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Where is your target audience? How to decide which social media platforms are best for your business.

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We live in an age where social media is a fundamental component of most businesses’ core marketing strategies. Effective social media marketing, served to the right audience, can deliver a true competitive advantage. But identifying your target audience and, crucially, understanding where they spend their time online, isn’t always easy. There are a number of major players in the social media market right now, and in this blog, we’ll take a look at them and their headline customer demographics.

According to the latest figures from the Pew Research Center, Facebook remains by far the most used social media platform, with 68 percent of all Americans owning a Facebook profile. Of those users, approximately three quarters use the platform on a daily basis. Pew’s research shows that “a majority of Americans across a wide range of demographic groups” now use Facebook, with the exception of over-65s – the only age group where the percentage of Facebook users is under 50 percent. Facebook is the most used of all the social media platforms by those aged 50 and over (55 percent). It is more widely used by women (74 percent) than men (62 percent).

Of the other platforms, Instagram has seen the sharpest growth in users over the past couple of years, with 35 percent of the US population now having an account. Since 2016, Instagram has overtaken Pinterest as the second most used social media platform in America. It has particular appeal to younger users; some 71 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use it. It is more likely to be used by college graduates (42 percent) than those with only a high school education (29 percent).

Pinterest is currently used by 29 percent of Americans, but it is substantially more popular with women (41 percent) than men (16 percent). It is most used by those in the 25-29 (39 percent) and 30-49 (34 percent) age ranges. Pinterest also has a higher number of white users (32 percent) than black or Hispanic (both 23 percent) in the United States.

Just over a quarter (27 percent) of Americans use Snapchat. However, Snapchat is one of the social media platforms where the demographic skews considerably by age; 78 percent of 18- to 24-year-olds use it, and a high percentage (71 percent) of those visit the platform multiple times per day. Snapchat is used by just 7 percent of over-50s. It is used more by women (31 percent) than men (23 percent).

LinkedIn, a platform primarily designed as social media for business people to connect, is used by a quarter of Americans. It remains popular among college graduates and people in high-income households, with some 50 percent of graduates using the platform, compared to only 9 percent of Americans with a high school diploma or less. It is used equally by women and men and is most used by people in the 25-29 (34 percent) and 30-49 (33 percent) age ranges.

Some 24 percent of Americans use Twitter, however that figure rises to 45 percent among 18- to 24-year-olds. Only 14 percent of over-50s use Twitter. It is used fairly equally by both men and women (23 percent and 24 percent, respectively), and there is also relatively little disparity of use in terms of racial demographics. It is more likely to be used by college graduates (32 percent) than those with a high school education only (18 percent).

Finally, although it isn’t a social media platform in the traditional sense, video sharing site YouTube tops all of the other listed platforms in terms of number of users, with some 73 percent of all Americans using it, and the percentage rising to 94 percent among 18- to 24-year-olds.

Hopefully this round-up will give you some data to consider when thinking about which platforms to target on social media for business marketing purposes. If you want more information about each of the platforms, you can find details of Pew’s demographic data here.