The 5 types of social media and the pros and cons of each

Marketers often use social media to increase brand awareness, generate leads, and improve traffic. When tasked with implementing a social media strategy for your business, you may be wondering what types of platforms you should be on. Your platform choices will likely change based on your target audience.

What is social media used for?

Individuals use social media to express themselves, discuss their interests, connect with friends, and build their careers. Different social media platforms are used for specific purposes. For example, expressing creativity is most common on TikTok or Instagram. Promoting one’s own career is common on LinkedIn.

The list of social media platforms is growing and well-known platforms like Facebook are constantly evolving and adding new features. With an ever-increasing need for social presence and an overwhelming number of platform options, choosing which social channels to use can be difficult.

You might not want to stretch yourself too thin by managing a channel on every platform imaginable, but you also don’t want to miss out on great brand awareness opportunities.

To help you make informed decisions about which platforms to use, this post will walk you through some of the core types of social media, examples of platforms in each category, and the advantages and disadvantages that each type can offer. In the end, you should have a much clearer idea of ​​what type of social media strategy is right for your business.

Types of social media

  1. social network
  2. Share photos
  3. Share video
  4. Interactive media
  5. Blogging / Community Building

social network

Examples of major platforms

Social networking is possibly the most traditional form of social media.

Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are often referred to as “network” platforms because they allow user accounts to interact with one another in a variety of ways.

Professional applications

If you’re a small business like a restaurant, a platform like Facebook can be a great place to start your social strategy. Facebook allows you to create a company profile that includes links to your website and details about your menu.

Once your profile is fully set up, you can post regular updates about your company, “like” other pages, and reply to comments or messages on customer posts. Company profiles can also be used by other Facebook users to post reviews.

For companies looking to offer a professional service, B2B or publishers, LinkedIn is another great way to grow your fan base. LinkedIn values ​​professional networking.

Brands who want to target a target group of professionals from a specific industry can create a company profile there, assign it to an industry type, and then use posts and messaging to publish updates. They can also use messaging and commenting features to interact with their audiences or users who comment on their posts.

A Twitter account can be useful for businesses in a wide range of industries, from entertainment to e-commerce. This is a similar way of creating a profile where you can list and link company information.

You can then use Twitter to post about company updates, tag companies or customers in posts, retweet positive customer tweets, and reply to customer questions via tweet or direct messages. As with Facebook, you can also post content such as photos or videos.

On all three networks, users can easily communicate with others using simple actions such as tagging, hashtagging, commenting, private messaging, responding to posts, and reparing content.

Social interaction aside, newsfeeds on popular social networking platforms are designed to be a mix of text and graphics rather than a primary content type.

This flexibility makes it easy for social networking platforms to develop a social strategy because you can experiment with different forms of content before branching out to platforms that require more specific content types.

Here is an example of Facebook’s news feed:

Facebook news feed

For those looking to dig into videos or graphics, these platforms could be a great place to test out this new content. With the growth of video marketing, many have started to launch advanced features like Facebook Stories and Twitter Live Streams.

Platforms like Facebook and Twitter have also started promoting native video and photo uploads more heavily. Recently, Facebook even tweaked its algorithms to favor uploading live video and images. This has resulted in these types of native content receiving greater user interaction.

If you’re still not sure where to start, check out our beginner guides for Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

Advantages and disadvantages

benefits

disadvantage

Share photos

Examples of major platforms

Two of the biggest platforms that specialize in photo sharing are Instagram and Pinterest.

Instagram offers a visual feed of posts showing photos and short videos followed by a caption. Users can also post live videos or create Instagram stories that disappear after a day. As with the social networking platforms mentioned above, users can interact with others via tags, likes, comments, or direct messages.

Professional applications

This platform is helpful for businesses like restaurants or stores that want to photograph, view and update followers in a clear and clean way about their food, merchandise or product.

