Image: https://www.lyfemarketing.com/blog/social-media-marketing-101/

For over 97% of marketers, the Matrix is well and truly here as they take to social media to engage their clients and followers! The number of social media platforms and their ever-evolving methods of engaging audiences continues to grow and it can be confusing to users ‘neo’ to these platforms. Luckily, it’s not at all as complicated as it looks. Social media can be broken down into 5 types:

Social Networking, Photo Sharing, Video Sharing, Interactive Media and Blogging/ Community Building. So, with a little help from Hubspot, let’s grab a red and/or blue pill and break down the 5 types of social media and their pros & cons!

Social Networking: Platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn are often called “networking” platforms because they allow user accounts to interact with each other in a variety of different ways. If you’re a small business, a platform like Facebook could be a great place to start your social strategy. You can build a business profile that includes links to your website and details about your services. Once you’re all set up, you can post regular updates about your business, “like” other pages, and answer customer post comments or messages. Business profiles also allow other Facebook users to give you reviews.

LinkedIn more-so emphasizes career-related networking. Brands looking to build an audience of professionals from a certain industry can create a business profile there, categorize it with an industry type, and then use posts and messaging to publish updates. They can also use messaging and comment features to interact with their audiences, or users who comment on their posts.

Twitter, with it’s 280 characters maximum per post restriction, is great for the short & sweet posts and can be helpful to companies in a wide spectrum of industries to keep audiences engaged. Twitter can be used to post about company updates, tag companies or customers in posts, retweet positive customer tweets, and respond to customer questions via tweet or direct messages.

On all three of these networks, users can easily communicate with others through simple actions like tagging, hash-tagging, commenting, private messaging, reacting to posts, and re-sharing content. Their main advantage is that these ones in particular are some of the most widely used platforms worldwide today and often integrate with scheduling tools. They all have capabilities for photo and video, which in Facebook and Twitter’s case, are all increasingly encouraged today.

There are however some slight niggling issues to contend with. For instance, those interested in just posting links may have a harder time getting engagement than those uploading photos and videos. Some platforms, like Facebook, put individual user posts higher than business posts in newsfeeds.

Photo Sharing: Two of the biggest platforms that specialize in photo sharing are Instagram and Pinterest. Instagram offers a visual feed with posts showing photos and short videos followed by a caption. Users can also post live videos or create Instagram Stories that disappear after one day. Like Facebook and Twitter, users can interact with others through tags, likes, comments, or direct messaging. It also offers opportunities for advertising and ecommerce because of its highly-visual layout.

Pinterest is well-suited for ecommerce companies, such as those who sell home goods, and businesses that would like a place to share crisp standalone product images with links. It similarly offers a photo-based feed with posts that can include a photo and short description. Unlike Instagram, it allows all users to link directly to websites or product landing pages in posts.

While Instagram and Pinterest can both be helpful tools for product shots and brand awareness, Instagram’s active audience is much larger than Pinterest’s, having also hosted over 25 million business profiles. While both these platforms help with brand awareness, approximately 60% of people say they’ve learned about products or services on Instagram. They both provide an outlet for showing off visual content or product shots and allow you to experiment with visual or short video content.

As before, there are some things to consider while getting started. Upkeep may require a photo budget or dedicated production time and some platforms (like Instagram) require you to post from a mobile application. And unlike some social platforms, Instagram emphasize visuals and doesn’t allow link sharing directly in posts.

Video Sharing: When it comes to long-form video, YouTube and Vimeo are the leading platforms. While YouTube has the bigger audience base and better SEO capabilities, Vimeo’s smaller platform is very community driven. YouTube also seems to have better opportunities for advertisers and monetization, while Vimeo offers viewers the perk of no pre-roll ads.

It’s also worth noting that the more traditional social networking platforms have also begun to embrace video marketing more aggressively. In the last few years, Facebook launched Facebook Stories and Facebook Live, and added a tab on their mobile app dedicated to video. Meanwhile, Twitter has allowed users to launch live video streams with its Periscope Software. However, with YouTube and Vimeo, the videos can be longer than on other social platforms. Both these platforms have website linking capabilities, often offer analytics and have search optimization features.

It is however important to note that with these platforms content might take more time and money to create and require more back-end tasks.

Interactive Media: Applications 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 “Augmented/ Virtual Reality” filters, musical overlays, and interactive games, with Tik Tok offering short, repetitive clips. Because mainly large companies are just starting to experiment with these new applications, marketers who are just beginning a social strategy don’t need to prioritize these interactive apps before traditional social networking platforms.

These companies tend to produce high production-level content. Brands with large followings might also publish Snapchat Stories, or videos that are curated from fans. Being that these platforms are very creative and experimental they have young audiences, which can help brands better target that demographic. Brands and influencers on these apps tend to cater their content to these younger millennial based audiences. Also, they can be used to give your following a behind-the-scenes look at your brand via the Stories feature.

However, producing regular content for these platforms can be expensive and time-consuming. Without a high-budget or giant online following, these strategies might be difficult for a company that’s just starting out on social media. Business accounts aren’t promoted up-front on the Snapchat interface. You may want to promote your channel on your website or other channels because users will need to search for you with your “Snapcode” or username. They are also limited to mobile applications and aren’t as easy to use.

Blogging/ Community: Tumblr and Reddit both allow users to post about interesting niche topics, like memes, events, politics, and pop-culture. When users publish a post, these platforms allow other users to share them or add to the conversation with their own commentary.

With a discussion site like Reddit, you could share a link or a post about a specific topic on a discussion board related to your industry and see how users respond. You could also start your own board if a topic you’re looking to encourage discussion on doesn’t have one yet.

On Tumblr, the feeds are organized by time. However, a post can show up higher when it is re-shared by other users. When a user shares or interacts with your Tumblr content, they give it a note. When they reshare, they have the option to post a comment with the post that gets added to a thread.

Both platforms allow you to share text posts, photos, and videos about your business, brand, or individual thoughts, enabling you to start conversations about a topic. Both platforms also allow linking to outside websites. However, longer blog posts might take time to craft or write and getting down-voted on Reddit or no reaction from Tumblr users means your posts may go unseen. Depending on your business/ product, your audience might be too niche or limited to just those on the specific platform you use.

Well there you have it, a world of virtual wonders at your very finger tips! Before you jump in and start setting up your accounts on a bunch of platforms, be sure to consider these factors:

How much time do you have to devote to strategizing around a social platform? Do you have resources for creating graphics or videos? Do your goals involve boosting brand awareness, or traffic and revenue? Will you need an additional staff member to run this platform, or will it be easy for you to maintain?

Once you’re on a platform or two, be sure to stay in the up to date with the changing layouts and what marketers are doing. Perhaps no one can be told what social media is… You’ll just have to see it for yourself!!

For more information, Click Here to read HubSpot’s article and the resources they can provide.

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