Social Media Platforms: Who Does What?
What Are The Differences Between The Main Social Media Platforms?
Social media is growing all the time and new platforms are being created and promoted almost every week it seems. Some platforms and social media services such as Twitter and Facebook are more easily recognised whilst others like Pinterest and Instagram are growing in popularity on a daily basis.
With so many different platforms available, it can be difficult to know exactly what each one does and how it works, so we have taken things back to basics to give you an introduction to each of the big platforms that are most often used by businesses and consumers alike.
The platforms that currently have the most prominence in the world are Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, G+, Instagram and LinkedIn, with other platforms increasing in users and awareness at a high rate.
Perhaps the most well-known social media platform of them all, Facebook recently announced a huge mile stone in its own history and in the history of social media – one billion users logged in to Facebook on the same day. With user figures standing at around one in every eight people on the planet having a Facebook account and owning one of the most targeted advertising platforms in the world, Facebook is a force to be reckoned with in the social media world.
Primarily used by individuals to connect and share things with friends and family, there is also the opportunity for businesses to have a presence on Facebook and to take advantage of the advertising opportunities available should they wish to.
Facebook is a place to share status updates, images and videos; where people “like” things that interest them and share things that they think their connections of friends and family will also find of interest. People are generally only connected with people that they already know on Facebook and can make their profiles private if they choose to.
The world’s best known micro-blog, Twitter is now often cited as the place to find breaking news before the main stream news outlets pick it up. With 304 million active monthly users, Twitter has a loyal user base that finds its 140 character limit per tweet to be the perfect way to find and follow things that are of interest to them.
Unlike Facebook, people on Twitter are able to follow anyone who is sharing things that they find interesting (unless the individual has protected their tweets meaning that only their existing followers can follow their feed). People can follow organisations such as the BBC through to celebrities and their favourite brands and people who work in the same or similar industries across the globe, as well as following friends and family on the platform.
Trends on Twitter identify popular topics of conversation and can be set at a local, national and international level to discover what the key topics of the day are.
Google has recently begun to index tweets, which means that this platform is growing in importance for businesses looking to improve their organic SEO. Text, images and video can be shared on Twitter.
Pinterest is one of the most popular platforms in America and continues to gain momentum across the globe. The image sharing platform is a place for people to create a “digital scrapbook” of things that interest them by “Pinning” from websites that they find interesting, for example a recipe for a chocolate cake may be pinned to a recipe “board” on their profile and they may pin a desired holiday location on to a travel board.
Unless made secret from viewing, everyone can see these pins and can “re-pin”, like and comment on the pin. Some pins receive many thousands of re-pins, which means that the website that the pin originated from can expect to receive a lot of traffic as a result of that one shared item when people click on the pin to find out more.
Whilst the general demographic split is a higher number of female than male users, the UK bucks this trend and is currently the only country that has more male than female users of the platform.
Owned by Google, YouTube is a video sharing platform that is also the world’s second largest search engine in its own right.
With increased internet access and technology advances, YouTube has given rise to many YouTube “celebrities”; people who have achieved a large number of subscribers to their channel who are particularly interested in whatever is being shared, for example cooking or home improvement tips.
YouTube adds an additional channel to your marketing spectrum and can give a new lease of life to old content and videos that were previously sat on your website not really doing anything.
Also owned by Google, G+ is Google’s social media offering and has had several different incarnations which are now becoming more fragmented, the most recent change being the separation of Google Photos from the G+ service. They have also recently introduced “Collections”, which is similar in the way it works to Pinterest – people can group similar posts together in a specific collection.
G+ allows users to follow individuals and companies and to “+1” status updates, images and videos and to comment on content that has been shared. G+ also has online communities that people can join and get involved with.
Owned by Facebook, Instagram is a favourite platform amongst celebrities and teenagers and is best known for “selfie” images that people have taken of themselves and shared on the platform.
Instagram is an image and video sharing platform and each image will generally be accompanied by several hashtagged terms to increase the visibility of the image and therefor the account holder.
Opportunities for businesses to engage with their audience on Instagram are growing every day, it is an opportunity to tell an engaging brand narrative and this will be further improved with their new advertising opportunities due to be live globally by the end of September 2015.
With mainly professional users who are interested in connecting with other professionals in their industry or similar industries and potential contractual partners, LinkedIn is a place to share professionally orientated content about your business. Businesses can create a page for their organisation, get involved in group discussions and can share content to LinkedIn’s own publishing platform to develop a voice of authority within their industry.