How to Choose the Right Social Media Platform for Your Online Business

Social media is a part of day to day life. 90% of New Zealanders aged 15 and above use it, and 80% of that usage is via mobile, meaning we take our news feeds wherever we go.

Because of this, social media needs to be a part of your business plan.

But where do you start? There are a lot of options, and stories are constantly being churned out by the media about how “this social network is rising” or “this one’s days are numbered”, and it can be hard to keep up.

You also need to keep in mind the target audience, the style of your brand, and how you want your voice to be heard.

We understand that when you’re involved in a busy time-constrained business, you need to know where best to invest, without spending a lot of hours researching through a sea of information. Especially as changes are happening exponentially in the social world.

So we’ve created a quick and current guide to the major social media platforms and which types of online and retail businesses they work best for.

Social media is a very visual platform. It’s not just about being seen to be online, but being visually interesting to capture the attention of people scrolling past.

Think of each social platform like a different shopping centre, each with a different demographic of shoppers in the neighbourhood, and your posts are your shop window. Your window needs to be interesting enough to catch the eye of the consumer and bring them in store, to your online shop.

But with so many different social media platforms, before you go and join all 206 of them (at last count), consider the amount of time you will need to commit to keep up with them all on a regular basis.

Joining a social network and then neglecting it is like putting out the open sign but leaving your doors locked, which can both frustrate shoppers and reflect negatively on your brand.

Pick just one social media site to begin with, then once comfortable with your management of that, look to add a couple more. Three to five platforms is a good manageable amount, but so long as you’re being active and engaging, there’s really no limit.

Initially, you should take the reins yourself, or at least oversee everything being posted in those early stages. Your social media accounts are an extension of you and your brand after all.

Keep language conversational but professional, in much the same tone as your website.

Make your staff aware of your accounts, and feel free to encourage them to like, comment and share when appropriate. You shouldn’t expect them to engage with every post though. And only give access to those who require it to do their job, and who completely understand your objectives.

Not sure what to share?
Here are some Ideas for Social Media Posts to get you started.

Each social platform has its own personality and style, but which is right for you?

Let’s take a look at our Top 12, starting with the juggernaut that is…


1. Facebook

With 2.07 billion monthly active users, Facebook is a clear leader in social media.

  • 1.36 billion active daily users
  • 65 million businesses with pages
  • 5 million businesses that are active advertisers
  • 2.9 million active New Zealanders
  • 2.3 million New Zealanders are daily users
  • 14 logins a day for the average New Zealander

A lot of people focus on Page Likes, known as the “vanity stat”, but what’s more important is your engagement. The more a post receives likes, comments and shares, the more it, and your future posts, will be seen in the news feed of your followers and their friends. Comments are especially strong, with further engagement gained if those leaving comments are tagging people into the post and continuing a conversation there.

This is why there are so many memes encouraging you to “tag a friend who does this” and competitions asking you to “tag a friend to be in to win”. However, it’s important to note that Facebook’s algorithms work against these kinds of posts. So while they’ll receive good reach the first time, if you do these types of posts too often you’ll see your organic reach start to shrink over time.

Business accounts should post regularly, around one to three times per day. It’s more important to have quality posts over quantity, and a variety of messages. We know it’s tough to maintain this volume when you’re busy, so we suggest that at the beginning of each month, spend a couple of hours and write 30 posts. Then go into Facebook and schedule one to be released each day. This way, all you need to do is monitor them, and you don’t have to think about new posts every day in your busy schedule.

When you’re posting on Facebook to lead back to your online store, make use of Facebook’s Audience Optimisation. It’s an organic post targeting option to ensure you’re getting in front of the right audience, and while it has been around for a long time, it is becoming more important with the business page changes.  You can target your post by the interests of people who are most likely to enjoy and engage with your post. Interest tags do not limit reach, instead they help focus on your key audience, and the more they engage, the more your post will be shown to others.

