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So you’ve decided to utilize social media and get into the digital conversation! Great, but where do you start?

Determining which social networks to utilize as a company requires some thought and consideration. Every social network has a different focus along with different user demographics, so choosing which to implement should not be done on a whim. There are 4 questions to ask yourself before you dive in head first.

Who Do I Want to Reach on Social Media?

First and foremost, when entering the social media world, your company must identify your audience. Who are we trying to reach? What is the goal of our audience on social networks? Who should we focus on? In order to use social networks effectively, your company must know and understand who we are speaking to and sharing information with. Once you know your audience, you have to determine where they spend their time.

Where Does My Audience Hang Out Online?

Every social network attracts different users who are using the platform. Below are some basic demographics on the 4 major social networks from Pew Research Center to help you choose which networks to use in order to reach your chosen and desired audience.


Facebook has the highest utilization by US adults of all major social media networks. Many companies use it to implement live video, advertising and image sharing.

  • 68% of US adults use Facebook, 62% of men and 74% of women chose to use Facebook
    • Ages 18-29: 81%
    • Ages 30-49: 78%
    • Ages 50-64: 65%
    • Ages 65+: 41%


Instagram is the second most utilized platform by US adults. Companies use Instagram to share images and to share short bursts of real-time content via Instagram stories.

  • 35% of US adults use Instagram, 30% of men and 39% of women chose to use Instagram
    • Ages 18-29: 64%
    • Ages 30-49: 40%
    • Ages 50-64: 21%
    • Ages 64+: 10%


LinkedIn is a more professional social network that connects industry professionals with others and allows for the sharing of information relative to professional development. LinkedIn is best for sharing whitepapers, case studies, articles and other education pieces.

  • 25% of US adults use LinkedIn, 25% of men and 25% of women chose to use LinkedIn
    • Ages 18-29: 29%
    • Ages 30-49: 33%
    • Ages 50-64: 24%
    • Ages 64+: 9%


Twitter has a fast-paced feed and allows for real-time conversations. Companies can utilize social listening, interact with customers and share links, images, and other information quickly. The ability to create Twitter lists allows you to better organize your community.

  • 24% of US adults use Twitter, 23% of men and 24% of women chose to use Twitter
    • Ages 18-29: 40%
    • Ages 30-49: 27%
    • Ages 50-64: 19%
    • Ages 64+: 8%

Other Networks

There are many other social networks that a company can choose to utilize other than the big 4 such as Snapchat, YouTube or Pinterest. Snapchat tends to have higher utilization in the age ranges of 18-29 and provides access only to real-time content, with images and videos disappearing after 24 hours. YouTube allows for longer, full-length video content that can be used for educating consumers as well as advertising. Pinterest tends to be highly visual and is great for sharing informative images, such as infographics.

What Are My Business Goals?

Along with who you’re reaching, you must also determine what your goals are for your social media personality. Depending on your company, the types of services or products you provide, and your marketing strategy, these goals can vary based on the platform being utilized. Below are some examples of goals companies have in mind when utilizing social media:

  • Brand Awareness
  • Reputation Management
  • Lead Generation
  • E-commerce Sales
  • Sales Validation
  • Customer Service
  • Increase Web Traffic and Rankings
  • Competitor Research

The reason this part plays into choosing your social network is that there is a possibility that you’ll pick differently based on those goals. If my goal is to manage my online reputation, I may find that there’s a lot of chatter about my brand on Reddit. However, Reddit wouldn’t be my first choice if my primary goal of social media is sales validation.

What Social Networks Do I Enjoy?

Social media is intended to be fun and enjoyable. If you absolutely despise a specific social network, the likelihood that you’ll generate any ROI from your time and effort there is null.  If you’re not going to be dedicated to the platform, you’ll constantly put the work on the backburner, and will not produce your best and most engaging work. Social media requires you to be “in it” all the time. Social doesn’t sleep and many social media managers and community managers are doing the job because they love it! Therefore, passion breeds success in social media.

3 Social Networks Your Company MUST Be On

Of course, now that I’ve given you the questions above, I do have 3 networks I believe every company should be on regardless of goals and audience. Those are Facebook, Google, and LinkedIn. I’ve given more reasons into why below before you start giving me grief. I do have some good reasons!

1. Facebook

Facebook boasts having over 1.44 billion monthly active users. How can you ignore such a large audience? Facebook provides tools such as Facebook Audience Insights that allow you to dive into the demographics and details of your audience. They allow for targeted ad options which help companies increase their conversions from the site.

2. Google+ or Google My Business

Users expect the company they are searching for to show up on Google when they search for them, so why would you miss out on this opportunity? Create a Google+ page that includes the business name, location, reviews, contact, and photos. Always ensure this information is kept up to date.

3. LinkedIn

This one differs from the above social networks due to the fact that your company or business doesn’t necessarily need to be on the platform. However, if you’re an owner, founder, or CEO of a company, or any other type of face of the company, you need to be on LinkedIn to showcase your qualifications, credentials, and build connections with potential clients or partners.

Claim Your Usernames Across all Social Networks

I always recommend companies claim their username on ALL major social media networks. Having a consistent username across all platforms allows users to easily find and connect with the company they are looking for. Just because a social network, for example, Instagram may not make sense for your business at this time, doesn’t mean it won’t in the future. Claim your username now before someone else or another company with a similar name does. If you wait, you could be left with varying usernames across all platforms. This adds to the confusion not only for your team but also your community when they try to connect with you online.

Companies have many factors to consider when deciding which social networks to use. From understanding the demographics of each network in comparison to the audience they are trying to reach to the types of content and media to be shared, it takes careful consideration and passion for the social network. You need to enjoy using the platform in order to generate an ROI on your time spent and be able to produce engaging content. What works for one company will not always work for your company, so ensure you have a strategic plan and someone to manage the networks that is “all in.”

About Steph Nissen

Steph Nissen is the CEO and lead digital marketing strategist at Nissen Media based out of Union, Missouri. She's a self-proclaimed social media junkie (in the best way!) and is passionate about helping startups and small businesses thrive in the social space. She's a proud Mompreneur to two amazing kiddos and a highly competitive board gamer!

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