How much do you know about the demographics of social media platforms? Do you have general assumptions or are they based on statistics?

Recently, I was interviewed by Spokane Talks Media. In that interview, I was asked what social media platform I recommend for most businesses. 

My initial reaction was Facebook and maybe Instagram. While I stand by that answer, there are some other nuances that I wasn’t able to cover in my answer. 

I mentioned that it really depends on the audience. I want to explain more of what that means for some of the major platforms. 

First, I should mention that a lot of businesses that I work with are hesitant to say that they target a specific audience. They think, “Well, technically anyone can buy my product, so I don’t want to limit it.” 

The problem with that mentality is that if you’re trying to reach everyone, you won’t reach anyone. Your audience wants to feel like you’re talking to them directly. If you’re trying to be too broad, you’re never going to connect. 

Here’s a break-down for each of the platforms. 

Facebook

I usually say that having a Facebook page is like having a website. It’s just a basic requirement of any business at this point. 

It might not be the platform you use the most, but it should be a platform you’re on. Here are some reasons to be on Facebook:

  • Reach a large audience
  • Access to audience insights
  • Access to Facebook/Instagram’s advertising platform

I can certainly make a case for not using Facebook. Putting aside privacy and ethical concerns, there are some things that don’t fully translate to Facebook. 

I’ve seen Instagram influencers with millions of followers on Instagram have a pitiful following on Facebook. That’s because their business is really made for Instagram and Instagram’s audience. It might not translate to the Facebook audience. 

Here’s a breakdown of some Facebook demographics:

  • 54% users are female and 46% are male (Source)
  • 75% of Facebook users make more than $75,000 annually (Source)
  • Facebook usage is growing among Boomers & the Silent Generation (Source)
  • Usage is declining for Generation X (Source)
  • Usage for Millenials is high but fairly stable (Source)
  • Teens (Generation Z) are using Facebook less than any other generation (Source)

So, what can we take away from all that information? If your target audience is wealthy, older women, then Facebook is exactly where you want to be. 

Reaching Millennials on Facebook is a great idea as well. Just keep in mind that most Millennials are adults now. I think a lot of times people think current teenagers are still Millennials. That’s Generation Z. Millennials are between 23 and 38 years old. 

Instagram

I should start by pointing out that Instagram is owned by Facebook. That comes with some benefits. The advertising platform you use on Facebook is the same one used on Instagram. You have fewer analytics with Instagram though. 

What you do get with Instagram is a really specific aesthetic and audience. Here’s some information on the Instagram demographics:

  • 42% of Instagram users make more than $75,000 annually (Source)
  • 75% of 18-24 year olds use Instagram (Source)
  • 57% of 25-30 year olds use Instagram (Source)
  • 47% of 30-49 year olds use Instagram (Source)
  • 23% of 50-64 year olds use Instagram (Source)
  • 8% of 65+ year olds use Instagram (Source)
  • 43% of women use Instagram, 31% of men use it (Source)

Something this shows us is that the older generations aren’t as present on Instagram as they are on Facebook. Instagram is more targeted to younger generations and has a bigger group of female users. 

If you’re targeting Millennial or Generation Z women, then Instagram is the spot for you. 

Keep in mind though that Instagram requires a certain type of content: photos. If you’re trying to drive traffic to your website, Instagram has difficulty doing that. It has adapted to working for eCommerce now, if you have the Instagram shop set up. 

However, make sure you have photos or graphics that you can use consistently if you decide to invest in Instagram. 

LinkedIn

I feel like people forget about LinkedIn. It’s sometimes that platform you set up in college or when you’re looking for jobs. However, you can also use it as a place to find new clients and connect with people in exactly the right industry or position. 

Unlike Instagram or Facebook where you have to run ads or just hope that the right audience finds you, you can find the right audience yourself and send them a connection request. Now, there’s a line with that technique. 

Since I’ve started my own business, I’ve been contacted by so many financial advisors! I am much more particular about my connection requests these days after getting so many spam requests. Try reaching out to warm leads or at least leads that you can make warm in some way by mentioning something in common or a way that you’ve used their business in the past. 

So who’s on LinkedIn? More importantly, who is actively using it? You might have noticed that you’ll add connections and not hear back for weeks. LinkedIn isn’t everyone’s daily platform. However, it can be a good platform for reaching other professionals and virtual networking. Here are the demographics for LinkedIn:

  • 44% of 25-30 year olds use LinkedIn (Source)
  • 37 % of 30-49 year olds use LinkedIn (Source)
  • 29% of adult men and 24% of adult women use LinkedIn (Source)
  • 49% of those making more than $75,000 annually use LinkedIn (Source)

I didn’t include Generation Z and Boomers here because they don’t use LinkedIn as much as Millennials and Generation X. However, we do see that men use LinkedIn slightly more than women which is rare for a social media platform. We also see that there’s a good group of affluent users on LinkedIn. 

If you’re trying to reach a 25-49 year old man who makes more than 75,000 a year, then LinkedIn is a great spot for that. 

Pinterest

I’ve recently become a big fan of Pinterest as a way to drive traffic to your website. If you have a blog, Pinterest can make a huge difference in the number of eyes that see your content. However, I wouldn’t recommend it for local businesses. It doesn’t really have tools for narrowing in on your local audience and that’s not exactly how it’s used. 