FB-Target PostFB-Target Post2

Posts with photos and links get better attention than text alone. Video even more so, as long as they’re uploaded directly to Facebook, instead of linked to from another site like YouTube. Videos are muted until clicked on, so it’s important to capture users with strong and interesting images in the first five seconds to keep them watching.

Facebook Live

Facebook’s Live videos are becoming more popular and Facebook is encouraging more use of them. The great thing with these is that your followers usually receive a notification when you start filming.

Advertising on Facebook is also simple and gives great return on investment. Find out more with this handy infographic about advertising as a small business on Facebook.

Who should be on Facebook: Everyone. All businesses should at least have a Facebook presence that links to their online store.

The downside: Facebook’s algorithms already mean many businesses are struggling to have their posts seen on followers’ timelines, but the News Feed Changes for 2018 could make this even more difficult going forward (we’re expecting two news feeds; one for friends and family, one for businesses and groups). You will likely need a budget for Facebook Ads and positive engagement on your page to best combat declining reach.



2. Instagram

Perfect to show off your photos and short videos, Instagram is one of the quickest growing social media platforms, doubling its user base within two years.

  • Over 800 million active accounts
  • 500 million daily users
  • 1.2 million users in New Zealand
  • Over 25 million business profiles
  • 80% of accounts follow a business on Instagram
  • Over 200 million users visit at least one business profile daily
  • 60% of people say they discover new products on Instagram

Part of the Facebook family, Instagram can be linked with your Facebook page, which is very handy for advertising. Set your ad on Facebook, and choose for it to appear on Instagram. Or create your own ads directly from Instagram.

Instagram is a great way to show off your products and the lifestyle of the brand. That is, how your products are used in day to day life. Hashtags are an important part of Instagram with 20-30 being the optimal amount per post.

Be sure to sign up for a business profile so you can access analytics and grow your engagement. They’re not as in-depth as Facebook but a good starting point.

Largely youth-based, Instagram has 85% of users under the age of 45, and 32% of users aged 18-24.

One in three teenagers now consider Instagram to be the most important social network.

Check out this interesting infographic with 139 facts and stats about Instagram.

Who should be on Instagram: Those selling products by lifestyle. Anyone that can take a good photo or video.

The downside: Links aren’t clickable on posts, which means users need to visit your profile page. And because it’s still mainly a mobile platform, all uploads, edits and analytics need to be done via their app.



3. Pinterest

Pinterest is often the first stop to gain ideas and inspiration for projects and it’s a great platform to be discovered on.

  • 72.5 million users
  • 200 million users monthly
  • Over 1 billion Pinterest boards
  • 80% usage is on mobile
  • 14.2 minutes average time spent per visit

The majority of users are female, currently with an 80/20 split. However, more men are starting to sign up with 40% of new sign ups in 2017 being male.

The age demographic is also fairly young with 2 in 3 users under the age of 40.

Pinterest is a lot about discovery, which makes it understandable that 93% of people use Pinterest to plan purchases, and 87% make a purchase because of the site. Also encouraging is that 2 out of 3 users say they discovered a new brand or product on Pinterest.

A real positive is that Pinteret’s SEO is so strong, that Pins often dominate image searches.

Who should be on Pinterest: Creative businesses with visually interesting and unique products.

The downside: Users must have an account to view Pinterest, which can put some people off.



4. Twitter

The micro-blogging site with its finger on the pulse, Twitter is fast-paced and where the news breaks.

  • 974 million accounts
  • 500 million tweets sent daily
  • 82% of usage is on mobile
  • 330 million monthly active users
  • 500 million monthly visitors (not logged in)
  • 81% of millennials check Twitter at least once per day
  • 35% of Kiwis are on Twitter
  • Average user Tweets 30 times per day

There is a very strong New Zealand Twitter community, as evidenced by the country-wide Secret Santa that has been running since 2010, involving over 3,600 users in 2017. It’s often said by users that “Facebook is for old friends, Twitter is where you make new ones”.

Previously restricted to 140 characters, you can now tweet up to 280 characters, plus write in “threads”, linking from one tweet to the next to tell a story. Here’s how to add your Twitter feed to your Storbie website.

ellen-tweetOverall the site is mostly white-collared with the majority of users earning over US$50,000 a year. And while there is a focus on news and information, it’s just as much about sharing relatable observations and experiences.

