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Today's leading social media platforms are booming, but which should you use as an ad campaign foundation?

Where to Prioritize Your Ads, the Right Way: Facebook, LinkedIn, Quora, Reddit or Google?

Phillip Reinhardt

It’s 2019. Instagram is booming, Facebook is a marketing haven for SMBs, Quora is a primary source of in-depth information and Google’s ranking algorithms have changed yet again. It’s no surprise start-up companies, entrepreneurs and marketing leaders are doubling down on cross-platform digital marketing plans. In a world where most consumers use not one, but multiple social media outlets—it’s advantageous to capitalize on each avenue.

Social Media: The Modern Marketing Titan

Websites like Facebook, Reddit and LinkedIn have been around for some time. Social media is consistently a powerhouse player in the digital marketing scheme—accessed by marketers who’ve become as knowledgeable about the platforms as consumers have.

Social media isn’t going away anytime soon. Digital networking is so engrained in our modern lives it’s even difficult to identify a user’s inactivity. Americans spend about two hours, every day, connecting with friends and family on social media websites. These next facts are just as mind-boggling:

-The average Internet-goer has 7.6 social media accounts.

-Over 3.2 billion images are shared on social media per day.

-49 percent of users share brand products with their immediate network.

Many experts even assert that social media is the primary access point for consumer purchase decisions. According to 2018’s Global Consumer Insight’s Survey, social media channels were trusted by 37 percent of consumers—whereas retailer websites were trusted by 34 percent of consumers. Price-comparison sites, although ever-loved for their resources and reviews, rolled in at a 32 percent trust rating.

Fans, Followers, and Photos

In a digital world bombarded with never-ending information, how can your brand stand out?

Social media certainly makes the world feel smaller—especially when modern analytics, data gathering suites, and digital marketing agencies enter the picture. Consider the fact that these “business-side” approaches to social media overlay the day-to-day user’s tools of friendship and self-promotion: followers, fans, and photos.

Remember: The average consumer is smacked with thousands of branded messages per day. Sure, these brand messages are often short snippets—a 200-word Tweet, for example—but they’re perfectly designed for ease of processing. The same snippets might be posted under a trending YouTube clip, artistic product displays or an infographic. When a solid call-to-action wraps everything up, you have a basic social media content strategy.

Where’s Your Brand’s Advertisement Face, Anyway?

These standard social media marketing approaches tend to contribute to social media’s “white noise” factor. That is to say: Consumers and brands both fell swallowed up by bludgeoning advertisement pages filling up the News Feed.

Too many marketers, presumably, get lost in the chaos—swimming to the nearest lifeboat: standardized ad campaigns which, frankly, don’t feel relevant to their audiences. Why do they do this? Likely, it’s for the same reason their predecessors did: Everyone else seemed to be doing it. If you weren’t battling for relevancy on Instagram’s frontline, you were invisible. Today, if you aren’t one of the marketers contributing to the expected 48 billion in ad dollars spent by 2021, you wouldn’t be out of bounds to whip up a rapid-fire content campaign—blasting Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn and Reddit indiscriminately for attention.

Here’s the problem, though: Even advanced third-party digital marketing firms which specialize in social media data extrapolation aren’t catching the tide’s new drift. Social media users are tired of generic, frequent campaign blasts which lack depth. These campaigns are symptomatic of brands with no “face,” or reliable identity—and sincerity—consumers prioritize.

So, just how prevalent is the no-face syndrome in modern business? An estimated 96 percent of consumers who talk about brands via social media don’t even follow their pages. Maintaining that content tends to provide an ad campaign’s “meat,” it’s even more daunting to take a look at WordPress’s number of monthly publications: 70 million. It receives 77 million comments per month, too.

You Can Advertise Everywhere at OnceBut You Shouldn’t

The takeaway, here, is that it’s important for marketers to value content integrity, the consumer’s time, compelling content and dedication to service—especially if they’re about to kick off a social media ad campaign. While it isn’t rare to see brands sustain multi-level, cross-platform strategies which weave entire market segments together, such examples are the result of many, many years of work. It’s also much easier for big businesses and franchises to rely on preexisting presence to coordinate everyday users.

If you’re like most business operators, you likely have a tight digital marketing budget. So, it’s important to approach any social media marketing campaign with great care. Depending on your type of business, your audience, your campaign goals, and other factors, different social media platforms will benefit you more than others.

Facebook, for example, has the most diverse audience—which is fantastic if your ad campaign coordinates with a budding strategy hungry for widespread data. LinkedIn, meanwhile, is a better channel for content diversity, informative company growth highlights and ads linking to case studies, whitepapers, and recruiters.