Instagram has become a home for influencer marketing as 93% of influencer campaigns took place on the platform in 2018. Due to its highly visual layout, Instagram also offers opportunities for advertising and e-commerce.

Unlike some social platforms, Instagram emphasizes the visual presentation and does not allow direct sharing of links in posts. Basic users on Instagram can only share links on their bio. Verified users or accounts with over 10,000 followers can post links in their stories.

To show you how visual the platform is, check out Instagram’s search feed:

Instagram search feed

While simple users have minimal linking options, Instagram has tried to make the platform even more user-friendly for ecommerce businesses by adding shoppable posts.

Pinterest works well for ecommerce businesses that sell household goods, for example, and businesses that want to share crisp stand-alone product images with links.

It also offers a photo-based feed with posts that can include a photo and a brief description. Unlike Instagram, all users can link in posts directly to websites or product landing pages.

An interesting aspect of the platform is that users can create contributions from others or assign them to a topic-related “board”. For example, users can create boards that focus on topics like “Inspirational Quotes” or “Bedroom Products”.

Once a board has been created, other users can also follow it. A company could potentially create a board with its own product posts or find their products on someone else’s board.

Here is an example of what a board looks like:

Pinterest Home and DIY Board

Before getting started with either or both of these platforms, determine whether your goal is to increase brand awareness or increase link-based traffic.

While Instagram and Pinterest can be helpful tools for product shooting and brand awareness, Instagram’s active audience is much larger than Pinterest’s. Instagram has also hosted over 25 million company profiles.

When choosing a platform, you should consider your content based bandwidth. Both require visual imagery, but you may need to incorporate video creation into your Instagram strategy as well. Here’s a great guide on what it takes to get followers on Instagram.

Advantages and disadvantages

benefits

  • Platforms like Instagram help with brand awareness. Around 60% of people say they learned about products or services on Instagram.
  • Pinterest and Instagram offer a way to present visual content or product shots.
  • You can also experiment with visual or short video content on platforms like Instagram

disadvantage

  • Maintaining these platforms may require a photo budget or a specific production time.
  • Some platforms like Instagram require you to post through a mobile app.

Share video

Examples of major platforms

Professional applications

Around 88% of marketers say video gives them a strong ROI, and 90% think the level of video competition has increased. Adding a video platform to your social strategy can make your brand look relevant and keep you updated with your competitors.

Video can be useful in a wide variety of industries. While a restaurant could have a vlog of cooking tips, a tech company could focus its video strategy on product demos.

Read our video marketing guide to find a strategy that is right for your industry and service.

When it comes to long-form videos, Youtube and Vimeo are the leading platforms. While Youtube has a larger target audience and better SEO features, Vimeo’s smaller platform is very community-oriented.

Youtube also seems to have better opportunities for advertisers and monetization, while Vimeo gives viewers the benefit of not running pre-roll ads.

For a longer list of similarities and differences, see this head-to-head article where we compare the business functions of Vimeo and YouTube.

In addition to Youtube and Vimeo, the more traditional social networking platforms have also started to use video marketing more aggressively. In the past few years, Facebook has launched Facebook Stories and Facebook Live and added a tab in its mobile app for videos. Meanwhile, Twitter has made it possible for users to start live video streams supported by the Periscope software.

Advantages and disadvantages

benefits

disadvantage

Interactive media

Examples of major platforms

Apps like Snapchat and TikTok allow users to share photos and videos. They also have a variety of unique interactive and highly experimental features. These two apps include AR / VR filters, music overlays, and interactive games. Her audience base is also prominently Gen-Z.

Professional applications

Since mostly large companies are just starting to experiment with these new apps, marketers just starting out with a social strategy don’t need to prioritize these interactive apps over traditional social networking platforms.

The big companies on these platforms tend to produce content at a high production level. Brands with large following may also post Snapchat Stories or videos curated by fans. Without a big budget or a huge online fan base, these strategies could be tricky for a company just getting started in social networking.

