A lot of small business owners become successful with their first startup. However, the odds are against this group. One of the reasons why is because they carry a lot of baggage from their pre-business-owner days.
As they kick off their business, they hear a lot about social media and branding. They carry their “civilian” idea of social media over into their business strategy and this can be a big mistake.
Considering the demographics and reach of Facebook, there’s a good chance that most of these newbies’ social media experience is with Big Blue Two. (IBM is the original Big Blue, but I think Facebook has a good claim to the title today, especially since it has moved past IBM in market capitalization.)
Because of this, many new small business owners think that by establishing a Facebook page they have taken care of branding and their social media presence. In fact, for many, if not most small business owners, depending on Facebook for branding and social media marketing is like trying to hit a bull’s eye while pointing your bow and arrow 180 degrees away from the target.
A small bug in a big rug
Although it claims the greatest number of users by far – the last number I saw was something like 7 gazillion – its usefulness new to most small business owners has become quite questionable. In traditional advertising, big audience numbers generally equate with powerful ads; that’s not at all true with social media. By the way, Facebook seems to be much more interested in big business today. Its message to small business owners: We’re just not that into you.
Further, many target demographics are migrating away from Facebook to other social media platforms. Therefore, if you’re new to small business ownership, or are disappointed with the engagement you’re getting through Facebook, the first thing you need to do is look at the demographics of the other popular social media and find which align best with your customers or clients.
Before I list a sample of key demographics over several platforms, I want to point out a telling Facebook demographic from the Pew Research Center. Between 2013 and 2014, Facebook users in the 30-49 year range fell from 79 to 73 percent. Over that same period, usage among those over 65 years old increased from 45 to 56 percent.
The facts about sex and age
Let’s quickly survey the 2014 breakdown by gender, according to the Pew Research Center. The figures are percentages of the adult population.
- Facebook: men, 66 percent | women, 77 percent.
- Twitter: men, 24 percent | women, 21 percent.
- Instagram: men, 22 percent | women 29 percent.
- Pinterest: men, 13 percent | women, 42 percent.
- LinkedIn: men, 28 percent | women, 27 percent.
It’s interesting to note that women dominate the two platforms that are primarily images while the men hold a slight edge in the two platforms that are primarily words. (I think it’s safe to say that Facebook is a pretty good mix of both words and images, so we’ll leave it out of our analysis on this point.)
Here are how age groups compare between Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. Again, numbers are percentages of total adults.
- 18-29 years: Facebook, 87 | Twitter, 37 | Instagram, 53 | Pinterest, 34 | LinkedIn 23.
- 30-49 years: Facebook, 73 | Twitter, 25 | Instagram, 25 | Pinterest, 28 | LinkedIn 31.
- 50-64 years: Facebook, 63 | Twitter, 12 | Instagram, 11 | Pinterest, 27 | LinkedIn 30.
- Over 65: Facebook, 56 | Twitter, 10 | Instagram, 6 | Pinterest, 17 | LinkedIn 21.
Choose wisely Luke
I share these demographics so you can get the big picture. There is a huge variation among social media users as to which platforms they prefer; you must invest your time where you have the best chance at engaging your prospects.
There are many other demographic factors you need to consider and that fact emphasizes the importance of knowing what your customer “looks” like, demographically speaking.
I believe there are three major reasons small businesses fail at branding and social media marketing. First they are indiscriminate in the platforms they choose. Next they don’t put enough effort into presenting content that their prospects would find engaging. Finally, they give up too quickly.
Now you have some guidance that should help you avoid the first mistake.
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Megan Totka is the Chief Editor for ChamberofCommerce.com. She specializes on the topic of small business tips and resources. ChamberofCommerce.com helps small businesses grow their business on the web and facilitates connectivity between local businesses and more than 7,000 Chambers of Commerce worldwide.