It is likely you’ll run multiple ad campaigns, in tandem, across several social media platforms. At the very least, you’ll still wind up maintaining an up-to-date brand presence, a backlink strategy, and a unified content posting strategy. It’s just a natural part of the digital marketing growth process.

But, as per the examples above, you’ll get better results if you prioritize a singular platform to begin your ad campaign. Otherwise, you may spread yourself thin. At best, you’ll struggle and stress out juggling multiple social media angles—resulting in a less-than-stellar ad campaign. The campaign will technically work, but it’ll be very run-of-the-mill, likely falling into obscurity alongside many other multi-armed marketing teams lacking in muscle and coordination.

Identifying Your Platform’s Needs

Your first step should be one of analysis. Who's your key consumer? More importantly: How can you get their attention?

On the brighter side, lifting with your legs will propel your ad campaign across the many social media platforms regardless. You need momentum to do this, however. In the same way, your brand’s website is a pivotal location in the customer’s path-to-purchase, your primary social media ad location is a pivotal attraction point.

The perfect platform isn’t necessarily one which offers the most content flexibility, feedback freedom, high word counts or real-time media uploads. Instead, it’s a platform which has the following:

-A primary demographic which matches your target market.

-Support and promotion of the type of content your campaign prioritizes.

-A sustainable, flexible environment which benefits your goals.

-Engagement and lead tools suitable for your main location (online, physical store, etc.)

More or less, the best social media platform is one which helps your brand get those vital first years of growth. A bountiful target market demographic is important, yes. Cutting-edge ad panels with numerous targeting options are awesome—definitely.

These aren’t a priority, right now. Consider them, absolutely—and don’t pick a platform which hurts your advertising model due to its tools not jiving with your strategy. But make sure you take a close look at the details of any environment conducive to growth. “Growth,” here, meaning the following:

-Plenty of potential followers who know your target market.

-A environment able to boost your content sharing power.

-Resources you can use to enhance your brand (geo-location, apps, messaging options.)

-A layout which boosts your brand’s identity.

Let’s assume you’re the proud owner of a new sandwich shop. In this case, a good example of a solid layout might be Instagram. When a majority of a platform’s content is visual, ads connected with visual food media are more likely to work: Other brands rob themselves of a full explanation of services, but an amazing-looking sandwich gets followers immediately.

Another example might be a platform which lends itself to video platforms like YouTube or Twitch. Facebook’s News Feed tends to keep this type of content highly visual—and users are often more inclined to re-share a video than a post, boosting it even more.

As such, your brand would have incredible growth opportunity if, say, it were a sports nutrition brand sharing exercise and dieting videos. Your website’s link may be in the video’s description—or even resigned to YouTube, itself. Rest assured, though: It’ll be seen.

Today’s Powerhouse Platforms

Not all social media platforms are made alike. By identifying their core architecture, however, you can prioritize one which suits your campaign's needs.

Today’s leading social media giants are, more or less, the same entities which have maintained prominence for the last five years. However: A couple of platforms don’t make a Top Five cut. They’re not necessarily bad, per se. They may just not offer the right kind of environment for jump-starting a new ad campaign for maximum growth potential.

Good Platforms, But Not Necessarily Optimal for Starting Growth:

Let’s briefly pay homage to them, anyway. They’re still useful enough to justify including them as part of your strategy, later on. Or, maybe they’ll be useful as nice accessories to your main ad platform.

Twitter

Surprising, isn’t it? Twitter is still a useful marketing tool—as tweets are indexed by Google. It holds its value as a solid SEO resource, and it’s far easier to get followers on Twitter than, say, Facebook. The main reason it isn’t in our Top Five, however, is due to its short-form content restrictions.

In 2019, consumers are starting to prefer long-form content. Much in the way Google’s analytics are cracking down on replica content, keyword-crammed material and hodgepodge writing, Internet users themselves are valuing insightful input more every month.

It’s possible to collect a lot of followers by posting often and engaging directly. This said Facebook is sort of like Twitter’s older sibling. It offers the same posting, sharing and following options—but it gives you more room to be insightful. In upcoming years, insightful content will be worth its weight in click-through—as social media users are getting weary from “samey” content, snippets and message blasts alike.

On the bright side, Twitter has proven itself to be a rather potent marketing tool when the marketer, promoter, entrepreneur, politician, celebrity, etc. already holds plenty of cultural weight. It’s quick, decisive and—let’s be honest—increases an odd form of intrigue when a notable account fires off a daily quip.

