One of the toughest choices you have to make in social media marketing is which networks to go with. Get this decision wrong and you’re stuck preaching to the wrong crowd or producing the wrong kind of content to engage them.

Each network has its own strengths and weaknesses, making them better for certain goals than others. So let’s take a look at the pros and cons from the biggest names in social – plus the marketing goals for which they are best suited.

Facebook LogoFacebook

One of the biggest strengths of this network is reach. The sheer number of people using Facebook on a daily basis is unrivalled in social media. It’s not just numbers either; it’s the diversity of users that has so many firms marketing on the platform. Plus, the targeting options available really let you hone in on your target audience.

Facebook pros:

  • Huge reach (including the broadest range of audiences)
  • Mobile users spend a lot of time on the app
  • Some of the best targeting options available right now
  • You can promote articles, videos, images and basically every type of content
  • Facebook advertising and AdWords work really well together

Facebook cons:

  • Almost zero organic reach
  • The most competitive network

Suitable goals

Brand awareness, storytelling, customer loyalty/retention, customer service, paid advertising.

Should I choose Facebook?

If branding and engagement are central to your marketing goals, then absolutely. It’s still one of the best places to publish and promote content. It has to be engaging, though. Let’s just say this can be much harder for software firms than fashion brands.

Twitter logoTwitter

Twitter is a completely different platform to Facebook. This year Twitter changed its iOS app category from ‘social networking’ to ‘news’ – and that says a lot. You don’t get anywhere near the kind of (potential) reach that comes with Facebook, or similarly impressive targeting features. However, Twitter brings some of its own unique strengths.

Twitter pros:

  • Ideal for news, announcements, product launches, trending topics and punchy content
  • A good place to promote/test content with strong headlines
  • You get a quick reaction from your audience
  • Engagement revolves around conversation
  • A good source of traffic
  • A great B2B branding tool

Twitter cons:

  • Content lifespan is short (although you can republish)
  • Twitter traffic often comes with low purchase intent
  • Twitter advertising can be pricey
  • Requires a lot of content

Suitable goals:

Digital PR, becoming a news source, promoting/testing content, conversational engagement, paid advertising.

Should I choose Twitter?

If industry news will help you sell products or build your brand, then yes. If you need a strong B2B platform or have a lot of content to generate traffic with, then double yes. Otherwise, you may want to look at other options.

LinkedinLinkedIn logo

We’ve just hyped up Twitter as a B2B platform, but LinkedIn still rules the roost in social B2B. That said, LinkedIn is not a place to try and sell products or services. It’s a place to genuinely connect with people on a professional level – but that doesn’t mean you can’t generate leads.

LinkedIn pros:

  • The definitive B2B platform
  • Large, highly-targeted user base
  • The only network to prioritise long-form articles
  • Easy to network with individuals directly
  • Good research tool for your target industries/markets and competitors

LinkedIn cons:

  • Not a place for selling (but you can generate and nurture leads)
  • Paid advertising is not great

Suitable goals:

B2B brand awareness, professional networking, thought leadership.

Should I choose LinkedIn?

If you’re in a B2B industry, then this is the first network on your list. Even if you’re not, but you want to become a thought leader in your field and make genuine business contacts, then LinkedIn is the tool for you.

PinterestPinterest logo

Pinterest is an interesting network. It doesn’t make as many headlines as the other big names, but it’s a selling power tool for the right brands. Roughly 70 per cent of Pinterest users are female – this is where things get really interesting. Studies show the majority of female users pin items for ideas and inspiration; the majority of men pin items they intend to buy.

Pinterest pros:

  • The ‘Pin It’ button makes content incredibly shareable
  • Visual network perfect for promoting products, from clothing and furniture, to wedding cakes and classic cars
  • A strong visual branding tool
  • Generates direct sales
  • Good source of traffic

Pinterest cons:

  • Time-consuming
  • Takes a lot of work to start seeing results

Suitable goals:

Product sales, brand promotion, drive traffic, network with similar brands (eg: photographers and wedding cake makers).

Should I choose Pinterest?

If you’re selling products with strong visual appeal and have the ability to create compelling images of them, Pinterest is a great option. And, big surprise, it’s ideal for brands targeting female users – but men play a more active (albeit smaller) role.

InstagramInstagram logo

Instagram has been the rising star in social media over the past few years. Its user base has sky-rocketed, and it boasts some of the most impressive engagements stats we’ve seen to date. People really interact with content on Instagram – but what kind of people?

More than 90 per cent of users are under 35 and love being able to instantly upload smartphone snaps and selfies. We’re talking about a much more specific (and younger) kind of user than Facebook, for example.

Instagram pros:

  • Rapidly growing user base
  • Incredible engagement stats (10x more than Facebook)
  • Connects you with millennials and Gen Z
  • A great visual branding tool

Instagram cons:

  • More about branding than selling
  • Limited audience
  • Needs strategic visual content

Suitable goals:

Target young users, visual branding, engagement.

Should I choose Instagram?

If you’re looking to connect with a young audience (think the ‘selfie generation’) with visual content, Instagram is the one. If you’re targeting CEOs at prestigious firms, then you probably want to head back to LinkedIn and Twitter.

YouTube logoYouTube

YouTube isn’t just a social network, it’s the second most widely used search engine around the world. Despite recent competition from Vine and other video-orientated networks, YouTube still holds the crown. It’s definitely a unique platform but who should be using it?

YouTube pros:

  • The place for explainer videos
  • Perfect for ‘how-to’ tutorial videos
  • YouTube advertising is insanely cheap
  • You can create brand channels to host all of your videos
  • Ranks in Google organic search

YouTube cons:

  • Video production can be expensive

Suitable goals:

Brand awareness, drive traffic, organic search, paid advertising.

Should I choose YouTube?

If you’re serious about producing regular video content, then YouTube is the first place to host it. Short clips are better off published on Facebook, Vine, Instagram and other video networks. YouTube is best suited to longer videos, which means you need to keep people engaged.

Each of the networks we’ve looked at today has something different to offer. It’s not enough to simply know which networks your target audiences use (they will use many); you also need to understand the role each network plays in their daily lives and how that makes them suitable for your marketing goals.

Need help with your social media?

If you want more info on the networks we’ve looked at today (or those we haven’t), get in touch with our social media experts on 0845 123 2753.

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Read more: Social Media Platforms You Should Be Using