Here are some of the key demographics for Pinterest:

  • 15% of men and 42% of women use Pinterest (Source)
  • 38% of 18-24 year olds use Pinterest (Source)
  • 28% of 25-30 year olds use Pinterest (Source)
  • 35% of 30-49 year olds use Pinterest (Source)

It’s surprising to me that 25-30 years olds drop down significantly compared to the generation before and after. This tells us that Generation Z and Generation X are most likely to be Pinterest users. There’s also a big discrepancy based on gender for this platform. That’s not to say there aren’t still areas for men to use Pinterest, but it’s going to skew predominantly towards women. 

TikTok

While I’m watching the TikTok trends, I haven’t seen enough applications for business to be interested in it yet. If your business is targeting teenagers, has anything to do with dance, or has someone with enough personality/knowledge of TikTok, then maybe you can make it work. 

TikTok has recently introduced new advertising tools though. These are more interesting to me since they could be helpful for businesses. However, you still have to develop an ad that is in the TikTok format which isn’t natural for everyone so it might take some time to get used to the style and come up with ideas for ads. 

Here are some demographics on TikTok:

  • 41% of TikTok users are aged between 16 and 24 (Source)
  • 56% of TikTok users are male and 44% are female (Source)
  • Chinese users account for 80% of total time spent on TikTok (Source)

This tells us that TikTok users are young and more likely to be male. 

There’s also a huge Chinese population using the platform. If you’re looking to expand into the Chinese market, this might be the place to do it. Most social media platforms don’t have any access to Chinese markets. LinkedIn is the one exception but that doesn’t mean it’s widely used in China. TikTok has them all beat though. 

For most the businesses that I work with, small local businesses, TikTok won’t really work. If you’re really specifically targeting teenagers than maybe. But you have to understand the culture of TikTok and make videos that fit that. Otherwise, you’ll come across as the old person who’s trying too hard. 

Twitter

To be honest, I don’t think about Twitter all that much. Don’t get me wrong, I think they’ve done a lot of really good things as a company lately but they aren’t always right for the types of businesses that I work with. 

I tend to think of Twitter as a place for big brands/celebrities and the news media. There are some people who go to Twitter for news. However, it’s not exactly the place you go to connect with local businesses. 

So who’s on Twitter? Here are the demographics:

  • 24% of men and 21% of women use Twitter (Source)
  • 44% of 18-24 year olds use Twitter (Source)
  • 31% of 25-30 year olds use Twitter (Source)
  • 26% of 30-49 year olds use Twitter (Source)

I’m actually a bit surprised that such a young audience uses Twitter. I tend to think of it as a bit older. However, this data does show us that Generation Z and Millenials like Twitter. If that’s your audience and you notice that competitors in your industry are on Twitter, go for it!

YouTube

Like Facebook, YouTube is huge! That being said, it’s not as easy for small businesses to use YouTube as Facebook. Video production requires special equipment and special knowledge. It’s not something that just anyone jumps into. 

That being said, if you have the time, money, and knowledge, YouTube reaches a big audience. 

  • 78% of men and 68% of women use YouTube (Source)
  • 90% of 18-24 year olds use YouTube (Source)
  • 93% of 25-30 year olds use YouTube (Source)
  • 87% of 30-49 year olds use YouTube (Source)
  • 70% of 50-64 year olds use YouTube (Source)

As you can see from these statistics, there’s huge saturations with YouTube. Keep in mind how people use it though. Sometimes you use it to find a really specific thing. Maybe you’re doing home improvements and want a video to instruct you on how to install drywall. Alternatively, there are those that like they watch YouTube like it’s Netflix. They might binge hours of content in one sitting because they’re so interested in a topic. 

If you can see ways to make YouTube applicable to your audience, then it’s certainly something to consider. 

Snapchat

I was debating if I wanted to add Snapchat to this list. To me, it’s lost some appeal since Instagram introduced stories. However, it is a big tool for communication among younger generations. 

Using it for business is a bit more complex though. They do have an advertising platform but, like TikTok, you have to make that ad in a way that seems native to Snapchat’s culture. 

Here’s a breakdown of demographics:

  • 24% of men and 24% of women use Snapchat (Source)
  • 73% of 18-24 year olds use Snapchat (Source)
  • 47% of 25-30 year olds use Snapchat (Source)
  • 25% of 30-49 year olds use Snapchat (Source)

Again, if you are looking for teenagers and those in their early twenties, Snapchat is the right place for that. It drops off as you get to thirty year olds though. 

Conclusion

Hopefully, you can see by now why I couldn’t explain all these details in a quick interview question. 

Here’s my general breakdown for the small, local businesses that I work with. 

Every business should have a Facebook page. 

Instagram is great if you want a younger, female audience and have good visuals. 

LinkedIn is good for B2B or digital networking. 

Pinterest can drive lots of traffic to your website but might not work if you’re trying to reach a specific area. 

TikTok works for those who are familiar with the style of the platform and are reaching teenagers. 

Twitter works for certain industries (sports, media, universities, celebrities, politicians) but might not work for those outside the normal Twitter industries. 

While YouTube has a huge reach, it can be time consuming. If you have a clear plan and know that people would be receptive to your content there, use it. 

Snapchat is definitely a good way to reach younger audiences but you have to get familiar with the style of the platform.

I hope that helps for all those small business owners out there. Reach out to me if you want to chat about breaking into or expanding on any of these platforms. 

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