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  • Writer's pictureLiz Maguire

The One About Social Media.

Are you on TikTok? Why not! Are you on Instagram? You should be! What about LinkedIn? You don't write an article a week? That's why you aren't getting any leads!


If those lines gave you palpitations, fear not reader. If you take nothing from today's post but this, let it be this: You do not have to be everywhere on social media for success. In today's post we'll look at the demographics of various channels, why they will or won't work for various types of brands, and touch on why authenticity in social media for small brands should be top of any strategy.


In order to keep the scope of this post reasonable, we're going to narrow down and look at the American market and how they use social media. The average American spends 135 minutes a day on social media. In the United States, the average social media user is between 27 and 42 years of age. What should you take from all that? Firstly, that Americans are on their phones more than 8 years ago as there was a 55.7% global increase in social media use from 2013 to 2022. Secondly, social media is not entirely a 'young woman's game'. So where are the audiences on social media networks?


https://www.oberlo.com/statistics/most-popular-social-media-in-the-us


Read on for some stats on the most popular social media platforms -- Facebook, Instagram, TikTok and LinkedIn -- and their strengths, weaknesses and surprises.


Facebook


In the United States alone there are 239 million people with Facebook accounts. An average of 1.62 billion users in the United States use Facebook every day. Facebook, or Meta, acquired Instagram in 2012 and WhatsApp in 2014. They are smart about going where the users are. The graph below tells us that the 25-34 age group use Facebook the most, however, some research indicates that the 65+ age group is the fastest growing demographic on the site. Why is this? Simple: Facebook was founded in 2004 but gained popularity in the 2010s. Users are aging and their tastes are changing but their preference (and savvy) for online marketing will be one to watch in the future.


  • Strengths: The sense of community on Facebook remains strong. Users are encouraged to participate in groups where they can share enthusiasm for hobbies and interests, as well as interact with friends and family on personal pages.

  • Weaknesses: There's a lot of 'noise' on Facebook so niching down your target audience is more important than ever. Don't cast the net wide, expecting to find every eye on your page or post. And be mindful about 'outside' links as rumor has it that the platform prefers organic links.

  • Surprises: People are sick of being sold to, understandably. But they are still buying. In 2022, Facebook reported $54.5 billion in revenue in the United States and Canada, which make up only 13% of its users.

Instagram

According to a study, 48.7% of the United States population are on Instagram or close to 161.7 million. Users aged 25-34 are the largest group on the platform, while people who identify as 'female' account for 56.8% of users. What the graph below tells us is that despite the narrative that TikTok is the leading social media platform for image and video sharing, statistically Instagram continues to outperform. It will be interesting to see where the numbers are in a year, but don't lose faith in Instagram just yet.


  • Strengths: Brands that get it, get it on Instagram. The balance between sales and authenticity -- which we'll touch on later! -- works well for small creators. Warning! Don't rely on your Instagram following as your only 'list'. It is recommended to host a website where you can collect emails, or even list etsy/ebay page where you can direct eyes (and wallets).

  • Weaknesses: Instagram rolled out their 'Reels' feature to compete with the short form video of TikTok. The algorithm seems to have finally smoothed out but for some time, was prioritizing accounts which posted reels. Will we see a return to static image posts being the top performers for engagement on the app? Not likely.

  • Surprises: Reports indicate that the popular application which Facebook bought in 2012, is pulling ranks with regards to messaging. Users are gravitating to the in-app messaging feature, turning the future bright for a platform which has already pivoted from an image sharing application to a healthy sales channel for a range of differently sized businesses.


TikTok

The popular short form video sharing platform took the market by storm in 2021 and hasn't let go. TikTok reports 150 million users in the United States. Some studies indicate that TikTok users on average use the platform 95 minutes a day with approximately 8 different "touch points" daily. Close to 60% of users in the United States identify as 'female'. Perhaps the 'youngest' of the platforms both in market entry and audience, the breakdown of user age on the application is a stark reminder to tailor content to audience.


  • Strengths: 83% of TikTok users have contributed a video to the platform. If you're a brand looking to seek and utilize UGC this could be the right path for you.

  • Weaknesses: If you're not comfortable with video marketing, now is the time to get comfortable! TikTok and Instagram are leading the trend in short form video content and your brand will have to keep up to meet demand. But it's not all doom and gloom; don't imagine you have to roll out the latest TikTok dance trend in your content. You can focus on what makes your brand unique by showcasing behind-the-scenes, future product launch teases, and more style content. Find your balance!

  • Surprises: Don't be intimidated by the youth aspect on this platform! We'd all do well to remember when Facebook became the 'parent' platform and younger people 'left' in droves but as the data indicates, Facebook is still outperforming all other platforms and the audience while aging is adapting. If your audience is on TikTok, chances are they will be there for some time. Build up a brand and stay consistent to see results.


LinkedIn

Famous for being the boring older brother of social media channels, LinkedIn can be a great tool for B2B or professional networking. A survey tell us that 23% of LinkedIn users in the United States are between the ages of 40 and 49, while 31% are between the ages of 30 and 39. Approximately 58% of users in the United States identify as 'male'.


  • Strengths: There are more people on LinkedIn than people who post on LinkedIn, so if you post regularly you are likely to be shown to a semi-regular if not wider audience. Engaging with other user posts in the comments or with reactions benefits your ranking in the algorithm as well as sharing posts.

  • Weaknesses: If you're not consistent on LinkedIn, LinkedIn will seem like a wasteland. LinkedIn is not a 'social' channel in the same vein as Facebook or Instagram, where personal milestones and achievements belong. Call us fuddy-duddy but keep the marriage announcements and holiday pictures off LinkedIn to help streamline the pipeline between content and leads.

  • Surprises: Several studies seem to suggest that approximately half of LinkedIn's users earn more than $75,000. Be aware of your audience when crafting copy and content for LinkedIn.


Which Platform to Choose?

When determining if your business belongs on a particular platform, it is good to consider:

  • What are my lead demographics and psychographics and how those align with the platform of choice?

  • Will my content be image or video heavy?

  • How comfortable am I (or is the individual who will be managing the account) at using the platform?

Where you spend your time as a social media user is not always the best place for your business, unfortunately. Considering the above will help you define your use case for the platform of choice. And it bears repeating: Don't put all your eggs in a social media basket! Consider the return on investment (ROI) of a healthy email marketing strategy to insure your audience survives outside a nasty platform breakdown.


Authenticity Matters!

Too often do we see brands using social media exclusively as a sales channel. Even the multinationals like Adidas or Nike use social media to engage with customers via creative campaigns that evoke and inspire discussion. If they can do it, an SME certainly can! Being authentic on social media means:

  • Responding to comments and DMs regularly and with personal touches

  • Posting consistently and not always 'selling' but focusing on the brand story, process, etc.

  • Being responsible and respectful with regards to politics and humor on a professional account

When you choose the right platform for your brand and create a strategy which pulls elements from the above and elsewhere together, social media can and will work as a unique channel for your business.


Summary:

Each platform has its strengths and weaknesses. Consider the demographics of your ideal client and the audience of the platform, before committing. Don't always pick a social media platform just because you like to use it. Act authentically on social media and your users will gravitate to your account.


Get in Touch:

Fight the overwhelm and make strategic social media choices. Have a question? Email Liz@litirmarketing.com.




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