For many companies and organisations social media has become an essential part of their online marketing strategy. Yet marketers find it challenging to determine what social media channels to focus on. This often results in the use of too many social media channels, all of which demand regular content. How do you decide what social media channels best fits your objective and target audience? In this blogpost I will discuss the key characteristics of some of the more relevant social media channels, so you can decide which channels to invest your time and energy in.
Number of Dutch users: 10.4 million
User characteristics: 15-80 years of age
Facebook is widely used all around the globe. Especially in more recent years older users have started exploring the social network. In response, younger users have moved on and become more active on platforms where they can escape the social control of their parents or grandparents; like Snapchat, for example. In short: Facebook has become less interesting to younger audiences.
The much disputed Facebook algorithm hasn’t made it easy for marketers to produce content that stands out on the timelines of their followers. Fortunately, the platform offers a wide variety of advertising possibilities, allowing you to target very specific target audiences.
Does your target audience consist mainly of younger people? Then maybe you’d better start focussing on the newer social media. After all, young people are known for being ‘early adopters’, and switch easily from one platform to the next. Facebook is, however, attracting more users from the 60-years-and-older category. For this group of users Facebook is a form of relaxation, so be sure to keep your topics light if they are your target audience.
Number of Dutch users: 2.6 million
User characteristics: loyal users that are active on multiple social media channels
10 years ago Twitter was our first encounter with social media. Nowadays the growth of the medium has come to somewhat of a stop, and it’s considered an established platform. Twitter used to be a medium for constantly sharing our daily doings, but nowadays it’s predominately used to talk about products. This makes Twitter a very important tool for providing webcare with.
Twitter is a very ‘open’ platform, making it a kind of holy grail for data analysts. Data is easily accessible and messages are located quickly. An advantage to using twitter is that it shows all Tweets chronologically, as opposed to Facebook, where you have to take into consideration a pretty fierce algorithm.
In recent years, there’s been a decline of young Twitter users, leaving the medium to an older crowd of loyal users. These users are eager to engage in dialogue, so if you can use this to your advantage Twitter can be a good option. In addition, Twitter is a popular medium with specific professional fields, like sports, politics, and news. A soccer match, for example, can trigger thousands of tweets, and any news instantly gets shared. For organizations active in these particular professional fields, Twitter can still prove to be a very suitable tool.
Number of Dutch users: 3.2 million
User characteristics: 20-50 years of age
Instagram, a more visual oriented medium, is currently gaining ground. It’s an especially good tool for local businesses with a physical location. People visiting your company and posting about it on instagram can use the geotag. All photos with this geotag are then collected in one overview. This gives users a good idea of what goes on in your company, both from the standpoint of the visitors/customers as well as the company’s employees.
Instagram users often engage in activity after viewing the photos on their timelines. They look up the recipes of amazing-looking food posts, go looking for that cute skirt their favorite fashion blogger was wearing, or look up where they can find that lunch place the celebrity they like was eating at the other time. Instagram also lends itself well for visual storytelling. Many small ventures managed to grow their business by using Instagram. A successful instagram account requires high quality pictures, or a different type of added value. This will take some time and effort.
If your organisation is focussing on younger target audiences (up to 39 years of age), and is able to produce good quality photo and/or video content, Instagram would definitely be a very suitable social medium.
Number of Dutch users: 1.9 million
User characteristics: 15 – 19 year olds looking for entertainment
Snapchat is the perfect tool for marketers looking to build a relationship with their target audience in a very informal way. Snapchat is real-time reality: immediately after shooting a picture or video, you share it with your followers. Snapchat is rapidly growing, but unfortunately (at the moment) it only allows for advertising possibilities in the US. Fortunately, Snapchat offers a variety of other features you can work with.
A nice advantage to Snapchat is that it doesn’t require you to put in a lot of time and effort to make your content look ‘pretty’. If the content is fun or original, and the Snapchat account is being promoted through other social media, you can already achieve a lot.
