A Start-ups Guide to Social Media for the North American Market

What started as a convenient way to keep in touch with friends and family has become one of the most powerful marketing tools for businesses. As of 2022, Zenith Research put global social media ad spend at US$177B, overtaking television ad spend at US$174B. By 2024, social media ad spend is expected to account for 26.5% of all advertising. In 2021, 91.9% of U.S. marketers were expected to use social media for marketing. Around 73% of Social Media Marketers affirm that Social Media has been an effective tool for them.

Why is social media marketing valuable for start-ups?

No one can counter the effectiveness of social media marketing when it comes to its ability to target specific demographics, build large communities of active audiences, and track ROI, all at the cost of acquisition much lower than traditional marketing tools. 

Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Twitter have made customer access easy and affordable.  Reaching your audience with just a few clicks is like a shortcut for a start-up. Adjust by location, age, shopping behaviour, type of phone, by profession, and you can ensure your TG sees your ad within the next 24 hours. 

As brands increasingly opt for an omnichannel approach, investing time and effort into building a foolproof social media strategy for your start-up has become even more critical. 

Here are some reasons start-ups swear by Social Media as a marketing tool.

  • Boosting brand awareness: Across the globe, there were 4.59B social media users in 2022. Start-ups can get face time with their ICP’s overnight through social media ads.
  • Developing brand persona: Social media is an audio and visual communication, a powerful method to portray your brand personality to your customers.
  • Increasing website traffic:  91% of consumers say they will visit the brand website if they follow them on social media, according to the Sprout Social Index™ 2021. Start-ups have been able to turn viewers or followers into verifiable website traffic with social media.
  • Getting sales/leads: 90% of consumers say they will purchase from a brand they follow on social media, according to the Sprout Social Index™ 2021. Start-ups investing have been heavily investing in lead generation and conversion activities on social media
  • Analytics: Social Media analytics have provided start-ups unparalleled insights into customers and their behaviour. We can now access specific numbers – gender ratios, age groups, location, the most popular time to post, and so much more instantly. 
  • Cultivate social proof: Social media follower numbers, engagement, and customer-generated content is a big hit in validating social proof to potential customers. 
  • Reputation Management: With social media opening up instant two-way communication, start-ups can manage queries and complaints much faster.
  • Competitor analysis: It has become straightforward for start-ups to monitor competition campaigns, product launches, offers, audiences, and strategies, keeping tabs on what works and doesn’t.

What does the North American Social Media landscape look like?

There are 434.94M social media users in North America. North America has a social media penetration rate of 82%. The 6 most popular social media platforms are Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, Instagram, Youtube and Reddit.  As of September 2022, the Global Stats Counter shows the following market share across social media platforms in North America. Although the Global Stats Counter did not represent Tiktok, independent research by Business of Apps reveals that Tiktok has 138M users in North America.

What does the Canadian Social Media landscape look like?

There are 34.47M social media users in Canada alone. As of 2022, Canada’s social media penetration rate of 89.79%. By 2026 this rate is projected to increase to 96%. Facebook has been leading globally, as well as within Canada. The Social Media Lab at Toronto Metropolitan University issued these numbers in 2022, unveiling the number of Canadian adults with social media accounts on each platform in 2022 vs 2020.

However, the market share of the most regularly used social media platforms shows us a slightly different picture. Facebook, Youtube and Instagram still hold the lion’s share, but new entrants like TikTok have moved up the ladder very quickly in regular usage in Canada.

Which Social Media platforms do you use regularly?
Source: Statista

Why do Canadians use Social Media?

The motivations behind using a particular social media platform may differ from country to country based on cultural preferences, mood or sentiment in the nation, affinity towards one platform or more. These drivers of social media can be helpful contributors to content strategy for start-ups. The more native your social media content looks, the more chances your target audience will engage with it. Here are the top 10 reasons that Canadians use social media.

Top 10 reasons that Canadians use social media:

  1. Keeping in touch with friends & family 47.6%
  2. Passing spare time 36.3%
  3. Reading the news 35.1%
  4. Finding content 31.6%
  5. Check out what others are talking about 29.5%
  6. Inspiration for things to do or purchase 27.7%
  7. Finding products to buy 26.3%
  8. Sharing opinions 24.5%
  9. Meeting new people 23.9%
  10. Watching live streaming 23.8%

Source: Canadians Internet

Breaking down 4 of the Most Popular Social Media Platforms in North America

Each platform brings with it its own style, audience demographics, and tools of engagement. The many benefits of analyzing the USP of each platform, their users and user behaviour ensure your start-up:

  • Is using platforms your audience uses
  • Focusses advertising dollars on relevant platforms only
  • Creates content that is optimized for the platform
  • Creates sales funnels suited to the platform

Below are some key North American user statistics for the top 4 platforms that can help your start-up find the right social media match:

Facebook

As much as millennial and Gen Z marketers and founders want to believe that Facebook is dying, active user data from Facebook still proves it is the most used social media platform worldwide. Yes, even in 2022, Facebook has 2910 Million active monthly users globally. In the US & Canada alone, it has 267M monthly active users. Facebook content tilts highly towards photos and videos, and groups keep hugging people in. 

