Top social networks in 2016

Everyone is on Social Media, in some form or other, be it WhatsApp on the phone, or Facebook on computer. Depending on individual needs, whether it is to connect with family, find a life partner, keep up with the news, or advertise products or service – it would seem that everyone is at it.

Social media sites have proved a major resource for businesses to promote their brands online. With ease of use counting highly, paid options are available on sites such as Facebook, Twitter and the purely business site, LinkedIn, and all are very efficient for reaching new potential clients from all walks of life. However, it would be extremely time-consuming to advertise on every social site, so research would need to be done to single out the ones that will work best.

FACEBOOK

Since its inception in 2004, Facebook has accumulated more than 1.59 billion active users, and more than 1 million small to medium businesses advertise on Facebook monthly.

While free advertising would depend solely on sharing business information on your personal timeline, paid advertising takes your brand to the people that matter, according to the demographics that are set by you, and beyond the realms of your circle of Facebook Friends.

The first questions you would need to ask yourself would be what do your ideal clients have in common, what are their ages and in what areas do they reside? Is your business able to help them? Is it a niche business or maybe a custom made product that almost anyone would use?

Prep your friends and clients to ‘like' your page so that they are informed immediately, and then ‘like' your posts, ensuring that the message travels to their friends, and so on. ‘Like” your own page and be your business spokesperson.

Facebook dominates the social marketing advertising arena, and vote it as the most important online platform. Over 55% of business users choose Facebook, followed by Linked In at 18%.

TWITTER

Twitter is an extremely powerful way to advertise your business. Who knew that a mere 140 characters would result in 320 million users passing on their information in such a limited amount of characters?

As short as it is, many businesses interact with existing and prospective clients, send out press releases and have the option of using targeted ads to a specific audience.

It's going to take some work. Firstly, ensure that your company identity is branded well. Then research the experts and influencers in your area, follow them and interact with them regularly. Again, get your colleagues and friends involved. Tweeting needs to be done on a regular basis, and daily works best. Track whenever your tweets are mentioned and tweet back if you think it's appropriate. Don't forget to retweet and ‘favourite' tweets.

LINKEDIN

Hands-down the favourite and most popular site for professionals to network, LinkedIn has well over 400 million users.

It is available in 24 languages and is an ideal forum to connect with people in similar businesses to yours and to post information and stats in your field.

LinkedIn gives you great exposure to others looking for your services or products. Your connections can help you connect in more ways than you can imagine. Ask for recommendations, a great way to get testimonials and provide credibility for your company.

Being more aggressive on LinkedIn certainly helps. Post often, updating your connections on projects that you are working on, including updates of interest to your target clients. Join groups related to your field and participate in discussions to build credibility in your field. But be careful not to spam, you'll do your business a disservice and could possibly be fired from the group.

For the results it gets, LinkedIn's paid advertising is a bargain. Keep your eyes open for their special free month of paid advertising, and test out the benefits. The first two levels of membership are extremely reasonable, but the third is expensive.

GOOGLE+

With 418 million active users, this is the site to join in order to get a more improved SEO and search traffic volume to your business website. The network has had a major update recently to help you connect your business with existing and potential clients.

Managed by Google My Business, it makes it easier for clients to find you and make your business more visible when searching locally. Using Maps, Search and Google+, Google My Business puts the relevant Google+ listings at the top of the page, with all the required information. It's not up there with Facebook and LinkedIn yet, but the benefits should help push it up the rankings.

Among the others, two sites have great appeal for displaying your products. Firstly Pinterest has been around since 2010, and has 100 million subscribers, and is ideal for promoting products with a visual appeal. If your target audience is mainly female, then this is the one for you.

Instagram, owned by Facebook, has more than 400 million users. Used mainly to post photos relating to fashion, art, food, travel and similar visual subjects, this site is growing by leaps and bounds, with 95% of the users also on Facebook.

These are the top social media sites, but there are countless others. Choose wisely.