“Should I even bother with Instagram?” Or “Pinterest?”. Or “Snapchat?”. People asking “What social networks should I spend my time on?” is one of the most common questions I get asked.

And I get it. Creating content for loads of social networks is time-consuming and, as the saying goes, time is money.

Many businesses asking this question use the catch-all approach of being on every social network, arguing that the more platforms you’re on, the more people you’re exposing your business to. This logic would be applicable if every social network had your businesses’ specific target audience… but not all social networks are the same. So being on every network is a waste of time.

Knowing which platforms are worth your time is useful – but the answer to “which should I be on?” isn’t as straightforward as many people want. The reality is that it really depends on your business and who you are targeting.

However, it’s not difficult to work out which platforms are right for your business when you ask the right questions.

Does size matter?

The size of each social network is one thing to keep in consider. How many people are actually on each social network?

We know the big players are Facebook and Instagram in Australia. But when we look at what this looks like in a chart, it’s a bit daunting seeing how overwhelming Facebook is in terms of size compared to the others.


Data source: Social Media News Sept 2016

One of the first things which is surprising is that Twitter isn’t really all that big in Australia, despite its reputation as one of the big players. Other social networks like Linked In, Pinterest and Snapchat have also got much smaller followings compared to Facebook.

Facebook is used by 63% of Australians according to these numbers – and all other social networks are less than 20% each. It’s easy to then ask: what’s the point of being on the other platforms?

Well, the other social networks are more likely to skew towards specific demographics. To put it simply, Facebook has a bit of everyone, but the other social platforms have niches groups. And it might be that your business is targeting a niche group, so it makes the most sense to be on one of those platforms.

What’s my age again?

In the same way that different demographics are drawn to different tv shows like Breaking Bad, The Bachelor, and My Little Pony, different groups of people use different social networks.


Chart inspired by data in the Sensis 2016 Social Media Report (PDF) and Pew Social Media Report, 2016

Let’s break down who is on each platform:

Facebook – Facebook has a pretty wide spread of everybody. We can see that reflected in the sheer volume of people on Facebook. Each demographic has something they can find and connect with on Facebook.

Snapchat – While it’s growing in popularity in the 30+ age groups, the latest data on Snapchat shows a vast majority of users are still under 30. While Snapchat started out as being for teens, there is growing numbers in their 20s and 30s and these demographics may soon change.

Instagram – With a slight female skew, Instagram is huge in the under 30s market.

Twitter – Skewing slightly towards males, Twitter is popular in the 30s – 40s group market, with, in Australia, a focus around sharing news.

Pinterest – the darling of women in their 30s – 40s, Pinterest appeals to those in the mid-to-high income bracket

Linked In – a favourite of those aged 40 +, Linked In is the focus for those with a business angle.

Another interesting correlation is that this also mirrors income, which we can infer is because teenagers and those in their 20s haven’t settled into high paying careers yet.

If your business is focussing towards those with a higher income level, consider whether Linked In, Twitter and Pinterest will suit your business as this is where those with higher incomes are more likely to be found.


What if age doesn’t matter?

But it’s not all about age. Sometimes, it’s more to do with culture. What if you’re selling art prints? Anyone ages 18 – 80 might buy these (excluding, of course, the price tag). Sometimes the product you’re selling is more aligned with a personality type or industry.

If you’re an executive or consultant, creating content which is putting you in a thought leadership position, sharing it on a blog and sharing it on Twitter and Linked in is a smart approach.

If you’re creating content for the creative community, leveraging visually-based platforms like Instagram, Pinterest, YouTube or Vimeo might be the best way to get seen by your desired audience.

Even if your business isn’t directly related to the art community, you might be working with visually-engaging material. Working with fashion, food, fitness or horticulture, you might find that communities like Instagram or Pinterest are perfect for your market.

And what if I’m B2B?

For some industries, social media as an ‘owned’ channel is going to be really tough to make work. If you’re a business which works on one-off jobs or B2B, you might find that traditional social approaches of building a community around your business on social media is unlikely to work.

For example, if you’re B2B, you might find that outreach to specific potential leads via Linked In is the most effective way to engage with social media.

Or, if you’re a tradesman who doesn’t usually do repeat business, you might want to be paying close attention to your online word-of-mouth – that is, your reviews. Keeping across things like your TrueLocal reviews or reviews on Google Maps is really important. Recent research shows that reviews by previous customers are actually seen as more trustworthy than your own site content, so earned media is where you should be paying attention.

Related: The Surprising Reason Social Is More Important Than Your Website

Are we made of money?

One of the things to consider is whether you’re using social networks for advertising due to their great ability to target a very specific demographic, especially in terms of interests.

If you’re advertising on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, these ads are often tied to an account or page on that platform.

If you’re going to be running ads on those platforms, it’s important to have at some presence on that platform. While some people might click on your ad, it’s entirely possible people will also be clicking on your social media account – so ensuring it’s up to scratch is important so when people land on your page, they know a bit about you.

Related: The Essential Checklist for Social Media Branding [Free Download]

So… which one is right?

There are quite a few factors to keep in mind with your social media channels – but the most important thing is that you consider who your audience is and what channels they are on. You don’t need to be on every channel if your audience isn’t.

Be mindful of who your audience is, because when a new social network springs forth from the depths of the internet, you are in a position to act – or not act! – based on whether that platform is targeting the audience you’re after.

Quiz: Which social network is my audience on?

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Want to work with Rachel?

Rachel Beaney is a writer and social media content specialist, helping businesses connect with their audiences.

She’s worked with local, national and global companies, in addition to not-for-profits and government bodies. She loves helping businesses tell their stories with creative and data-driven solutions.

She is based in Sydney, Australia.

Want to work together? Rachel would love to hear from you. Get in touch today.