Recent estimates put the number of social networking sites just north of 500, though many are already shuttered or don't attract enough users to remain viable in the face of behemoths like Facebook and Instagram. When designing or revamping your brand's social media presence, it's tough to know which social platforms are best for your business and which may not bring you the best return on your investment.
Let's take a look at some factors that can help you make the best choice for your brand.
Know Your Target Market
The biggest factor when choosing which social networks are best for your company is deciding what demographic or target market you're trying to reach.
Though many people have accounts on multiple social platforms, individual networks tend to attract user with similar attributes. For instance, Twitter is popular with college-educated people under 50 while Pinterest users are predominantly women in the 18-29 age range. That means Twitter might not be the best place for brands selling retirement property and Pinterest may not be the right site for companies selling men's running shoes.
"Very few companies out there will have the same exact target audience," explains Adweek. "For example, two car companies may both target the same 18-through-22 age group, but one of those brands could be a pickup company that sees much more sales coming from rural regions. The point is that you should spend the time figuring out exactly who the main consumer of your product is before choosing which networks to utilize."
Go Global or Stay Local?
Selecting the right social network depends on what networks your customers use most. Facebook, with 1.09 billion daily active users worldwide, is a safe bet for nearly any company on the planet. However, not all social platforms are equally popular across the globe. Qzone, a virtually unknown social site in the US, boasts a whopping 639 million Chinese users and Russian site VKontake has over 100 million users.
Knowing which global platforms to choose is only part of the equation, notes Greig Holbrook, director of Oban Multilingual Search. "Each country has its own unique preferences, from platform and user behavior trends right through to phraseology and tone of voice expectations. These individual characteristics need to be integrated into local strategy and international strategy tailored accordingly."
Stay on Your Toes
No matter which social networks you decide to join, make sure you keep an eye on the overall industry to see what new platforms are gaining popularity with your customers. Snapchat was once considered a 'tweens and teens' hangout, but brands are now flocking to the photo messaging app in droves. Taco Bell recently broke a Snapchat record with the most viewed lens campaign, reaching 224 million views in a single day.
"Social media is a tumultuous playing field," says Forbes. "While it's been dominated fairly consistently by Facebook since the late 2000s, every year sees new emergent platforms that either fail in a blaze of glory, get gobbled up by one of the major players, or go on to see individual success on their own. All of these cases provide learning opportunities for the average social media marketer - the failures show what users don't want to see, the consumables demonstrate a hint of new features and new technologies on the horizon for major players, and the breakout successes represent new opportunities all on their own."