Which social media platform is right for your company?

At a time when there are so many social media platforms and businesses know that they need to be relevant online, which platform is best?

The answer isn’t one size fits all. Most importantly, don’t assume that you have to spread out across all platforms. Without a planned strategy and the needed resources, you can do more harm than good by spreading yourself too thin across social media.

Here is a breakdown of each major social media platform, with a few posting tips for each:

YouTube equals billions of hours of videos

Every day, users watch a billion hours of video on YouTube, according to Hootsuite, and it is the 2nd most-visited website in existence, according to Alexa.

In 2018, 73 percent of Americans now use YouTube, according to Hootsuite.

If you’re targeting a younger audience, the top three platforms for teens are now YouTube, Instagram and Snapchat, according to Hootsuite. In fact, Statista says that 96 percent of 18- to 24-year-old American internet users use YouTube.

For companies, YouTube might have a low barrier of entry, but video can be intimidating to jump into.

If you need a little inspiration, check out Lego, which has almost twice as many views as any other brand on YouTube. They put out consistent original content on multiple channels.

But remember that you’re an expert in your field. What are the micro moments that you’re always educating your customers on? Each of those can be a separate YouTube video.

Does your business create a product? Product review videos are huge. In fact, people have watched 50,000 years of product review videos.

For the best chance of being discovered on YouTube, optimize everything for search. Otherwise known as Search Engine Optimization (SEO), think about keywords and phrases that users will search that your video should appear as a result. Then, use them in your caption and title.

Facebook can’t be ignored

Facebook is one of the largest social media platforms, currently only ranking behind Google and YouTube as most visited website worldwide.

There are over 2.38 billion monthly active users globally as of March 31, 2019, according to the social network, which saw an 8 percent increase year over year.

To put it another way, 63 percent of all Americans used Facebook in 2018, according to Hootsuite.

For mobile specifically, Facebook Messenger is the most downloaded app, followed by the main Facebook app, according to Hootsuite.

Not only are your customers (and potential customers) on Facebook, your competition is likely there as well. For most businesses, Facebook is a good platform to start with.

As far as posting, the highest traffic on Facebook happens between 1 to 3 p.m., according to Bit.ly.

But a Facebook post at 7 p.m. will result in more clicks on average than posting at 8 p.m., according to Forbes. Engagement also is 18 percent higher on Thursdays and Fridays (as people start thinking about the upcoming weekend), according to Bit.ly.

So, while you have the ability to reach more people during peak times, increased engagement happens in the evenings (think post-dinner).

Instagram great for visuals, retail

Instagram is a visual-first sharing social media platform. The audience has grown from 90 million monthly active users in January 2013 to 1 billion monthly active users as of June 2018, according to Hubspot.

It’s a solid No. 3 most-used social media platform in the United States, but it’s important to remember that Instagram is owned by Facebook, which can lead to cross-posting and advertising opportunities.

But more than anything, Instagram is known for its younger audience. About 71 percent of young adults (ages 18 to 24) used Instagram in 2018, compared with 37 percent who did so in 2013, according to the Pew Research Center.

Retail brands do particularly well on Instagram. Eight of the top 15 most followed brands on Instagram are retail businesses, according to Statista.

With posting, photos showing faces on Instagram get 38 percent more likes than those not showing faces. SproutSocial also reports that images with a single dominant color generate 17 percent more likes than images with multiple dominant colors.

In addition, more negative space and blue (versus red) perform better.

There’s also not a lot of evidence to suggest any particular caption length drives increased engagement. So, shorter isn’t better or worse than longer captions. Focus on the quality instead.

Twitter smaller and more urban

About 326 million people use Twitter every month, according to the platform. This is 9 million fewer than it had in mid-2018, and 4 million fewer than late 2017. The decline is largely being attributed to the purge of spambot accounts.

Nonetheless, Twitter is a smaller social platform, with 24 percent of American internet users on it, according to Statista. The audience also skews more urban than rural.

The typical half life of a tweet is about 24 minutes. This means that a tweet gets half of its interactions in the first 24 minutes, with the rest slowly coming in over time at a slower rate. Brands tweeted an average of 122 times a month last year, according to Statista.

While Hootsuite says that the best time to tweet is 3 p.m. on weekdays, keep an eye on your analytics. Everyone’s audience can act and engage a little differently. Tweets with GIFs also perform 55 percent better, according to Twitter. Video and images enhance engagement as well, so think about mixing your tweets up and going beyond the text-only tweet.

Any other social media platforms?

Depending on your business niche, TikTok (a Gen Z video platform), Snapchat (a dynamic messaging platform) and Pinterest (an aspirational idea platform) could have a place in your strategy. However, do your research first, and ask yourself the following questions:

  • Is my targeted audience on this platform?
  • Which brands are successful on this platform?
  • Do I have the time and resources to invest in a niche platform?

Every social media platform is different, with its own nuances and audiences. As a brand, focus on one first, find your rhythm there and then branch out to the next.