There’s no doubt that social media is an important channel for promoting yourself online. In an ideal world, you could market your business or website on every social site. However, your time and resources are limited, so you’ll need to determine the best social media sites for your brand to focus on.

Most marketers would do best to pick a few key social media sites and use them to share content and build an audience. Of course, every business is different, so the platforms you select should be uniquely matched to your goals. A little research and a better understanding of the most popular social media networks will make the decision much clearer.

In this article, we’re going to discuss four of the most popular and best social media sites, and help you choose the ones that will maximize your marketing efforts. First though, let’s talk about why this process is so crucial.

Why it’s important to choose your social media platforms carefully

While there are a lot of ways to market your business online, social media is possibly the most crucial channel to pursue. There are now over 2.5 billion social media users throughout the world, and one million more are added to that number each day. There’s clearly a huge base of potential customers and clients for you to tap into.

However, you’re probably aware of just how many social media platforms exist. If you have the time to market your business on all of them, that’s great! Unfortunately, chances are high that your resources are limited, meaning you’ll need to select the best social media sites to target.

Focusing on a few key sites enables you to effectively create a social media presence and reach your ideal audience, since you can find out where they tend to gather and meet them there. You also won’t be splitting your focus trying to keep up with too many platforms at once. In addition, you’ll be able to create content that plays to each site’s strengths.

So without further ado, let’s look at some of the best social media sites and help you decide which ones are best suited to your business.

Four of the best social media sites for marketers

Instead of trying to cover every social site available, we’ve decided to focus on four of the most popular and influential. We chose these sites for their impact and reach, and because they’re some of the best social media sites for marketing your business. Let’s start with the site that still boasts the largest audience:

1. Facebook

How to choose the best social media sites for your marketing - The Facebook homepage.

Facebook has been the most popular social media platform for some time, and with currently over two billion users, it isn’t likely to lose that distinction any time soon. While it’s impossible to say exactly what gives Facebook the impact it has, part of the reason is probably due to its flexibility. Users can create personal profiles, establish public and private groups and pages, run events, message their contacts, post a wide range of media types, and much more.

Demographics and key characteristics:

Another factor that makes Facebook such a powerful platform is its varied demographics. Here is what the user base looks like at a glance:

IncomeAccessed by 82% of internet users with some college education, and 79% of those with a college degree. Location shows similar levels of use among urban, suburban, and rural areas.LocationShows similar levels of use among urban, suburban, and rural areas.

GenderSlightly more popular with women (83%), but used by men nearly as much (75%).
AgeHas a similar rate of use among 18- to 49-year-olds (84 to 88%), with a slight drop-off for older users.
EducationAccessed by 82% of internet users with some college education, and 79% of those with a college degree.

As you can see, there is no one typical Facebook user. It’s a social platform that reaches 79% of all internet users. However, there are some common trends to how Facebook is used. Most people who use the platform spend about 20 minutes a day on it, and the majority of this time is given to posting and consuming video content. 100 million hours of video are watched on Facebook each day – and 85% of that time is conducted without sound. 66% of users (and 88% of ‘millennials’) also use the platform as a primary news source.

Recommendations for marketers:

What does this all mean for you? Facebook is a social site suited to most businesses, and is well worth pursuing simply based on its ubiquity. No matter the demographics of your target audience, you’re likely to find plenty of them on this platform. However, businesses that will get the most out of Facebook are those with content suited to a silent video format, and those that can connect their offerings to current news, trends, or issues. This is also one of the best social media sites if you’re willing to spend time creating quality content that is interesting and ‘shareable’.

Last but certainly not least, the consistent decrease in brands’ organic reach means that you’ll want to consider paid Facebook ads and videos.

2. Twitter

The Twitter homepage.

As of this writing, Twitter has about 328 million users who are active on a monthly basis. This is a huge user base, especially considering the limitations of the platform. While Facebook tries to provide everything for everyone, Twitter takes a far more streamlined approach. Users can post pictures, videos, and short messages, and ‘tag’ one another to respond and carry out conversations.

Demographics and key characteristics:

Let’s take a look at Twitter’s demographics:

GenderEssentially equal rates among men and women (24% and 25% respectively).
AgeMost popular with 18- to 29-year-olds (36%), with very low adoption rates among the 65+ segment (10%).
Education25% of those with a college education and 29% of those with a college degree use Twitter.
IncomeMost popular with the highest income brackets ($50,000 or more per year).
LocationDisplays nearly identical use among urban, suburban, and rural audiences.

Like Facebook, Twitter has a reach that extends to many audiences. There are some clear trends, however – a majority of users are under 30, have at least some college education, and make a decent salary. Many of these people also use the platform in similar ways. Most Twitter users access the platform from a mobile device, for example. They are particularly interested in news, as well as updates from celebrities and brands. What’s more, they expect quick responses to their tweets (usually in under an hour), and pay the most attention to messages that include images or quotes. Images in particular increase the Click-Through Rate (CTR) by 18%.

