The Ultimate Guide to Social Networks for Business: Which Networks Should You Focus On?

The number 1 mistake made by businesses, entrepreneurs and marketers on social media is…

…trying to manage too many different networks.

Before I dive into the reasons behind this, ask yourself:

Is it better for your business to reach 100% of its marketing potential on 1 (or 2) marketing channels, or 15% on many?

There will be split answers to this question, but I firmly stand in the 100% on 1 (or 2) channels corner.

The social media strategy that has been so successful for me (with respect to content), us as an agency and our clients, is to focus on quality over quantity…

…and this doesn’t only relate to the number of pieces of content we create or the amount of posts with publish, it stretches across everything- including social media channels.

If you were to look at this strategy like a commanding general in battle, it would read something like this:

  1. Find: Discover the most suitable and relevant place to attack
  2. Analyse: Figure out how you’re going to win in that area
  3. Attack: Follow through with your plan!
  4. Optimise: See what’s winning and build on it. Drop the losing tactics.
  5. Keep attacking: Implement your optimisation tactics.
  6. Conquer: Achieve your goals, win your battle
  7. Expand: Take the proof of your victory and use it to help you expand into the next key area of battle

The key strength and the reason this has worked so well for us, is that it focusses 100% on just 1 or 2 social networks, allowing us to work actively and outwardly, rather than reactively and inwardly.

In essence, we’re able to go out onto these networks and do work, rather than wait for people to find us (and engage with our profiles). This means a deep understanding of the network (and our target audience’s behaviour on it), high-quality targeted content and posts, constant analysis of competitors (and the tactics that win or lose for them) and high levels of engagement.

Like I said, 100% effort.

How Many Social Networks Should You Focus On?  

social media guide for marketers

The bigger your team (and the more people you can dedicate to social media marketing) the more channels you can conquer at once.

At the time of writing, Einstein Marketer has 2 different social networks in the 5 digit follower category (10,000’s) and 3 networks in the 4 digit category (1,000’s). But that’s because we have people dedicated to social media marketing, who work to increase our reach (as well as our clients’) and a team committed to creating quality content.

BTW: Einstein Marketer only started creating content and using social channels in 2018.

If you’re a one man (or woman) band, working in a small team or are just getting started on your business journey, I’m not suggesting that you can’t handle the rigours of 5 or 6 different networks. I’m telling you- as a fact- that you won’t be able to do your brand justice on ANY of those channels.

Looking back at the war analogy (above), when you’ve achieved your goals (e.g. 50,000 engaged followers) on one channel, you can use this as social proof to actively move onto another channel and conquer that (whilst still maintaining the channel you have complete control over).

As a general rule, I’d suggest no more than 2 networks per dedicated social media marketer (if you’re working alone, by default, you are the business’ social media marketer).

In today’s marketing world, quality will always beat quantity. That means focussing on channels and content that drive engaged followers, who share your content and promote your brand.

Which Social Networks Should Your Business Focus On?

social media posting planner

Unfortunately, without knowing your industry, brand or target market, I can’t tell you the perfect networks for your brand…

…but in the remainder of this post, I’m going to analyse the world’s biggest social networks, so you can come to an informed decision without any other external guidance.

And remember, if there are multiple (3+) networks that sound like they’d fit your brand’s social aims, but you don’t have the man power to realise your potential on all of them, ONLY pick the 1 (or 2) that are most relevant!

BTW: These social networks are ordered by Monthly Active Users. This is not the total number of users on each platform, it is the number of people who login at least once a month.

Facebook

facebook logo social media guide

Number of MAU’s (monthly active users):

2.32 Billion

What industries are most successful on this social network?

All of them!

What makes it stand apart from the rest?

Its enormous number of users and its value as an advertising platform.

What are the demographics of their core users?

Everyone! Nearly anyone who uses social media, has a Facebook account.

Analysis

So far, you might’ve noticed that I keep referring to using ‘1 (or 2) social media channels’. The reason I keep saying ‘1 (or 2)’ is purely because of Facebook.

As the world’s largest social network it simply can’t be ignored. With over 2 Billion monthly active users (more than a quarter of the world’s population), no matter what your industry, target market or business aims, you can find and achieve them on this network.

Facebook is the only network that I would say every business must-have, because from a marketing standpoint there are just too many things going for it.