Instagram

Yup. That’s right: Another surprising addition to the non-Top-Five platforms. We were just discussing Instagram as a great example of platform utility and brand relevancy, too. What gives? The modern marketer wouldn’t be misinformed to presume Instagram is one of the five best platforms. Its niche existence as a 99-percent visual hub for friends and family, alone, could even propel it into the Top Three. Right?

These are fair assessments—and using Instagram for advertisement is still a great idea. It’s perfect for sharing quick QR codes, product pictures, brick-and-mortar company culture shots, insightful infographics and more.

But here’s the deal: Instagram and Facebook are notoriously linked and synched. In fact, many Instagram users cross-post to Facebook immediately. While this may seem like a valuable cross-platform ad opportunity at first glance, this isn’t necessarily the case.

The Instagram-Facebook duo doesn’t lend itself to actual platform crossover—which marketers need. Surprisingly, actual clicks into other platforms are less common than one might think. It’s probable that Instagram and Facebook users, these days, aren’t enamored with the synergy as much. They may impulsively app-hop to see the other platform’s comments, but—more often than not—their impulsivity to keep scrolling past repeat information is stronger.

Another factor which has hindered Instagram’s viability as a top-contending ad resource, unfortunately, isn’t even a fault in platform design. Rather, it’s the result of constant usage, new users, established users, big brands, small brands, entrepreneurs and hobbyists alike.

Anyone can create an Instagram space based upon geolocation technology. As an example, your shop’s Instagram page might have a decent following—but anyone, really, can tag the physical address which is normally used for map relevancy. Consider this: Maybe a user remembers your shop, entering its name out of simple memory convenience. Unlike Facebook’s multi-entity issues, Instagram’s tend to be notoriously difficult to fix. The platform’s design simply makes it difficult to discern primary entries, and it’s often difficult to explain to Instagram’s higher-ups why you’re reporting an account user who hasn’t, technically, broken any rules.

Today’s Top Five Social Media Platforms:

While all major social networks have advertising options, some tend to be more comprehensive than others. A platform’s audience size, popularity, population segmentation and link-worthiness on other business pages, blogs and on-sit comments also play notable parts.

When choosing where to fire up your ad campaign, check out the basic demographics of today’s major social media providers. This Pew Research Demographics Table can offer a quick glance at a platform’s population—but it can also be useful as a baseline for age or income-related e-commerce strategies which can bring your campaign to the next level.

Now, let’s check out the best social media platforms for advertisement in 2019.

Facebook

If you’re new to social media advertisement, or if you’re revamping a previous campaign to be more effective, Facebook is a great place to start. In fact, many marketing experts would argue it’s the best place to start. There are several reasons for this.

Firstly, Facebook is bustling with opportunity. It has the most users—2.23 billion—and has about 2.41 billion users logging in every month. Its population is almost the most diverse. While most of its users are between ages 25 and 34, Facebook is still critically acclaimed for hosting every age group.

In 2016, Pew Research conducted research pertaining to the average income level of Facebook users. The results were quite interesting: Roughly 72 percent of Facebook users make over $75,000 per year. 74 percent have completed higher education.

Facebook is packed with educated users packing probable disposable income—and Facebook’s stellar digital advertising tools entices users and marketers to interact with one another. You can target Facebook users who’re most likely to purchase your products—immediately giving you a leg up with advertisement.

Facebook also has several integrated e-commerce features. It’s easy for visitors to engage your company’s homepage—which means they’re given a direct route to your content foundation, other advertisements, special offers and immediate checkout options.

Businesses can even engage customers with Facebook’s Messenger application—which is an unbeatable resource. By giving customers order notifications, information about upcoming discounts, shipping updates and custom-tailored product suggestions, you can immediately access a full-fledged cross-channel tool which would otherwise require much more time and money.

LinkedIn

The runner-up to Facebook’s power-packed digital marketing collection is LinkedIn—today’s top social network for professionals from every industry. LinkedIn connects you with friends and family, but it also enables an intuitive suggested connections network to meet new people—both professional and friends-of-friends alike. LinkedIn makes it incredibly easy to track down your industry’s biggest impactors, and the nature of its vast network links can provide valuable insight into shared connections.

Where the advertisement is considered, LinkedIn’s Sponsored Content ads can be seen in its News Feed. They directly promote your content to a large audience, which means LinkedIn can help out if you’re still growing your content campaign. Here’s a tip: Sponsored Content headlines under 150 letters engage users the most. If you’re using visual media in your content, an image size of 1200 x 627 pixels, or higher, will garner more click-through.

The second LinkedIn ad support tool is Sponsored InMail. It lets you market to industry professionals directly, circumnavigating traditional email marketing approaches. Normally, these approaches require strenuous recipient population research, junk-mail hurdles and a slew of other push marketing strategies to keep them effective.