As of yet, Snapchat doesn’t have many of users older than 30. Organizations focusing on older target groups are wise to steer clear of Snapchat.
Number of Dutch users: 2.4 million
User characteristics: women, 20 – 39 years of age
Pinterest is a very visually oriented platform. Followers who like your pin, will be likely to repin it, which means your pin could potentially generate a huge reach in a very short period of time. Any links to your website or account are permanently part of the pin, so Pinterest is an easy tool for directing users to your website. Research has shown that Pinterest has a large number of loyal users. About 43% says to be willing to bind to a brand online. With Facebook users this number is significantly lower. For Pinterest too, it’s important the images you share are high quality. However, this doesn’t necessarily mean you have to produce them yourself. It’s allowed, common and encouraged to share other people’s content on your own account. This way, you can easily provide your account with content, and still inspire your followers with new ideas. But keep in mind to also keep posting your own content, otherwise you’ll only be directing your followers to other people’s website. And that’s not what we’re aiming for here.
Are adolescent women your target audience? Then using Pinterest is definitely worth considering. For organizations wanting to tell their story through visual storytelling, Pinterest is also a very suitable tool.
Number of Dutch users: 7.5 million
User characteristics: very mixed
Online video just keeps getting more popular. It’s no surprise that YouTube, with its focus on video, has become one of the biggest video search engines. But it’s not just YouTube that loves video, also Google gives priority to companies who use YouTube. Posting videos on YouTube is therefore recommended, if you want to improve your online findability.
Another advantage to YouTube is that you don’t have to host the videos yourself. For companies with smaller budgets this is perfect, because it saves a lot of time and money. A downside to this is that users often have to sit through advertisements before they can watch a video.
YouTube’s user group is very diverse. Both younger people as well as older people use the medium to look up their favorite videos. Therefore, YouTube is basically always a good tool for sharing video.
Number of Dutch users: 10.9 million
User characteristics: both younger and older people in possession of a smartphone
Since its introduction in 2009, Whatsapp has grown more and more popular. Previously the medium was mostly used to send messages to friends with, but the marketing possibilities of Whatsapp are becoming utilized more and more, especially when it comes to fast and personal service. Customers now often get the possibility to whatsapp directly with company representatives, which they like. Using the app for these kinds of purposes does require you to take into account some rules and laws concerning privacy. As a marketer, it’s important to be aware of this.
Whatsapp isn’t always the most appropriate tool. Right now it’s an ideal option for customer service purposes in particular. But bear in mind that by using Whatsap you’re entering a customer’s personal environment, which means it’s not always the best idea to send out messages promoting your product or service. No one likes that. If you want to reach new customers, whatsapp is not your best option.
Number of Dutch users: 4.3 million
User characteristics: business professionals looking to expand their (professional) network
LinkedIn is a social medium with a business focus, and is largely used for sharing knowledge and insights. It brings about a lot engagement in the form of discussions, giving us marketers an insight into the user group. Still, LinkedIn can also be used to show a more social side to your company. Company’s don’t have to share only knowledge, they can also highlight their values or pay special attention to their employees.
LinkedIn users are mostly looking to expand their network, meaning they will only follow pages or companies that inspire them or are relevant for their network. Is your goal to acquire new employees, or to promote your product or service with a professional audience? Then it’s definitely worth putting time and energy into your LinkedIn page.
Where Can You Find Your Target Audience?
In conclusion, the social media mentioned above offer us a great variety of options. But to make sure your social media strategy is effective, it’s important to look at the platform’s user group. If your target audience doesn’t use Instagram for example, then you don’t have to bother with it. You’ll have more time and money to invest in the social media channels that are actually relevant to your target group. A social medium user group can change over time, so be sure to keep an eye on this.
* The data used for this blogpost was retrieved from the National Social Media Research, done by Newcom Research & Consultancy