New Research Shows Which Social Networks Ideal for Marketers

social media researchWhich platforms are most relevant to social media marketing right now?

Marketers need to know where (and how) they should focus their efforts for maximum ROI.

This article gives you four major research findings from reports tracking trends in social media marketing and the content that works best on each.

#1: People Spend More Time on Visual Networks

It’s impossible to miss the powerful effect of visual content on the social web. It can significantly enhance a brand’s marketing objectives by generating more customer interest and prompting prospects to take desired actions.

As an example of the power of pictures, consider that Tumblr, Pinterest and Instagram each gained over 10 million visitors in 2012, thanks to eye-catching content. Numbers from Statista numbers shared on Mediabistro show that users spend more time on Pinterest (1:17 minutes) or Tumblr (1:38 minutes) than on Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace and Google+ combined.

social network use stats from comscore

Visual social networks get more time from users than non-visual networks.

If you’re looking for ways to incorporate visual content into your own social media strategy, one of the key things you can do is include one or more high-quality images in all of your blog posts. (Don’t forget to add an ALT attribute in the image properties to help your SEO!)

You can also leverage real-time photo sharing. Customers and followers are used to seeing staged photos that highlight your products and the best parts of your company. Sharing impromptu pictures can be equally compelling when shared in real time.

When you do post product or brand pictures on networks like Pinterest, Instagram and Flickr, allow others to use your images in exchange for a link back to your site.

Don’t forget video! YouTube is the second-largest search engine (after Google, which coincidentally owns YouTube). Videos uploaded to YouTube do very well in search and boost your site’s ranking. Interviews, Q&As, product demos or tips are popular with a wide audience beyond your current followers.

heygirl meme

Even if you don’t sell tangible products, your brand can still leverage visual content by using memes.

Finally, don’t give up on memes, which are especially popular on Tumblr. For the best success with memes, make sure they’re witty and match your brand and audience.

NPR did this particularly well by modifying the popular Ryan Gosling Hey Girl meme on their Tumblr page.

#2: Google+ Is Best for SEO

Google+ is finding success with social marketers more as an SEO option than a marketing tactic. While it’s doing better than Pinterest and Tumblr, only 14% of marketers are giving high priority to Google+ in 2014. 23% of those surveyed won’t consider the platform at all.

You should still have a presence on Google+, even if you’re only using it for SEO.

socialbakers social network user preference table

Google+ is widely seen as an SEO tool, rather than a compelling social network.

As you cultivate your presence on Google+, the first thing you should do is optimize your Google author profile with a great image. With an eye-catching photo, it won’t matter if you rank third or fourth on the search engine results page. Your image is what gets people’s attention and lends to your authority.

When you post an article on Google+, choose your first sentence carefully and use keywords or phrases. That sentence is part of the title tag and can affect your search ranking. As a bonus, one of the great things about Google+ is that you can edit your title and posts anytime. If you find your post isn’t getting the traction you want, try a new title and lead sentence. That’s a lot of control right there!

As always, continue to publish great content on your blog and Google+. While you’re at it, go ahead and +1 your own content. Why not? Google already knows you’re the author anyway. At the very least, it encourages others to +1 your post as well!

#3: Facebook’s Updated News Feed Affects Page Posts

In January 2014, Facebook updated their news feed algorithm to deliver more relevant content to users. Status updates from pages are no longer treated the same as text updates from users’ friends, because most users interacted with friends, not pages.

What does this mean for you as a marketer? You have to mix it up. Since users may not see or engage with your page updates often, make your posts as interesting as you can. Include photos, videos, links (don’t forget to include a preview image), questions, events and offers.

bored office worker istock photo 5984364

Use interesting and fun updates to encourage your fans to engage with you. Image source: iStockPhoto.com.

In all cases, use the story type that best fits with the message you want to tell.

One more thing: If you use Facebook’s Promote feature and your post has an image, that image can’t have more than 20% text.

#4: B2B Marketers Are Most Successful on LinkedIn

Sixty-two percent of B2B marketers say LinkedIn is the most effective platform for them, with Twitter and SlideShare close behind.

comscore and marketing profs social network confidence gap statistics

LinkedIn is the most popular social network for B2B.

How can you take advantage of the most effective social media network? Take advantage of LinkedIn’s publishing platform.

LinkedIn opened up its publishing platform (previously reserved for a few editorially selected influencers like Bill Gates, Martha Stewart and Joe Pulizzi) to all 277 million LinkedIn members. This could be a game-changer.

