Monday, 11 September 2017

Top 5 Social Media Platforms of 2017

Jo Nash-Clulow, University of Sydney Business School (2017)

While social media marketing only ranks #5 on Smart Insight’s top rated digital marketing techniques of 2017, it continues to be one of the most valuable tools for brands to connect with their audiences. But with so many different platforms available, whether you are a MoM student at the University of Sydney, an entrepreneur, small business, or even working in a large corporation, it can be difficult to know just how many you actually need.

First you need to ask yourself three questions:

  1. Who is your audience?
  2. How can you reach them?
  3. What are your goals?
Source: Social Media Marketing, Which Platform Should You Use? (2016)

Keep reading to find out what the top five social media platforms are, along with their pros & cons, and the type of audience they can help you reach. 

Source: Smart Insights (2017)

1. Facebook

To date, Facebook has a social network of over 1.31+ billion users located around the globe. This huge audience base is made all the more accessible, as it incorporates most of the features of its competitors all in one place. Brands and users are able to share photos, videos, links and instant messages with pretty much anyone. But what that also means is that its highly saturated with brands, advertisers, click bait and complex algorithms that can often hinder as well as help when it comes to reaching your target audience.

2. LinkedIn

Number two on the list is none other than LinkedIn. If your target audience consists of business oriented or corporate fellows, this is the channel for you. The corporate brands that are capitalising on this platform provide a place for current and potential customers to network, connect and share ideas. There are around 380 million users, with 79% of those being either Gen X or Baby Boomers, making this the second largest social media platform in the world. The good news is that since it’s mostly used for networking, you don’t have to post something every day. A few times per week is enough, but be sure to read and interact with other’s posts if you aren’t sharing anything of your own.

3. Instagram

All hail Instagram! This social sharing site is all about connecting with consumers in a way they can relate by curating an ‘image’, or visual story, based on pictures, videos and #hashtags. Considering that mobile is rated #4 on the list of the top rated marketing techniques, this primarily mobile app boasts easy scrolling with minimal text, no links and stunning photography that is the perfect tool for marketers, brand advocates and influencers alike. While there is less personalised engagement than other networks, you can still get a lot of attention and grow an email list. The reach is extended tenfold thanks to the ability to search for hashtags and follow brands, celebs and influencers.  

4. Google+

Google+ can’t quite compete with Facebook, but this social network built by Google sure does have its perks. It might surprise you that it has around 300 million users and interestingly, 51% of those users are men! This platform features communities, the capacity to build circles, as well as my favourite- Google Hangouts, which is a great option if you can’t make it to a meeting in person. Brands who are actively using Google+ find that their ranking on Google search results improves significantly. Not to mention, that while there aren’t as many active brands, the ones that are tend to have a great following thanks to circles.

5. Twitter

The preferred social media platform of the US President, Donald Trump, Twitter is a micro-blogging social site that has continued to grow steadily over the years. The limited character posts don’t have to be a time-sucker either- you can put together a post while you are lining up for your morning coffee. With 289 million users, 29% of whom are millennials, the social network’s largest penetration is in the USA, but is gaining popularity in Oz. Users benefit from an instant news source and influencers, but with such a high volume of content, it can be hard to make an impact unless you are a dedicated user. Posting 1-2 times per day is optimal - especially with images. In his book 101 Plus Tips to Grow Your Web Traffic, Jeff Bullas illustrates how upping engagement with tweets accompanied by images can be increased by 111%! 

So there you have the top 5 social media platforms for marketing. Once you have done some form of segmentation and worked out what your goals are, you can start to break down which platforms are best for you. While it might be tempting to open accounts for all of them, unless your sole occupation is as a social media manager then you probably won’t have the time. The good news is that it isn’t necessarily time that you need to grow a business or brand following - it’s a strategy.
And most brands need no more than four carefully selected platforms cultivated to give the most value possible to the right audience. 

Roberto Blake, creative entrepreneur, owner and Creative Director of Create Awesome Media, LLC, suggests managing your time effectively, being comfortable with the platform, being creative, and playing your strengths. If you have no experience using video, then maybe don’t go for YouTube, opt for Instagram, or content marketing instead. 

For more information about choosing the right social media platform, watch the video below.

Alyce Brierley
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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