While Americans spend more time on social networks than email and search networks combined, not all social networks are created equal. For the right fit, consider the following factors:
1) Feed Consumption & Filtering: How news feed content is consumed and filtered is the most important factor to consider. Networks with engagement-based filtering are the most effective for influence marketing (engagement = influence).
2) Content Structure & Half-Life: Effectiveness of an influence marketing campaign can be limited by the structure and useful lifespan of content.
3) Search Engine Signals: Search engines aren’t as relevant to a consumer’s buying journey, but the content on some networks is more easily searchable, and therefore, more easily discoverable.
4) Social Relationship Strength: The nature of the relationships between influencers and their connections should inform the type of campaign you use and on which network. Facebook and Pinterest are best for driving conversions, whereas YouTube and Instagram are great for promoting brand awareness.
5) User Demographics and Target Audience: Network popularity and usage varies by gender and age, just like a brand’s target audience varies by product.
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Let’s take a look at each network’s strengths & weaknesses:
User Stats: 1.32 billion users, 71% of adult internet users, 66% men, 77% women, used most by consumers aged 25-34, but still popular on the whole with users age 18-54
Feed Consumption & Filtering: With the most heavily consumed newsfeed, Facebook filters its content based on engagement.
Content Structure & Half-Life: Although a variety of types of content can be posted and shared, the average life of a post is only 22 hours.
Search Engine Signals: Only profiles and pages are indexed by Google, but Bing indexes content and includes engagement as a signal.
Social Relationship Strength: Network connections closely mirror real-life relationships, so users know and trust 80% of their connections.
The Verdict: Facebook is versatile in that it can be used for almost any influence marketing campaign. Since it closely mirrors real-world relationships, it’s most effective for direct response and conversion campaigns.
Best For: B2C products and software (53% of active social networkers follow a brand), though just about any business can benefit from having a Facebook page. Your objective isn’t to sell, but to engage and grow a following by showing off your brand’s personality.
User Stats: 1 billion users, 78% male, 23% female, 18-32 yr olds
Feed Consumption & Filtering: While users spend an hour per month on YouTube, they spend that time engaging with only a few pieces of content.
Content Structure & Half-Life: Content is limited to videos, but their lifespan is unlimited.
Search Engine Signals: Owned by Google, search rankings are boosted by engagement.
Social Relationship Strength: Consumer trust is relatively low, as viewers rarely know the subject or poster of content.
The Verdict: As the next generation of television, video content created by YouTube stars are key to any brand awareness campaign.
Best For: Visually driven brands (how-to demonstrations & product features boost consumer confidence in their purchases).
User Stats: 53 million, 28% of adult internet users, 13% men, 42% of women, 25-44 yr olds
Feed Consumption & Filtering: Network feed is filtered based on engagement and closely resembles a checkout cart for its users.
Content Structure & Half-Life: Second only to Facebook in content lifespan, but limited to photos with descriptions and links.
Search Engine Signals: Pinterest is search-engine friendly, with boards commonly showing on the first page of Google results.
Social Relationship Strength: Pinterest is more about discovery than connecting with people.
The Verdict: Intent to purchase is exceptionally high and second only to search engines. Combined with the visual nature of Pinterest’s feed, retail, fashion, and beauty brands are well equipped to drive a direct response.
Best For: Fashion & beauty, food, design, travel, DIY – highly female-focused brands.
User Stats: 199 million, 44% male, 56% female, 18-34 yr olds
Feed Consumption & Filtering: Content consumption is based on the blogs that users choose to follow. Within those blogs, engagement drives post placement.
Content Structure & Half-Life: The network allows a variety of content sharing, plus tagging to enable discovery.
Search Engine Signals: Search engines index the blogs and posts, making it #3 for driving referral traffic.
Social Relationship Strength: Followings are largely aspirational, with users knowing few of the bloggers in real life.
The Verdict: As the blog tool of choice for the younger generation, plus its ability to show a variety of content types, Tumblr has become the #3 best social network for referral traffic.
Best For: Brands targeting millennial consumers (half of Tumblr’s visitors are under the age of 25), brands that are “niche-able” and able to strike gold in smaller fandom communities on the site.
User Stats: 200 million, 26% adult internet users, 22% men, 29% women, primarily 18-34 yr olds, but has 11.4 million users under the age of 17
Feed Consumption & Filtering: The app’s feed is filtered by time, but is the second most highly consumed on mobile. Its emphasis on photo sharing arguably makes it the most visually appealing as well.
Content Structure & Half-Life: Content has a short life and link sharing is infrequent, making Instagram best for brand awareness campaigns.
Search Engine Signals: Profiles are indexed on search engines, but content is not considered in search engine signals.
Social Relationship Strength: Much like Facebook, users know the majority of their followers, mixed with a few aspirational ones.
The Verdict: Although a relatively new to the influence marketing game, it is quickly becoming a key player in brand awareness as the second most-used network on mobile devices.
Best For: Lifestyle, food, fashion, personalities, and luxury brands.
User Stats: 284 million, 23% of adult internet users, 24% men, 21% women, highest usage by ages 18-34
Feed Consumption & Filtering: Time-based filtering limits content use outside of real-time events, but feed is heavily consumed.
Content Structure & Half-Life: Short life span and 140 character limit content impact outside of real-time events.
Search Engine Signals: Google has ended its Firehose Agreement with Twitter, but profiles are indexed on the search engine.
Social Relationship Strength: Followings are primarily aspiration, mirroring less than 20% of real life relationships and connections.
The Verdict: Take the good with the not-so-good… effectiveness is limited to real time events and trending topics with the help of influencers, but its prowess is great for high profile users such as celebrities, journalists, and executives.
Best For: Businesses who often have something specific to share with their consumers “in the moment” and have direct conversation with them. Much like Facebook, most businesses can benefit from Twitter… but here’s the catch – you should be prepared to actively engage and interact with your followers.
User Stats: 187 million, 28% of adult internet users, 28% men, 27% women, 30-64 yr olds
Feed Consumption & Filtering: It is the #1 B2B consumed feed and is filtered by engagement.
Content Structure & Half-Life: Content is link-based and has a lifetime of about 24 hours.
Search Engine Signals: Profiles are indexed, but limited activity means content and engagement are not considered in search signals.
Social Relationship Strength: Network mirrors professional relationships as closely as Facebook mirrors personal relationships. Users have met 80% of their connections.
The Verdict: The network’s power over influence marketing is evolving, and it has recognized its own potential by building a “Top Influencers” feature into the feed.
Best For: B2B service providers.
We’ve covered the power of each social network, but for a closer look at which might be the best fit for your campaign, try our quiz!
Regardless of the network though, there is real value and power in connecting with your brand influencers on social media. For more information on why influence marketing is the most effective approach to increase brand awareness and drive sales, check out our Free E-Book: The Ultimate Guide to Influence Marketing.