Social media marketing works if you’re reaching your target audience. In fact, 91 percent of U.S. businesses market on social media platforms, a number that continues to escalate. But you won’t find all people on all networks. Here are the best demographics to target for each social media platform.
How Social Media Platforms are Used
Who you’ll reach on each platform differs, although there will be some overlap where the same user is on more than one. You’ll need to know how each network is used, why you’re choosing it, how to engage with it, and what you intend to gain from it before you start the journey into social media marketing.
One of the most important things to know is that it’s not solely about posting and sharing your own content. You’ve also got to engage with your audience – respond to their comments, ask them questions, and be present in the conversation.
More than 1.5 billion people use Facebook daily, so there’s no doubt that it’s a great place to market your business. Facebook’s population uses the platform primarily for social engagement, such as keeping in touch with family and friends, getting active in groups, and getting referrals and recommendations.
Facebook has a casual tone.
The best performing content on Facebook is video.
Facebook uses hashtags, but any more than two in a post is viewed as unprofessional.
Instagram attracts about 500 million people daily, and this is a realm entirely image-based, where you cannot share links in posts unless you’re paying for ads. Design your Instagram marketing around eye-catching images and less text.
Instagram is big on hashtags and allows up to 30 per post.
Twitter has daily engagement from over 192 million users, but if you’re not marketing to them properly, you’ll quickly get lost in the Twittersphere. The vibe of Twitter is more news-based. It’s about sharing and talking about current events. It’s ideal for sharing links to informative blog posts, but not so much for posting about how your day went (although that still happens, too).
Twitter also performs best with visual content, such as video, images, and GIFs.
Like Facebook, Twitter uses hashtags and also recommends only two hashtags per post.
For a B2B networking and job posting resource, turn to LinkedIn. Use LinkedIn to engage with other business professionals in your industry and connect with small businesses, big corporations, and everything in between. LinkedIn is not a space in which you want to try to directly sell your products or services.
On this platform, you can use three hashtags to a post.
With LinkedIn, you can share images, links, and videos, but you also have the ability to create long-form articles to share with your viewers and provide more thorough information.
YouTube is 100 percent video-based and is ranked as the second-largest search engine worldwide. This is a great resource for posting how-to videos, tutorials, and pre-recorded webinars of any length.
YouTube allows up to 15 hashtags in a single post.
Like YouTube, Pinterest is considered a search engine, but instead of videos, the results are shown in pictures that link back to a website.
Pinterest is also generous with its use of hashtags, allowing up to 20 per post.
This platform features short videos of one minute or less. TikTok is ideal for quick tips and tricks, snippets of advice, top five lists, or entertaining video.
When using hashtags on TikTok, four or five is best.
Create a Customer Persona
Before you start placing ads on the networks, have a clear understanding of who your customer is, particularly in terms of age. Age is important because individual social media platforms appeal to and attract audiences within specific age groups. There are also variations in how people respond to each network, how they engage, and what they use them for.
Your customer persona will help you with all of your demographic targetings because you’ll be able to determine your primary customers’ age, gender, interests, hobbies, religions, income levels, education, and more. Knowing this information allows you to laser target your audience, tailor your social media marketing directly for them, and deliver it on the appropriate platform.
The more you use social media, especially with business pages and paid ads, the more of an understanding you’ll have of your customer persona.
Analytics and insights will tell you who is viewing your content, as well as how they’re engaging. You’ll also discover the most popular times they’re engaging, and you’ll recognize patterns in what type of content performs well and where you might need to modify.
Diversify Your Posts
One ad, image, video, or post does not fit appropriately across all social media networks – unless you’re brand new to social media and testing out what works. Even then, your images and videos probably won’t look the same from one network to another and will eventually need to be more diverse and formatted for each platform individually.
Each network has its own way of doing things – specs for image sizes, the number of characters you can post, and user engagement. They’re not a one-size-fits-all marketing strategy.
Furthermore, if you post the same exact content at the same time across all of your networks, your audience will feel as if you’re broadcasting the same show on every channel – they’ll either tune you out, or they’ll begin to unfollow you on other networks and only follow on one.
Pick a network that you feel comfortable using that your target audience is also using and start there. As you get more familiar with who your target market is on one network, you can begin to build your customer persona there and then branch out to other networks to gather more information and reach a broader audience.
Ages of Users on Social Media
While there’s always a crossover of users, each social media network has its most popular age group, which can help you laser focus your attention. Here’s the average age of users per network:
- YouTube: 26-35 (source)
- Facebook: 40 (source)
- Twitter: 34-49 (source)
- Instagram: 25-34 (source)
- LinkedIn: 25-34 (source)
- TikTok: 16-24 (source)
- Pinterest: 40 (source).
