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Social media platforms: Which are the best for your business?

Identifying your audience is the first step in determining which social media platforms are best for your business. The second step is learning which platforms your audience uses. The tricky part is that audiences on social media platforms change over time. Think about Facebook: In the beginning it was meant for college students.

Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram continue to be the most popular social media channels for all businesses from start-ups to Fortune 500 companies. Newer platforms like Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat are great tools to use, but are geared toward users of specific audiences and interests. Other platforms like YouTube and Tumblr are perfect resources for businesses interested in providing creative video or image-driven content.

We’ve summarized “The Demographics of Social Media Users,” a 2015 Pew Research Study,* to share with you the current demographic info for a few of the most popular social media platforms: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. We’ve also provided some insight about Snapchat.


Facebook’S breadth and DIVERSITY MAKE IT AN IDEAL PLATFORM FOR ANY BUSINESS LOOKING TO CAPTURE THE GREATEST AUDIENCE.

Demographics: Facebook continues to be the most popular channel with approximately 72 percent of engagement from all American adult Internet users. As the oldest of the most popular platforms, it has gone through many adaptations since inception and has become very user-friendly. Its audience encompasses both males and females of all ages, incomes, ethnicities, areas and education levels. Overall, usage is highest among females with 77 percent of women versus 66 percent of males. The primary users are Millennials age 18 to 29 with 82 percent of online Millennials using Facebook. 77 percent of online users age 30 to 40 use Facebook, as do 64 percent of people age 50-64.


Twitter, with its short-form style, can be used by businesses interested in directing audiences to blog posts, events, or industry-related articles.

Demographics: In comparison to Facebook, Twitter has lower online engagement than Facebook: only 23 percent.  It's also more popular among males than females. Users are primarily urban-based, educated Millennials age 18 to 29, with higher percentages of African American and Hispanic users. Twitter users have some college experience and live in households that earn a minimum of $50,000 per year.


On Instagram, businesses post professional photos and hi-res images, allowing a brand to create a polished look that can be easily distinguished from recreational users. 

Demographics: Instagram is a favorite among college-age Millennials. Taking a closer look at these users, Instagram is a good platform for reaching non-whites, with 47 percent of African American Internet users and 38 percent of Hispanic Internet users. Since being acquired by Facebook in 2012, Instagram has more than doubled its users (13% to 28%) in three years. The image-focused platform also has a greater following of online women than men (31% versus 24%).


LinkedIn helps businesses create original content for other industry professionals and potential job candidates.

Demographics: LinkedIn's users are primarily working-age adult and recent college graduates, making it the most professionally-driven platform. The platform also allows businesses to post job listings and link directly to user profiles. Approximately 25 percent of all female and male Internet users are on LinkedIn and use the tool to network with fellow professionals, stay connected to businesses, and converse about industry trends and recent news. Consequently, users tend to be well-educated from households with higher incomes. Those living in rural areas that have high school educations or less are the least common users on LinkedIn.
 

Pinterest is often used by businesses in fashion, food, design or home improvement industries. It has a photo-driven format, and sharing drives how content is used.  

Demographics: Pinterest is dominated by women with 44 percent female with some college education (only 16 percent are male users). It is primarily used by Caucasian or Hispanic adults under the age of 50 living in suburban areas.


Snapchat's short life span and quick turnaround make it a perfect place to feature behind the scenes footage and new product promotion.

Snapchat is a newer platform that has recently started attracting companies. Most of the business on the platform are in the fashion and tourism industries as well as big corporations that have the means to purchase advertising. As this platform become more mainstream, it has a lot of potential for businesses. 

Demographics: Snapchat’s raw, less formal style makes it very popular among Millennials and Generation Z (mid-1990’s to early 2000’s).  Unlike other platforms, Snapchat users tend to post content geared towards friends or users of a similar age group.


As with most things, social media is constantly changing. All of these channels are constantly being updated and adapting as users’ interests change and new technology becomes available. For businesses, the constant change requires adaptation and flexibility to stay relevant. By keeping up with the trends, your business can easily keep up with today’s digital landscape and create content that is relevant for each platform’s audience.

* The information used in this study was collected between March and April 2015 from approximately 1,900 adults (18 and older) living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.