With such a large per­cent­age of the pub­lic using social media – Pew Research Cen­ter reports 70 per­cent – busi­ness­es can’t afford not to inter­act with cus­tomers via chan­nels like Face­book, Twit­ter and oth­er social plat­forms. But while you should be mar­ket­ing via social media, you should­n’t nec­es­sar­i­ly be on every chan­nel. It’s impor­tant for you to invest in the plat­forms where you’re more like­ly to reach and engage with your audi­ence.

To choose the best social media chan­nels for you to inter­act with your cus­tomers, take some time to famil­iar­ize your­self with each net­work, how it runs and what demo­graph­ics use that plat­form. Here are the basics you need to know about today’s most pop­u­lar social media plat­forms.


Face­book is the biggest social net­work on the web, both in terms of name recog­ni­tion and total num­ber of users. With near­ly 2 bil­lion active users, Face­book is a great medi­um for con­nect­ing peo­ple from all over the world with your busi­ness.

In the 13 years since it launched, Face­book has grown from a sim­ple web­site where col­lege stu­dents could keep in touch into a mul­ti­fac­eted web and mobile social plat­form where any­one can con­nect with not just their friends and fam­i­ly, but also celebri­ties, orga­ni­za­tions, busi­ness­es and more, thanks to the Pages fea­ture.

Con­sid­er­ing that Face­book has a wealth of options for any type of orga­ni­za­tion, it’s a great start­ing point for your busi­ness, regard­less of your indus­try. You can use Face­book to share pho­tos, videos, impor­tant com­pa­ny updates and more. Addi­tion­al­ly, the site can be more low-main­te­nance than oth­er social net­works. Whether you post sev­er­al updates a day or only a few a week won’t make much of a dif­fer­ence in what your fans think of you.


With Twit­ter, you can share short text updates (of 140 char­ac­ters or few­er), along with videos, images, links, polls and more. You can also eas­i­ly inter­act with oth­er users by men­tion­ing their user­names in your posts, so Twit­ter is a great way to quick­ly con­nect with peo­ple all around the world.

Twit­ter aver­ages about 328 mil­lion active users world­wide and is one of the top 10 web­sites in the Unit­ed States. Because of its wide reach, this plat­form is not only a great way to mar­ket your busi­ness, but also an effec­tive chan­nel for han­dling cus­tomer ser­vice. For exam­ple, if you main­tain an active Twit­ter pres­ence, cus­tomers who are also active on the plat­form will seek you out to express con­cerns or share their praise.

If you have inter­est­ing con­tent, Twit­ter is also a great tool for quick­ly spread­ing the word. Retweet­ing and shar­ing oth­er users’ con­tent is incred­i­bly sim­ple. Hash­tags help boost posts, and if a user with a lot of fol­low­ers retweets you, your con­tent has the poten­tial to go viral. But with Twit­ter, it’s impor­tant to remem­ber to find bal­ance. Don’t sim­ply share your own links or media; instead, make sure you are also shar­ing a lot of inter­est­ing, rel­e­vant con­tent from oth­er Twit­ter users and from around the web so your audi­ence does­n’t think you care only about what your busi­ness is doing.


This visu­al­ly ori­ent­ed plat­form allows users to save and dis­play con­tent by “pin­ning” dig­i­tal bul­letin boards, which can be orga­nized by cat­e­go­ry. For exam­ple, a per­son­al user might have a food board ded­i­cat­ed to pin­ning recipes, anoth­er board ded­i­cat­ed to pho­tog­ra­phy, and so on. The plat­form also has a series of spe­cial types of pins called Rich Pins, which brands can use to add spe­cial infor­ma­tion to their pins, like prod­uct details and even loca­tion maps.

Every pin includes an image or video, and like Face­book, it is fair­ly low-main­te­nance in terms of post fre­quen­cy. How­ev­er, keep­ing your boards orga­nized and search-friend­ly can be time-con­sum­ing. It’s also more of a niche net­work than Face­book or Twit­ter, so it may not work for every­one. Pop­u­lar cat­e­gories on the site are DIY projects, fash­ion, exer­cise, beau­ty, pho­tog­ra­phy and food. That’s not to say that busi­ness­es out­side of these cat­e­gories can’t suc­ceed on the plat­form, but it does make Pin­ter­est an espe­cial­ly good mar­ket­ing tool for busi­ness­es in those areas.


Like Pin­ter­est, Insta­gram is a visu­al social media plat­form based entire­ly on pho­to and video posts. The Face­book-owned net­work has more than 700 mil­lion active users, many of whom post about food, art, trav­el, fash­ion and sim­i­lar sub­jects. Insta­gram is dis­tin­guished by its unique fil­ters and pho­to- and video-edit­ing options. It’s impor­tant to note that this plat­form is almost entire­ly mobile: You can’t take pho­tos or cre­ate new posts on the desk­top ver­sion.

More artis­tic nich­es tend to excel on Insta­gram, and it may not be the best fit for your busi­ness, depend­ing on your indus­try. Regard­less, it’s impor­tant that the per­son run­ning your account have a good eye for detail and at least basic pho­tog­ra­phy skills so the pho­tos and videos post­ed to your account are high-qual­i­ty.

Don’t be dis­cour­aged if your indus­try is under­rep­re­sent­ed on Insta­gram; if you can find the right hash­tags to latch onto and post intrigu­ing pho­tos, you will most like­ly make it work.


Snapchat is anoth­er mobile-only visu­al social media net­work that’s known for its dis­ap­pear­ing con­tent. The 150 mil­lion-plus app users can send videos and pho­tos, avail­able for up to 10 sec­onds at a time, to one anoth­er, or post con­tent to their pub­lic Sto­ries, which dis­ap­pears after 24 hours. Over the past five years, the app has expand­ed to include chat, mes­sag­ing, image stor­age, events and media con­tent. Now, con­tent can eas­i­ly be saved and uploaded else­where.

Because posts are so tem­po­rary, there is less pres­sure to cre­ate super-pol­ished con­tent. You can also see how many and which spe­cif­ic users viewed your sto­ry. A small busi­ness will most­ly like­ly uti­lize the plat­form for its Sto­ries, but keep in mind that only users who have added you can view the sto­ry con­tent. How­ev­er, once you have an audi­ence, the sto­ry fea­ture allows you to eas­i­ly cre­ate sto­ry-dri­ven and inter­ac­tive con­tent.


YouTube is a video-shar­ing plat­form with over a bil­lion users, where peo­ple can view, upload, rate, share and com­ment on con­tent. Now owned by Google, the site is a huge hub for news and enter­tain­ment.

Cre­at­ed over a decade ago, YouTube has gone through numer­ous changes. For instance, users can now make mon­ey from Google AdSense, with the rev­enue depen­dent on the num­ber of views on a video.

Many busi­ness­es on YouTube have a cre­ative, visu­al or edu­ca­tion­al com­po­nent. The plat­form is heav­i­ly dri­ven by cre­ativ­i­ty in nature, so it’s impor­tant to have a tai­lored video edi­tor pro­duc­ing con­tent. How­ev­er, your busi­ness does­n’t need a chan­nel to mar­ket on the plat­form. There’s a sub­cul­ture of vlog­gers called YouTu­bers who pub­lish fre­quent videos and often main­tain large audi­ences. Often, busi­ness­es part­ner with YouTu­bers for prod­uct place­ment, because these users already have engaged audi­ences.