogging are all important, and they all serve different purposes. Thus, you may find that one is better for your business than another or that it makes sense to have two or more social profiles. Let’s take a quick look at the top four social media platforms:
- Facebook – In April, Facebook announced its latest numbers, and they’re eye-popping. The world’s leading social network now has over 1.28 billion monthly active users. Considering that only about 7 billion people live on our planet, many of whom are too young for Facebook, that’s huge. Chances are, your customers and prospects are on Facebook, making creating a presence there a fantastic way to reach your market. In addition, Facebook’s targeted ads program allows you to specify the exact market you want to reach.
- LinkedIn – LinkedIn reportedly had about 300 million users as of May 2014. While significantly smaller than Facebook’s user base, its size remains impressive. LinkedIn’s focus is on business networking, making it a different environment than Facebook’s. In general, if you’re marketing to consumers, try Facebook; if you’re marketing to business users, try LinkedIn.
- Twitter – Twitter is a microblog. With its 140-character limit, Twitter lends itself to bite-sized messages. Hashtags are wildly popular on Twitter. When used strategically, it’s possible to reach a wide audience far beyond your follower base. Twitter tends to be more of a real-time social network than the others, making it ideal for tweeting live events and reminding users to enter your social media contest before the deadline.
- Blogging – Though not a social network per se, blogging is indeed a form of social media. It can also be highly effective. For example, by regularly blogging about your area of expertise, you can build trust, attract search engine traffic, and slowly turn your website into an authority site filled with relevant articles and blog posts. You also have the most control over your content with a blog. Blogging complements other social media sites, allowing you to provide deeper insights by directing Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter followers to your blog.
Any of the these social media platforms can be a fantastic choice for your business. Which one do you feel is most important to you?