Successful marketing is partly a game of numbers. Top companies spend thousands upon thousands of dollars each year on marketing research alone. A decade ago, this sort of market research was all but inaccessible to small business owners or self-employed individuals. In recent years, however, social media websites have made great strides in leveling the playing field. In both paid and unpaid advertising endeavors, many social websites offer analytical tools to measure and understand the various demographics of a business’s social audience.

The following is a top-down look at the role of statistical data in social media marketing, starting with general, yet important, statistics on the four top social websites: Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and Youtube. This sort of data is useful when determining which social outlets to use in your social marketing endeavors. It’s important to remember that this infographic is neither the first nor last of its kind. Numbers in marketing are always growing, shrinking, or fluctuating. The fact that Facebook breached the 1 billionth user mark before its 10th birthday is a testament to this. In order to really benefit from these numbers, it’s important to stay on top of these changes. Otherwise, you may eventually find that the numbers you were using are now obsolete.

Sources: AGBeat, Comscore, Internet Retailer, Perpetual Kid, Reuters, and Statista

When determining which social websites to include in your marketing strategy, these statistics can help you reflect on which site might better suit your needs. Obviously, ultimate success relies more on the execution of the campaign than mere numbers, but you might find certain advantages for each site based off of these numbers. A few things to think about for each site:

  • Facebook: more often than not, Facebook remains the leader of social media marketing. Offering the largest, most diverse audience, and several paid/unpaid marketing options, Facebook is almost a given for any social marketing. In some ways, Facebook offers the most in terms of brand presence for a business. A dedicated business page can offer a uniquely branded voice to a business, while offering a digital space for a virtual community to develop around that business.
  • Twitter: much like Facebook, Twitter has become a go-to outlet for social marketing since its introduction in 2006. Some trends suggest that users are often more likely to engage with brands via Twitter that over Facebook. Regardless, Twitter also offers a uniquely branded voice for a business while enabling direct, short communication with current and potential customers.
  • Youtube: a few years ago, Youtube became the second largest search engine. With a higher monthly traffic rate, and nearly the same user numbers as Facebook, Youtube is a unique component to any social campaign. Unlike other social sites, Youtube can provide a uniquely visual, almost in-person presence to any brand.
  • Pinterest: as the baby of the group, Pinterest is still growing. With that said, its growth has been unprecedented in many ways, and it has quickly become a contender for visual social marketing since 2010. While the site still has a strong leaning towards female users, and holds strong in its roots of crafting, interior decorating, graphic design, etc., social marketers are quickly discovering that Pinterest can drive business in unique and profitable ways.

In part two, we’ll check out some of the features and strategies these websites offer to businesses to conduct their own market research.