With more than 200 major, active social media networks cited by Wikipedia, it's easy to get overwhelmed with all of the choices available. Given the considerable amount of time that businesses are investing in social media marketing, it's vital to focus those efforts on the right networks versus every network.
By first determining your social media goals and who you're targeting, you can then identify the social media networks where your target market and industry influencers are spending their time. Last week's column outlined the average user profiles for three well-known industry giants -- Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn -- but there are certainly additional contenders to consider. More about the best of the rest:
YouTube -- Think of YouTube as the second largest search engine in the world, rivaled only by Google, that happens to have social features as well. More than one billion unique users visit YouTube each month, 40 to 50 percent of which are under the age of 35. According to Nielsen, YouTube reaches more US adults ages 18-34 than any cable network. The gender split is nearly even, with females making up 53 percent of users.
Google+ -- Perhaps the greatest benefit to this social network is that it's owned by Google, and therefore easily searchable, which means your posting efforts can improve your company's search results. Quickly gaining ground on Twitter, Google+ has roughly 350 million active users. Seventy percent of those users are male, making it the most male-oriented of the major social networks.
Instagram -- While still a relatively young company, photo-sharing site Instagram boasts over 150 million active users. Over 90 percent of users are under the age of 35, making it an ideal platform for clothing and entertainment brands, for example, targeting 18 to 34 year olds. Nearly 70 percent of Instagram's users are female.
Pinterest -- Most users access Pinterest via a tablet or other mobile device. In fact, Pinterest users make up 48 percent of all social media sharing on iPads -- more than double runner-up Facebook, according to Business Insider. What are they sharing? Food and drink-related content accounts for 18 percent of all items shared. Over 80 percent of Pinterest users are female, the majority of whom earn a household income of $50,000 or more. Retailers are given a particular advantage, in that Pinterest has an e-commerce element to it, allowing users to "pin" items they'd like to buy and click through to those websites to make a purchase if they are so inclined.
The social media options are endless, so ensure that you're making the most of your time investment by choosing the platform that best fits your business and attracts your target demographic.
Lori Turner-Wilson is an award-winning columnist and CEO/Founder of RedRover, a sales training and marketing firm based in Memphis, Tennessee, www.redrovercompany.com. You can follow RedRover on Twitter (@redrovercompany and @loriturner) and Facebook (facebook.com/redrovercompany).