Sponsored InMail is unique in that your recipients will only see advertisement mail while they’re using LinkedIn. This keeps your emails from being overlooked, or even ignored, due to the regular timestamp aging traditional marketing emails suffer from. As another tip: Emails that are under 500 characters have the best click-through rate.

LinkedIn also has a Text Ads feature. These ads are only 50 x 50 pixels, non-invasively hovering in the LinkedIn News Feed’s upper right-hand corner. It’s a smaller advertisement addition—but it’s a valuable LinkedIn advertisement resource nonetheless.

Quora

Quora’s ad platform, Advertise on Quora, may be a slightly surprising addition to our Top Five list. The Q&A forum uses a voting system, community collaboration, and industry contributors to satiate the modern Internet user’s hunger for knowledge. It’s touted as a more professional, authoritative and in-depth version of Yahoo Answers—and for good reason: Much like LinkedIn, it’s a hub for all walks of professional life.

Doctors, lawyers, auto mechanics, teachers, nutritionists and more consistently engage community members with answers—opening the floor for networking, link-sharing and—naturally—further discussion. This organic, conversational environment evades the modern woes of message boards laden with keyword-stuffed headings, self-promotion, and strong-arming inquisitive members into buying an e-book from Amazon. Quora is a sincere place, and it’s likely to stay that way for many years to come.

This isn’t to say, however, that Quora isn’t capable of meeting pro-level digital marketing benchmarks. In fact, Quora stands next to Wikipedia in the lofty peaks of most search engine results. Quora is often overlooked as part of a marketer’s SEO strategy—which is a shame.

Underutilized, the website is one of the remaining SEO powerhouses which survives not because of keyword prowess and intricate backlinking strategies—but because of its honest environment and unassuming nature which is, today, coveted over objective SEO analysis in the pursuit of page ranking.

Quora’s mystique even unveils a strong advertising platform for marketers who dig a little deeper. What makes Quora unique is its proposal to help advertisers get more credibility when attracting prospects. Quora’s rhythm and rhyme is all about the Internet user’s research phase.

Thus, every aspect of phrase logic is interwoven into Quora’s advertisement offerings. While platforms like Google Ads help advertisers serve up relevant ads during the search process, only clicks will net the money. Quora takes a different approach.

The platform lets advertisers examine their ad’s content, structure, keywords, and key phrases. Notedly, the process identifies information—and even obscure insights—that relate to your brand, products, services, and location. In many ways, Quora is one of—if not the most—useful topic relevancy tools an advertiser can use.

To top off Quora’s awesome features, Quora-listed ads follow suit in its fluid approach to organic info-search. Rather than positioning an ad, reference link, product name or brand name at the top of relevant information snippets, Quora interlaces the ad resource within its content. The result is a web-searcher’s heightened sense of fulfillment when on the prowl for quick, info-heavy answers—absorbing referenced brand info in a comprehensive context. It presents a brand as it should be presented: as a provider intricately, naturally, interwoven into the consumer’s answer to a problem.

Reddit

On the same end of the direct advertisement spectrum as Quora—one which prioritizes quality communication and idea-crafting over direct SEO efficiency—there is Reddit. Reddit has been around for a while, picking up plenty of steam to live up to its slogan name: The Front Page of the Internet.

Its user base is massive, but it is stratified into the above-mentioned communities—which are called subreddits. Each subreddit, whether it’s fueled by Nike enthusiasts, farmers, doctors, golden retriever owners or film-lovers exists as, probably, the most segmented, high-knowledge consumer group you’ll ever find.

This is because your target market isn’t only immersed in the types of products or services you provide—but is also passionate about sharing information about it. In essence: Reddit contains the greenest consumer segment pastures of the modern Internet. There’s a reason, however, that even the most dedicated, intuitive advertisers don’t touch Reddit with a ten-foot-pole: It’s incredibly difficult to connect with its userbase. Because Reddit thrives on in-depth communication, marketers arriving for quick product promotions get the cold shoulder.

But here’s a reason Reddit holds the surprise spot on our list: If you’re advertising a specific product, you’re advertising it to a consumer segment which is already thinking about it due to its niche nature. To take this a step further, a sizeable portion of a subreddit you approach, more likely than not, already wants to purchase what you’re trying to promote. Of course, this benefit is paradoxically connected to the community’s disdain for direct product pushing. This doesn’t mean Reddit isn’t a good social network to reach out too, however. In 2019, 330 million people use Reddit. To date, there are over 853,824 subreddits—which equates to 853,824 highly specific target markets. Every month, there are 18 billion Reddit pageviews.

