The Social Media Examiner recently released their 8th annual social media study, in which they surveyed more than 5,000 social media marketers. This report highlights their top 7 social media platforms. I recommend you click on the link and download the 50+ report; it's available until June 10th.
Whether you're just starting to use social media or looking to expand your online presence, I'm going to break down the 7 most popular social media platforms in order to help you make an informed choice as to which platforms you should focus on.
Facebook - Used by 93% of Marketers
The Social Media Examiner study reveals that social media marketers consider Facebook to be the most used in B2C (business to consumer) and 2nd only to LinkedIn in B2B (business to business).
With over 1.55 billion active accounts worldwide, an engaging format, comprehensive advertising tools, useful metric tools, and the new Facebook Live feature, it's no wonder that 55% of marketers cite Facebook as the most important platform for businesses to use (followed by LinkedIn at 18%).
I have yet to work with a business that does not benefit from having a Facebook page.
Twitter - Used by 76% of Marketers
Twitter is 3rd most used social media platform by marketers in B2C and 2nd in B2B.
In my opinion, Twitter has the steepest learning curve for those new to social media. This is, in part, due to its 140 character limit for Tweets.
However, Twitter is a useful tool for building your brand, staying up-to-date with prominent figures in your industry, and engaging in conversations with its 310 million active users.
Twitter is not a hands-off platform. If you put time into it and give people useful information, then you will become a valued member of the community. To get the most out of Twitter, you can't just post your own content -- you have to regularly engage others and share their content as well. If you can't consistently dedicate at least a little bit of time to your social media efforts, then I would not recommend Twitter.
LinkedIn - Used by 67% of Marketers
Before you can sell your business, you need to sell yourself; LinkedIn allows you to do that through the ability to connect with over 433 million other professionals in online communities. If you're looking to build your brand, recruit new talent, or launch a product, then LinkedIn is the platform for you.
I recommend having a LinkedIn page for both yourself and your business.
YouTube - Used by 53% of Marketers
According to The Social Media Examiner's study, YouTube is the 4th most used social media platform for both B2B and B2C. It's also worth nothing that 63% of marketers plan on increasing their use of YouTube marketing.
YouTube is arguably the 2nd largest search engine in the world, receiving more than 3 billion searches a month.
I would recommend using YouTube to anyone who is comfortable in front of a camera. If you sell physical products, then you can unveil them on YouTube. If you offer professional services, then you can use the platform as a video blog.
Google+ - Used by 49% of Marketers
Google+ has a steep learning curve, but I do recommend that you use it. Having your business listed through Google My Business is important, even if you never dive into the various communities.
Learn about best practices for content posting on the platform.
Instagram - Used by 44% of Marketers
Instagram is 7th in B2B and 5th in B2C.
Unlike the other platforms on this list, Instagram is almost exclusively mobile- you can't take photos and create new posts on a laptop or desktop computer.
If you have a very visual product, Instagram can be a very powerful marketing tool despite it being lower on the list. Additionally, while it does have a nice user base of 400 million, more than half of all users are under the age of 30.
I would recommend Instagram if you have a visual product, such as clothing or jewelry.
Pinterest - Used by 40% of Marketers
Pinterest is 6th in B2B and 7th in B2C.
You can think of Pinterest as a digital image board where users can display content they like (called "pins"). These boards can be organized into categories, and you can display both your own content and the content of other users.
Like Instagram, Pinterest is a very visual platform. Additionally, there are special types of pins called Rich Pins, which businesses can use to add additional info to their pins, such as product details and even location maps.
My recommendation of Pinterest would depend on many of the same factors I mentioned on the Instagram section above. The platform has over 100 million active users, but what's really noteworthy is that 81% of Pinterest users are female.
Hopefully this helps you decide which social media platform you want to devote your time to. Videos are becoming increasingly valuable, so even if you don't want to dive into YouTube, try to make use of the video services available on the other platforms.
If you have any questions feel free to leave them in the comments. We will gladly answer them and update this guide.