Aside from being a place that your target market definitely visits (at least once a month), Facebook allows you to create huge social proof (by page likes, followers and engagement), use any form of content (written, visual, audio, video), create ‘Stories’ and constantly reach new audiences.

In addition to all this, Facebook is the best social network for advertising. Their business platform allows anybody to target specific niche audiences (down to the finest details), track user behaviour from ads, perform split-tests, discover more about people who interact with their ads, target people who are more likely to purchase, create ‘lookalike’ audiences of people with similar interest and loads more…

…but the best thing about Facebook ads is that brands can have huge success by starting on tiny budgets.

Whatever your aims online, I strongly recommend that you focus your attention on Facebook.

YouTube

youtube logo social media guide

Number of MAU’s (monthly active users):

1.9 Billion

What industries are most successful on this social network?

Another huge network, with a broad and immensely varied usership. Similar to Facebook, YouTube can work for almost any industry

What makes it stand apart from the rest?

The world’s second most popular search engine. The home of video on the internet.

What are the demographics of their core users?

Again….everyone! Particularly popular with 18-34 year olds.

Analysis 

People tune in to watch over a billion hours of video on YouTube every day!

And although it isn’t strictly considered a social network (more of a video sharing website)…

…because it allows users to create a profile and then comment, share and like content, it makes our list.

Video is taking over in the content world and continues to go from strength to strength in terms of viewers, engagement and popularity. And if video is your thing (which it definitely should be) YouTube is the best place to host your videos and grow your following.

Their huge user base (almost 2 Billion monthly active users) is still growing, making it one of the most visited websites in the world.

On top of this, their search engine is thought to be the second most used on the internet (after their owners’, Google) so if you are planning to market your brand on this channel, it is well worth researching and implementing YouTube SEO strategies.

YouTube also run very engaging placements for adverts, allowing brands to advertise at the start of relevant videos, retarget users (by their previous behaviour online) and drive new subscribers to their channels.

If video content is at the centre of your marketing strategy, YouTube is probably the place for you.

Instagram

instagram logo social media guide

Number of MAU’s (monthly active users):

1 Billion

What industries are most successful on this social network?

Beauty, Fashion, Fitness, Food & Drink, Travel, eCommerce Stores

What makes it stand apart from the rest?

Primed purely for mobile. It’s growing faster than any other social network. Instagram has given rise to influencer marketing and, allows brands to showcase themselves visually on an App designed to fill mobile screens.

What are the demographics of their core users?

Slightly more popular with females (but only slightly), their core users are aged between 18-34, although it is fast growing in popularity with the 13-17 age group (the future of social media users).

Analysis

Since being acquired by Facebook, Instagram has gone from strength to strength, making it one of the world’s biggest social networks.

Insta is one of the first social networks built for mobile. And although users can login via desktop, they can only view content and are unable to post anything. Their mobile targeting is one of the key reasons for their intense growth, with internet usage on mobile growing year-on-year.

Their platform features a newsfeed that runs on a similar algorithm to Facebook’s, with posts that receive high engagement appearing higher on the newsfeed.

Insta posts are also discoverable by the ‘Explore’ page and by searching (and following) hashtags.

Brands and businesses that choose to focus on Instagram should set up an Instagram Business profile, to track the performance and analytics of their posts. Using this priceless information, they can optimise and prime their strategy for greater engagement (which means wider reach) and an increase in followers.

As Insta is owned by Facebook, their ads tend to perform very well (because of the detailed targeting options). If you are thinking about running ads on Insta, I recommend using Facebook’s Business Manager platform and editing the placements to Instagram only. This will allow you to be much more specific with your audiences and targeting options.

Another great way to grow your Insta following is to use Instagram ‘influencers’. These are profiles with large, engaged followings, who promote products via recommendations (to their followings), rather than pushing them with a traditional ad.

If your products have visual appeal, Instagram is probably the place for you!

Twitter

twitter logo social media guide

Number of MAU’s (monthly active users):

330 Million

What industries are most successful on this social network?

Tech, Content Creators (e.g. magazines, education), News/Media

What makes it stand apart from the rest?

Birthplace of the hashtag. Ruthlessly honest and direct culture amongst users. Always the first place to break news and make announcements go ‘viral’. Incredibly loyal user base.

