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It's easy to get a bit freaked out these days. If you're a business owner and you've read any trade publication in the past five years, you've heard the all-important lecture about getting with 'social media'.

And, if you're like most business owners, you are probably struggling to figure out when you are going to fit that into your schedule.

With this post, I want to help most businesses find some comfort with the fact that, in general, they don't need to be concerned with every social media platform. There are probably two, and maybe three however, that should be part of investment of time.

Let's look at some numbers.

The below chart from Statista shows us that as of 2016, Facebook was the clear leader in terms of global users: 1.6 billion. Billion! Tumblr is a distant second with 600 million users, followed by Instagram in third and Twitter - trying to hold onto fourth place.

Right off the bat I expect that above chart to have been of some help. A challenge with the term 'social media' is that it's very broadly defined. So you get all kinds of sites, apps and platforms. Does this mean you should you be more concerned about Tumblr? Well, probably not, but mostly as it's more of a 'blog' or community/interest site, not really a platform like Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat. More on this below....

Additionally, the above numbers are global , but the good news is that for the most part a lot of these rankings are the same in the US.

A defining characteristic of any business is having a good idea of the age of its 'best customers'. It's one of the best ways to start to prioritize your social media, and the below chart breaks down each social media platform into various age brackets:

The chart is formatted so that platforms with a higher percentage of younger users are on the right, with more 'balanced' age groups on the left. This data helps to answer how important Tumblr should be. Yes, it large, but your target audience is mostly in the their forties, these are not the users you want to focus on.

And while Snapchat seems low in the overall rankings and its users are too young to be a serious focus for most advertisers, keep your eye on will be hearing more about that platform in the future. Unlike some of the other platforms, Snapchat has a momentum that most expect will make it a big player.

Finally, let's look at gender and how both sexes use different platforms.

In recent years, men are catching up to women on Facebook, but Pinterest has a commanding lead in Women. LinkedIn and Twitter are smaller platforms but have more men than women than the other platforms.

If my customers were primarily men, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter might be my priorities. Whereas if women were my primary customer, Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram seem more important.

Complement the gender break-out with the above age segments, the size and reach of each platform, and you can probably identify the two or three platforms most important to reach your customers - and not have to worry about all the rest.

It's also a good idea to ask friends, employees, and customers what they use.

At least for now. This data may very well be changing as we speak while even newer social media platforms continue to capture your customer's attention.


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