A big part of the site is replying and conversing with others. More than any other social site, your profile on Twitter needs to have a personality. One way many businesses navigate this is simply to show that there are real people tweeting, by adding the initials of each staff member sending the message, for example ^KF or ^SB at the end of a tweet.

According to studies, 89% of consumers say Twitter is a top influencer when deciding to buy retail products.

Tweets with images receive 18% more clicks than tweets without. You can also jump on established hashtags or create your own.

Who should be on Twitter: Community-minded businesses with personality who are up for conversation.

The downside: It can take a while to master the art of tweeting and become part of the community. It helps to have a personal account to balance with your work one.



5. YouTube

One of the most visited websites in the world, second only to Google, YouTube is not to be underestimated.

  • 1.3 billion users
  • 30 million visitors per day
  • 5 billion clips watched daily
  • 300 hours of video uploaded every minute
  • 1 billion clips watched on mobile daily

81% of New Zealanders use YouTube, more than any other social network.

You can create videos showing how your products are made or being used (showing the “lifestyle” of a product), “how to” guides, advice on an area you are confident in, introducing your team and business, and so much more. Perfect content to add to your website and product pages. Here’s how to embed YouTube videos onto your Storbie website.

Some product suppliers may have already created professional videos that you can embed. These are also the first channels we’d recommend subscribing to on YouTube.

This is a great option for getting creative, but it does take a lot of time and planning.

Videos ideally should be scheduled at regular intervals, for example weekly or monthly. Plan to record more than one video at a time so that you have content ready to go.

Around 20% of people who start your video will leave after the first 10 seconds, so your intro is extremely important. You’ll also need to have strong headlines and create specific thumbnails to capture their interest to begin with.

One of the big pros? Dependant on your settings, you can make money directly from YouTube.

Who should be on YouTube: Creatives, confident speakers, and those that enjoy putting together videos.

The downside: Videos need to look and sound professional, and you’ll need to share a lot to build an audience.

Rounding out the Top 12:

Top126. LinkedIn Your online CV and a great tool for networking. There are more than 450 million user profiles, and 1 in 4 Kiwis are on LinkedIn. It’s a great way to showcase your business, and a good place to post blogging articles. 98% of posts with images receive more comments, and posts with links have a 200% higher engagement rate.

7. Snapchat A mobile app that allows users to send messages and photos that disappear after a set time, it boasts over 300 million active monthly users, with 178 million snapping daily. 71% of users are under 34 years old, with the app very popular with 18-25s particularly. Paid advertising costs hundreds of dollars per day, so it’s best to promote your account on other channels to gain followers.

8. Google+ By having a profile on Google+ you’ll immediately receive a boost in SEO due to the site being managed through Google My Business. It’s especially important if you have a brick and mortar presence. 24% of New Zealanders use this platform.

9. Tumblr There’s around 550 million monthly users, and over 380 million blogs. Half of users are under the age of 25 so if your brand is targeting youth, this is a serious contender. SEO optimised, you can boost your visibility every time you publish.

10. SoundCloud 175 million people monthly listen to audio on SoundCloud. It’s an easy way to start a podcast and share audio of discussions, advice and more. You can embed your audio to appear on your website, plus easily share to other social media platforms.

11. StumbleUpon A discovery engine that finds and recommends web content to its users. Users can bookmark and rate sites, as well as add them to their profile. There are Paid Discovery options in which you pay as you go, that target people interested in your topic immediately. Like all social media accounts, it pays to be a regular user to see benefit.

12. About.Me Essentially an online business card. Your page includes a photo, link to your website, text about the business, five keyword interests, and links to all of your other social networks. Very simple. They have also created “Intro” which is a shareable digital business card app.

Remember to let visitors to your website know which social media platforms they can find you on to encourage being Liked or Followed. Here’s how to add quick links on your Storbie website to your social media pages.

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