Remember a mere 20 years ago when your choices of social media were Myspace and a handful of other, lesser-known, websites like Friendster and Hot or Not? Social media really started to gain momentum with the launch of Facebook—designed for college students, by college students—and within a year had a million users and proceeded to bulldoze the early sites into oblivion.
It wasn’t alone for long and in the decade following Twitter, LinkedIn, Youtube, Instagram, Pinterest, Four Square, Google Plus, and Snapchat found their way onto our computers, and then our phones with the birth of apps. And more keep rolling out… TikTok anyone?
So, how do you consume social media? What apps do you actually use with regularity? And are these questions you are asking about your customers?
Overall, according to Smart Insights, 58.4% of the global population uses social media and spends two hours and 27 minutes on these platforms DAILY. Or, in other words, enough time is spent on social media to watch just shy of seven episodes of SpongeBob Square Pants!
When there were only a handful of social media platforms most companies could invest in all of them but with the advent of more apps, comes the need for audience-specific content and that is expensive and time-consuming.
So, which social media platforms are right for your business? To answer your question, I’ve created a social media showcase to see how the seven biggest players on social media stack up. Unfortunately, there are no Vanna Whites or Barker Beauties to assist me.
Let’s start with the heavyweight, weighing in at 2.91 billion active users representing 36.8% of the global population. According to Hootsuite, Facebook makes the top 10 of the most valuable brands, hanging with other “heavy hitters” like Google, Amazon, and Walmart. Hootsuite reports the strongest demographic of users are Boomers men, accounting for a third of all users.
Facebook is king for appealing to millennials. They lived through the evolution and have a tight connection with the app that’s been in our lives for over two decades! Facebook combines videos, photos, and bite-sized bits of information easily consumed. So, Facebook is very appealing! However, advertisers have seen organic reach dwindle and in order to reach your own followers, you need to either boost a post or do paid advertising. Interestingly, Hootsuite says that 72% of Facebook users don’t trust the entity to protect their privacy. Facebook is a great tool to show your products to millennials but it’s not for younger audiences or for financial transactions.
Our next social media platform is a video superstar – YouTube! Every 24 hours, 30 million users watch over a billion hours of video on 38 million channels. A billion hours is over 11,000 YEARS of video consumed each and every day. Since YouTube doesn’t require highly produced videos, it’s easy to join and upload videos without a significant investment. Seeing really is believing! YouTube appeals to all ages. According to InVideo.com, 77% of all internet users who are 15-55 watch YouTube. InVideo also reports that YouTube reaches more teens globally than television.
Video is king! This is proven by the advent of additional video social media platforms, Yeah, I am looking at you TikTok. So what is the drawback of YouTube? If you are just advertising, probably not much. Unless you are trying to appeal to my grandma or a specialized demographic, YouTube can reach just about anyone. However, if you are trying to create a channel of content; the cost is time. No, content doesn’t need to be very long or highly produced but you do need a steady “stream” of videos. Creating content can be time-consuming but can pay dividends for those willing to put in the work. InVideo reports the highest paid YouTuber in 2020 earned $30 million and is just nine years old! A channel called Ryan’s World has over 28 million subscribers and it’s about the life and times of Ryan Kaji.
Our next social media platform birthed a phenomenon and helped to give rise to Social Influencer Marketing – Instagram. It started as a way to simply share pictures without additional context, mostly an online photo album of your life. It’s become one of the most powerful marketing tools for companies. Instagram boasts 2 billion users with 64% of users being under 34. Every day 100 million photos are uploaded and monthly, 130 million users shop via Instagram, according to SocialPilot.com. Instagram popularized hashtags and gave validity to “selfies.” This same article stated Posts with at least one hashtag received 12.6% more engagement than those with no hashtags. Posts with tagged locations also have received 79% more interaction.
But it’s more than just pictures, it’s research. More than 90% of users follow at least one business and 81% research products on Instagram before purchasing, with 50% of users intending to buy a product after seeing an ad on the platform. Brands like Nike and National Geographic are able to harness the power of pictures and have more than 185 million followers. So is Instagram right for you? If you are trying to sell tangible products to Gen Z’ers, then Instagram is the ticket! However, ads can be expensive and not well executed due to logarithms within Instagram.
Our next platform made an art form of keeping the conversation short, 140 characters to be exact. But that doesn’t stop this platform from having a big impact. Twitter’s audience is 70% men and almost half of the users have a college education, leading to higher salaries. Topics on Twitter focus on news, videos, and sports! Actually, according to SocialPilot.com, Twitter actually eclipses Facebook as a news source, with 82% of the world’s leaders being on Twitter.
