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Social Media Platforms: Which Are the Best Ones for SMEs?

social media platforms

“Which social media platforms should I use to market my business?” This is an important question asked by business owners and managers. Businesses that choose the wrong social media platforms waste time and money and don’t get the results they're looking for from their content marketing efforts. Here we unpack the top 8 social media platforms for business, including their pros and cons.

What to consider when choosing social media platforms

Social media marketing is now essential for most businesses, whether they’re business-to-consumer or business-to-business focused. The first things to consider when considering social media platforms are your goals. Do you want to increase brand awareness or generate leads? Your target audience is another important consideration, as this will determine the best fit for you among the social networks. For instance, some networks are more suited to consumer markets while others are more focused on businesses. At the same time, some networks rely on visual content and others are suitable for text-based content. This is why it’s essential to take stock of your goals and audience when selecting social media sites for business.

Facebook

With over 1 billion daily active users, Facebook is the most popular social networking site and it’s likely that many members of your target audience use it. Another strength of Facebook is that it’s easy to target paid ads based on the people who engage with your organic (unpaid) posts. The biggest downsides are that Facebook advertising usually requires a large budget and consistent engagement to be effective. Even if you don’t opt for paid advertising on Facebook, you can still create a company page and groups where you can interact with current and potential customers.

Instagram

After being established in 2010, Instagram quickly became a popular social networking platform. The platform originally started out as a site for sharing photos and has since expanded to short videos as well. Instagram is best suited to businesses that have engaging images and videos to share. It’s more popular with younger users, with 59 per cent between the ages of 18 and 29. It’s also more appropriate for business-to-consumer products and services. 

While 33 per cent B2B companies use Instagram, 98 per cent of fashion brands use the platform. It’s not surprising that the most followed brands on Instagram are Nike, Victoria’s Secret and Gucci. One of the disadvantages of Instagram is that it requires regular posting to be effective.

Twitter

Twitter is the most conversational and fast-paced social media platform. It’s where businesses, journalists, celebrities and everyone else comes together to share stories, news, commentary and opinions on current affairs, jokes, and other content. The maximum number of characters in a tweet was increased from 140 to 280 in 2017, so there’s scope to post a wide range of content. Businesses post promotions, industry insights and news, online contests and new product information. With nearly 6,000 tweets every second, it can be hard to be seen on Twitter if you are not active. Posting several times per day will make it more likely for your tweets to be seen and enable you to engage with your followers. So if you don’t have the time and resources to post regularly, Twitter is probably not the right platform for you.

LinkedIn

Founded in 2002, LinkedIn is the oldest social media platform on this list. As a network for professionals, it’s best suited for making business-related connections, whether partners, suppliers and customers. 91 per cent of executives rate LinkedIn as their first choice for professionally relevant content and around 45% of article readers on LinkedIn are in upper-level positions, such as managers, and directors, C-level executives. This makes it one of the top social media platforms for business. 

It’s also popular for businesses recruiting new staff and professionals looking for opportunities. Since it’s a business-focused platform, appropriate content includes company and industry updates, product releases and informative videos. 

Unlike Twitter, you don’t have to post multiple times per day to be effective. Even companies that post once per week see their engagement double. As well as being a great forum for building your employer brand, LinkedIn is also a great social media platform to get staff involved. They can become brand ambassadors and use their own networks on LinkedIn to spread your content far and wide.

Pinterest

This social media platform can be effective for small businesses focused on lifestyle products, such as interior design, cooking, travel and photography. In general, it’s more suitable for consumer-focused products and services that are image oriented. It’s also a much more popular social media site with women than men, with 79 per cent to Pinterest users in Australia being female. With many users on Pinterest it can be difficult to stand out, so consistent posting is needed for success. This platform delivers $4.3 return for every dollar spent on ads, so it can be less expensive and more profitable than Facebook or Twitter if you have the right offering and post interesting images often enough.

Snapchat

With 78 per cent of active users between the ages of 18 and 24, the social media platform is suitable if you want to reach a younger audience. In Australia, there are 6.4 million monthly active users. Snapchat is a photo and video sharing platform that allows you to share content (called snaps) that disappears in 10 seconds. Snapchat has a range of advertising options so it could be an effective marketing tool if you are targeting Generation Z and Millennials in your business.

Facebook Messenger

Although Facebook Messenger is part of Facebook, you need to download a separate app to use it. This app enables Facebook users to send messages directly to one another, and this can be used for business pages as well. Being part of Facebook, you can access Facebook’s user database and advertising platform through it. When a user clicks on an ad in Facebook Messenger, they are prompted to begin a Facebook Message with your business page. If they do this, your business page can message them from going forward. This could be a good option if your business places more focus on lead generation as opposed to immediate sales.

Experiment with social media platforms

After choosing your top social media sites based on your target market and goals, it will take time to see what works. You can make adjustments based on your experience and the results you achieve. 

Check out Maximise Your Small Business Social Media to learn more about this topic. 

Author:

Business content for Australian SMEs. Sharing guides, growth hacks, and expert tips on finance, sales and marketing, and tech.

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