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Social media has changed the world. It should be no surprise that it has also changed business. One study found that 90% of marketers believe that social media is important to their businesses. And statistics prove that they’re right.

But with dozens of social media platforms out there, how do you know where to focus your activity on social media for business?

The answer will be different depending on your brand, your target audience, and your marketing strengths. Do you have a killer in-house video team? Then YouTube might be the place for you. Are your products conducive to great visual images? Instagram or Pinterest could be a good fit. Does your brand appeal to teens? It might be time to start taking advantage of Snapchat.

In order to determine the best network for your business, it’s important to understand the reach and user demographics for each of the bigger social networks. Then factor in the unique aspects of your brand and marketing resources. Armed with that knowledge, you can find the social networks that best fit your brand, your skills, and your goals.

Best Social Media Networks for Business

It’s tempting to employ a wide net when it comes to social media marketing strategy. If getting on these networks is free anyway, why wouldn’t you try to market on every major network in order to reach the most people? Running traditional marketing in that way won’t give you the best ROI on your efforts, and it doesn’t work with social media either. A better path for success is to focus on a select few networks that fit your brand.

Typically, social media advertising comes at a lower cost than other forms of advertising like newspaper, television, and radio ads. This is in large part due to one of the biggest advantages of social media marketing over traditional marketing, which is the ability to reach a concise, often niche, and very targeted audience. But in order to fully capitalize on this, you need to know who your audience is and where they are likely to be on social media.

Understanding social media demographics is key, because you want to invest your valuable time promoting the right kind of content in the right places. And then make sure to avoid these 5 Common Social Media Problems. Take a look at the top social networks for business to get an idea of where your brand might fit best.

NOTE: Demographic and usage statistics are for the U.S. Sources found at the end.

1. Facebook

Number of Users: 2.4 billion

Demographics

  • Slightly more women (75%) use Facebook than men (63%)
  • 69% of U.S. adults are on Facebook
  • Facebook has the most even spread of adult users across age groups:
    • Ages 13-17 (only 7%)
    • Ages 18-24 (76%)
    • Ages 25-29 (84%)
    • Ages 30-49 (79%)
    • Ages 50-64 (68%)
    • Ages 65+ (46%)

Marketing Info at a Glance

Facebook is the most widely used social network in the world. Their advertising platform is the most developed of all social media networks and offers extensive targeting. Since Facebook acquired Instagram in 2012, you can also use their advertising system for Instagram ads. Some companies have also found success using Facebook Messenger.

2. YouTube

Number of Users: 2 billion

Demographics

  • More men (78%) than women (69%) are on Youtube
  • 73% of U.S. adults use YouTube
  • Adult users across age groups:
    • Ages 13-17 (83%)
    • Ages 18-24 (90%)
    • Ages 25-29 (93%)
    • Ages 30-49 (87%)
    • Ages 50-64 (70%)
    • Ages 65+ (38%)

Marketing Info at a Glance

YouTube is owned by Google, giving you unique access to Google’s advertising platform and placement in Google searches. You can also optimize the search of your company’s YouTube videos with keywords.

3. Instagram

Number of Users: 1 billion

Demographics

  • Women (43%) use Instagram more than men (31%)
  • 37% of U.S. adults are on Instagram
  • Adult users across age groups:
    • Ages 13-17 (73%)
    • Ages 18-24 (75%)
    • Ages 25-29 (57%)
    • Ages 30-49 (47%)
    • Ages 50-64 (23%)
    • Ages 65+ (8%)

Marketing Info at a Glance

Instagram is a purely visual platform. You can only publish posts that include photos or videos. This can work in your favor, since studies show that people remember 80% of what they see. Since it is owned by Facebook, Instagram has access to Facebook’s advertising platform and user base. More than two-thirds of U.S. businesses are using Instagram.

4. LinkedIn

Number of Users: 630 million

Demographics

  • More men use LinkedIn (57%) than women (43%)
  • 27% of U.S. adults are on LinkedIn
  • Most teens do not use LinkedIn, since it is a professional network
  • Adult users across age groups:
    • Ages 18-24 (38%)
    • Ages 25-29 (28%)
    • Ages 30-49 (35%)
    • Ages 50-64 (27%)
    • Ages 65+ (15%)

Marketing Info at a Glance

LinkedIn is considered a social media platform for business and is the top network for B2B marketing. It has a highly educated and more affluent user base: 50% of adults who graduated college and 45% of adults who make over $75,000 use LinkedIn.

5. Twitter

Number of Users: 330 million

Demographics

  • Twitter usage is pretty even between genders
  • 24% of U.S. adults use Twitter
  • Adult users across age groups:
    • Ages 13-17 (32%)
    • Ages 18-24 (73%)
    • Ages 25-29 (47%)
    • Ages 30-49 (25%)
    • Ages 50-64 (9%)
    • Ages 65+ (3%)

Marketing Info at a Glance

Twitter’s more real time platform is great for having a conversation with consumers and sharing news. It can impact sales as well, with 52% of users saying they’ve bought a product they first saw on Twitter.

6. Snapchat

Number of Users: 310 million

Demographics

  • Men (29%) edge out women (23%) in Snapchat users
  • 24% of U.S. adults use Snapchat
  • Users across age groups:
    • Ages 13-24 (90%)
    • Ages 15-24 (53%)
    • Ages 26-35 (34%)
    • Ages 36-45 (18%)
    • Ages 46-55 (11%)
    • Ages 56+ (4%)

Marketing Info at a Glance

Snapchat is the platform of choice for people under 25 (73% of them use it). Snapchat stories (that last 24 hours) provide opportunities for continually fresh content, and Snapchat Insights can help you understand and target your audience.

7. Pinterest

Number of Users: 291 million

Demographics

  • Women (79%) dominate Pinterest over men (20%)
  • 28% of U.S. adults use Pinterest
  • Adult users across age groups:
    • Ages 18-24 (75%)
    • Ages 25-29 (57%)
    • Ages 30-49 (47%)
    • Ages 50-64 (23%)
    • Ages 65+ (8%)
  • Teen use is not statistically significant

Marketing Info at a Glance

As an image-only platform, Pinterest can be useful to generate sales (93% of Pinterest users use it to make purchases or plan future purchases) and website referral traffic. Pinterest also has an ad platform similar to Facebook and Twitter.

Social Media for Business

You don’t have to navigate the social media landscape alone. The social media experts at Big Leap can help you target the right networks with the right strategy.

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Jaime Theler
Jaime Theler is a published author, freelance editor, and content writer at Big Leap. When she isn't writing or volunteering in the publishing community, you can find her running, reading, or hiking. She loves to drag her family on "nature-cations" and has been accused of the inability to sit still.