There’s no escaping that social media is an increasingly important part of your marketing strategy. For some companies, it could form the bulk of your strategy for attracting, converting and retaining customers.

With the various developments across the social media channels, new players coming in to the market, and changing purchasing trends, how can you decide where to put your efforts?

Which Social Media Platform Should I Use?

This question goes deeper than simply choosing a channel. You also need to consider how much time, resources and budget you put into each channel. For example, you might feel like a presence on Instagram is almost expected of your business especially if your products are very visual, but conversely, your research tells you that your target audience isn’t likely to ‘hang out’ there.

Let’s unpick some of the stats around which social media channels people are using, for how long, and for what purpose.

Last year social media users reached over 4.62 billion. The average time we spend on social media varies globally and, of course, across generations. Social media usage peaked during the early stages of the 2020 pandemic and the first lockdown both as a news source, a distraction and a way of staying connected. Usage has since plateaued and is back to the levels we saw in 2019.

In the UK we spend an average of 1 hour and 47 minutes on social media every day – that’s compared with a global average of 2 hours and 27 minutes. (*source Global Web Index)

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How Effective Is Social Media for Marketing?

The short answer is ‘very’. If it wasn’t an effective channel it wouldn’t attract new users, and businesses, and ultimately generate profit. To give this further context, HubSpot’s recent survey of over 1000 marketers highlighted some interesting trends. You can read the full report here, but we’ve picked out some of the most eye-catching statistics:

·      Social media is the most popular and most effective marketing channel, with the highest ROI.

·      39% of marketers who don’t use social media are planning to leverage it for the first time in 2022.

·      26% of marketers plan to invest more in social media than any other channel in 2022

·      21% of marketers surveyed cited Facebook as the social platform which gave the best return on investment (ROI)

Which Social Media Platform is Biggest?

Don’t be fooled into thinking that biggest is the best! If your audience is a specific niche, then the biggest or most popular social platform might not be for you. That said, it’s useful to have a degree of context into who is dominating the social media space.

The top social media channels based on the number of global active users are:

1.     Facebook – 2.91 billion

2.     YouTube – 2.56 billion

3.     WhatsApp – 2 billion

4.     Instagram – 1.48 billion

5.     WeChat – 1.26 billion

6.     TikTok – 1 billion

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*stats from Hubspot and the Hootsuite Digital 2022 report

We would have probably only listed the top 5 here but the rise of TikTok cannot be ignored. Facebook, and their family of apps (under the Meta umbrella) including WhatsApp and Insta, lead the charge. Facebook also has an incredibly broad reach in terms of location and age range. Its popularity is hard to ignore and it’s very likely the bulk of your target audience have and regularly use their Facebook account.

The Rise of TikTok

You cannot have missed the surge in popularity of TikTok. Initially the domain of teens and dance crazes, it is fast becoming a popular app beyond its early appeal. TikTok was the most downloaded app of 2021. It was also the first non-Facebook (or non-Meta group) app to achieve 3 billion downloads globally.

Why? Bite-sized content makes TikTok easy to use, easy to digest and highly shareable. It’s also allowing a far wider audience to become content creators. Essentially, TikTok is a tool that allows users to create engaging short-form video content. And we all know how popular video content is in marketing right now don’t we? (85% of marketers ranked short-form videos as the most effective type of social media content in 2021)

The audience remains largely amongst the younger generations – Gen Z and Millennials with 62% of users fitting into this demographic in the US. Don’t assume it’s not for you though, the biggest audience gain has recently been in the 35-54-year-old age bracket accounting for 36% of their audience.

Omnichannel Social Marketing

Omnichannel marketing is a buzzword in marketing circles right now. Justifiably so since the average person splits their time online across an average of more than 7 social media platforms. That’s 7 potential routes to communicate with your target customer and the opportunity to create multiple touchpoints.

That is by no means a rule to say you should use that many social platforms if they are not relevant to you. For example, LinkedIn is great if you work in the HR, recruitment or people development space, less so if you are selling fashion or beauty products aimed at a Gen Z audience. Instagram is perfect for the latter, with a typically younger demographic and an appetite for video and ‘influencer’ content.

Researching Social Media

When it comes to choosing which platform is best for you our best advice is to do your research. Ask your customers where they spend time online. Ideally, you will have defined your client persona and have an idea of their behaviours and preferences including which social media channels they use.

If you are time-poor when it comes to managing social media and creating content, focus on one or two core platforms initially. Do these well, grow your audience, set relevant targets, build your community and, hopefully, generate leads and then sales for your business. Follow the data to help drive your social strategy and you will quickly learn what works and what doesn’t for your business.

If you don’t have the time to run your own social strategy, why not get more advice and help? Contact the Livewire team. ​​​​​

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