Recommendations for marketers:

If you’re targeting a younger, educated, and well-off audience, Twitter is one of the best social media sites for you. You’ll also need the time to devote to monitoring the site regularly and responding to your audiences’ tweets quickly. Plus, you’ll want to be open to conducting back-and-forth conversations (as opposed to one-time posts, which do better on Facebook). Finally, to get the most out of Twitter you’ll want a brand suited to short, timely messages, both in image and text format. Be prepared to focus on building relationships and authority, rather than on promoting your services or products directly.

3. LinkedIn

The LinkedIn homepage.
With a little over 100 million users, LinkedIn is the least popular platform on our list. However, it is potentially the most interesting, and its unique impact and market should not be overlooked. While most social media platforms are designed for users to socialize, share details about their personal lives, and spread interesting content, LinkedIn has positioned itself as a networking site for professionals.

Demographics and key characteristics:

The above means that the demographics for LinkedIn are a little different from most social sites:

GenderOne of the few platforms that’s more popular with men (31%) than women (27%).
AgeAbout a third of 18- to 49-year-olds use this site, while 20% of those 65 or older are on the platform.
Education50% of internet users with at least a college degree are active on LinkedIn.
IncomeUsed much more by those with a high income – for example, by 45% of people who make at least $75,000 per year.
LocationHighest adoption rates are seen in urban areas (34%) and suburban areas (30%), as opposed to rural locations (18%).

These numbers shouldn’t be surprising. LinkedIn sets out to attract a particular type of user, and it succeeds in doing so. There are a number of other interesting facts to note about the typical LinkedIn user as well. 40% use the platform daily, although they usually spend less than two hours on the site per week in total. Most people use the platform to make connections, look for jobs or employees, and share their own credentials and skills.

Recommendations for marketers:

LinkedIn is well worth a look if your business is targeting an audience of educated, high-earning, urban dwellers, particularly if they are recent college graduates or older. You’ll need to make a quick impact, since visits are typically so short. Plus, you’ll want to be able to establish plenty of connections to increase your perceived authority. It’s also worth noting that LinkedIn is one of the best social media sites for Business-To-Business (B2B) marketing, as opposed to promotion that’s focused on consumers. After all, 80% of B2B leads come from LinkedIn, and 92% of B2B marketers prioritize this platform over all others.

For more advice, check out our guide to LinkedIn marketing.

4. Pinterest

The Pinterest homepage.

Finally, we come to Pinterest. The newest platform on our list, this social site has still had plenty of time to rack up a user base of 175 million people, and to become a front runner online. Pinterest’s focus is on visual content – mainly images, with a lesser emphasis on videos and GIFs. Users can upload media and organize it into collections, which others can then view publicly. Businesses can also create dedicated promotional pages.

Demographics and key characteristics:

Pinterest’s demographics skew young and female, like most image-heavy social platforms:

Gender45% of women use the platform, while only 17% of men do.
AgeAbout a third of 18- to 49-year-old Internet users are on Pinterest.
EducationAbout 34% of those with some college or a full degree have Pinterest accounts.
IncomeRates across income brackets are consistent, with no clear outliers.
LocationUrban and suburban areas see the highest adoption rates – 30% and 34% respectively.

Therefore, your typical Pinterest user is female, between the ages of 18 and 49, lives in a suburban or urban area, and has at least some college education. Most of these people (72%) use the platform to find ideas they can incorporate into their everyday lives, and are interested in a wide variety of niches including retail, food, home improvement, and vehicles. They want to learn new things and find new products through this site. Pinterest is also a consumer-friendly platform. 55% of users shop on the site, and 61% say they’ve discovered new brands or products via promotional ‘pins’.

Recommendations for marketers:

Of all the platforms we’ve covered, Pinterest has perhaps the clearest audience and focus for marketers. It’s not ideal for service businesses or B2B companies but it is one of the best social media sites if you’re selling products. In particular, you’ll want to be able to demonstrate how your items can improve users’ everyday lives and make common tasks easier. You’ll also need to be able to distinguish your offerings as creative or unique in some way. Finally, Pinterest is quite friendly to direct marketing. Therefore, it’s a smart site to focus on if that’s your preferred approach.

Pinterest also has a unique display format, so it’s important to optimize your images for Pinterest viewers.

Conclusion

Social media marketing can be intimidating if you’ve never done it before. However, you can make the task far more approachable by carefully selecting the best social media sites to target, and learning as much about them as you can beforehand. This initial effort will pay off in the long run, by making it easier for you to build a strong audience and promote your business.

Let’s revisit the four popular social media sites we’ve discussed throughout this article:

  1. Facebook: Ideal for almost any business, particularly if you’re willing to put some time into creating interesting and engaging content.
  2. Twitter: Perfect for growing a dedicated audience through communication and short, timely messaging.
  3. LinkedIn: Frequented by educated professionals, and the platform to focus on if you’re a B2B company.
  4. Pinterest: A smart site to invest in if your audience is young and female, and if you’re selling products that are useful for everyday life.

If your target audience skews younger you may also want to check out Instagram or Snapchat.

Do you have any questions about how to market effectively on these platforms? Ask away in the comments section below!