Last April, I wrote a blog about the different types of social media platforms that are out there, and where some of your favourite sites fall under those categories.
It’s one of the most popular blogs I’ve ever written, accounting for over 200 hits to my website every day, and shows up on the first page of Google when you search for “types of social media.”
But since I first wrote this article, some of the platforms I mentioned have gone defunct and some newer ones have popped up that deserve mentioning. So, here goes the updated version!
When we think of the term “social media platform” our minds automatically go to something like Facebook or Twitter, the more mainstream sites. But did you know there are literally hundreds of different platforms out there? Some of them are more appropriate for business than others. And chances are, whether for personal or business, you will only ever use a fraction of those platforms and sites! This list on Wikipedia is by no means exhaustive, but most of them of them can be categorized as one of ten “types” of social media platform. You’ll also find that some can also fall into more than one category.
Social Networking platforms allow users to connect with other people who have similar interests, likes, and experiences. These types of platforms allow you to share and consume information across your network and to join, create, and participate in
Facebook obviously goes without saying. As of December 31, 2016, it has 1.23 billion active daily users, 1.15 billion of whom access the platform from a mobile device. Facebook’s presence simply can’t be ignored, as much as we might want to at times!
LinkedIn is designed specifically for the business community. The goal of the site (and the spirit behind it) is to allow users to create an online network of people they know and trust professionally.
Google+ gets a bad rap sometimes, which is unfortunate because it has some pretty great features that other social media platforms simply haven’t caught up with (although they’re trying pretty hard). When it first opened, there was an influx of the techy-types and so Google+ got a reputation for being “only for tech nerds.” While at first this may have been true, today the userbase is as varied as Facebook’s or Twitter’s. This article on Android Central gives a nice overview of the platform.
Video is far and away more engaging than any other type of social media content, and there are platforms dedicated to allowing its users to upload videos that can be shared specifically to that platform as well as all across the internet.
As with Facebook under the Social Networking category, it’s safe to say YouTube owns this space. It has 1.3 billion users who watch almost 5 billion videos per day. They watch 900 million hours of video every single month. Another interesting fact: YouTube frequently surpasses Google as the number one search engine!
Vimeo was the first video sharing platform to support HD video, and will also be rolling out support for 4K video in 2017. Vimeo’s community tends to be made up of video professionals and indie filmmakers.
Piggy-backing on video sharing is live-streaming: platforms provide its users to broadcast and watch live video from their computers and smartphones.
Owned by Twitter, Periscope officially launched in March 2015. It’s still overwhelming to a lot of people (me included), but it’s a lot of fun, too. Once you have ended your broadcast, other users can watch a replay and leave feedback for up to 24 hours. After that, the video is removed from the platform. You do have the option to save your broadcast to your device, and you can then upload it to your video-sharing platform of choice.
Microblogging platforms allow users to share content and information in short, little blurbs. Generally, you’re limited to a small amount of characters. There are several Twitter-like micro-blogging sites out there, but they tend to be most popular in Asia so I won’t go into detail about them.
Twitter is one of the more well-known microblogging platforms out there and is famous for its 140-character limit for each post (tweet). It moves incredibly quickly – one of the benefits to this is that, as a user, you can post far more frequently on Twitter than you can on other social media sites without appearing “spammy.”
The userbase for Tumblr is quite young. It also has the reputation for having a significant amount of adult or NSFW (not safe for work) content, and has found itself mired in several other controversies. Similar to Twitter, it has a “reblog” feature that’s akin to the retweet, allowing you to easily share other people’s content – and others to share yours.
I am a strong proponent of blogging and have been doing it in one form or another since I was about 16 years old. I make strong efforts to post a new blog weekly.
Blogs are written content or video content (sometimes referred to as vlogging) that others can read, view, comment and share. There are numerous platforms out there, so here are a few:
By far one of the most recognizable blogging platforms on the Internet. WordPress is a very powerful platform, completely customizable, and you can easily build your entire website on it (I have).
This is Google’s answer to providing a blogging platform. If you’re comfortable with other Google apps, products, and services, you should have no problem setting up and navigating Blogger.
I have to give a shoutout to LiveJournal, simply because it’s where I started my very first blog in 1999! It has changed a lot since then and is now owned by a Russian company, so many of the users there are now based in Russia or are Russian expatriates.