Reddit is one of the most valuable environments a digital marketer can sell to—if they’re doing it right, that is. Reddit’s hot take on modern digital marketing isn’t necessarily anti-consumerist, cynical or avoidant, either. In fact, Reddit’s growing opinion of automated services, lackluster content and big data marketing is often matched by today’s more experienced marketers: Those who’re in-tune with the struggles of advertising in digital environments.

If it’s any consolation, Google agrees with this sentiment—which is why it’s constantly evolved its search engine metrics to prioritize unique, informative and meaty content: Consumers can tell when a brand is trying to be relevant via statistical analysis. They can also identify brands which brands don’t sympathize—but empathize with them. Reddit doesn’t have an intelligent cross-market framework interwoven into its anatomy. It isn’t designed to care about retention, promo codes, or a slick path-to-purchase foundation—even among the website’s administrators and higher-ups. Such a deviation from the social media norm, however, makes Redditors even more valuable as consumers.

The average visit length of Reddit is 16 minutes—which is much longer than most social media visit times. Visitors leave 2.8 million comments and conduct 40 million searches, every day. Users aren’t reactive on this social media platform. They’re proactive. They’ve even been known to dig up highly detailed supporting evidence capable of justifying entire product line recalls. On occasion, company leaders sit down with Redditors for day-long Q&A sessions—deriving incredible insight from a highly diverse population. Reddit is valued at $18 billion—and its underlying architecture can absolutely be advertised to. Let’s cover the basics.

Reddit users post links and create forum conversations. If a submission is voted positively, it rises to the top of the page—becoming more visible. Every Reddit user has their own “Front Page,” which is, essentially, a personalized newsfeed featuring content from their favorite subreddits. If you pay for ad support, you can reserve a top post position. Reddit’s ad toolkit is unobtrusive—and it even helps you target a main audience via searching relevant subreddits. Once you’ve set up an advertising account, the platform will walk you through the advertisement process.

By posting content to an active subreddit—ideally, one which has over 1,000 visitors at any given time—you accrue, and pay a small amount, for each view your submission gets. Reddit offers “interest bundles” which grant you page promotions. Once you’ve submitted a Reddit page, a specialized dashboard records any ads you’ve posted via these promotions. The data is rather in-depth, providing excellent insight into subsequent campaign posts. Once you’ve posted, you’re clear for takeoff. Hang out with some of Reddit’s users, and talk about interesting topics related to your brand. From there, you can organically attract long-lasting brand enthusiasts

Google

Finally, we have Google. Google takes fifth place in our Top Five lineup, although it doesn’t currently have a social media platform. Google+ used to be, but it was discontinued. The social network’s history is very interesting to learn about: Google+ kicked off in 2011, intending to compete with other social networks.

Google+ was impressive, too, as it connected its other properties—YouTube and Blogger—to provide a dizzying number of features. Its advertisement reach was incredible, as it benefited from a well-established search engine, leading SEO insight, ads powered by user-generated YouTube videos and Blogger’s incredible popularity.

Google+ was eventually redesigned in 2015, and a number of software design flaws—as well as falling user engagement—inevitably opened the door to external developers. In October 2018, Google announced the end of the Google+ consumer version. This date was eventually changed to April 2019, following Google’s statement that 90 percent of visitor browsing sessions lasted about five seconds.

The reason Google remains on the Top Five list is due to its residual potency as an online social facilitator. As said above, Google’s reach was nearly all-encompassing. It drove 95 percent of mobile paid search advertisement clicks in 2016—achieving a similar percentage today. Here are several other wild Google statistics:

-63 percent of Internet users are likely to click on a Google ad.

-48 percent of people buying a product will research it on Google, first.

-Google owns 92 percent of the world’s search engine market.

Google’s biggest boon—and best consumer engagement resource—exists in YouTube. The platform even accounts for two-thirds of today’s premium online videos among millennials. It gets even better: Another two-thirds of YouTube watchers browse the website on a second screen while sitting in front of a home television.

On the e-commerce forefront, YouTube once more dominates marketing, advertisement and business-to-consumer networking: 50 percent of online users will check YouTube for product-related videos before entering a store to purchase them. Google is still booming, and it’s a solid company to turn to if you want to give your ad campaign some extra inertia. Utilizing YouTube, alone, can open the doors to a massive network of brand impactors, social media experts and B2B experts across the board. This said you’ll need to make an account for Google Ads before crafting a YouTube advertisement strategy of your own. Of course, it goes without saying: Using Google Ads is never a bad choice.