If you decide to publish on LinkedIn, know that posts with the same basic information found on 50 other blogs won’t be successful. LinkedIn users look for well-written personalized insights, professional expertise and interesting industry opinions.

Surveys are helpful to gauge trends in social media; however, it’s even more important to track your own successes and build on them. You can use both options by keeping trends in mind and using them as guides as your marketing strategy and tactics evolve.

What do you think? Are the survey results above consistent with what you’ve seen in your own social media marketing? Which platforms are working best for you? Please share your successes and experiences in the comment box below.

Images from iStockPhoto.

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About the Author, Patricia Redsicker

Patricia Redsicker writes research reviews for Social Media Examiner. She is the Social Media Manager at US Pharmacopeia, a public standards setting organization. Follow her on Twitter at @predsicker. Other posts by »




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  • http://www.hqsocialmedia.com/ Houssem Daoud

    Great insights Patricia! I wonder why marketers are still hesitant to use Google+? I believe it’s a major factor in SEO and Google is still the number 1 traffic referrer for most websites.

  • Cora Waters

    Visual is so important these days, especially including some live video to express who you are. It’s not just the channel you use, it’s how you interact through it.

  • http://webheresies.com Mark Farmer

    I beg to differ on Facebook visuals: we’ve found on brand/fan pages that visuals don’t work for status updates. Stand-alone visuals, yes – they can work. But visuals that illustrate what you’re already saying via text actually drag your post down and cause significantly-reduced reach and engagement.

  • Raven Photography

    Great and insightful article. I have noticed over the past couple of months that Google+ is a lot more powerful than I realised! I have always just shared to G+ without thinking but I have noticed that it is helping with my SEO a hell of a lot!

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Agreed! It is not practical to be active on every social media platform, especially if you don’t have a big social media team. That’s why it’s essential to know where to focus your time and effort in order to maximize your ROI. Thank you for this info, Patricia!

  • RivkaK

    I can’t speak for everyone, but I think the biggest challenge is that Google+ hasn’t opened up its API, so there are fewer tools available. It just takes more work, which I think scares some people away.

  • Kara Findley

    I’d love to see more about your findings. I don’t think there are any absolutes here – the appeal of visual or text-only posts depends on your offerings and audience. I’ve had a lot of luck with visuals for my clients, but then sometimes a text-only post will surprise me and perform well. The key is trying lots of different things, finding what works best, and then keep testing!

  • http://webheresies.com Mark Farmer

    Yes – iteration is key. What we’ve found re. graphics is specific to the news feed algorithm. It seems to penalize graphics that are just “along for the ride” on a status update, while standalones can work well. So we’ve learned to take out graphics from news-type status updates. We see much higher reach and engagement if we just focus on the headline for news as opposed to the graphics. The news feed algorithm seems to take this into account. We even performed a split test to validate this hypothesis.

  • http://www.nichesitetools.com/ Chris

    Great post Patricia. I just started to embrace Google+ and Authorship over the last few weeks and based on your info, I will be sure to take advantage of the SEO benefits as well. Thanks for sharing!

  • http://www.getoutofstuck.net Roberta Budvietas

    Interesting about Google+ Yiou are one of the only people lately who seem to be reporting it as not the fastest growing social network

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  • predsicker

    Hi Houssem,
    I think marketers are also unclear about what kind of audiences are on Google+. Is it just techies, or are there regular folks there as well? Google+ audiences are not as easy to define as say LinkedIn (business executives); Pinterest (middle class women); Instagram/Snapchat (20-somethings). That lack of clarity might cause some marketers to think it’s not worth investing – at least not yet.

  • predsicker

    Agreed Cora!

  • predsicker

    Oh yes! And that’s the point really. Since G+ helps SEO, why not just leverage what we already know and use it for SEO? I think if marketers can be patient and give it some time, the social power of G+ will happen with time, but for right now, it’s great to have a social space that directly impacts your search visibility.

  • predsicker

    Thank you John. Yes, I couldn’t agree with you more.

  • Mark Peditto

    I find that google plus and linked in work great together for seo purposes. Pinterest is also a powerful tool for our swimming pool company. All great points.

  • http://www.homespothq.com/ Tyler

    It is crazy to me how underutilized G+ is for marketing. I think it takes a bit more to master but weekly hashtags, good communities, and huge SEO benefits make it easy to get great interaction.

  • http://www.bloggingtalk.com Md Jubayer

    great article. thanks

  • http://www.i7marketing.com Sean Gallahar

    LinkedIn is best for B2B businesses no matter which industry you’re in.

