Social media has become a critical component to the success of your brand. Yet with so many social networks and more being added all the time, it can be daunting to decide how -and where- to invest your time and money. One thing is clear at the outset…social media in 2016 rewards creativity and non-linear thinking.
I created this 2 part series to help you understand what social networks are important to different demographics, as well as how to properly promote your brand using this exciting new vehicle for reaching your audience and developing your brand’s voice.
In Part 1, we will take a look at the current and projected social media landscape. Part 2 will focus on how to present your brand successfully using social media as well as provide current guidelines on preparing your image assets for the most popular social media networks.
– There are approximately 7.5 billion people on the planet right now.
– There are now an estimated 3.17 billion internet users, 65%+ of which have at least one social media account.
– The average internet user has 5.54 social media accounts. For users in the 16-24 range, this number is closer to 6.6.
This means that social media is the white elephant in the room if your firm doesn’t already have a clear and well developed social media marketing plan in place. If you don’t have one, there is no time like the present. But where do you begin your social media strategy? Which social media networks are right for you?
First, let’s get acquainted.
LinkedIn (Founded December 2002)
With almost half a million users, and 2 new members per second, LinkedIn is one of the older networks still in active use today. This network is comprised of 70% of users outside of the US. This platform is more formal in nature, and places an emphasis on the traditional resumé and educational experience.
LinkedIn is also the oldest in terms of demographics with 100 million users over the age of 50. With an average income of $75,000 a year, and a higher average education level than other networks, many important connections can be made. It is still relevant to your social media planning today if you are interested in targeting the corporate, professional, or educational sector of the market as well as employees who work in such fields.
Google+ is Google’s 4th attempt at creating a successful social network. Though the network has an estimated 300 million “active” users (problems with accuracy in this number exist), they have never been able to achieve the necessary level of cool to crack into the realms of Facebook or Twitter.
Indeed, it is hard to know how active usership is monitored because many Google+ accounts are created de facto with new Google Mail accounts. The network itself does little more than mimic Facebook’s timeline wall without innovating in the profile department. Indeed, active usership is even more inflated because when a Google Passport is used, comments posted on other networks like YouTube while logged in with a Google Passport are recorded as Google+ activity.
If you are using a Google Passport, you likely have a Google+ account. Ignoring it is to waste free space to communicate your brand message. At the least, make sure that your profile features current contact information, your current brand images, and is professionally communicated. Though users and visitors alike will spend less time on these Google+ profiles than most social networks, it never hurts to put your best face forward if its going to be out there anyway.
Once the epitome of a successful social network at the top of its game, Facebook is starting to show signs of slowing on the trail it helped to blaze. Young people are dropping out of Facebook in favor of Instagram and other more image nimble networks.
Born in an era when the majority of social network activity took place on a desktop or laptop, Facebook, like LinkedIn, just feels outdated and clunky. Too many bells and whistles as well as a decidedly unstylish interface make it hard to compete with the sleeker, more immediate, and more visceral apps like Instagram, Snapchat, and Vine.
Yet, for the moment, one can’t escape the user statistics. With an estimated 1.65 billion users, it enjoys a broad demographic base as well as high engagement rates. And for better or for worse, the average user spends 50 minutes a day on Facebook.
– 29.7% of users are between the ages of 25-30 which is the most prevalent age range for users.
– One in five page views in the United States occurs on Facebook.
– Users are composed of a relatively even mix of genders.
Peak traffic time on Facebook is mid-week between 1 to 3 pm. Higher engagement levels are seen in the evening, but not later at night. Make a content schedule and stick to it to improve your chances of connecting with prospects at the right time.
Used primarily by people in the 18-29 range, Twitter ranks highly in the following industries:
– Home & Garden
– Art & Design
With approximately 300 million + active users as of 2015, Twitter users send an average of 500 million tweets per day. At 140 characters each, it is important to develop a clear and concise brand voice in order to stand out from the sea of Tweets.
One way to do this is with a context of active and helpful dialogue in your feed. 68% of Tweets are replies so you can connect with your audience on a more personal, responsive level than with traditional push advertising.
– 29% of Twitter users check their Twitter account multiple times a day.
– 78% of Twitter users use Twitter on a mobile device.
– 47% of people who follow a brand on Twitter are more likely to visit the company’s website.
If another Tweeter re-tweets your work, feel free to do the same for them with content from that Tweeter that your audience would also benefit from. This is more helpful than a thank you for the RT message.
Pinterest users Pin images (and gifs) into Boards they create by topic. It’s basically the modern day equivalent of cutting articles and images out of magazines and keeping them in a scrapbook. Having enjoyed an audience of 80% women for several years, male users are increasing their join rate as Pinterest becomes the go-to guide for everything design, self improvement, fashion, lifestyle, and home related.
In 2014, 27% of Pinterest users were between the ages of 18-29. Described as aspirational, Pinterest users create boards centered around the home, fashion, branding, DIY, and a myriad of other personal interests. Overall, the vibe of this network is pleasant and supportive. Pinterest excels as a visual communication tool because you can really get a feel for the user’s visual style.
