By now, every small business has heard how important it is to take advantage of social media as a marketing tool, and put real effort into making social media work for you. Most small businesses have joined Facebook, and many have accounts on Twitter, Google+, LinkedIn, and even Pinterest and Tumblr.

With all these outlets and possibilities for social media, it’s easy to get overwhelmed—and if your social marketing resources are stretched out over too many networks, you’re probably not getting the best possible results. But how do you choose where to focus?

Consumers tend to use social media differently, depending on a variety of demographics. By finding out which network, or networks, your target audience is most likely to frequent, you can concentrate your social media marketing and realize a higher return on your investment of time.

Adults vs. Teens: The Social Media Generation Gap

A recent study from the Pew Research Center looked at the social media habits of teens versus adults. While the majority of both groups—72 percent of adults and 81 percent of teens—use social media actively, their choice of networks have substantial differences.

Not surprisingly, both groups favor Facebook the most. The study found that 94 percent of teens are on Facebook, with adult usage of the world’s largest social network at 67 percent. In both demographics, Facebook is the majority category.

However, many people use more than one social network, and this is where the differences come in. Some of the usage statistics from other social media:

  • 26 percent of teens use Twitter, compared with 18 percent of adults
  • Just 1 percent of teens are on Pinterest, compared to 15 percent of adults
  • Adults edge out teens on Tumblr (6 percent, versus 5 percent of teens) and Instagram (13 percent, versus 11 percent of teens)

The most active age group on social media is 18- to 29-year-olds at 89 percent, followed by 13- to 17-year-olds at 81 percent, and then 30 to 49-year-olds at 78 percent.

Other Audience Demographics on Social Media

The study from Pew broke down social media usage on demographics other than age. Some of the factors considered in the study include gender, education level, household income, and urbanity of location.

According to the study, comparing the two biggest networks (Facebook and Twitter):

  • More women use Facebook (72 percent, compared to 62 percent men), and more men use Twitter (17 percent, compared to 15 percent women)
  • The majority of social media users fall into the “some college” education level, as opposed to high school or less, and college-plus—73 percent on Facebook, and 17 percent on Twitter
  • People who live in urban areas (20 percent) are more likely to be on Twitter than suburban (14 percent) and rural dwellers (12 percent)
  • Urbanity has only slight variations on Facebook: urban dwellers are 72 percent, suburban are 65 percent, and rural are 63 percent

Among the other social networks, some of the findings include that more women than men use Pinterest (25 percent vs. 5 percent) and Instagram (16 percent vs. 10 percent), while the gender split for Tumblr users is even at 6 percent. The majority of Tumblr users (13 percent) are young adults age 18 to 29. And Pinterest is more popular with rural residents (18 percent) than with suburban (16 percent) and urban residents (13 percent).

Which social networks do your target audience demographics match?

Image courtesy of Esther Vargas