For example, in the case of a real estate agent, the average age of a homebuyer is 34 years old. Using that age for an example, that means the agent would do well to advertise on YouTube, Instagram, and LinkedIn to hit their target demographic by age (although LinkedIn is more B2B and career-oriented).
It would be a miss, though, to market to 40-year-olds on Facebook and Pinterest (unless targeting homebuyers and sellers who are upsizing). It would be least profitable to advertise on TikTok since their average user is typically below the age to be purchasing real estate, although there are always exceptions.
It’s not all about age, though. People use the various social media platforms in different ways, for different reasons, and each platform has its own unique form of communication. If you’re going to advertise or engage on their chosen platform, you have to understand the way people are interacting with content on that network.
How Age Groups Use Social Media
Knowing where your audience is hanging out and what they’re using their social network for will help you figure out which networks to grow your business on and how to approach your audience, such as what kind of images, videos, and calls-to-action to use that will resonate with them.
Millennials gravitate toward photo-driven networks like Instagram and Snapchat. If you’re marketing to an audience of ages 25-40, then Instagram is a move in the right direction. You’ll use image-led posts or Instagram Stories to connect with your ideal customers. And if you’re targeting the older end of that spectrum, Pinterest would also prove fruitful.
When you age up to users ages 30-49, there’s a combination wherein a good portion have a Facebook profile, and smaller groups use LinkedIn and Instagram. The tendency with this age group is to focus on business and corporate matters.
Users between the ages of 50-64 tend to hang out on social media to gather their news. Rather than trying to capture their attention with catchy images, you’d use fact-rich, high-quality content and statistics.
There’s still a market for those over 65, too, who are primarily on Facebook. This group of people uses social networks to engage in conversation, getting social interaction, and nurturing relationships with family and friends.
Men and Women
When marketing on social media, whether free or through paid advertising, it’s important to recognize that men and women use social media platforms quite differently. Women are more likely to use social to connect with people, such as friends and family. They’re more inclined to nurture existing relationships rather than seek out new friendships and are inclined to share more personal information like details about relationships. Women are more visual, gravitating toward more photo-driven sites, and post more selfies with direct eye contact.
Men, on the other hand, are more likely to use social to look up information, to seek out new connections, and gravitate to text-oriented rather than photo-based platforms. Men discuss more abstract topics, such as sports or politics, and, in images, prefer full body shots with other people in outdoor settings.
Know that when sharing content, posting ads, or marketing to your audience, you’ll communicate differently with women than with men.
Check Your Competition
One of the best ways to figure out what kind of content to publish, how to design or plan your ads and content, and how to use each platform is to identify your competition and see what they’re doing.
For example, you may have a nutrition and fitness business. Find out who it is in your industry that’s phenomenally successful and watch what they post in each forum. Maybe they use Instagram for before and after photos of clients, YouTube to teach workouts, Twitter to post uplifting quotes, and TikToks for short bursts of nutrition and fitness tips.
Also, take note of any keyword strategies you might find in play.
Show, Don’t Sell
Of course, the goal is to get more clients, sell more products, make more money, and grow more business. But that’s your goal, not the goal of your customer.
Your customer’s goal is to get a product, service, or information that is going to solve a problem they’re having. If you use your social media presence to only post about discounts, sales, or how wonderful your business is, you’ll lose your following quickly. Instead, find ways to maximize your social media accounts by providing something your followers can use or find entertaining.
Track and Measure
You won’t know what’s working or which networks perform best for you unless you track and measure your results. Use resources like Google Analytics, Clicky.com, Facebook Insights, and other tracking tools to discover where your audience is coming from and who they are.
Social media marketing would be super simple if you could just design one post or ad and then run it across all platforms at the same time. But it’s more complicated than that.
Each network draws in a unique audience based on age groups, genders, interests, and other demographics. If you’re marketing on the wrong network or marketing the wrong way on the right network, you’ll lose your audience and the opportunity to grow your business.
Create a customer persona before you start trying to demographically target different social media networks. Then, choose one or multiple networks if you’re ready to multitask that appeals to your ideal customer and post content that they’re known to consume.
For more ideas about what to post on social media and when follow some of your competitors to find out what they’re doing that works. Then, emulate that.
Test and measure for results to find out which platforms are most responsive to your content so that you’ll know better where to invest your time, money, and energy when marketing on social media.