If you want to connect with your customers, go to where they are: social media. Nearly 80% of internet users are on Facebook alone. Here are the social networks your business should be aware of, and how they can help your business.


What it is: Facebook provides users with real-time updates from friends, family, and brands. Facebook feed feature photos, videos, text updates, event postings, and more. Facebook Groups allow like-minded users to converse on specific topics.

How many people are on it: 1.94 billion users

Benefits for your business: Since the vast majority of web users are on Facebook, your business needs to have a presence on the social network. Users can message your brand for customer support, you can use Facebook for advertising to highly targeted users based on their interests, and you can share insight into company culture through behind-the-scenes photos and Facebook Live video connections.

Types of brands on it: Just about everyone, from mega-corporations, to small businesses, to independent startups.


What it is: YouTube is a video-sharing site where users can upload their own content, like and leave comments on other videos, add favorite videos to playlists, subscribe to other users’ channels, and discover new content based on interests.

How many people are on it: 1.5 billion users

Benefits for your business: Digital video consumption is poised to grow 8.2% in 2017. More consumers are ditching cable subscriptions and heading to laptops and tablets to watch videos. Your business has the opportunity to create engaging content that is tied to your brand, from how-to videos to interviews with key stakeholders. Since Google owns YouTube, producing search engine optimized-videos boosts your brand’s search power.

Types of brands on it: Media companies, product-based brands, real estate agents, and everyone in-between who wants to use the power of video.


What it is: Twitter is a social network that allows users to share updates with text, video, photo, poll, or GIFs, that are limited to 140 characters or less. With President Donald Trump’s embrace of the network, it has become a go-to platform for news sharing.

How many people are on it: 328 million users

Benefits for your business: Twitter’s recent algorithm change, which makes the content that shows up in timelines more relevant based on what users have interacted with, gives brands more opportunities to be seen by followers when they are active on the network. Businesses can use Twitter to act as customer support, to connect with media reps and influential bloggers, and to share content with their customers.

Types of brands on it: News organizations and journalists, any brand that wants to offer up another avenue for customer support.


What it is: Instagram is a photo- and video-sharing mobile application. Users can upload photos or videos, add a filter or other content like text and drawings, and use hashtags so content appears in search results on the channel.

How many people are on it: 700 million users

Benefits for your business: Instagram is growing at a rapid rate, continuously decreasing the amount of time it takes to add another 100 million users to the channel. With the launch of Instagram Stories in 2016, the channel that is owned by Facebook expanded its features to users, who can now upload time-sensitive content to the channel, which disappears after 24 hours. This feature is analogous to rival Snapchat, enabling Instagram to increase its user base.

Types of brands on it: Visually-minded brands, like food and travel businesses, but also any brand that wants to show off company culture or stunning photos and videos.


What it is: LinkedIn is a social network targeting professionals and companies. Users can share work experience, feature recommendations from colleagues, participate in groups based on industries, and connect with the brands they want to follow for updates.

How many people are on it: 500 million users

Benefits for your business: Both B2B and B2C businesses benefit from having a presence on LinkedIn, since you are able to share company updates, provide transparency, and build relationships with customers. Your employees can tag your business in their work experience on their personal pages, which provides digital marketing muscle for your brand. By encouraging employees to participate in industry-focused LinkedIn Groups on behalf of your brand, you can establish your business as an authority in your space.

Types of brands on it: B2B businesses that want to connect with executives and company decision-makers, B2C companies that want to attract high-quality candidates and reach customers.


What it is: Snapchat is a mobile application that, like Instagram Stories, allows users to share “self-destructing” content that disappears after 24 hours. Content is made more personal through a variety of filters and effects that can be added.

How many people are on it: 158 million users

Benefits for your business: Despite the launch of Instagram Stories, more than 60% of American smartphone users between the ages of 13-34 still use Snapchat. From staying loyal to the network, to already having built up a friend and follower base that they want to keep connecting with, Snapchat’s reach is particularly powerful with a younger demographic.

Types of brands on it: Brands especially interested in reaching millennials and Gen Z.


What it is: Pinterest is a visual site that allows users to create “pinboards” based on interests, that feature images, websites, and videos that correspond to the themes. Like a physical inspiration board, users can use boards to plan weddings, add recipes, organize home design, and more.

How many people are on it: 150 million users

Benefits for your business: Because Pinterest allows users to re-pin items to their own boards, the content your brand creates can benefit from organic reach. Your business can create brand-focused boards, as well as other interest boards that still show off your brand whenever something you’ve pinned is shared by other users.

Types of brands on it: Brands with stunning visuals and brands that want to reach women, considering 45% of women online use Pinterest compared to 17% of men.


What it is: Google+ is a social network that is owned by Google and is connected to users’ Google accounts, such as Gmail. Users may add hashtags to posts to make content more searchable, both within the network and on Google search engines.

How many people are on it: 375 million users

Benefits for your business: Though the number of active users of Google+ is much smaller compared to other social networks, having a presence on the channel and regularly posting can help your business’s search engine optimization efforts. Sharing on Google+ gets your content immediately indexed on Google. You can also use the social network to host “hangouts,” which are live video conversations that other users can participate in.

Types of brands on it: Brands that want to boost their SEO efforts and reach tech-minded males, since nearly three-quarters of users are men, and most work in STEM careers.

No matter what social networks you join, make sure to optimize your profiles with complete descriptions and regular updates. Respond to users to build relationships, and use social media analytics tools to refine your efforts.

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