This type of platform goes over some people’s heads. And to be fair, social networking platforms like Facebook can be used to achieve some of the same results. Essentially, this type of platform is used to share news or outside articles with a community or network. These platforms then allow users to vote on or rate the content, so that the highest rated (most popular) content is the easiest to see and find on the site.
Digg is an amazing content repository of what’s new, exciting, and about-to-be-viral on the Internet. Between its own algorithm and its editorial team, it curates content in a variety of categories. Users can then vote on the different content by “digging” it. I love this site – it’s often where I go when I’m in need of inspiration or information.
You may have heard of Reddit before. You may think it is the scourge of the Internet. I wouldn’t necessarily disagree with you. It has a reputation for being full of trolls. But many things that go viral online do so thanks to Reddit, and many of the Internet’s most hilarious memes begin their life on Reddit, so it’s not all bad. Personally, I only use it for its entertainment value and not for business.
After video, images are the most engaging content available on the web.
Owned by Facebook, Instagram is one of the most used social media platforms in the world. Although you can view and comment on photos from a computer, in order to fully enjoy Instagram you must access it from the Instagram app on your smartphone or tablet. To get the most out of the platform, you need to be comfortable with hashtags – otherwise you simply won’t achieve any reach beyond your immediate network.
Flickr is popular with photographers. It’s also a great resource for royalty-free images, as long as the owner has authorized their image for commercial use. Make sure you’re looking at the license before using someone else’s photos!
I haggle with where to place Snapchat, but ultimately I think it makes the most sense to categorize it as an image-sharing platform. Although it does share a lot of characteristics with a messenger app, it’s primarily image-based. If you’re building a brand around yourself and your target audience skews younger (teens and early/mid-20s), then Snapchat is worth considering.
A big part of maintaining a killer social media presence is regularly curating relevant, high-quality content from other sources in order to share it with your audience. Google is obviously handy for this, but there are entire social media platforms dedicated to curating content – in many cases, a lot of the work is already done for you!
I use Paper.li to help me find content to share on Twitter and also to grow my Twitter followers. Using a pre-set search term (Social Media), Paper.li publishes a daily “paper” to my Twitter account that summarizes some of the most popular content related to my search term. Additionally, it tags the Twitter profiles of some of the featured writers. I love it!
Pinterest is the ultimate visual content creation tool. It’s what I used to plan my wedding (it’s what a lot of people use to plan their weddings, TBH). It’s where I keep up with the latest fashion trends. I even have a secret board that I share with my hairstylist.
Wikis are collaborative platforms where users contribute articles to create sites full of vast information.
Obviously, this one goes without saying. It’s not without its flaws, because like any other wiki, Wikipedia is maintained by its own users.
I can get lost in this one, because there’s just so much. Wikia is a free wiki hosting service, where anyone can start their own wiki. The most popular use of Wikia is to create wikis for TV shows, movies, video games, and other entertainment. I especially find myself spending a lot of time in the Grey’s Anatomy wiki, which has 6.7k pages and counting!
I’m adding Messenger apps to this update. Social media is becoming more and more mobile, and when companies like Facebook are trying to figure out how to monetize their internal messengers, it’s time to pay attention. I truly believe that after live video, messenger apps (whether standalone like the ones below, or built-in to other platforms like Facebook or Instagram) are the future of social media marketing.
I haven’t done any “marketing” over messengers myself, beyond responding to inquiries. But there are some out there that have potential and I might consider marketing on them down the road.
Here are a couple that I use regularly and suggest you check out:
WhatsApp allows you to talk to your friends and family for free, no matter where they are in the world. It works by using your cell phone’s internet connection instead of your voice calling minutes. WhatsApp can be used for voice calls, video calls, sending pictures, and instant messaging.
I’ll be honest, I downloaded this app because a friend made me. I had no intentions of using it. But I got hooked. Marco Polo calls itself a “video walkie-talkie” and is essentially an app that allows you to send video messages back and forth between contacts. I see a lot of potential for this one, especially if you’re marketing to a younger crowd and are building a brand around a product or around yourself. Download it here on iTunes or here on Google Play.
Clearly, there are more social media platforms than you’ll ever need for your business. Some are more appropriate than others – it will all depend on who your target market is and what it is that you offer. Not sure if you’re taking advantage of the right social media platforms for your business? I’d love to help you figure it out. Schedule your complimentary Social Media Breakthrough Session with me here.