If you are lucky enough to have your branded work shared through Pinning, you have the potential to be catalogued in various types of Boards, depending on how your brand fits in with the bigger aspirational picture of that Pinner.
80% of Pinterest content is now re-circulated already pinned content. That means that by generating original content (rather than re-pinning) you can automatically have a competitive edge if your content looks the part.
Clean composition and material execution is really important in Pinterest. Develop and maintain a consistent style and brand usage guidelines for your brand that include Pinterest.
If you are in the self-improvement, art, design, blogging, lifestyle, fashion, event planning or antique business, put a priority on developing high quality content for Pinterest.
The idea of Snapchat is that the messages sent using the platform self destruct after a set period of time from 3 seconds (the original standard) to 24 hours or a custom user-defined time. This is the most popular social network for those 24 and under.
With a smart user-friendly algorithmic core, Snapchat excels in telling stories with images as they happen. The Story feature has grown to function as a community recording of shared events. Many viewpoints from the same event are shared in real time with users who follow the Story.
All of the messages sent through Snapchat are meant to resemble real time human exchange, and can be sent as text, audio, video and chat.
– This is a network to include if you are targeting the 12-29 crowd which forms the largest percentage of its userbase.
– The number one type of content shared by general users was a “stupid face”.
“Snapchat isn’t about capturing the traditional Kodak moment. It’s about communicating with the full range of human emotion—not just what appears to be pretty or perfect.”
-Snapchat CEO Evan Spiegel
Like the other successful image based networks, Snapchat has developed as a hybrid of private messaging and public content, including brand channels and special events.
Designed for the privacy and convenience of self destructing messages, the enormous adoption rate is attributed to the ease of use and the fun factor of the app.
Enable Smart Filters & Visual Filters by visiting Settings > Manage and select Smart Filters and Visual Filters. Now when you take a picture with Snapchat, you can add either time, temperature, speed or visual filters including black and white and vintage to your picture by swiping to the left or right. Experiment until you find a look that is consistent with your brand, and then stick with that.
Vine allows user to upload 6 second looping videos. Acquired by Twitter in 2012 before the company launched its product, Vine has enjoyed rapidly accelerated growth since its inception. With 200 million active users at the end of 2015, Vine is quickly becoming the darling of the social media world.
With a web and app version of the network, as well as a Kids only version of the app recently being developed, Vine is used primarily for comedy, music, video editing, and stop motion animation as well as journalism in limited applications.
The main app itself is rated 17+.
Use #hashtags just like you would on Twitter or Instagram. A creative hashtag can help you find your loyal social media tribe as well as expand your brand’s awareness on Vine.
Vine’s list of Trending Tags can help provide inspiration for your Vine hashtags.
Expect more development and continued popularity with this network as users create their own channels. Video is immediate and it is visceral, making connections that the written word can’t. While other platforms are adding video, the purely video based nature of YouTube’s format makes it a social media platform to watch in the coming years.
– YouTube is watched by more people in the 18-49 age range than any cable network in the US.
– 80% of YouTube’s views are from outside the US.
– The average viewing session is 40 minutes (a 50% year over year increase).
– YouTube is not a walled garden like Facebook. In fact, it is the 3rd largest search engine in the world, making it easy for people to find your content online.
Create an instructional video that relates to the theme of your product or service. “How To” videos are the most sought after on YouTube. If you are a dance instructor, produce a short video demonstrating some choreography that viewers can learn at home.
If YouTube is about quantity, Vimeo is about quality. This network tends to attract a higher quality of work including that of independent film creators. As a result, there are less trolls in the community and a more simpatico vibe overall.
The film quality on Vimeo is also superior to YouTube because they don’t use rigorous compression that results in jaggy video.
Another benefit of Vimeo is having more control over your account with an upgrade to premium Vimeo Plus features like ad free viewing, priority video conversion, advanced player customization, and unlimited Groups/Channels/Albums.
– 36 million Vimeo members
– 42 million US based users, which is only 30% of its total audience
– 170 million monthly viewers
Creating a branded video player with control over how and where your content can be shared is important for your brand strength. After all, you might not want your content embedded just anywhere. Check the Privacy Settings carefully when choosing your video settings.
THE WRAP-UP – Future Trends in Social Media
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are other apps and networks out there with niche audiences. The players in this post are the most common and the most popular with the widest range of users.
2016 continues to see the emerging trend of image based social networks like Pinterest, Instagram, and Tumblr. These 3 networks lead all the other networks in number of new members. I predict continued growth in the image relate social networks as well as Snapchat and Twitch.
More data has been created in the last 3 years than in the entire history of the human race. The more we do, the more we talk about what we do. The rate of information growth hasn’t peaked and will continue to amass at a rate greater than anything else on earth. So it makes sense that we have less and less time and need more succinct info accessible from our mobile devices. An element of entertainment and a focus on mobile friendly interfaces and content is vital to the social network of today and tomorrow. The image based network is primed for this purpose hence its recent rise in popularity.
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Still here? Check out this great infographic from DOMO on the sheer volume of data creation in 2014 alone.
Featured Blog image copyright PhotoAgents.