For any business or personal brand, choosing the right social media platform can seem like a daunting task. Not only is there a wide variety of sites to choose from (Facebook, Snapchat, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.), but the task of updating these sites is a job unto itself, not to mention it seems like new social sites pop up every day. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed. This is why it’s so vital for brands and companies to understand the nuances and purpose of each medium, so they can make the most of their time without feeling like they’re just spinning their wheels.
Just like people, each social media site has a personality. Each site has unique functions that were baked into its genetic code at inception, which determines how and why content might reach certain audiences. For example, Twitter was created to share and disseminate news in short snippets. This can make it an ineffective platform to share a series of photos or have meaningful conversations. Only after you begin to understand the personality of each platform can you effectively start using each one adequately and find out what works for you and your community.
So, whether you’re just starting out or you’re an established brand, here is a quick list of some different social networks and their personalities, which might help you hone your content to specific platforms and engage more clearly with your friends and fans.
“The Top 5”
Instead of feeling overwhelmed by all the different social media sites, start with the “Top 5” most popular: Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter. This isn’t because they’re the best sites; it’s because they have the largest following of any other platforms. Just take a look at the graph below from the Pew Research Center:
While this platform has largely plateaued, it is by far the most ubiquitous social media site in the world. According to Pew, 72% of online adults are Facebook users, amounting to 62% of all American adults. That means that if you still have your head in the sand on Facebook, it’s time to lift up your head. Facebook was built on friendship and storytelling. When Facebook first took the social media scene, its slogan was a place for friends and was built on connecting friends and acquaintances in colleges. Since then, it has opened its doors to the masses, but it still maintains its “friendship” environment. Think about it: how many people are you connected with on Facebook that you’ve never met? Probably zero.
Knowing that Facebook is a place for friends should matter a lot to you and your brand. Your content on Facebook should connect personally to your readers. Posts should not be sterile or impersonal. Post content you would feel comfortable sharing with your actual friends. The Washington Post is a prime example of this. Though they primarily focus on hard-hitting and breaking news, the Post’s Facebook statuses are not simple headlines – they use editorial text or important quotes alongside articles. In short, be sure your posts on Facebook are friendly and personal.
It’s easy to get lost for hours in the depths of Pinterest. If you’ve never used the site before, it began as a digital pinboard for users to post their favorite images or visual content from other parts of the web – kind of like posting your favorite magazine clippings in your high school locker. Today, Pinterest is the go-to for DIY or home furnishing projects, crafts, dream vacations, or any other visually appealing content. And so, Pinterest thrives on inspiration.
This is important for brands because when users view your Pinterest content, they are much more likely to purchase items that inspired them. According to Pinterest.com, 52% of “pinners” have seen something on Pinterest and made a purchase online. This means that the more visually appealing, inspirational your content, the more chances you will have of converting your user into a customer. If your business or personal brand has some high quality visuals to share, Pinterest might be the right place for you.
the more visually appealing, inspirational your content, the more chances you will have of converting your user into a customer
It’s amazing to see how much Instagram has transformed the way we take and share images digitally. While the average user probably wouldn’t consider themselves a photographer, chances are they’ve thought about lighting, cropping, framing and color correction before posting a photo to the site. Because Instagram makes these tools so accessible, artistic photos are becoming second-nature on this platform. And thus, the personality of Instagram is art.
Successful Instagrammers understand that each post must be high-quality, creative and beautiful. Simple snapshots won’t do. And since smartphones cameras are quickly blurring the lines between high-end and point-and-shoot cameras, you or your company can tote a strong Instagram game with a simple mobile device. Of course, most professional brands use highly-curated images from DSLR cameras, so if you do have a professional camera, it will make a difference. On Instagram, use as many hashtags as you’d like, and be sure to check-in at different locations since most users actively search locations and hashtags.
While most social networks are focused on personal connections, LinkedIn has more of a straight-laced personality. Even social media titan Gary Vaynerchuk calls it, “a social network in a suit and tie.” On LinkedIn, it’s all about your professional contacts. It’s not a place to post pictures of your favorite meals or opinionated rants, and it can get you connected with other professionals with your passions and skills.
LinkedIn is the epitome of a digital resume. It is a platform for career growth and opportunity, so it makes sense for users to fill out as much information as they possibly can. And that can pose a challenge because of its many profile options. But don’t worry – it’s not all up to you! You can invite colleagues and those from your professional network to recommend you, vouch for your skills and write reviews.
If you want to share news and information quickly, Twitter should be your channel of choice. With only 140 characters, you don’t have a lot of time or space to get your point across. That’s why it’s such a unique platform. It can help you and your brand stay concise and provide updates to your followers at a moment’s notice.
Providing a “pulse” for what’s happening in the moment, Twitter is perfect for live events such as conferences, sporting events or live television. In 2013, for example, the power went out at Super Bowl XLVII in New Orleans. As soon as the lights went out, smartphones lit up and fans frantically searched social media for information. Where did they turn? Twitter. And who was there to meet them? Oreo. That’s right – Oreo. The cookie company immediately sent out a humorous tweet, perfect for the moment. This is a prime example of how a brand can make great strides in connecting with audiences just by understanding a platform’s identity.
So, where are you going to start? In an increasingly noisy social world, it’s important to think strategically about connecting with your communities in the most effective way. Finding the right platform is never easy, but if you think about your audience needs, take a look at your data, and think about how you’d like to engage your audience, you’ll be on the right track.