  • http://www.esquare.com.pk/ Junaid Ur Rehman

    I have been using Google+ Personal Account associated with my company for last six Months but I did not get any Positive response.

  • http://www.hqsocialmedia.com/ Houssem Daoud

    I completely agree Patricia. For some reason, Google isn’t really open
    about their demographics when it comes to Google+. I’ve done some
    research for my recent training program and found that Google+ users
    are: 70% male, 50% of users are 24 or younger, mostly early adopters,
    engineers, designers and developers, 43,82% are single!

  • D. Kruegel

    Any insights in how far Google+ already influences SEO in other countries and google search engine domains (like google.fr, google.de etc.)? In Germany, Google’s market share in the search engine market is much higher than in the US, but I don’t know about the impact of Google+ on Google’s local search engines. In Russia on the other hand the local market leader in search is Yandex, not Google. And the largest social network there is not Facebook but vkontakte.com.

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  • Will Sabet

    It’s funny, pinterest and tumblr are on the bottom of the list of social networks, except they seem to be the most useful for marketing purposes.

  • http://estarpro.com Larry Ludwig

    It’s crucial if you have to get results on a budget. We try to offer at least something – regardless of budget – so we’re continually looking at everything from the bottom line perspective.

  • http://www.kayfranklin.com/ Kay Franklin

    I am also surprised that marketers are slow to use G+ – if they are waiting for an API then is suggests they want to use it for automation which is probably not going to do them much good anyway!

  • predsicker

    Thanks for reading Mark!

  • predsicker

    I agree. But also think G+ is something a lot of people still don’t “get” and for that reason it is underutilized. Very unfortunate that marketers miss out on the benefits you just pointed out Tyler. Thanks for reading.

  • predsicker

    Thank YOU for reading :)

  • predsicker

    No doubt Sean. Thank you.

  • predsicker

    What is your definition of ‘positive response?’ Is there something specific that you’re measuring?

  • predsicker

    Actually Will, they’re technically not at the bottom of the list – Notice that with the exception of Facebook, users spend more time on those two platforms than all others put together. So maybe the person who designed this graphic should have placed Pinterest and Tumblr just below Facebook, to eliminate any confusion.

  • http://www.postplanner.com/ Scott Ayres

    For Post Planner Facebook is where we live and breath. We do ok with Twitter to drive traffic and etc, but posting Viral Photos from our photo tool wins hands down!

  • http://www.esquare.com.pk/ Junaid Ur Rehman

    I mean, No Liking, No Following, No visit,What should I do to promote my Google+ Account? could you plz. help me.

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  • Darmesh

    Good article Patricia Redsicker

  • http://googleplushelper.blogspot.fi/ Jaana Nyström

    Ehmm… I’m very sorry but giving +1 to your own posts is not the done thing on Google+.
    Looks very desperate.

  • http://googleplushelper.blogspot.fi/ Jaana Nyström

    Both Hootsuite and Buffer posts can be shared and scheduled on Google+ business Pages.

  • http://contemporarycommunicator.com Jennifer Thornberry

    Great analysis! Since I’ve been tracking my Google Analytics for a few weeks, I find that Twitter, LinkedIn and direct traffic are my biggest sources so far. I post to Google+, but I’d like to get more active on there, and I have a Pinterest account, but I haven’t done much with it. Social media marketing takes time, but I do think it’s worth it.

  • Steve

    Hi Patricia, Love the charts and good info on what really works best and with what. Knowing the medium for the market is what many people forget when trying to market.

    Thanks!
    Steve

  • http://Plus.AskTheRECoach.com/ Eric “The Coach” Bryant

    Nice “Read” Patricia, well done =)

    What I find most interesting, is the “Share” Statistics or Metrics on this post! Here you have a post, exalting Google+ as a Marketing Medium, yet very few are using Google+ to share it =) lol

    Google+ has not “Clearly” defined what it is yet, and until they do, they will find themselves on the Outside looking in!

    All the Best

    Coach

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  • toolio

    Google+ is more of an SEO tool than an actual engagement network. It’s a google product, so google gives it preference in SERP.

  • Erin P

    So…they all work at Google.

  • http://www.hoodaki.com/ Dilip

    Patricia Redsicker, You have good analysis ‘Market view of Social Media’. But my question is How can we make social media update so attractive, the People get worthy comment or clicks.? Is it Possible, when you have not huge social network.? For that What Kind strategy we follow to getting more social engagement related your business page or profile.?

  • Eugene

    Hmmm,interesting but nothing new.

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