Top Social Media Networks: Which One(s) Are Right For Your Online Business?

Social media outlets are superb tools for customer acquisition and retention, but with countless social media networks out there, where do you begin? You shouldn’t be taking a scattergun approach to your social media marketing; you need to carefully choose the right platform(s) to target your intended audience.

Fortunately, thanks to periodic research done on social media usage and adoption trends, you can now pinpoint a specific audience to target based on which platform they flock to mostly.

Here is how you can plan a social media presence that’s engaging and rewarding.

Locate Your Audience

Social media platforms are great for exposure but as far as attracting potential customers, you need to find people who are interested in your service or product. That is, you need to locate the platform where your audience is concentrated and then focus your promotion efforts there.

What is your audience? Are you targeting car enthusiasts, tech professionals, men aged 25-40, or nature lovers?

Adweek has a nice infographic illustrating the social media demographics of six of the leading social media outlets. Check out where your target audience is hanging out because that’s where you want to focus your energy.

sm infograph

Do your homework here so you gain a better understanding of your target audience and their social media habits. Take advantage of available tools to connect with your target audience and customize your accounts to suit their style.

For instance, based on data from a 2013 study by Princeton Survey Research Associates, user demographic highlights from the top social media platforms paint a clearer picture of which platforms appeal to the various segments of users. Here is a summary of user segmentation by platform:

  • Facebook – Appeals more to women (76%) and young adults aged between 18 and 29 (84%). However, it has one of the highest user engagements (users who login to check their accounts) and is a good launching ground for social campaigns.
  • LinkedIn – Top users here are men (24%) and are likely to be in the 30-49 age group (27% of all users) followed by the 50-64 age group (24%).
  • Twitter – Twitter usage is evenly split between the genders but the 18-29 age group is easily the most popular on the platform. However, it appears that it is slightly losing ground to Facebook and other newer platforms in terms of engagement. Still, Twitter is a powerful social media promotion outlet and you ought to take full advantage of its potential.
  • Instagram – Like Twitter, Instagram is dominated by 18-29 year olds. Unsurprisingly, it appeals more to urban and suburban dwellers and is one of the fastest growing image-based social media platforms, along with Pinterest and others.
  • Pinterest – Overwhelmingly dominated by women (33% compared to 8% men). So if women are your target audience, this is where you want to start. As image-based social platforms increasingly gain popularity, Pinterest is proving itself a top dog.

In all, Facebook still leads in popularity and engagement so it’s generally considered a safe place to start your social media campaign regardless of your target audience. You’ll cover your bases and also be able to narrow down your target audience using built-in utilities or premium third-party tools.

From there, you can delve deeper into other platforms depending on which audience you want to target.

Devise a Posting Plan

Once you’ve determined where your target audience hangs out, you should now come up with a strategy for consistent posting. Your audience needs to see that you’re committed to them through regular posting. Weekly postings across all your accounts are ideal and easy to plan and manage. Tools like HootSuite make it a breeze to plan and schedule your social media postings. Be sure to check in often to engage with followers.

Remember, social media platforms are public forums so you need to find a calm way of dealing with less-than-positive postings from users, too.

Create Engaging Content

Social media platforms are built for one main goal—to be social. So you don’t want to be pushing sales down your followers’ throats. Instead, your focus should be providing strong content that engages your followers. In particular, you want to post content that shows your followers that you care about their opinion.

The power with social platforms is that you can vary your content and subject matter anyway you want. For instance, you can engage your followers with question-answer type of posts, trivia, or you could give them a glimpse of what happens behind the scenes in your business.


If you don’t have adequate exposure on social media platforms, you might be missing out on a huge opportunity to boost your customer base. Increasingly, people are spending more time on these platforms and you need to go out there and appeal to their interests.

However, it’s a jungle out there and new platforms spring up every now and then, so targeting is important if your social media promotion efforts are going to be successful.

Which social media outlets do you use? Share in the comments below.

2 responses to “Top Social Media Networks: Which One(s) Are Right For Your Online Business?”

  1. Erik Avatar

    It’s all about locating and understanding your audience, then engaging and connecting with them trough interesting, provocative or funny content.

    By the way, it’s better focus on a few social media networks that work for you, then creating millions of accounts just for the sake to be everywher (with the probability to dramatically decrease productivity and leads).

    Thanks for the post Tom, have a good one!

    1. Jenny Bones Avatar

      Erik, I couldn’t agree more. Focus on where your perfect people live, provide them with great content and you can’t go wrong.

      Thanks for the post, Tom!