Given this information, Twitter can be an ideal platform for advertising to men. According to SocialPilot.com, 93% of brand followers on Twitter plan to buy from that brand. Additionally, Twitter is among the least expensive platforms. For a thousand impressions, the average is $6.46. If you are looking to reach millennial males, #TFTW or Twitter for the win. However, this is a limited audience and you are competing with 160 million other ads shown daily.
Now stepping into the spotlight is a professional platform. This platform draws attention to career accolades, job recruitment, and business advice like a silver-haired fox in a three-piece suit. LinkedIn is really the “refined” social media platform. To date, LinkedIn has 810 million accounts with over 49 million people actively searching for a new career weekly, leading to six hires every minute. Much like Facebook, LinkedIn touts a global reach with over 200 countries and regions on the platform.
HootSuite.com states “four out of five people on LinkedIn drive business decisions”, leading 93% of B2B content markers to use LinkedIn for organic social marketing. It’s no secret LinkedIn is the CEO of business connections and recruitment among white-collar industries. While all business types have a place at the table on LinkedIn, it doesn’t serve smaller businesses or blue-collar careers as well. The platform is driven by connections, or “links” with people. Fewer employees lead to few connections. However, advertising on the platform might be well worth the investment. HootSuite Digital Trends Report says an ad on LinkedIn can reach 14.6% of the world’s population over 18.
Now stepping into the spotlight is the youngest player in the game today and frankly feels like speed dating for videos—TikTok. Swipe up and you’re presented with another video. Plus, the platform learns what you like and adapts to present you with the content you want, without much work from you. Still, aren’t sure video is king? TikTok has over 1 billion active users with 62% of users being between 10 and 29 and mostly female. Whoa! Easily the premier way to reach this impressionable audience. Each day, users spend 52 minutes watching videos about entertainment, dancing, pranks, fitness, beauty, fashion, cooking, advice, pets, and more. Brands affiliated with these categories should give some serious consideration to a TikTok profile or ads.
But what about other products? Influencer Marketing Hub states, “TikTok has considerably more engagement than either of the other two networks (Instagram and YouTube) at all follower levels. For example, Upfluence found micro-influencers had engagement rates of 17.96% on TikTok, 3.86% on Instagram, and 1.63% on YouTube.” This “dance train” shows no signs of slowing down. This same article says US kids, ages 4 to 15, spend an average of 87 minutes a day on TikTok. So, what is the drawback? TikTok is about entertainment and users don’t necessarily make a connection between a product and entertainment.
Our final platform in the showcase was originally intended for a more provocative interaction by sending photos that disappear after viewing. Combining the emergence of interactive filters and limited audiences, people found themselves sharing their everyday life without the pressure to be perfect on Snapchat. The smallest player in the pool with 310 million users sending four billion photos a day, this platform sees a lot of “action.” So much so that the app is opened, on average, 30 times a day!
While Instagram has filters to help give varying light to photos to create a feel, Snapchat took filters to a whole new level. As of 2021, over one million filters have been created according to Business of Apps.com. Creating a filter and paying to be among the top default filters is one of the easiest ways to advertise. However, given the fleeting nature of this form of communication—most pictures are presented for just 10 seconds—it makes having your message stick a bit more difficult. However, a number of nonprofits and member-based organizations have created Snapchat accounts and have users “take over” the account and share their stories. This works great for companies and groups that have a large membership base and get people to follow their accounts.
Certainly a year from now, this showcase could be dramatically different. Facebook is starting to lose followers, TikTok is continuing to grow among a younger audience and the advent of new platforms continues. Regardless of the changes, the question will remain the same, what are your customers using for social media? There will continue to be an investment of time in staying relevant on each social media platform. The more accounts you use equals more time invested, even if you are repurposing content. There will always be a place to advertise on these platforms depending on business goals and budget. And if all this seems to be overwhelming, partnering with media groups, like Mid-West Family Madison, can help serve as the Vanna White or Baker Beauty to your company.
P.S. If you guessed Sixdegrees.com as the first social media platform you get the extra credit! The idea for this one is that everyone can connect to everyone else in six steps or less.
Liz has a passion for helping people and agriculture, making her a natural fit on our strategy team as a self-proclaimed cow expert. Having owned her own agri-marketing business, Liz is no stranger to the challenges associated with running a business. She is able to give first-hand insight and creative solutions for business owners, large or small.