What Small Business Owners Need to Know About Each Social Media Platform in 2018

The rules of social media are always changing, and it can be hard for small business owners to keep up when they're busy running their businesses. But given the importance of social media in the world of marketing today, it's critical to invest time into doing it right in order to grow your business.

Let's dig into to some nuances of this year's top platforms, and how small businesses can make the most of their efforts on each one.

Facebook

Best Business Fit

Generally, Facebook is better for B2C brands over B2B. Top industries include fashion, ecommerce, retail, entertainment, autos, and real estate. If you're unsure of which social media is best for your brand, Facebook is a safe start due to its global ubiquity.

Key User Demographics

Facebook users are spread pretty evenly across demographics compared to other platforms, making it the friendliest platform for reaching a diverse group of users.

Posting Best Practices

Generally, it's a good idea to have a Facebook presence, even if you update sparsely or choose not to invest in advertising. Post company news, special offers, and custom content like blogs, ebooks, infographics, photos, and videos.

Bottom Line

Facebook is by far the most widely used platform, meaning that businesses have a better chance of reaching across demographics. With a strong strategy, it's possible to see powerful Facebook advertising results with as little as $10 per day.

Twitter

Best Business Fit

Twitter primarily benefits B2C brands, with some benefits for B2B. In 2018, Twitter's stronghold is in the customer service area, giving companies the ability to answer customer queries quickly. That's why customer-centric brands can see big results. Top-performing industries include information and news, ecommerce, retail, health and wellness, travel, and hospitality.

Key User Demographics

Far fewer U.S. adults use Twitter than Facebook, so unless there's a clear reason for your business to be on it, there might be more valuable ways to use your time. Like most platforms, the number of users decreases as the age group increases.

Posting Best Practices

The most apt Twitter brands strongly value customer service and have the resources to ensure that the company's Twitter account can be monitored and managed consistently. In addition to a close eye on tweets and messages from other users, brands can catch attention by posting about trends and news, company updates, and custom content.

Bottom Line

Quick communication is the name of the game, so if you can't dedicate a lot of time, Twitter may not be the strongest option. The best brands leverage this tool for delivering immediate, strong customer service. While dynamics of the platform have changed in the past few years, small businesses can still see benefits from Twitter.

LinkedIn

Best Business Fit

As a more professional network, this is where B2B companies can shine, as well as any consultants or coaches looking for clients. Top-performing industries include finance, science and technology, professional services, education, marketing, and legal.

Key User Demographics

The data confirms the assumption that this platform is more for professional, business-oriented users: in addition to it being preferred by a slightly older age group than most other platforms, half of U.S. adults who are college graduates use the platform.

Posting Best Practices

Make sure your company page is robust, telling a clear story about your brand, its goals, and its products or services. Post regularly about company updates, current events, and thought leadership on topics related to your industry. If you're looking for employees, set up a LinkedIn Career Page so that top candidates find your opportunity.

Bottom Line

LinkedIn isn't just for job seekers—professional brands can see lots of success as well. See some tips on how entrepreneurs can use LinkedIn to get business.

Snapchat

Best Business Fit

Snapchat is a “young" platform, with a vast majority of its users under age 25. This makes the platform best suited for brands with a younger audience and a more light-hearted brand message and experience. Top-performing industries include entertainment, retail, ecommerce, food and beverage, news and information, and health and wellness.

Key User Demographics

The clear strength of Snapchat is in its huge share of users under the age of 30. Even more impressively, research from Pew suggests that 78% of 18- to 24-year olds use Snapchat. Shares fall sharply after that.

Posting Best Practices

Snapchat is a “fun" platform that's known for being playful, so show your brand's personality to capture the spirit and energy of the younger demographic. Show behind-the-scenes content to capture interest. For budget advertising, try using sponsored geofilters that can start as low as $5.

Bottom Line

If your key audience is 18–24 years old and your brand has a light personality, Snapchat can be a good tool for getting their attention and engaging users. Don't take yourself too seriously, and you might get better results than if you did! See our guide to Snapchat marketing basics.

Instagram

Best Business Fit

Instagram is best for B2C brands, especially in retail. If you have beautiful, eye-catching photos to share (along with a strategy), Instagram is a strong opportunity. Top-performing industries include fashion, travel and hospitality, health and wellness, art and design, food and beverage, beauty, photography, and ecommerce.

Key User Demographics

Pew reports that 71% of 18- to 24-year-olds use Instagram, showing a significant overlap with those who use Snapchat. These two platforms are dominated by younger age groups.

Posting Best Practices

If you sell products or services, Instagram is a great way to promote them. While professional photo and video quality is the norm on Instagram, it's not necessary to see results. Even if you don't have these resources, you can captivate your audience by showing your brand's personality.

Bottom Line

If your brand can create eye-catching, interesting, and engaging photos on a regular basis, Instagram can be a top option. See some additional tips to make the most of your Instagram marketing efforts.

Pinterest

Best Business Fit

Though less popular these days, many intentionally use Pinterest to find and buy creative products, especially those related to art, design, cooking, and projects around the home. This makes the platform ideal for B2C retail and ecommerce brands, as well as health and wellness, travel and hospitality, events, fashion, and home and garden.

Key User Demographics

Like Instagram, Pinterest is a highly visual platform with predominantly younger users. But unlike Instagram, it's heavily skewed toward women, as they account for 81% of its user base.

Posting Best Practices

Create a strong profile with at least 3–5 boards to begin with. You can pin content from your website directly to your boards, which generates traffic back to your site. Otherwise, pin content that your users will find helpful and engaging.

Bottom Line

Pinterest is a goldmine for millennial women hobbyists. From home décor and remodeling to planning a wedding or special event, you'll be able to garner activity by offering tips, tricks, and insights into various types of “crafty" activities.

Social media is quickly evolving, which can result in trouble for businesses that aren't consistently examining and refining their strategy. Keep these tips in mind for navigating the 2018 social media landscape, and don't forget stay on top of news and events so that you can evolve with it.