While the majority of business leaders and marketers are well versed by now in social media marketing, not everyone is on board yet. There are still a lot of companies, C-Suite level executives, and “old school” workers that aren’t aware of what social media marketing platforms really offer.
Or their knowledge and experience may be stuck 5-10 years in the past when Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and LinkedIn were the only real players in the social media game and things were much different! Most business professionals know the benefits of social media marketing, but below I’ve written a simplified outline on the various social media platforms that are reshaping the world of business today. You’ll also find many links to more detailed and advanced articles I’ve written on individual platforms, strategies, and case studies.
Most of your top social media management services will be able to provide plans for these various platforms that I’m about to cover. Now without further ado, here is your guide to social media marketing platforms for business:
Facebook, founded in 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg and publicly held, is the largest social network with about 2 Billion users worldwide. Over the past 5 years Facebook has updated their algorithms so that brand page posts now only reach about 1-1.5% of the people who like the page. This means that for most businesses, paid Facebook ads and more post engagement (shares & discussion), are crucial to maximize results. Facebook for the most part covers the majority of social media users but user growth has plateaued a bit in the US. Facebook users range from tweens to those in their 70’s and 80’s. The latter end of the spectrum has actually been growing much faster than the former because the teen and millennial demographic have migrated more to Instagram and Snapchat.
Facebook is still the leader in the world of social media for now, but recently has struggled mightily with privacy and fake news scandals.
Twitter, founded in 2006 and publicly held, currently has about 400 Million users. It is a platform that is ideal for sharing quick live updates and articles of interest. You can also link live videos directly to your account or through an app called Periscope.
You can also link up your videos or popular videos through a platform called Vine. Twitter started the use of hashtags, which has since been utilized heavily on Instagram and even a small amount on Facebook.
Twitter use has plateaued over the past year and a lot of the younger users (that originally flocked to Twitter from Facebook), have been migrating more to Instagram and Snapchat. Although not as extreme as Facebook, not everyone who follows you will see your posts, and a lot can get lost in the shuffle.
Advertising on Twitter can be a little more expensive and a little less effective in my opinion, but it depends on your goals and industry.
Instagram, started in 2010 and bought by Facebook in 2012, now has over 1 billion million users. The majority of them are teens and millennials, although there has been more recent growth from other age groups. Instagram is best used to display high quality images, videos, and live content (with a new feature called “Stories” that looks to compete directly with Snapchat).
The Instagram platform created the popular “Filters” to easily enhance images and videos before posting them and helped to further popularize the infamous “selfie” pictures. Advertising on Instagram is similar to Facebook due to ownership. Instagram is the hottest social media platform today and is helping to keep Facebook profits afloat amid privacy scandals.
Snapchat, founded in 2011 and now publicly owned (March 2017 IPO), now has around 200 million daily users… up a massive amount in just the last year. Many younger users got started on Snapchat because your posts disappear after 24 hours and purposely because very few “older” people used it. Snapchat has more advanced and customized Filters and other image modifications when compared with Instagram. Besides messaging other users, it is primarily used by advertisers by growing followers and posting pictures and videos.
You can also pay for custom branded image / video filters or to feature your media. It’s much more difficult to measure web traffic or sales generated through Snapchat marketing compared with other more traditional platforms. But if you’re trying to reach teens and millennials, Snapchat is still a big and growing platform to do so.
Time will tell how Snapchat will grow and monetize after its impressive initial public offering of around $25 Billion. Can it compete with Instagram stories, will it’s growth continue to slow, and will it ever turn a profit?
So far the answer to that is no, with Snapchat use plateauing and slowly declining recently. Instagram has done too good of a job of copying and improving upon Snapchat’s key features, and even Twitter has had a revival after the most recent presidential elections and even more recent profitability. Snapchat is far from dead, but it has become less relevant with each passing year since 2017.
LinkedIn, founded in 2002 and just now being purchased by Microsoft, boasts around 500 million users. It is primarily for professional networking and Business-To-Business (B2B) marketing. In terms of marketing Business-To-Consumer (B2C), you can reach out to some (most likely) higher paying customers… but it’s more useful to connect with vendors, company decision makers, and candidates for employment.
The LinkedIn platform can also be used successfully to promote events and publish PR-friendly content. Sharing content, especially video, is now incredibly popular on LI and a very effective way of generating leads.
Pinterest, founded in 2010 and still privately owned, has over 100 million regular users. It’s essentially a catalog of images, videos, and infographics that are of interest to it’s users. Nearly every image or video on the web can be “pinned” on to boards of any topic that you create and shared with your followers.
