Social media has radically changed the way businesses communicate with their customers. But for a small business owner, getting into social media can cause serious headaches. Perhaps the biggest problem is deciding which social media platforms (and how many) you should use.
And if you try to be active on too many platforms, you’ll spread yourself too thin. You won’t make a serious impression.
So let’s help you decide how to identify which social network is right for your business.
Editor’s note: Social media is great for capturing attention, but you’ll also need a website. Launch your website with our 30-day risk-free trial. Includes all you need to promote your product or service widely, plus customised advice to guide you.
How to pick the right social media for you
The goal is to be active on one or two networks where your likely customers hang out. Here’s how to pick them.
- Look at your industry and your content.
- Identify your objectives.
- Look at your target audience.
Then keep reading for our list of the 6 most popular social networks in Australia, along with who hangs out on each. The results may surprise you.
1. Look at your industry and your content
You’ve probably already looked at what your competition is doing on social media. That will probably have influenced your initial opinion about which social networks you should be using. But look deeper, don’t just be on the same ones as they are. Try and learn from their experiences. For example:
- Are they more active on one social media platform than others?
- Is their audience more active on one network than the others?
Then start looking at the type of content that best suits your business and that you’re most comfortable producing. Some examples:
If you’re a retailer or sell consumer goods
Photos and videos will probably be something that you have ready access to and they’re also popular with your audience. Image-sharing networks like Instagram and Pinterest would be ideal social media platforms for you.
If you’re in professional services or the B2B environment
In this case, publishing written or video content that demonstrates your expertise and authority will be a great start. Consider offering free tips and advice on your area of expertise. Facebook is an option, although LinkedIn is more tailored to a B2B audience. It also heavily skews towards video.
If you offer services to consumers
For businesses that provide services, peer reviews are incredibly influential. Facebook not only provides a great place to collect reviews, it also gives your clients the ability to recommend your business to their friends.
2. Identify your objectives
Why do you want to spend your time and money on social media? What’s the end goal?
To bring people to your website
This can be inherently difficult because the priority for all social networks is to keep you inside their platform for as long as possible — they don’t want you to leave. Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn stand out among them; neither Instagram nor Pinterest provides easily accessible links to external sites.
To let people know about your business or engage influencers
Instagram is the obvious option here. Brands are built on Instagram every day and influencers are everywhere. But Facebook is still the most popular platform, which makes it a great place to start building a reputation.
To advertise for new leads
All of the top platforms have advertising options. But each have their own pros and cons.
- Facebook is terrific for hyper-targeting your audience.
- LinkedIn has some great targeting options among the professionals’ segment, but it tends to perform better if you have high-priced goods and services (think $5k+).
- If you’re a retailer, Instagram and Pinterest are becoming influential platforms for shoppers (and they both include paid campaign options).
3. Look at your target audience
Where do they spend their time online? It sounds like a simple question, but too often it’s ignored in favour of where a business owner (or their partner) spends their social media time.
For example, is your target market:
- Millennials or Boomers?
- Members of another distinct group?
Another questions is do you want to engage with them inside or outside of business hours?
If you don’t know the answers to these questions, do some basic research (see below). Then back your research up by surveying a sample of your existing customers.
Who uses what in Australia?
Roy Morgan researched Australians’ social media usage for the 12 months leading up to March 2019 and compared the results to four years earlier. Let’s have a quick look at the top six platforms.
As you’d expect, Facebook is Australia’s leading social network, with 17.1 million of us visiting at least once a month. That’s 83% of the population over the age of 14. Facebook attracts the majority of each age group, from pre-Boomers right through to Gen Z, so it offers a great opportunity to engage with just about any audience.
Were you expecting YouTube to be our second-favourite social network? There are 15.3 million Aussies over the age of 14 (74% of the population) visiting the site at least once every four weeks.
If you want to attract the Gen Z crowd, you can’t ignore YouTube.
It has knocked Facebook over as this segment’s favourite network. YouTube’s popularity starts to decline as Australians get older, but it still maintains the second spot among all age segments.
Australia’s third-favourite social network, Instagram has 8 million Aussies (39%) over the age of 14 visiting it at least once a month.
Insta doesn’t have the same penetration as Facebook or YouTube, but it has grown more than any other network over the past four years. Its visitor numbers have increased by 238%.
Businesses that cater to a younger audience use Instagram because 68% of Gen Z and 52% of Gen Y frequent the platform.
But if you want to target older generations, then it might be best to look elsewhere. Only 15% of Baby Boomers and 7% of pre-Boomers use the image-sharing site frequently.
This might come as another surprise. Pinterest is Australia’s fourth most popular social network with 7.3 million Aussies (34%) over the age of 14 visiting the site at least once every four weeks.
Pinterest has enjoyed the second-biggest growth spurt (174%) over the last four years, further demonstrating the appeal of image-sharing platforms.
It has wide distribution across all segments. Gen X are the most frequent users (40%), only marginally ahead of Gen Y (38%) and Baby Boomers (38%). Together, that’s more than one-third of all Aussies born between 1946 and 1990.
Twitter is our fifth most popular social network with 6.6 million Australians over the age of 14 (32%) using the site at least once each month. It’s the third-fastest growing platform, with the number of Aussie users increasing by 83% over the last four years.
LinkedIn rounds out the top six with 4.8 million Aussies (23%) over the age of 14 using the site at least once in four weeks. Known as a network for working professionals, it’s a good choice for any business pursuing business clients.
Social media platforms explained
Social media promises so much, but when a small business fails to identify its objectives and develop a strategy to achieve them, then a great deal of time is wasted.
It’s crucial to understand your audience and the specific nuances of each social media platform so you can find the platform most likely to host your target consumers. And while it’s tempting to dive in and start posting everywhere, you’re better to be awesome on one platform than to be insignificant on five.