November 08, 2021
5 min read

Not all social platforms are created equal – at least, not when it comes to reaching your audience.

As the digital revolution rolls on, audiences are becoming more discerning in how they use, and what they expect from, their ‘socials’. People use multiple platforms for different purposes with varying regularity.

To successfully use social media to grow your business, you’ll need to identify your audience, understanding where they are and what they’re looking for on each platform. Knowing this is essential to creating content that stands out to your potential customers.

Which social media platform should you use? Here’s what you need to know about using social media to find and build connections with your target audience.

Facebook

With almost three billion users and counting, Facebook remains a powerhouse when it comes to building a social media presence given how consumer-focused it is. Facebook users are sharing photos and videos, reading the news and joining interest groups – they’re doing a bit of everything, and they’re almost all doing it via mobile devices. For marketing purposes, this diversity of audiences and activities makes Facebook a one-stop-shop for all things content (keeping in mind organic content requires time and talent vs. sponsored content, which requires money and talent) and e-commerce – you can publish videos, photos and blog posts, live stream your content, and sell directly from the platform using its e-commerce integration. Its in-house tools are no slouches either: Business Manager offers great opportunities for precision targeting of prospective customers, while the much-lauded analytics technology can provide valuable insights into customer engagement.

Use it to: Establish your social media presence, run highly targeted consumer-centric campaigns, and get a birds-eye view of customer engagement and behaviour.

Instagram

Instagram users are looking for aspirational content – the most popular hashtags of 2021 include #love, #photooftheday, #fashion, #beautiful and #happy. As a photo and video-based medium, Instagram is a great choice if you’re running a business with a strong visual element, such as catering, interior design, personal training and more. Posting alluring content is the first step – from there, Instagram offers an unrivalled opportunity to disrupt the status quo by connecting directly with customers using photos and videos (posts and stories) to show off your wares (or yourself!). It’s also set up for ecommerce, so like Facebook, you can cut out the middleman and sell directly from the platform. What’s more, Business Manager can help you see what sort of posts and stories are resonating with your audience, and you can combine organic and paid advertising content to help build your online profile. 

Use it to: Build your visual brand identity, demonstrate your brand values, and sell your product directly to your customers.

LinkedIn

LinkedIn may have a smaller reach than some of the other big social media hitters (774 million at last count) but it’s much more targeted in terms of what you’ll find there. That’s because LinkedIn is specifically about business – users are networking, recruiting, establishing partnerships, and building their professional profiles (after all, it’s a digital CV!). LinkedIn isn’t an e-commerce platform, which means it’s not the place for the hard sell. Instead, from a marketing perspective, it’s a great opportunity to build connections and engagement with your customer. What’s more, LinkedIn is a place for thought leadership – share your unique expertise to build sector-specific audiences (softly) and advertise your wares to an audience with an already-established business mindset.

Use it to: Connect with other businesses, engage with your target audience and build your reputation as a thought leader in your field.

Twitter

With an estimated 353 million monthly users, Twitter been called ‘the world’s largest focus group’. It’s the platform users flock to when they want to talk about what’s going on in the world – according to Hootesuite, 59% of users regularly access news on Twitter, and the most popular hashtags last year were #Covid19 and #BlackLivesMatter. As a marketer, this text-based, character-limited platform offers a great opportunity to join the conversation and hone your brand personality and voice. You can @ people to forge direct connections, jump on trending conversations using hashtags, and use in-platform advertising to help spruik your goods and services. Lots of brands also use Twitter as a real-time customer support channel, too. Top tip? Be authentic – users are quick to slap down anyone joining a serious conversation for purely commercial means (just ask BP, who asked users to commit to reducing their personal carbon emissions, only to get pummelled in the comments).

Use it to: Start and engage in conversations, test the market, monitor trends, and respond to customer feedback in real-time.  

YouTube

Did you know that YouTube’s the world’s second most popular search engine? Of course you know it for the 2 billion + logged-in monthly users who are watching an estimated 1 billion hours of video content every day. So, what are they watching? According to Think with Google, the top four content categories are comedy, music, entertainment and how-to. What’s more, the top two reasons for watching videos on YouTube are ‘to relax’ and ‘to feel entertained’. Understanding what users are looking for and why they’re there can help you engage your audience, drive conversions, and expand your reach. Create fun, supplementary content that adds depth to your existing social media presence – if you run a bakery, for example, you might run a pastry tutorial or cake decorating video on your YouTube channel to supplement all those beautiful pics of baked goods on your Instagram page. You can also enhance your search engine optimisation (SEO) by loading your titles, descriptions and hashtags with keyword-rich content, making your business more visible in the online universe.

Use it to: Increase brand recognition, enhance your SEO and drive conversions.

Learn more about connecting with online audiences with the Digital and Social Media Marketing microcredential course from UTS Open.