Pinterest also has a user base of about 80% women so that is very important to acknowledge when identifying your marketing strategy. It’s an excellent platform to refer traffic to your website, share “How-To” type or other informational posts, and drive customers to your eCommerce site. Pinterest advertising revenue has grown significantly recently and they are planning an IPO soon.
YouTube, founded in 2005 and purchased by Google in 2006, has well over 1 Billion users. It’s primarily for uploading and sharing videos, along with creating a brand community. If used properly, you can leverage this social network for some incredible publicity and product marketing. Although now there are so many videos and channels competing for views that it is sometimes more challenging to get your videos noticed and your channel’s subscriptions higher. Rivals Facebook and Twitter have also made it more difficult to share YouTube videos on their platforms because they want to give the advantage to their native videos and live recording programs.
TikTok is a privately held company that started in 2016 and gained major momentum beginning in 2019 for short form video sharing. It has been incredibly popular with tweens, teens, and Gen Z. It has exploded into 2020 with over 800 million active users and continues growing in popularity with celebrities and users, taking attention away from Snapchat and Instagram.
Google+ aka Google Plus aka G+, founded in 2011 (and now dismantled in August 2019 with only 500,000 active users), at one point claimed to have had hundreds of millions of active users but very low usage rate.
The reason why so many users were registered is because it was basically a requirement with other Google services and billions of people use Google Search, YouTube videos, Gmail, Google Maps, and dozens of other popular programs. Although it is mostly considered a failure compared to other social networks, you can still get some website traffic from it and a possible increase in the search engine rank of your websites (your website may be found in more organically in search engines like Google). It is still worth creating personal and business profiles (and/or Google Maps listings) and updating, but not worth spending more than a few minutes on every month.
Oh well, you had a good run (kind of) while it lasted Google Plus!
Reddit, founded in 2005 and private owned (a subsidiary of Advance Publications) is an aggregation site and community that ranks as one of the most popular websites in the world. It has a lot of unique and viral content for nearly every niche from politics to popular culture.
Reddit isn’t always considered as a mainstream social media site for marketing purposes but it has around half a billion active monthly users. It also drives an incredible amount of traffic. Like many forums and online communities, you need to learn the nuances of the platform and make sure to contribute more than broadcast your posts. Pictures, videos, memes, and quotes do very well on this platform. If you haven’t tried out Reddit you could be missing out on an exceptional business opportunity.
Tumblr, founded in 2007 and bought by Yahoo in 2013 (an unceremoneously sold to WordPress in 2019 for a paltry $3 million after a previous valuation of $1 billion!), is a micro-blogging and social media site for sharing multimedia and short-form content. It’s primary users are teenagers and Millennials. In my opinion it’s more useful these days if you don’t already have a website and/or blog. Like Reddit, Tumblr has a unique community culture that makes it a little more challenging for the average marketer to sell effectively. Obviously pictures, videos, GIF’s, infographics, and anything else visual will be successful on Tumblr. Large blocks of text will most likely be detrimental to your efforts.
Tumblr isn’t dead yet, but it’s certainly on life support now. Only time will tell if WordPress can turn it around in 2019 and 2020.
Foursquare & Swarm
Foursquare (and the similar app handcuffed to it called Swarm), launched in 2009 and still privately owned, allows users to find business locations near them, rate them, get tips, visit their website etc. It has not been used nearly as much as it did 5+ years ago, but still boasts around 50 million registered users. It’s still worth taking a small amount of time listing your businesses on Foursquare to cover your bases, but not advertising in my opinion. But overall Foursquare and Swarm have been taken over by Facebook, Google Maps, and Waze for the most part.
Quora is a privately owned social network launched in 2009 and became publicly available in 2010. It’s kind of a combination of LinkedIn, Reddit, Google Answers, and your typical question / answer forum. Members ask questions on any subject you can imagine and other members experienced with those topics provide unique and relevant answers. Detailed answers are appreciated but so are the short and sweet ones or those including rich media such as video or infographics. It currently has over 200 million users and can generate an extraordinary amount of valuable website traffic to your pages if you use it consistently. It’s sometimes classified as more of a forum and not always considered a full-fledged “social network” but that’s what it really is. Like Reddit, it is usually very underestimated by most entrepreneurs and corporations alike.
Knowing is half the battle so it’s important to study and utilize all of these valuable social networks. Things change quickly so don’t blink, or your favorite social media marketing platform results could change forever in 2019 and 2020!
Successful companies also seamlessly integrate their social media marketing with their Website, Email Marketing, and Mobile Application because it has a synergistic effect on marketing efforts. It’s all interrelated these days and now just over 50% of everything is from smartphones. Keep that in mind as well and read more Bootstrap Business articles on all facets of digital and traditional marketing.