For anyone who read George Orwell’s 1949 book Animal Farm, you’ll likely recall this telling quote:
“All animals are created equal, but some animals are more equal than others.”
This politically fueled satire featured animals organizing their farm and occupants not unlike a state and its people. The eventual downfall of the system rife with alliances and greed pointedly was Orwell’s comment on a distaste of socialist dictatorship society.
But viewed from a different context, this quote has a modern day meaning when applied to social media. While there are many platforms out there, and many of us tend to treat them as all deserving our attention in the competition for eyeballs and engagement, some platforms are indeed more deserving then others.
A frequently occurring conversation in business circles is how busy people have become, and how hard it is to keep up with all the emails and social media. Add to that an uncertainty about the effectiveness of that time spent on social, and it becomes a murky place to navigate.
I believe seeing all options and social media platforms as equal largely fuels this frustration. Indeed as Orwell noted, some are in fact more equal then others. But which ones are “more equal” and thus deserving of your time, really depends on your business, your audience and your objectives.
So here are some 2015 statistics courtesy of Pew Research about some of the major social media platforms.
- 71% of online adults use Facebook. Of those:
- Women: 77%
- Men: 66%
- 18-29: 87%
- 30-49: 73%
- 50-64: 63%
- 65+ 56%
Of relevance here is the broad cross population coverage of the platform, and particularly 18-49 with the highest concentration in the 18-29 year old bracket. While Google + has tried to break into this market, Facebook remains the dominant player for a broad based audience channel. It’s part of the reason they have been successful monetizing sponsored posts and getting companies to pay to boost their content. They have a huge repository of personal information and profiling, and for the time being, the cost to boost posts is relatively inexpensive if done well. It is however the 2015 equivalent to being a display ad in a paper people are reading, it’s just that you get to select who will see your ad buried in their news feed. For smaller companies or individuals perhaps using a personal account rather then a business page, the non-monetized options are actually not bad – if you post publically, have solid followers, and have enough clout to have your content rise in search.
- 26% of online adults use Instagram. Of those:
- Women: 29%
- Men: 22%
- 18-29: 53%
- 30-49: 25%
- 50-64: 11%
- 65+ 6%
Of relevance is the fact that it is not as broadly used as Facebook, but the heavy use by 18-29 group is relevant if that correlates well with your target market. It is also very visual and conversational, so if your content is visually oriented towards a younger audience and you want to build community this is a good one. Of frustration for business use is the limited ability to link to other stuff except through your home identity, so the key seems to be to change that URL when you have something relevant to link to (such as a blog post or offer) and refer to it in the post.
- 23% of online adults use Twitter. Of those:
- Women: 21%
- Men: 24%
- 18-29: 37%
- 30-49: 25%
- 50-64: 12%
- 65+ 10%
Of relevance is the profile of the 25-37% who do use it, as well as the heavier use by younger populations. Those that do use Twitter regularly are generally highly engaged in a topic or area of interest. Twitter is also heavily used by media to monitor stories and get tips on content. The nature of the medium in being able to follow and tag, can give easier access to journalists then email is some cases. Twitter is also becoming much more visual with the sharing of images and video. The bottom line is, Twitter will never have the broad uptake of Facebook, but it has strategic uses for growing the audience for your content and for getting media attention.
- 28% of online adults use LinkedIn. Of those:
- Women: 27%
- Men: 28%
- 18-29: 23%
- 30-49: 31%
- 50-64: 30%
- 65+ 21%
Of relevance is the broad use across age groups, the profile of who is using it being business oriented, the type of content shared also being business oriented. The 30-64 group has the highest use frequency. This makes it an excellent platform for B2B sharing and networking as well as personal brand building.
- 28% of online adults use Pinterest. Of those:
- Women: 42%
- Men: 13%
- 18-29: 34%
- 30-49: 28%
- 50-64: 27%
- 65+ 17%
Of relevance is the high percentage of women who are engaged on the platform, in particular younger women 18-29 but the platform has solid uptake by women 30-64 as well. This platform is highly visual, so if you have a lot of visual content and women are your audience, this could be a good one to focus on.
My suggestion for those who find themselves time starved is to pick one or two to focus on with effort. Pick those that make the most sense for your business and audience. Only add others when time and effort allow, or put them in “maintenance mode.” Additionally using a platform such as Hootsuite, which is a dashboard that integrates all your social media and allows you to monitor and schedule posts, can make management easier. You then have a one stop shop to check once a day, or to set things up for the week and get back to work.
Really it comes down to good time management and having a strategic focus. In the end, while it may appear that all social media platforms are equal and deserving of your time, in fact some platforms are more equal then others!