Brands and influencers of these apps usually target their content to the platforms’ younger audience. For example, on Snapchat, you might see stories with beauty tutorials, wellness tips, news, or trending new products.

If you are really interested in interactive media, there are still a few more ways you can get into Snapchat or TikTok.

While big brands like VICE and BuzzFeed have become Snapchat Discover partners, the average business can still create a Snapchat business account that users can search and befriend. This account allows you to post temporary stories just like individual accounts can. However, people with a business account can also purchase advertising space.

Here is a comprehensive video that explains how to use Snapchat:

Once you’ve set up an account, check out this guide to get started with Snapchat.

TikTok, an app based on short, repetitive clips – much like Vine – offers five types of advertising opportunities for businesses. While large companies may find value in all five of these areas, smaller companies are more inclined to have “in-feed” ads. These ads are clips that are 9-15 seconds long and can be skipped by the user.

Guess is a notable brand that used their account to create trending campaigns using trending hashtags. Universal Pictures has also got influencers to create posts to promote their films.

As you test out these platforms, you may want to make sure your industry and content fit the young age demographic. You should also try to properly assess the time and money it will take to keep these accounts up to date and relevant.

Advantages and disadvantages

benefits

disadvantage

  • Creating regular content can be expensive and time consuming.
  • Business accounts are not advertised in advance on the Snapchat interface. You may want to promote your channel on your website or other social channels because users will have to search for you using your Snapcode or username.
  • Snapchat and TikTok are limited to mobile devices and are not that easy to use.

Blogging / Community

Examples of major platforms

Tumblr and Reddit allow users to post interesting niche topics like memes, events, politics, and pop culture. When users post a post, those users can share these platforms or add their own comment to the conversation.

Professional applications

Both blogging and community building platforms could be helpful for those looking to stimulate discussion about niche industries or topics. Everything from alternative health to machine learning may be discussed on these platforms.

Blogging allows you to write articles on topics in your company’s industry and link them to your product or website. While a lot of people have blogs on their website, platforms like Tumblr are great to use if you haven’t got that feature set up – or just want to see what others in your industry are blogging about.

With a talk page like Reddit, you can share a link or post on a specific topic on a discussion forum for your industry and see how users react. You can also open your own forum if a topic on which you want to stimulate discussion does not yet have a topic.

These two platforms specifically encourage web chatters and publish shares from users interested in the same topics.

Either way, users can follow you or subscribe to your blogs or Reddit boards to have your content show up on their feeds. Here’s an example of what the Reddit feed looks like.

Reddit feed

When someone posts something on Reddit, other users can vote it up or down. Up-voting will display a post higher in Reddit feeds, while down-voting will do the opposite.

On Tumblr, the feeds are sorted by time. However, a post can display higher if it is re-shared by other users. When a user shares or interacts with your Tumblr content, they’ll give them a note. If they share again, they will have the option to post a comment with the post added to a thread.

Here is an example of how notes and topics can be used to stimulate discussion:

Tumblr music recommendation thread

Advantages and disadvantages

benefits

  • On both platforms you can exchange texts, photos and videos about your company, your brand or your individual thoughts.
  • You can use these platforms to start conversations on a topic.
  • Both platforms allow the link to external websites.

disadvantage

  • Longer blog posts may take time to create or write.
  • If you get voted down on Reddit or there is no response from Tumblr users, your posts may not appear.
  • Your audience may be too niche or limited to those on the specific platform you’re using.

A couple of things to consider

Before you sign up and set up your accounts on a number of platforms, consider the following factors:

  • How much time do you have to spend strategizing on a social platform?
  • Do you have resources for creating graphics or videos?
  • Do your goals include increasing brand awareness or traffic and sales?
  • Do you need additional staff to operate this platform or is it easy to maintain?

Whenever you find yourself on one or two platforms, it is important to always understand how they are changing and what marketers are doing. Check out our ultimate guide to social media marketing for the latest information.

Calendar for social media content

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