Over the last decade, social media has been growing faster than ever. This growth has changed the way people communicate with each other and the way brands communicate with consumers. Social media facilitates a more open and immediate form of communication and uses different channels to allow this broad communication to be established. Thanks to social networks, we are also able to share different kinds of information, like articles, pictures and videos.

What are Social Media Channels?

Social media channels are platforms that facilitate delivering information to people in real-time for free. These channels, also known as social networks, are becoming valuable resources for almost all types of businesses. They can also help businesses extend their overall reach by paying a nominal fee which is typically significantly less than traditional advertising costs.

Content that is shared via social channels has the ability to reach multiple users across the entire channel. Social networks give many benefits to businesses mainly because anyone can see the information that is being shared; but you can also narrow down your audience in hopes of increasing engagement. Social networks give people freedom to exchange ideas, share experiences with products or services, give mentions or reviews, and encourage innovation – all which can benefit your business.

These networks are suitable for businesses of all sizes; you can leverage them to stay in contact with current customers, promote items, launch new products, and reach new audiences. 

Types of Social Channels

In the last decade social channels have been on the rise and growing rapidly. Therefore, it is crucial to understand the different types of social networks and the type of information you can share on each one. Furthermore, it is important to fully grasp the characteristics of the networks that use them.

Among the social media channels where business can share information with consumers are:

  • Social networking sites
  • Blogs
  • Forums
  • Podcasts
  • Image sharing sites
  • Video sharing sites
  • Virtual communities

The social media engagement on each channel will be different, mainly because the users of each network have different interests or followers, but also the information that is searched in those sites will not be the same. You have to tailor which networks you use to your social media marketing strategy. 

Which Social Channels Should Your Business Use?

There is no universal social network that fits all businesses perfectly; to begin your social media journey, you have to perform an analysis of your customers’ demographics. For a business' social media strategy, the key is to target the main audience. The main audience is the demographic that makes the most sense for your brand, market, company type and products. 

If you're just starting out and do not have customers to analyze, it is recommend to look at the competitors’ social media presence and their activity in those channels. Take a look at the metrics below:

  • What channels are their customers most active on?
  • Are their customers mostly female or male?
  • What words do customers usually use when talking about or with this brand?
  • Who are their most influential customers?

Once you answer those questions, you can begin answering:

  • What does my business want to achieve?
  • What type of content does my business plan on publishing on social media?

Asking those questions will allow businesses to decide which type of content they'd like to publish and on which platform. It will also help them decide what their goal is – are they looking to increase leads or overall engagement?

One of the most common marketing mistakes is having business profiles on social networks, which are not popular among the target audience. For example, they decided to create a profile in every single social network out there, which is ill advised because the main business audience may not be active or existing in some of them. Businesses should choose the social platforms that are most relevant for the nature of their business, they need to target their audience, and match it against their social media demographics.

Some type of content that performs well on Facebook doesn’t always translate well on Twitter. The main reason of it is because the users of each platform have different interest, they are in a different group age, their education level is not same, etc.

Insights of the most popular social networks

Thanks to social media demographics it is possible to know exactly which type of content and users are being more active and engaged in each social channel. The amount of time spent communicating through a social channel is increasing and reaching new people, according to studies in 2016 there are 2.34 billion of active users on social media platforms.

The top 10 of most popular social networks based on active users in 2016 are:

  1. Facebook (1.59 billions active users)
  2. Whatsapp (1 billion active users)
  3. Facebook Messenger (900 million active users)
  4. QQ (853 million active users)
  5. WeChat (697 million active users)
  6. QZone (640 million active users)
  7. Tumblr (555 million active users)
  8. Instagram (400 million active users)
  9. Twitter (320 million active users)
  10. Baidu Tieba and Skype (300 million active users)

Demographics in social media are crucial for businesses to understand a specific audience in these popular social networks. Some interesting demographic data show the following:

  • Facebook is the most used social network with 1.50 billion active users
  • Philipines is the country where Facebook is most popular than in any other country in the world
  • Snapchat, Kik and WeChat are the social networks that are most popular in the age group from 16 to 24
  • Age 25 to 34, at 29.7% of users, is the most common age demographic in Facebook
  • 79% of the American users on Facebook have a college degree versus 50% of the American users on LinkedIn
  • 36% of online adults ages 18-29 are on Twitter more than triple the share among online adults ages 65 and older with 10%
  • USA, Brazil and Russia are the countries that have most active users in Youtube
  • 59% of the Instagram users in USA are between 18-29 years old
  • Over 409 million people view more than 23.8 billion WordPress blogs pages each month
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