What are the demographics of their core users?

Popular with a broad age group, their core users stretch from as young as 18, up to 50. Tend to be mid or high earners and have predominantly been through higher-education (college and university).

Analysis

I don’t know about you, but it feels like Twitter has been around forever.

It might not be growing (as a network) like some of the other social media sites on this list, but it has solidly held its user size over the previous few years…

…this is because Twitter users tend to be fiercely loyal to the site.

What makes Twitter stand out from the other networks, is its reliance on real-time, immediate information. This has made it one of the best places (on the internet) to find and follow breaking news and events as they happen.

This reliance is reflected by their newsfeed algorithm, which shows posts almost exclusively by the time they have been posted. Although this can have advantages for brands, it also poses problems.

Posts (or Tweets) are often unseen by a large percentage of a user’s following (if they aren’t on the network at that time to see it). This has made it one of the hardest networks to gain engagement on.

The only way for brands to combat this problem is to post more. That means creating numerous (as many as 6 or 7) tweets a day. This equates to more work, but even so, Twitter can still be a highly rewarding place for the right businesses.

If you market a business that shares information regularly, breaks news or launches new products, Twitter might just be the network for you.

Reddit

reddit logo social media guide

Number of MAU’s (monthly active users):

330 Million

What industries are most successful on this social network?

Education, Tech, Art, Computer Games (and Apps), Politics

What makes it stand apart from the rest?

It’s separated into different areas (subreddits) by category. Fiercely loyal and straight-talking community who hate promotional content. A great place to learn and discover new things.

What are the demographics of their core users?

Predominantly males, aged between 20-40.

Analysis

Reddit calls itself ‘the front page of the internet’, and for more than 300 million people, that’s certainly the case.

If you haven’t used Reddit before, it’s an interesting mix of news, links, social commentary and eye-opening images, set within a tight-knit community.

The community that hang out there are what make Reddit, Reddit. They hate promotional posts, self-serving links and people who don’t do anything to entertain, inspire or educate the rest of the community. In other words, bad marketers.

However, the fact that they arrange pages by categories and topics (known as subreddits), makes it an interesting proposition for businesses online. If you are able to prove your worth to fellow ‘Redditors’, you’ll build your Reddit ‘Karma’, which will increase your standing within the community and your ‘subreddit’ category.

Marketers and brands who get involved with the Reddit community can see huge rewards in terms of traffic, but this can take a lot of time and effort.

If you’re thinking about getting involved with Reddit, prepare yourself to invest time, effort and a lot of valuable content before you see results. However, if your audience are predominantly men and (dare I say it) slightly geeky (Reddit is very popular among computer gamers), it could be well worth the investment.

LinkedIn

linkedin logo social media guide

Number of MAU’s (monthly active users):

303 Million

What industries are most successful on this social network?

Anyone in B2B, e.g. IT, marketing, human resources, computing, recruitment, finance

What makes it stand apart from the rest?

The best place on the web for professional networking. Great for connecting with other businesses and sharing professional news and updates.

What are the demographics of their core users?

Primarily city and urban living users, higher educated and more popular with the 30+ age group. LinkedIn boasts the users with the highest average income.

Analysis 

What started as an online CV (resume) and job search website, has evolved into a fully-fledged social network with personal profiles, newsfeed, advertising and tons of valuable content.

It seems that every other time I visit LinkedIn they’ve added something new to their platform (they’ve just added the option to reply to posts with Celebrate, Love, Insightful or Curious, in addition to their usual ‘Like’ button).

Actions like this tell us the direction that LinkedIn would like to take their business…and they’re certainly a welcome addition to the world’s biggest social networks, especially for businesses in a B2B industry.

The platform allows businesses to network, connect with others and is a great place to share thought-leadership articles to establish expert positioning.

As well as this,  LinkedIn also offer businesses the opportunity to advertise on their newsfeed, direct to users inbox or in the networks side columns. LinkedIn advertising is more expensive than the majority of the other networks, but the ROI on these ads can be sky-high, because LinkedIn users tend to be decision-makers and high earners.

If you’re involved in a B2B industry or would like to target a market of professionals, LinkedIn is your ideal network (catch it now while it’s still growing).

Snapchat

snapchat logo social media guide

Number of MAU’s (monthly active users):

287 Million

What industries are most successful on this social network?

