What Social Network should I be using to promote my business?

As a social media enthusiast I enjoy using and learning about new social networks and tools. However it can be an endless task to learn and keep up to date with all the various platforms. There are constant updates in every platform from the layout and the features to the rules that govern advertising and marketing.  It’s very time-consuming to maintain profiles on multiple networks as an individual and many businesses face the same challenge. Several high-profile social media ‘gurus’ advocate selecting a few key networks to channel your resources. I’ve been thinking about the different networks and the amount of users they must have based on our population and whether that makes them viable in terms of return on investment.  So I was very interested to find the following data released by Ipos MRBI.

Irish Social Network Statistics

On-going research by Ipos MRBI charts the adoption of social networks in Ireland. Using a nationally representative sample of 1000 adults aged 15+ they complied the data shown in the chart below.  This survey has been completed with a fresh sample every two weeks since February 2011. 37% of Irish adults are not using any social network with 56% of all adults having a Facebook account.  No surprise there that Facebook is the Goliath in the room. The top Facebook pages in Ireland include Penneys, Lidl Ireland, Amazon UK and Lyons Tea. You can check out the top 100 pages at Socialbakers – a helpful list for comparison if you are trying to get ideas on what works and what doesn’t.

Irish Social Networking Statistics

Source: Ipos MRBI – Social Networking Quarterly May 2013

What I think is interesting is the low volume of people using the other networks such as Instagram, Pinterest and Foursquare.  I say interesting but I don’t find it surprising. Having accounts on all of the above networks I can largely concur with the findings.  Of course having an account does not equate with usage, so these numbers will be inflated by people who opened an account and don’t use the service or who may log in irregularly. A lot of my Facebook friends have Instagram accounts but haven’t posted a single photo. But then on many online communities there are a lot of lurkers compared to those who post and interact.

Before you decide what social network to promote your business with, you need to establish where your customers are already hanging out. You need to do a social media audit of your business and your competitors to establish who is talking about who and where. In addition to using social media monitoring and listening tools you need to ask your existing customers what platforms, websites or apps they use. You might be able to avoid steep advertising costs and/or wasting your time if you discovered that a particular blog or a niche online community is where you really should be visible.

It’s not about the latest trendy tools or platforms, marketing has not changed since the surge to digital, it is still about crafting and displaying your message so that your customers or potential customers will see it in a cost-effective manner. Early adopters are your influencers, so it may be very worthwhile checking out new platforms. Just make sure you define your goals, test and evaluate to see if it is a success for your business.  They may bring you traffic or be an excellent source for testimonials. Using a specific hashtag means that you can design and track cross-platform campaigns, the creative possibilities here are limitless.

For more specific targeting Ipos MRBI have also complied data broken down by age across the top four networks. Age 15-24 are big users of Facebook with a strong percentage of them on Twitter.

Irish Social Networking Statistics

Source: Ipos MRBI

Age 25-34 sees a similar trend. LinkedIn/G+ gaining prominence.

Irish Social Networking Statistics

Source: Ipos MRBI

Age 35-44 sees a drop off in Facebook and Twitter.

Irish Social Networking Statistics

Source: Ipos MRBI

Age 45-54 are lower users in general.

Irish Social Networking Statistics

Source: Ipos MRBI

Age 55+ still can be reached primarily via Facebook.

Irish Social Networking Statistics

Source: Ipos MRBI

YouTube is not mentioned above and it attracts a huge amount of Irish visitors.  Are there any other networks of note that are missing? Feel free to comment below- do you think Bebo will make a successful come back? It’s hard to believe it still has a foothold after being demolished by Facebook. Is there only room for one uber-successful network or will growth across all networks continue until we are managing our updates in the shower 🙂

by Janis Meehan

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