So where do you start with Social Media Marketing? Do you remember when a company on social media was considered being ahead of the curve? When a twitter account and a lack of fear when it came to responding to criticism in 140 characters was all you needed to become beloved by millennials all around the world? Well those days are about as dead as Myspace at this point - if you aren't marketing on social media, you aren't marketing at all. More than that, if you aren't marketing well on social media, you're underutilising arguably the most valuable marketing channels there are. part of that is misunderstand or mis-communicating with your audience, something that all too many brands are still guilty of in 2019.
One of the best and worst things about social media is the number of people who use it. Not to generalise or anything, but each social media platform has its core user base - Snapchat is still the realm of GenZ, Pinterest finds success with predominantly young women, Instagram caters to bloody everyone while Facebook is quickly shifting from the cool uni-crowd that made it a juggernaut to somewhere all our aunts, uncles and grandparents can actively misunderstand memes. The first step to effectively marketing to a specific segmented audience is often to find out where exactly they hang out.
If you're trying to hit up grandparents on Snapchat or teens on LinkedIn, then you may as well draw your ad on some loose paper and throw it out the window - your odds of hitting your target market are about on par.
Success in marketing on social media platforms is often defined by how effectively a marketer can segment and then communicate with their chosen audience. In a world of instant gratification and endless customisability, an ad without relevance isn't only ignored by the anonymous masses, but can often be reported as spam. As such, lets talk about who exactly you should be expecting to find on each of these platforms and how to make them part of your audience.
The OG. The big dog. As of early 2019, Facebook has around 2.38 billion-with-a-B active monthly users. That's to say that 2.38 billion people log into Facebook every 30 days. Another way to think of that is slightly more people living in the two most populous countries on Earth, China and India, than log into Facebook each month (2.77b vs 2.38b). Another way is if you gave every child born from today, worldwide, a Facebook account, it would take over 18 years for them to match the current number of users.
All of this is to try and paint a picture of just how many people use Facebook... it's lots guys. Just... so many. The upside is that segmenting out an audience is super easy when it comes to Facebook, as there are just so many dang people there. The tools they give you to do this are also extremely robust, allowing you to find people in an age group, cultural or national demographic, gender, occupation, level of study or, most powerfully, the pages and items they 'like' on Facebook. No matter what audience you're looking for, there's going to be at least some of them on Facebook.
This won't last forever though. The young are bailing on Facebook in favour of more visually focused, privacy conscious social media channels. If you're looking to nab some of the ever-increasing buying power of these 18-25 year olds, you'd be better off looking at Snapchat or Instagram. Speaking of...
Since Facebook snapped up Instagram in 2012 (for a cool Billion no less), the image sharing powerhouse has surged from success to success. Currently, there are over 1 Billion people using Instagram on the reg, with over half of those using it everyday. When it comes to demographics, the average Insta-user is one of the 75% of users under 35, lives outside of the States (along with 88% of the user base) and is equally likely to be male or female.
Given that Instagram is part of the Facebook monolith, you also get to use a lot of the segmentation tools that make Facebook so user friendly, which is 10/10.
While it's still the most likely app to be singled out by a grandparent ranting about "kids today and their drones and their 'netflixes' and their 'snapchats'", the popularity of Snapchat is undeniable. Their defining feature, the permanent deletion of photos after they're received has been proved false, not to mention copied by competitors and yet the service is still going strong.
Snapchat trails the two Facebook services with only 186 million users each day, but those users sit much closer to the Gen Z end of the spectrum that it's bigger, older competitors. According to polls run by Sprout Social, almost 70% of 13-17 year olds said that they use Snapchat, so Snapchat should be a prime channel for any brand looking for that teen demo.
LinkedIn is a bit of an outlier on this list due to the it being less 'social' and more 'network'. With its point of difference planted squarely in the more professional nature of its users and its purpose more for networking rather than socialising, LinkedIn tends to field a smaller number of more engaged users. As opposed to the other big three networks, LinkedIn has an audience weighted more significantly to the older end of the spectrum, with only 13% of Gen Y's and almost no Gen Z's active on the site. Importantly, almost all of the content shared on LinkedIn is business-centric, you're not going to see memes thrown around with the same abandon as other platforms. As such, LinkedIn rewards serious brands with serious marketing strategies (which is not to say boring, just well considered).
So theres a little insight into what you can expect from the major players in the social media space. Every platform has its people, and if your looking for your own, then the first step should be looking in the places where they can be found.