Any business targeting a younger market due to the predominant age group of their users.

What makes it stand apart from the rest?

Posts disappear after they are viewed. Used by younger audiences to communicate with each other. Because of its in-the-moment updates (that disappear) it’s the perfect network for behind the scenes storytelling posts.

What are the demographics of their core users?

The core of Snapchat’s users are aged between 13-29. Giving it the youngest average usership age of any networks in our list. There are slightly more female users than male.

Analysis

A few years ago, it seemed like Snapchat was primed to explode, but after Instagram (and now Facebook) introduced their ‘Story’ feature, they haven’t grown quite as expected.

However, that doesn’t mean Snapchat isn’t an awesome place for marketers.

This network is the place to be if your business sells products that target a young market (13-30) and because of the variety in this demographic (on Snapchat), it isn’t restricted to certain industries.

Posts disappear as soon as they are viewed, making Snapchat an in-the-moment network that demands attention from an audience. This is great for brands who use a storytelling or behind-the-scenes posting strategy, e.g. a fashion brand could post the setting-up and planning elements of a fashion show over a series of posts.

Snapchat is also a great place for direct communications and is commonly used as a customer-service style platform between businesses and their customers (similar to Twitter). Connecting directly with customers in this way can make them feel closer to a brand, and is a great strategy if you’re prepared to be responsive.

The network also offer advertising placements (between posts and stories) and is another great place to use Influencer marketing to grow your following (similar to Instagram).

If you’ve got visually appealing products, have a great story to tell and are aiming at millennials (or anybody under 30), Snapchat is a great option for you!

Pinterest

pinterest logo social media guide

Number of MAU’s (monthly active users):

250 Million

What industries are most successful on this social network?

Arts and Crafts, Food and Drink, Health, Fashion, Home

What makes it stand apart from the rest?

Pinterest uses a ‘pin’ system that inspires and influences buying decisions. It’s a very visual platform, allowing businesses that rely on photos and images to thrive. Pinterest ads look like normal posts, making it a great place to advertise (if it fits your industry and target market).

What are the demographics of their core users?

The majority of Pinterest users are women, who have high incomes and spending power. Most of their users have been through some form of higher education.

Analysis

Pinterest is a social network where users go to find inspiration, search for the latest trends and are visually roused into action.

This network sets itself from the rest in terms of business and brand performance, because users actually go there to discover their content. This is in stark opposition to many of the other networks, where brands have to make an effort to disrupt users.

This is reflected by the fact that 78% of Pinterest users say that content created by brands is useful. This percentage is higher than any other network. Making Pinterest an interesting and potentially very profitable channel for marketers.

Despite having the smallest number of monthly active users (in our list) Pinterest-ers represent a very distinct demographic. They are predominantly women (almost 70%), are typically high earners with disposable cash and are typically well-educated.

This very distinct market of users are also known to make purchase decisions from Pinterest ‘Pins’.

Pinterest also offer businesses the opportunity to advertise using ‘Promoted Pins’. These ‘promoted pins’ sync seamlessly with other pins, hiding their status as an advertisement on a network that 1 in 2 users have used to make a purchase decision.

If you’re targeting a market similar to Pinterest’s very distinctive user base, this is an amazing network to drive high ROI and connect with your market.

Found Your Network Yet?  

social media posting planner

In my experience as a digital marketer, these are the top social networks for businesses, brands and marketers, however…

…if there’s a network that you think is worth analysing and adding to this list, let me know in the comments and I’ll get to it! (Nobody’s perfect after all).

Before you go, remember my opening advice: start out with Facebook and one other network and build out them there! When you’ve achieved your aim, move onto the next most suitable network, and so on…until you’ve achieved total social domination.

And if you’d like to get started with Facebook advertising (or up your game), head over to our Ultimate Guide to Facebook Ad Campaign Objectives 2019.

Director of Content at Einstein Marketer
Josh is an award winning content marketer and the Director of Content at Einstein Marketer, previously working as a content manager, freelance copywriter and marketer. He writes, edits, proofs and strategises content for Einstein Marketer's agency and their clients, sharing the most successful tactics and strategies with his lovely audience. He hates writing in the third person, follow him on the social links (above) so he can get back to writing as himself.

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