Facebook Age Demographics: Facebook’s audience is getting older; their largest user base is now between 25-34, but their second largest user base is still in the 18-24 age range. 
Facebook’s Gender Demographics: Their gender demographics skew slightly more towards women, with men at 43.2% and women at 56.8%
Facebook Ad Tool Benefits: Detailed ads and audience options, budget-friendly, easy to track with custom pixels, the remarketing tool is a  great asset!

Youtube

A video hosting, sharing, and live streaming platform that requires no introduction, Youtube has over 2.5 billion users. All of whom use Youtube at least once a month. The USA tops the list for the highest views with 916 Billion, and Canada has contributed 158 Billion views. Comedy is the top-viewed genre on Youtube, with over 77% of users searching for comedy content. 70% of Youtube viewers come in from mobile devices.

Youtube Age Demographics: Most of Youtube’s audience falls under the 15-35 age group.
Youtube Gender Demographics: The male-to-female ratio of Youtube viewers is 11:9.
Youtube Ad Tool Benefits: Pay per click just like Google Ads, highly targeted, can market to customers already searching for your product, easy to measure analytics.

Instagram 

A photo and a short video or reel-sharing platform initially garnered popularity for its filters. Instagram has contributed heaps to popular culture, including the birth of ‘Influencers’. Instagram has over 2B active users, of which 222M are located in North America. 

Instagram Age Demographics: Like Facebook, the average age of Instagram users also increases. Currently, the largest user base is aged 25-34.
Instagram Gender Demographics: The male-to-female balance on Instagram is almost equal, with men making up 49.2% of the users and women at 50.8%.
Instagram Ad Tool Benefits: Instagram and Facebook use the same backend to manage ads, so you can find the same benefits here, like detailed ad and audience options, budget-friendly, easy to track with custom pixels and remarketing!

TikTok

A short video creation and posting platform TikTok, snowballed into popularity in 2019. It was the most downloaded app in 2020 and 2021.  In North America, TikTok has over 138M users.

TikTok Age Demographics: 35% of TikTok’s audience is between 20-29 years old, making them the largest age demographic. Followed by 28% between the ages of 10-19, followed by 18% between 30-39 years of age.
TikTok Gender Demographics: The user base of TikTok is 40% male, 57% female and 3% other. However, the male demographic is quickly closing the gap.
TikTok Ad Tool Benefits: TikTok has a highly engaged audience and hence promises lower CAC; they have slightly different styles of promoted content. You can promote using in-feed video ads or experiment with creative opportunities like hashtag challenges and branded effects.
Start-ups looking to pick the proper social media channels for North American access can view detailed data for Linked In, Pinterest, Twitter and more on Business of Apps.

Recently, the Ontario Government has banned Tiktok from all provincial government-issued devices as a ‘proactive and precautionary’ move to protect government data.

Social Media Trends in North America in 2023

If you are a start-up setting up your social media strategy for the North American market, bookmark the following trends gaining momentum with North American audiences: 

  • TikTok will continue to grow in market share: TikTok has a very loyal fan base, and its current users spend extremely high captive amounts of time on the app. Between 2019 and 2020, TikTok’s user base grew by 1,157%, while Instagram’s rose by 6% monthly.
  • Shopping on Social Media: 81% of shoppers already used social media to discover new products, but now they expect to shop on the platform too. Your sales funnels can hit ‘Conversion’ on the app directly soon! You can prepare for business goals to include direct social sales.
  • Short-form video is here to stay: Unless you’re posting on Youtube, long-form video slowly renders itself irrelevant on all other platforms. Audiences want quick and easy-to-consume content and stay vertical!
  • Customer Care on Social: Customers will increasingly want to solve queries and complaints over social media direct messages. No more phone calls and long email chains! Prepare to invest in social customer care automation/integration or train your social media team to be customer care ready.
  • Content Creators will turn partners: The influencer and content creator economy will become a key support system for brands to create consistent content. Embrace them and pre-plan your budgets accordingly, too.
  • Audio Social Media will become as mainstream as visual social media: With apps like Clubhouse, GreenRoom and more taking the world by storm, audio and social media strategy will become equally important!

Does your start-up need access to the North American market?

At Toronto Business Development Centre, we always look for innovative businesses that want to expand to the North American market. Our Soft Landing Incubation Program, powered by the StartUp Visa Program, supports immigrant entrepreneurs to start up in Canada and scale anywhere! Book a call with our experts now.

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